Ever wish you could get the quick and dirty on what this President is up to so you can hold your own in highfalutin political conversations, without having to dig deep through highfalutin political-wonk blog posts? Welcome to Trumpdate, a series keeping you up to date on what you need to know to have a functional grip on the whiplash-blizzard of rhetoric and policy coming out of Washington D.C. Let's go!
#1: TRUMP TWEETING HIS WAY INTO THE FRENCH ELECTIONFirst up, President Trump is wading into Sunday’s French presidential election, tweeting about yesterday’s shooting incident in Paris which left the gunman and a police officer dead.
Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017
Trump's comments are intended to help France’s right-wing firebrand and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who went on the record blaming "radical Islam" for the incident, and who generally echoes Trump’s inflammatory Muslim rhetoric in service of the brand of populism which swept turned both Brexit and Trump’s candidacy into political realities. In a way, this is going to be the most high-profile referendum on the resonance of Trump’s brand of politics on a global stage. We’ll have more on it next week.
#2: ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS BURNS HAWAII AS "SOME ISLAND IN THE PACIFIC"In a related story, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions is out here minimizing states’ statelihoods. In the wake of a Hawaiian federal judge shutting down Trump’s travel ban on parts of the Muslim world, Sessions vented his anger about the judicial roadblock by dismissively calling the judge’s home state "some island in the Pacific." (Editor’s Note: Hawaii technically is indeed an island in the Pacific. It is also a sovereign state of the union that has a name, a rich history, and the sort of pride that doesn’t take kindly to people talking about it like it’s not in the room.) Sessions has said he "doesn’t regret" the remark, adding that he thinks it’s a "fabulous" place and has a granddaughter who was born there.
#3: TRUMPCARE IS NOT DEAD!I repeat, Trumpcare is not dead! The President is gearing up for another run at repealing and replacing Obamacare with a new plan which will again attempt the nearly impossible judo-move of pleasing moderate Republicans who have constituents who actually sort-of-prefer having Obamacare to nothing at all, while also catering to the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus who want to see all of the mandatory elements of the bill which force states to cover "essential benefits" removed. Expect some movement on this in the next week or two, though you should know that, according to the most recent polling from Quinnepeac, a sizable number of Republican voters are like, "let’s just call this one an L and move on."
#4: TAXES UNDER TRUMP: GOING DOWN (FOR REAL?)Next week marks the end of Trump’s first 100 days, which historians have traditionally identified as a benchmark via which to gauge and compare all new presidencies. Of course, Trump has come out and rejected this as an arbitrary and inconsequential standard — and he may not be wrong! — but Trump’s motives for hating on the First 100 Days measure probably has more to do with his list of accomplishments and approval rating than anything else. Still! As a buzzer-beater before the 100 day mark, Trump has announced a plan to announce a plan (you read that right) about taxes. Which means: No details yet, but next Wednesday we are promised to hear about a huge, shiny and new tax plan which explicitly promises massive cuts for businesses and a simplified tax form to ease filing for average citizens. The President and his Treasury Secretary Mnuchin say the middle class are going to see some healthy cuts and benefits, and that the plan will "pay for itself" by virtue of stoking the economy into new heights of activity and prosperity. However, most economists have said Trump’s general posture toward the tax code will benefit the wealthy, and so far, Republicans in Congress have been nervous about what they’ve heard (hence no detailed plan announced yet). How is this one going to work out? We’re about to find out.
#5: KID ROCK, TED NUGENT, AND SARAH PALIN WALK INTO A WHITE HOUSE…Yes it’s true, earlier this week this unlikely crew of red-state heroes sauntered into the ba-wid-tha-bOval Office to spend four hours with our POTUS, getting a personal tour of the White House and little historic trivia and tidbits about paintings, furniture, and origin stories of its nooks and crannies all direct from Donald himself. (Note: There was no fact-checker on-hand to verify the President’s tour-guide fact-bombs, but according to this NYTimes interview, Nugent was well impressed.) The photo of Palin, Rock, and Nugent smirking in front of a portrait of Hillary Clinton is particularly startling, given the demeaning language Nugent's used about HRC and Obama. But in the race for the single image that would have given the biggest heart attack to a Democrat back in 2015, this one wins.