TPM Cafe: Opinion

Rick Perlstein is the national correspondent for the The Washington Spectator, where this article first appeared. His most recent book is The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.

Never have so many done so much to reveal so little than in the collected journalism about presidential nomination contests. The personality-driven trivia. The hokey generalizations. The bogs of conventional wisdom. The day-by-day scorekeeping that ends up worse than uninformative; it is anti-informative. (Just ask Presidents George Romney, Edmund Muskie, Scoop Jackson, John Connally, Richard Gephardt, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.) The utter failure to inform the public of the actual, on-the-ground dynamics of the nuts-and-bolts process by which the parties chose their standard-bearers, and the larger dynamics that drive party trends from decade to decade.

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Twenty-five years ago this past Sunday, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. Today, people with disabilities are less likely to be employed than they were before the law was enacted. Workers with disabilities earn, on average, about $14,000 less than similar workers without disabilities. About one in every three disabled Americans lives in poverty.

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Keegan-Michael Key, one half of the wildly popular sketch comedy duo Key and Peele, quietly announced the imminent end of the pair’s self-titled Comedy Central show with this tweet over the weekend:

For the past season and a half, the pair has framed their sketches within the structure of a road trip with an unspecified destination, not unlike the one that Key and Peele themselves have taken us on over the past four years.

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The Donald Trump news cycle is not ready to burn out yet, not while his lawyer, in a very Trump-like show of belligerence, told a reporter that spousal rape is legal when it most certainly is not. This week, the Daily Beast issued a timely reminder that Ivana Trump accused her ex-husband of raping her in 1989 during her divorce deposition. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen denied this by arguing “she felt raped emotionally” but not criminally, whatever that means. (The one described in Harry Hurt III’s 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, actually sounds just like a criminal rape, complete with physical violence.)

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Most of the fallout was predictable from a video released a couple of weeks ago that falsely accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal body parts: that there would be an initial flurry of media excitement followed by an inevitable debunking, that the people behind it would turn out to be a bunch of unsavory religious-right radicals, that media interest would wane while Republicans continue to puff up in feigned outrage and use this as a pretense to attack family planning programs.

But there was one thing up in the air: Which of the Duggar family-sized team of wannabe Republican presidential candidates was going to grab the brass ring as the most opportunistic exploiter of this non-scandal? This week, it looks like the winner of this stiff competition is the dark horse: “libertarian” candidate Rand Paul.

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Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator, where this article first appeared. His most recent book is Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency.

American politics is not easy for believers.

“This is a forum where our candidates can share their faith and testimony and not feel ostracized. Except maybe by the press,” Mary Frances Forrester told me. “Here, we can ask questions and candidates can include their faith when they’re talking about important social issues.”

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When Pope Francis visits the United States in two months and becomes the first pontiff to address Congress, his speech will be a seminal moment in American history. A pope who pumps fresh energy into the world’s most influential religious institution and humanizes the papacy will likely find his toughest audience in this country. Several polls released last week show both the challenges and opportunities that await a pope who denounces an “economy of exclusion” and in bracing language prods political leaders to wake up to the reality of climate change.

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As the video of Sandra Bland’s arrest makes its way into homes and offices around the country, people are aghast that the failure to use a turn signal led to a woman’s arrest and, ultimately, her death by what officials have identified as suicide. People want to know if the officer’s actions—asking that Bland put out her cigarette and demanding that she step out of her car—were legal. But that’s the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking whether it was good policing.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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