Archive

October 20th, 2016

Michelle Obama's New Hampshire speech was a master class in speaking from the gut

   Michelle Obama's epic speech Tuesday in New Hampshire should be required viewing for every leader. Not because of its political content. Not for her strongly worded endorsement of Hillary Clinton or her scathing takedown of the Democratic nominee's "opponent" -- the First Lady refused to even say GOP nominee Donald Trump's name -- that has already been called a "defining moment in the presidential campaign."

    Rather, it was for the absolute master class she offered in that elusive quality of leadership: "authenticity." It is among the most jargon-laden, vague concepts touted by leadership consultants and coaches, the subject of countless books and training seminars promising yet another elixir to effective speech-making or good leadership.

    But on Thursday, Obama provided a stark reminder that this nebulous quality comes not from a book. It comes from the gut. With inclusive and personal stories, emotionally strong yet vulnerable tone and body language, and a passionate appeal rooted in her own experiences, Obama embodied the widely praised but rarely replicated feat of seeming "real" that escapes so many leaders.

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In fight for House, GOP has Gerry, gerrymandering's namesake, on its side

    Republicans are confident that they'll retain control of the House of Representatives in November. That's because they're sure that Elbridge Gerry, who died more than two centuries ago, will be a more important factor than Donald Trump.

    There's plenty of nervousness in party ranks over the chance that voters will punish Republican congressional candidates for their nominee. That might result in a late-breaking wave election in which Democrats could pick up the 30 seats they'd need to win control in the House.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan was worried enough to tell his colleagues this week to protect themselves even if that meant renouncing support for Trump. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll added to Republican concerns when it showed a six-point public preference for Democrats in congressional elections. That's the minimum margin Democrats need to capture a majority; winning by three or four points nationwide won't do it.

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October 19th

A new digital divide has emerged - and conventional solutions won't bridge the gap

    Though the United States has made profound progress in making Internet access universally available, a new digital divide has emerged that defies conventional solutions.

    Since both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have promised to expand broadband opportunities if elected president, it's crucial for future policy decisions that we understand who is still offline and why. According to the most recent findings of the Pew Research Center, 13 percent of Americans still do not use the Internet.

    Of that group, the most telling variable is no longer race, sex or even income. It's age. Over 40 percent of seniors are offline, compared with 1 percent of millennials. Two other groups stand out as digital holdouts -- rural Americans (22 percent) and those with less than a high school education (34 percent).

    This is our new digital divide. And closing the inclusion gap demands a significant change in strategy.

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I edited the People writer who says Trump groped her. Here's why she didn't speak out.

    In the hours after People magazine correspondent Natasha Stoynoff said she had been sexually assaulted in 2005 by Donald Trump, while she was interviewing him about his wedding anniversary at his Mar-a-Lago estate, I had the chance to wonder what I, as the magazine's then-deputy editor, would have done had she told me about Trump's predation.

    For a second there, I imagined a scene of Ben Bradlee-esque outrage, calling out the swine for his behavior and striking a blow for reporters everywhere. But in reality, I probably would have simply killed the story that Stoynoff had gone to Palm Beach to report. I would have then called Trump's public relations operatives, told them about their boss's bad behavior and agreed to a truce of mutual silence. In the end, few people would have learned of the event, we'd have had to fill a few more pages in the next issue, and Trump would have avoided any public embarrassment.

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For some conservatives, Trump's 'alpha male' appeal is a positive

    Political fallout from last Friday's leaked "Access Hollywood" footage, which features Donald Trump bragging about his ability to sexually assault women thanks to his fame, has been swift. In the days following the tape's release, more than 60 elected Republican officials have stated they will no longer vote for the GOP presidential nominee, though a few of these lawmakers later recanted.

    Many voters are now abandoning Trump, as the newest polling released in wake of the scandal's details. A PRRI/The Atlantic poll released Tuesday shows Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's national lead now extends 11 percentage points over Trump, and a whopping 61 percent of likely women voters say they intend to vote for Clinton, compared with 28 percent who intend to vote for Trump.

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Even if Trump loses big, the anger will remain. Here's how the left can address it.

    The urgent task of progressives in this election is to defeat Donald Trump. But even if we succeed, we have a long-term responsibility: to understand why Trump happened and to face up to how failures on the left and center-left have contributed to the flourishing of a new far right, not only in the United States but also across Europe.

    The left, you might fairly protest, has enough problems without being blamed for the rise of a dangerous figure who is, first and foremost, a creation of the conservative movement's radicalization and the Republican leadership's pandering to extreme views over many years. When I watch GOP leaders bemoaning their party's fate under Trump (or belatedly jumping off his ship), I am reminded of John F. Kennedy's warning that "those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside."

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Donald Trump's withdrawal from Virginia may mean a wave election is on the horizon

    News that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is pulling his already-limited campaign presence from Virginia makes it clear he will not be the next president.

    The only question remaining is whether Trump's implosion indicates a wave election is on the horizon.

    The problem with waves is that they are nearly impossible to forecast. Electoral waves typically build in a campaign's waning days, when polling data becomes scarce.

    The possibility of a wave is real. Trump's abandonment of Virginia is one sign -- though not a definitive one.

    So let's look at what is happening in Virginia, which has races for two open House seats and two contests in which freshman Republicans are running their first reelection campaigns.

    Republican sources tell me their polling has shown that voters make a clear distinction between Trump and the GOP House candidates.

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Donald Trump is setting the stage to never concede the 2016 election

    Donald Trump never accepted losing in his business life. Even when he very clearly lost. He simply declared victory and moved on. (If you don't believe me, watch PBS's terrific "The Choice 2016.")

    His rhetoric over the last 10 days suggests he is preparing to follow that very blueprint on November. Over and over again of late, Trump has indulged in the idea of a broad-scale global conspiracy being organized to keep him from being elected. And he has repeatedly used language describing the election as "rigged" by a Democratic Party and complicit media playing dirty pool.

    At a rally on Friday in Greensboro, N.C., Trump leaned into his "rigged" premise.

    "This whole election is being rigged," Trump told the roaring crowd. "The whole thing is one big fix. One big ugly lie. It's one big fix."

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Campaign emails and the fine art of politics

    A Wall Street executive offered advice on how to deflect criticism for taking money from Wall Street. There was an invitation to spend a weekend at George Soros's Southampton estate. These and many other tidbits are in the leaked emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

    Guess what else? It turns out that politics influences the Democratic nominee's positions on financial and regulatory policy.

    Yes, I'm sure you're shocked that Clinton's aides would worry about how Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren might react to a Wall Street regulatory plan, or whether Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would accuse their candidate of copying his idea for a financial-transactions tax, or if reporters would say she flip-flopped on trade. But rarely are such calculations laid bare, as they are in more than 9,000 messages to and from Podesta, speechwriters, spokespeople, pollsters, policy gurus and others.

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Burning Down the House

    A wounded bear is a dangerous thing. Detested and defeated, Donald Trump is now in a tear-the-country-down rage. Day after day, he rips at the last remaining threads of decency holding this nation together. His opponent is the devil, he says — hate her with all your heart. Forget about the rule of law. Lock her up!

    He’s made America vile. He’s got angel-voiced children yelling “bitch” and flipping the bird at rallies. He’s got young athletes chanting “build a wall” at Latino kids on the other side. He’s made it OK to bully and fat-shame. He’s normalized perversion, bragging about how an aging man with his sense of entitlement can walk in on naked women.

    Here’s his lesson for young minds: If you’re rich and boorish enough, you can get away with anything. Get away with sexual assault. Get away with not paying taxes. Get away with never telling the truth. Get away flirting with treason. Get away with stiffing people who work for you, while you take yours. Get away with mocking the disabled, veterans and families of war heroes.

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