Quick Take-aways from Last Night; Rocky Week for Mitch McConnell; China Trade Talks Stall
Author: Greg Valliere
July 31, 2019
BY 10:40 LAST NIGHT, some major political themes became clear — most of them unfavorable for the Democrats. Quick take-aways:
JOE BIDEN NEEDS TO SHINE TONIGHT: Last night’s debate was interesting and moderately entertaining, but we didn’t see one candidate who could beat Donald Trump. Only Biden has the blue collar credibility in Pennsylvania, Michigan, etc. — and if he stumbles tonight, a sense of panic will emerge within the party, because there sure doesn’t appear to be a Plan B.
DEEP DIVISIONS: “I belong to no organized political party — I’m a Democrat,” the humorist Will Rogers famously cracked, and the cacophony last night must have confused viewers. The progressive plans seem far too ambitious, but the criticism from moderates simply gives the GOP ammunition. The widening rift among Democrats seems likely to alienate one of the two factions — probably the activist left — which would have huge implications for turnout in the general election.
TIME FOR WINNOWING: It’s pretty clear that Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, John Delaney, Tim Ryan, John Hickenlooper, and Marianne Williamson have no chance; the latter can book a return flight to Pluto. There are only a half dozen candidates with a plausible chance of winning the nomination — Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are still very much alive — but Trump must be licking his chops.
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MITCH McCONNELL’S ROCKY WEEK: The Senate Majority Leader, usually the master of his universe, has three major headaches:
1. The budget/debt ceiling deal faces a surprisingly close vote today; virtually all Republicans hate it, with half of them likely to defect. The measure should pass, but McConnell has encountered stiff resistance in a party known for its lock-step allegiance to him and Trump.
2. McConnell is stuck with defending John Ratcliff’s nomination to be Director of National Security. GOP support for the inexperienced back-bencher is tepid at best, complicated by new allegations that Ratcliff has exaggerated his resume.
3. McConnell has a new nickname in Kentucky, where he faces re-election next year: “Moscow Mitch,” referring to his adamant opposition to bringing legislation to the Senate floor that would curb foreign interference in the 2020 election. McConnell has his reasons for opposing action — states’ rights in particular — but his opponents have struck a nerve.
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TRADE TALKS STALL AGAIN: China trade negotiations are in real trouble. High-level delegations from both countries made no apparent progress at a dinner last night in Shanghai; not only is there deep division over key issues, but a sense of ill-will clearly is increasing. Plus, a final deal with Canada and Mexico is not imminent, and huge disputes loom between Washington and the EU.
FAILURE TO MAKE PROGRESS on trade is a growing albatross for Trump in the Midwest, where companies and farmers are confused and angry. The only good news is that tariff headwinds will keep the Federal Reserve accommodative, not
that rate cuts will make much of a difference in this worsening China trade war, which seems to be many months away from resolution.
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