Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Drifting Down a River in Egypt

The betting markets seem to be coming around to the realization that it is highly unlikely that anyone but Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will be the Republican nominee. Not that betting markets are anything but a brass tacks version of conventional wisdom. But the perception is correct. We seem to be in a period where Republican party stakeholders are taking an inordinate amount of glee in pointing out that as long as Donald Trump doesn't clearly win more than 50% of the pledged delegates they can really do anything they want in Cleveland. This is true. But the logic is like getting out of putting up your relatives by burning your house down.

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No Problem

Nominating Paul Ryan won't be a problem because under GOP convention rules Trump and Cruz aren't allowed to get mad after the 1st ballot.

The Irony and the Awfulness

As you can see in this story here, we are now getting the details of what we've suspected or known in outline since the news first broke last year: that Denny Hastert, the longest serving Republican Speaker of the House in history, second in the line to the presidency for eight years, was a serial pedophile who preyed on adolescent boys in his charge when he was a high school wrestling coach before entering electoral politics. What is worth remembering is that Hastert's improbable rise to the pinnacle of political power in Washington was a direct consequence of Republican party efforts to exploit and eventually criminalize Bill Clinton's extramarital sex life in order to overturn the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections. The chain of events is clear and straightforward.

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Good News for Dems

After a few days that gave Dems plenty of heartburn, there's more positive news from the Republican side of the aisle. The appointment of Charles Manafort to run the delegate operation for the Trump campaign strikes me as an unqualified plus for the Democrats. Manafort is a storied, decades-long player in high level GOP politics. He's close to Trump advisor/gadfly/eminence semi-grise Roger Stone and actually Stone's former business partner. The idea is that Corey Lewandowski is still Trump's campaign manager and still running strategy. But that seems like a stretch given how central the delegate wrangling process has now become and how total Manafort's hold on that process appears to be. In any case, it's not clear to me that Lewandowski has ever been 'campaign manager' in any real sense. To the extent anyone is really calling the shots in Trump's campaign it seems to be Trump. I am not familiar with any major national campaign where the campaign manager traveled with the candidate and acts like a body man. In any case, Manafort is now a big player in the operation and here's why that's good news for the Dems.

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Not Good, Not Good At All

As you no doubt saw, last night Bernie Sanders launched a pretty blistering attack on Hillary Clinton, calling her unqualified to be president because of various past positions, relationships and votes. The attack was premised on Sanders' claim that Clinton had said that he was unqualified to serve as president. Only she didn't say that. The sorry tale tracks back to what was simply a false story in The Washington Post. The Post published a story that put together various Clinton interviews and recent statements and summed it up as 'Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be President.' As I said last night, I'm willing to believe, actually assume that Sanders was told the story was true. But the fact is that it wasn't.

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