TPM Cafe: Opinion

What do unicorns and a perfect agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear activities have in common? The question is rhetorical of course, but it makes a serious point about the deal recently reached by Iran, the U.S., and six other key international players, and is currently being debated in Congress.

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This has not been Chris Christie’s week. Which is really saying something.

On Tuesday, a Monmouth University (N.J.) poll showed support for the New Jersey governor tumbling into eighth place among likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters. Just 4% of the 467 people surveyed said Christie was their first choice; 24% said the same about Donald Trump.

Sure, there were details that might give solace. Nearly half the voters who reported meeting a candidate said they’d met Christie. And when asked about their second choices, 8% of the respondents said they’d back Christie. That’s the same number supporting Trump and Marco Rubio as a second choice, and two points behind how Jeb Bush and Scott Walker perform among voters asked the same question.

But let’s face it. This isn’t where Christie needs to be to execute a hoped-for northeastern sweep that will generate enough momentum to carry him to the 2016 GOP nomination. And that implausible (if mathematically intriguing) scenario was never Plan A. Christie’s support among Republicans collapsed in early 2014 after his inner circle’s involvement in Bridgegate came to light, and it never rebounded.

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Few recent news stories have united Americans in outrage and anger as fully as the revelations about Minnesota dentist Walt Palmer’s illegal poaching and killing of famed African lion Cecil. From Jimmy Kimmel’s heartfelt monologue to the impromptu, growing collection of stuffed animals piled in protest outside Palmer’s office, from Facebook petitions arguing for Palmer’s extradition to Zimbabwe to the voluminous quantity of negative Yelp reviews of his dental practice, critiques of Palmer’s actions have come from all corners of our culture and society. In an era when we can’t seem to agree on anything, there seems to be widespread consensus that Palmer did something deeply wrong.

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Donald Trump’s lawyer’s comments that marital rape isn’t a crime rightly inspired outrage. They were both offensive and wrong on the law. Sadly, however, Cohen’s comments reflect the prevalent view that marital rape is not “real” rape, a view still informing the law on the books and in practice.

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

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