The Democrats/progressives 2020 Part II

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The Democrats/progressives 2020 Part I

Want to understand Biden voters? Here’s your reading list.
Eugene Robinson
Who are they and what drove them to vote in such huge numbers, even during a pandemic? What makes them tick? Is it culture? Tribalism? Race? How did they come to their worldview, and why do they cling to it so passionately? What do they mean for the future of American democracy?
I’m talking about the opaque and inscrutable Joe Biden voter, of course.
After Donald Trump won in 2016, the media and academia embarked on a numbingly comprehensive sociological and anthropological examination of “the Trump voter.” Reporters and researchers swarmed what seemed like every bereft factory town in the industrial Midwest, every hill and hollow of Appalachia, every windswept farming community throughout the Great Plains. I’m pretty sure television crews did, in fact, bring us reports from every single diner in the contiguous United States — at least, those where at least one regular patron wears overalls. … Logically, then, we should…subject “the Biden voter” to the same kind of microscopic scrutiny. Venture out of your bubble, Trump supporters, and try to understand how most of America thinks.

19 November
Biden poised to make first Cabinet announcements next week, eager to respond to Trump’s sabotage attempts
(CNN) President-elect Joe Biden has expedited the selection of his Cabinet and is planning to make the first of several key announcements next week, an official said, as part of a concerted effort to show that he is moving forward despite President Donald Trump’s increasingly brazen attempts to sabotage the election.

Stacey Abrams On Finishing the Job In Georgia
“It can be undone just as quickly and as effectively as we did it.
She is extraordinary, partly because she has one of the most detailed-oriented, forward-looking, compulsively organized brains in politics. Abrams — who served as minority leader in Georgia’s state legislature for seven years before running for governor in 2018, losing narrowly to Georgia’s then–Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in one of the most flagrantly voter-suppressed elections in recent memory — has been working to turn her state from red to blue for more than a decade. Now that her promise has (this time at least) been made manifest, many in the Democratic Party are looking toward Abrams as a kind of silver bullet: a figure who can be installed — in the Cabinet or as head of the DNC — to perform her magic across the nation.

12 November
The Atlantic: Democrats’ 2024 problem is already clear
Joe Biden won enough votes to capture the White House for Democrats. But the election also revealed the party’s weak spots.
Joe Biden accrued a record-setting number of votes, proving that the Democratic Party’s coalition is the largest in the country. But that alignment could be tricky to maintain, writers on our politics team warn.
The party’s truce is over. From our staff writer Elaine Godfrey: “For Democrats, this election was an exercise in setting aside differences in support of a broader goal: ending the reign of Donald Trump.” That’s done, and their civil war is back on.
It could pose a problem for 2024. “The results already have Democratic strategists privately asking frank questions about whether any of the next generation of Democratic leaders … can sustain enough of the coalition that elected Biden to the White House without him on the ballot,” Ronald Brownstein writes.
Failures on the state level could also haunt the party. “While the coronavirus pandemic did not stop voters from turning out in record numbers across the country, Democrats believe that it did hamper them in down-ballot races,” Russell Berman reports.
Black voters helped deliver Biden victory. Now they want action, Adam Harris writes.

9 November
How Democrats Missed Trump’s Appeal to Latino Voters
The election was a referendum on Trump’s America, but plenty of Latino voters liked it just fine.
(NYT) After four years of draconian Trump immigration policies and divisive messaging, the Biden campaign courted Latino voters primarily by reminding them that Joseph R. Biden Jr. was not Donald Trump, that if they felt targeted in President Trump’s America, a vote for Mr. Biden would change that.
That argument resonated for many Latinos, who became the second-largest voting group for the first time this year. [But] The Latino vote is deeply divided, and running as not-Trump was always going to be insufficient. … Democrats also did not seem to account for how effective Mr. Trump’s efforts to tie their party to socialism would be, especially among Venezuelan- and Cuban-American voters in Florida.
“If Biden gets elected, America will go down the rabbit hole of socialism into communism within the next year.”

28 October
Top Democrat strikes bullish tone: ‘Numbers are moving in our direction’
President Trump is facing a potential blowout loss and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s path to the White House is the widest it’s been all year long, according to the latest round of battleground state polling from Priorities USA, the largest outside group supporting Biden’s campaign.
Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil on Wednesday briefed reporters on their final round of polling, which painted an extremely bullish picture for Biden with the election less than a week away.

21-22 October
Jennifer Rubin: Obama reminds voters of a Trump-less America
In a reminder of better times, former president Barack Obama traveled to Philadelphia on Wednesday and delivered a stemwinder for the Democratic ticket. His topic was deadly serious — the need to rescue America — but he was joyous, funny and relaxed
Obama delivers blazing critique of Trump in 2020 campaign trail debut
“We’ve got to turn out like never before. We cannot leave any doubt in this election,” Obama said, warning that Trump has suggested he won’t accept the results if he loses.
Senate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave
A dozen U.S. Senate races are within the margin of error, with two theories on how they will shake out: voters split pretty much evenly, or in the final two weeks go against the incumbents.
Either way, it’s bad news for Republicans.
Joe Biden Has Changed
He’s preparing for a transformative presidency.
by Franklin Foer
(The Atlantic) Over the spring and summer, Biden inverted the historic template of the Democratic nominee. According to time-honored political logic, a candidate poses as a bleeding heart in the primary, only to retrace his or her steps back to the center in the general. During his time in his basement, by contrast, Biden’s ambitions for the presidency began to acquire a grandiosity that his intramural battle with Bernie Sanders hardly anticipated.
On paper, Biden has proposed the most progressive administration in American history. According to a Columbia University study, if the totality of the Biden agenda were implemented, it would lift 20 million Americans out of poverty. … in the face of the emerging crises, Biden acquired a fresh sense of urgency and a jolt of ambition. I spoke with campaign advisers and Democratic operatives who told me that he intends to quickly move on a multitude of fronts, provided a Democratic majority emerges in the Senate. Although there’s hardly a settled plan, he intends to aggressively press forward with not just a stimulus and police reform, but also comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 hourly minimum wage, and the addition of a public option to the Affordable Care Act.

10 October
Huge Absentee Vote in Key States Favors Democrats So Far
In Wisconsin, about 146,000 people voted by mail in the 2016 general election. This fall, about 647,000 people have already voted absentee, many in Democratic strongholds.
(NYT) The yawning disparities in voting across Wisconsin and several other key battlegrounds so far are among the clearest signs yet this fall that the Democratic embrace of absentee voting is resulting in head starts for the party ahead of Election Day. For Republicans, the voting patterns underscore the huge bet they are placing on high turnout on Nov. 3, even as states like Wisconsin face safety concerns at polling sites given the spikes in coronavirus cases.

6 October
Kamala Harris’s Expected Vice-Presidency Keeps Getting Bigger
(New York) …it’s the expanding outline of her expected post-November role that now has some party heavyweights curious as Election Day comes into sight, the Democratic polling lead looks stronger and stronger, and the sheer scale of the next administration’s task grows clearer. As the virus’s American death toll raced past 200,000 this summer, Biden spoke often with friends about how he considered his arrangement with Obama to be a model for his own government, which would surely face an even steeper uphill climb from its inception than Obama’s did, thanks to the pandemic’s devastation and the unrelentingly bitter division in D.C. that’s only grown worse since the September death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Many Democrats close to the ticket now expect Harris to take charge of a series of early projects like Biden did.

25 September
Democrats Are Moving Fast on the Filibuster. Biden Isn’t Yet. Nearly everything they want to achieve hinges on a step their candidate may not take.
By Gabriel Debenedetti
(New York) Joe Biden has repeatedly invoked a vision for his presidency as a New Deal–size national rejuvenation project, with himself playing the unlikely role of FDR. … But he may also be one of the few remaining members of that progressive coalition in D.C. who think an agenda like that could be passed without first quickly abolishing the legislative filibuster. At the very least, he wants to try and work with post–Donald Trump Republicans first, before his party moves to strip the Senate minority of the ability to effectively veto legislation. Many liberals fret that even if Biden wins and Democrats take back the Senate, he won’t have that luxury — that he would have to make a choice early in his presidency whether to embark on a truly expansive administration that stretches the landscape of legislative possibility, or a restorationist one, which rebuilds self-restricting norms after Trump’s destruction. Having it both ways is a way of achieving neither, they worry.

2 September
The Fall of the Kennedy Dynasty Took More Than Just One Night
By Ed Kilgore
Coverage of Joseph Kennedy III’s failed primary challenge to Senator Ed Markey has sometimes focused on its ideological implications, particularly Markey’s successful effort to position himself as a progressive champion fighting the ultimate beneficiary of name-brand privilege. But to a far greater extent, young Joe’s loss has been described as signaling the end of the family dynasty he often seemed uncomfortable representing. That feels unfair, since the Kennedy clan’s reputation for political invincibility began to slowly unravel many years ago.

31 August
Can Biden’s Center Hold?
By Evan Osnos
After a career built on incremental progress, Joe Biden is promising a Presidency of transformational change. The election will test whether his campaign can bring together a divided Party and a beleaguered country.

21 August
Some interesting and innovative suggestions
Here’s who Biden should pick for a dream Cabinet

Inside the Democratic Party’s plan to prevent vote-by-mail disaster
The party is reworking its voter contact programs and launching lawsuits to make sure as many mail votes get counted as possible.
The party’s virtual convention marked the unofficial start of a massive public education, voter contact and legal strategy to make voting by mail a success in the fall, a huge priority for Joe Biden’s campaign. Record high numbers of people plan to vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that group skews heavily Democratic, according to polling and absentee ballot request data.
Voting by mail is an unfamiliar process to a lot of Americans. And while speeches and videos featuring the likes of Michelle Obama will help raise awareness about voting in November and get people to make plans, many will also need more contact and help from campaigns than if they were going to vote in person.

20 August

Joe Biden speech at the Democratic Convention

Four takeaways from the final night of the Democratic National Convention
1. Biden’s concerted coronavirus pitch
2. The stutter emphasis
3. An emphasis on faith
4. The jokes … Perhaps the harshest line of the night was this, when Louis-Dreyfus referenced the scenes in Lafayette Square this summer: “Just remember, Joe Biden goes to church so regularly that he doesn’t even need tear gas and a bunch of federalized troops to help him get there.”

19 August

Kamala Harris’s convention speech, annotated

Charles M. Blow: A Convention Without Convening That Succeeds
We get to see some of the biggest names in the liberal cause remind us of what decency looks like.
There was a particular charge and effectiveness of seeing people in situ, surrounded by their books, in their kitchens, on their lawn, in some place that is meaningful to them or the people they represent.
The lack of a live audience also stripped away a bit of the performative nature of speeches and presentations; no pausing for applause, no way to know for certain if a line was landing. You simply had to deliver your speech.
But yet another benefit was that because there was no roar of the crowd, everyone could be clearly heard; because there was no crowd, cameras stayed fixed on the speaker instead of panning to the audience.
Some of the features of this convention should actually be preserved and repeated, even after we can meet again in large gatherings.

Democrats Nominate Biden for President, Delivering Long-Sought Prize
In a virtual roll call showcasing its diversity, the party rewarded Joe Biden with the nomination he has pursued intermittently since 1988. The long-awaited victory is a triumph of personal and political endurance.
(NYT) anointing him as their standard-bearer against President Trump with an extraordinary virtual roll call vote that showcased the cultural diversity of their coalition and exposed a generational gulf that is increasingly defining the party.
Denied the chance to assemble in Milwaukee because of the coronavirus pandemic, Democratic activists and dignitaries cast their votes from locations across all 50 states, the American territories and the District of Columbia — from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., to the iconic welcome sign in Las Vegas and far beyond to the shores of Guam, “where America’s day begins.” They offered a grand mosaic of personal identities and experiences, many speaking in raw terms about their aspirations and adversities.
The D.N.C. Offers Calamari Counterprogramming
At the pandemic-altered convention, the usually dull roll call became a travelogue of American diversity and comeback squid.
By
(NYT) This year’s roll call at the Democratic National Convention, like so many pandemic-required improvisations, was different: It stitched together video from iconic sites in 57 American states and territories. But unlike some other changes, it was neither weird nor unnerving. It was, dare I say it, better.
The nomination of Joseph R. Biden turned into a tour of a geographically and culturally diverse country, an eye-catching video civics lesson, homespun and corny in the best way — a surprisingly moving virtual travelogue for a time when most of us can’t do much traveling.
Jill Biden outshines Bill Clinton, and more takeaways from Night 2 of the Democratic convention
The platform of the “explainer-in-chief” was a shadow of what it had been in the past.
(Politico) On the day the Democratic Party nominated Joe Biden, it finally let Bill Clinton go.
“How do you make a broken family whole?” she said. “The same way you make a nation whole, with love and understanding and with small acts of kindness. With bravery, with unwavering faith. You show up for each other in big ways and small ones again and again.”

17 August
Michelle Obama’s Speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention

14 August
How Jennifer O’Malley Dillon transformed Joe Biden’s campaign
O’Malley Dillon, 43, has been transforming what had been an underfinanced, undisciplined and dysfunctional Democratic primary operation into a general-election machine capable of carrying Biden through to the November election. … Inside Democratic circles, O’Malley Dillon has long been known for her discipline, organizational skills and strategic sense.
Kamala Harris’s husband and potential ‘second gentleman’
(BBC) Mr Emhoff is a partner at global law firm DLA Piper, specialising in entertainment litigation and intellectual property, and splits his time between Los Angeles and Washington DC.
He graduated from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and worked in local law firms until the late 1990s, when he established his own practice.

11 August
VP pick Kamala Harris and the campaign road ahead
(Brookings) Restoring our splintered democracy, reversing a shredded economy, and healing a racially divided country are aspirational goals that are usual fare in campaign stump speeches of presidential candidates. But, against the backdrop of an infectious pandemic and nearly 163,000 American COVID-19 deaths, the 2020 Presidential race will be unlike any other to date. The pandemic agenda combined with the constitutional damage inflicted by the Trump Administration frames the extraordinarily difficult governance challenge that Vice President Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris will have to navigate.

‘Everybody should be covered and money should not be the reason people don’t get the health care they deserve’Kamala Harris sits down with Medicare for All activist Ady Barkan to discuss her plan to save American health care (video)

Thomas Friedman: This Should Be Biden’s Bumper Sticker
“Respect science, respect nature, respect each other.” It’s the only way to make America great again.
It summarizes so simply the most important values Americans feel that we’ve lost in recent years and hope to regain from a post-Trump presidency.
Biden should highlight his commitment to all three values in every speech and interview he gives. They draw such a clear, simple and easy to remember contrast with Trump. (6 June)

The wait is over!

Sen. Kamala D. Harris named as Joe Biden’s running mate

(WaPo) Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday picked Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate, a historic decision that elevates the first Black woman and first Asian American woman to run for vice president at a moment when the country is grappling with its racial past and future. Biden’s announcement, made in a text and tweet, aligns him with a former presidential rival whose most electric campaign performance came when she criticized his record on school integration during a debate.
Harris will formally be nominated at the national party convention [which starts on Monday]. She is then scheduled to debate Vice President Pence on Oct. 7 in Utah.

I’ve decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021.

Kamala Harris Is the Sensible VP Choice for a Sensible Nominee
By Ed Kilgore
(New York) Kamala Harris’s strengths as a running mate are quite real: a solid résumé of electoral success and steadily ascending responsibilities at the local, state, and federal levels; experience with the rigors of a presidential campaign (back when campaigns weren’t largely Zooming-from-the-basement affairs); a position on the ideological spectrum smack-dab in the middle of Democratic viewpoints (she’s a few ticks to the left of Biden himself, which doesn’t hurt party unity); and identification with not one but three important Democratic constituencies (college-educated women, Black Americans, and Asian Americans). More superficially but helpfully, Harris is telegenic and comfortable before cameras and the media generally.
America is about to see what smart Republicans saw in Kamala Harris years ago
Smart Republicans could see Kamala D. Harris coming years ago, and they tried to smother her early. Now that Joe Biden has chosen the first-term senator from California as his running mate, America is about to see what those Republicans could see long ago: Harris is a quick learner and gifted political performer with genuine star power.
In Kamala Harris, a Choice at Once Safe and Energizing
Her selection as Joe Biden’s running mate was conventional by some political standards. But it was historic most of all, and especially sweet for many Black women.
(NYT) In naming Kamala Harris as his running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. made a groundbreaking decision, picking a woman of color to be vice president and, possibly, a successor in the White House someday. Yet in some ways, Mr. Biden made a conventional choice: elevating a senator who brings generational and coastal balance to the Democratic ticket and shares his center-left politics at a time of progressive change in the party.
… Throughout their careers, both Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris have been pushed by the left, particularly on criminal justice, health care and the economy. Their responses have mirrored each other also: casting themselves as uniters at the center of the party. Their challenge now will be to unite a Democratic coalition that can bring in some of the voters Mr. Trump has put off, while motivating young people and progressives who may not see this ticket as representing their ambitions.
Justifiable concerns, but not insurmountable
Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris

8 August
Chris Dodd, an Insider From Biden’s Past, Is Helping Him Pick His Future
With the biggest decision of his long campaign life looming — choosing a running mate before accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in less than two weeks — he has tasked Mr. Dodd with helping to lead the selection process.
(NYT) As a legislator, Mr. Dodd was regarded as canny and effective by bipartisan consensus, traits that could serve him, and the former vice president, well in a role that necessarily entails seeking agreement from disparate groups.

6 August
Politico commentary: On Wednesday, the Biden campaign made official what had been apparent for a while: The candidate’s Milwaukee convention was dead. Joe Biden will accept the Democratic presidential nomination in a speech broadcast from Delaware. Credentialed reporters — myself included — were told to stay home. Delegates already had no plans to attend and are voting on party business via an electronic form.
Since Biden’s entire campaign is coming down to the question of how President Donald Trump has handled the pandemic, it was surprising that he waited this long to pull the plug on the gathering, scheduled to start on Aug. 17. Democrats have been rigorous to the point of being almost performative in their commitment to safe practices. For example, reporters, who were to be tested for the virus daily, were told that unlike previous years they would not have been allowed to share credentials with colleagues because swapping neck lanyards could cause contagion.

1 August
John Cassidy: Biden’s Big-Tent Strategy Seems to Be Working
… Despite the changing demographics of the United States, whites who don’t have a college degree still make up about forty-four per cent of the eligible electorate, according to [Ruy Teixeira, a polling expert and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress]; in some places, such as parts of the Midwest, the figure is even higher.
In 2016, Trump carried the white non-college demographic by thirty-one percentage points at the national level, according to Teixeira’s analysis of exit polls and election returns. Biden has narrowed the gap to twelve points, Teixeira said, citing a recent survey. That is similar to the margin in 2008, when Barack Obama defeated John McCain and the Democrats increased their majorities in both houses of Congress. …the Obama coalition consisted of minority voters, college-educated white liberals, and young people. Teixeira pointed out that Obama’s ability to restrict McCain’s margin in the white non-college demographic was also important, and if Biden matched that feat in November, he said, it could be of enormous consequence.
None of this means that Biden is a lock for the Oval Office. Between now and November 3rd, something could conceivably shift the momentum against him, such as a Vice-Presidential pick that backfires, a major slipup in the debates, or a surprising economic upturn. Right now, though, the challenger’s strategy of keeping the focus on the incumbent and pitching a broad tent that accommodates anyone who wants to see the back of Trump is working well.

31 July
Why would Biden pick a human lightning rod as VP?
(WaPo) Rice’s appeal to Biden is supposedly that they have a personal relationship. But Biden’s comfort and familiarity are luxuries we don’t have when we’ve lost five years of economic growth in one quarter, when the incumbent president’s pandemic bungling is killing 1,000 people a day and when the president talks of putting off the election while his political appointee disrupts the postal system’s capacity to handle mail-in ballots. Rice’s foreign policy expertise offers no complement to Biden’s résumé as former vice president and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

BIDEN-SANDERS UNITY TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS

16 July
David Brooks: President Biden’s First Day
Imagining Jan. 20, 2021.
The first thing you’ll notice is the quiet. If Joe Biden wins this thing, there will be no disgraceful presidential tweets and no furious cable segments reacting to them on Inauguration Day.
But there will be a larger quiet, too. For two decades American politics has centered on a bitter culture war between the white working-class heartland and university-bred coastal elites.
Biden is not an emblem of this coastal elite. His sensibility was nurtured by his working-class family during the postwar industrial boom of the 1950s and 1960s. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965 and missed the late 1960s culture war that divided a generation.
It’s very hard for conservatives to demonize Biden because he comes from the sort of background that Trumpian conservatives celebrate. He elides all the culture war divides. He doesn’t act superior to the “deplorables,” because his family taught him to despise status games of all sorts.

14 July
Biden Outlines $2 Trillion Climate Plan
(NPR) Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday outlined an updated climate plan, seeking to invest $2 trillion to boost clean energy and rebuild infrastructure.
…the plan would aim to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. It would also upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over four years to increase energy efficiency. And the proposal, Biden’s campaign said, would seek to shift major cities toward public transportation and “create millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure.”
The former vice president’s plan comes with a $2 trillion price tag, with plans to deploy those resources at an accelerated pace during his first term.
COMBATING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AND PURSUING ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate Plan
Joe Biden’s plan connects tackling climate change with the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, while also addressing racism. The proposal drew praise from his onetime critics.
(NYT) Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced on Tuesday a new plan to spend $2 trillion over four years to significantly escalate the use of clean energy in the transportation, electricity and building sectors, part of a suite of sweeping proposals designed to create economic opportunities and strengthen infrastructure while also tackling climate change.

12 July
Biden’s vision comes into view, and it’s much more liberal than it was
By Matt Viser
(WaPo) [He] is looking at building 500 million solar panels, slashing U.S. carbon emissions within 15 years, and rapidly expanding a government-sponsored health care plan. He wants to overhaul the way policing is conducted on American streets and the way success is measured in primary schools.
Over the past week, the presumptive Democratic nominee has offered the biggest burst of policy proposals since he effectively won the nomination, including a plan to spend $700 billion on American products and research. It marks a significant move to the left from where Biden and his party were only recently — on everything from climate and guns to health care and policing — and reflects a fundamental shift in the political landscape.
The new plans, which have come in speeches, interviews, and a 110-page policy document crafted with allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), provide a window into how Biden would govern, and they kick off a new phase in a campaign that until now has focused mostly on President Trump’s performance. As Biden releases more plans — including one on climate and clean energy investments this week — he appears to be drafting a blueprint for the biggest surge of government action in generations.

9 July
Greg Sargent: Joe Biden flips the script on Trump
Joe Biden is set to introduce a new economic plan on Thursday that … draws a stark contrast with Trump on two fronts — his failure to mobilize a robust federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, and his full-on embrace of GOP plutocracy, which sold out the Bannon promise.
The Biden Plan to Rebuild U.S. Supply Chains and Ensure the U.S. Does Not Face Future Shortages of Critical Equipment

What Would a Democratic ‘Tsunami’ in November Look Like?
By Ed Kilgore
This election is looking more like a Democratic tsunami than simply a Blue wave.
Coming from veteran observer Amy Walters of the ultra-cautious Cook Political Report, this was an unusually bold assertion, buttressed, it appears, by her belief that “the president is not interested in changing his approach or focus” despite countless indicators that he needs to in order to survive. She even discounts the possibility that Trump’s dismal performance will create a “checks and balances” undertow benefiting down-ballot Republicans among voters worrying about too much Democratic power… A Biden tsunami is definitely the best, and possibly the only, way to avoid disinformation about the results in a year when a slow count is going to definitely occur. …
Using Cook’s very change-averse ratings, of 11 competitive Senate races, nine are for seats currently controlled by the GOP, with Biden leading in the polls in five of the states with those vulnerable GOP seats. Given the recent trend toward straight-ticket voting — in 2016, every single Senate race was won by the party that carried the state in the presidential election — it’s extremely likely Democrats would win the Senate if they and Biden are performing as they are currently. That’s crucial, for the most obvious reason that a Senate majority would ease confirmation of Biden’s executive and judicial branch appointees.

5 July
Susan Rice sees stock rise in Biden VP race
(The Hill) Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are getting most of the buzz, but former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is also been getting a lot of attention in Joe Biden’s campaign as he considers who to pick as his running mate, sources say.
“I have never worked with anyone who is more skilled at rallying all parts of government into action and bringing people with diverse views together to tackle thorny problems,” Ambassador Brooke Anderson, who served as Rice’s chief of staff at the United Nations, said in an interview.
“She’s incredibly smart and strategic,” Anderson continued. “It’s not enough to have good ideas. You also need to have an understanding about how you get things done. She combines both and has deep experience in both.”

2 July
Why Joe Biden’s instinctive caution makes real change possible
The virus has demonstrated something definitively to a large number of persuadable voters: that Mr Trump is just not that good at being a president.
(The Economist) The dominant theory, on the right and the left, is that change in America is made by the extremes. On the right that has meant Goldwater-ism, the Tea Party and Mr Trump. On the left it has meant the anti-Vietnam movement, social-justice campaigns and Bernie Sanders. There is something to this idea: without these forces dragging him, Mr Biden might not have moved.
But to make lasting change through the federal government you need to win the Senate. And that cannot be done with a candidate at the top of the ticket who frightens the voters. That is the paradox of Mr Biden’s candidacy. Because he has flip-flopped on abortion rights and school desegregation by busing, because he comes across as the grandfather he is, he is viewed with suspicion on the left. Yet that is precisely what makes him reassuring, or at least unfrightening, to voters in states like Montana and Georgia where Democrats must win to gain a majority in the Senate. It is Mr Biden’s caution that opens up the possibility of more change than a real radical would.
… Though Mr Trump’s victory in 2016 was presented, not least by him, as the triumph of the enraged and downtrodden against a broken system, it came after 20 consecutive quarters of falling unemployment, when there were few threats from terrorism at home. This time is different. With 128,000 Americans dead from covid-19 and with unemployment rife, the centrist virtues of decency, experience and a willingness to act on advice from competent people could well seem more alluring.
… [Biden’s] campaign website is a smorgasbord of policy plans, most of which would never happen even if he were to win. But two of them conceivably could.
The first is a public option in health care, allowing Americans to buy health insurance from the government. America has been inching its way towards universal health care, a move that Mr Trump has been unable to reverse. Under a Biden presidency it could come within touching distance. The second policy is a significant reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions. Mr Biden wants to pass legislation to bind America to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Add to this Mr Biden’s return to multilateral engagement in foreign policy—which America’s allies would wholeheartedly endorse, and which could begin to steady a chaotic world. Even if Mr Biden accomplished only part of this agenda, the criticisms from the Democratic left would seem churlish.

30 June
Amy McGrath Wins Kentucky Democratic Senate Primary, Will Face McConnell
A week after Election Day, the results of Kentucky’s Democratic primary are in, and Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who has raised more than $40 million, has won.
Results for the race took seven days to come in thanks to expanded absentee voting. Mail-in ballots accounted for roughly three quarters of the more than 1 million votes cast in the primary. While state representative Charles Booker held a slight lead among in-person voters, McGrath made up ground when all the mail-in votes were counted. But her lead was still narrow. When the AP called the race, 89 percent of the vote was in and McGrath had a nearly 9,500-vote lead..

28 June
The woman Biden isn’t considering for vice president, but should
James Downie, Digital opinions editor
(WaPo) In her biography alone, Lee brings to the table both an inspirational personal story and years of experience. After suffering a miscarriage at just 16, Lee by age 20 was a single mother to two young boys and living on welfare. Still, she obtained both undergraduate and master’s degrees, at times taking her children to class with her because she could not afford child care. Starting as an intern in the office of former congressman and progressive icon Ron Dellums, Lee worked her way up to become his chief of staff, served eight years in the California state legislature, and in 1998 won a special election to fill the retiring Dellums’s seat. She’s been in the House ever since, including stints chairing the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus.
Adding Lee to the vice-presidential shortlist would signal that Biden is committed to breaking out of wrongheaded policy consensuses. It could fire up progressive voters who have been lukewarm about the former vice president, and whose turnout will be crucial in the fall. And it would show that he is willing to admit to and learn from past mistakes — a trait as deeply lacking in our leaders as it is sorely needed.
Frank Bruni: Biden’s Best Veep Pick Is Obvious
She, more than anyone, can get under Trump’s skin.
[Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is] a paragon of the values that Donald Trump, for all his practice as a performer, can’t even pantomime. She’s best described by words that are musty relics in his venal and vainglorious circle: “sacrifice,” “honor,” “humility.” More than any of the many extraordinary women on Biden’s list of potential vice-presidential nominees, she’s the anti-Trump, the antidote to the ugliness he revels in and the cynicism he stokes.
Duckworth, a former Army lieutenant colonel who lost both of her legs during combat duty in Iraq, is a choice that makes exquisite emotional and moral sense. Largely, but not entirely, because of that, she makes strategic sense, too.
For the uninitiated: Duckworth, 52, is in the fourth year of her first term in the Senate, before which she served two terms in the House. As my colleague Jennifer Steinhauer explained in a recent profile of Duckworth in The Times, she didn’t just serve in the Army: She became a helicopter pilot, which isn’t a job brimming with women. … Duckworth is neither progressive idol nor progressive enemy. That partly reflects a low policy profile that’s among her flaws as a running mate but could actually work to her advantage, making her difficult to pigeonhole and open to interpretation. Trump-weary voters can read into her what they want. And in recent congressional elections, Democrats have had success among swing voters with candidates who are veterans. Duckworth certainly can’t be dismissed as the same old same old. Her vice-presidential candidacy would be a trailblazing one, emblematic of a more diverse and inclusive America. Born in Bangkok to an American father and a Thai mother, she’d be the first Asian-American and the first woman of color on the presidential ticket of one of our two major parties. She was the first United States senator to give birth while in office and the first to bring her baby onto the Senate floor. You want relatable? Duckworth has two children under the age of 6. She’s a working mom.

26 June
Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Strike Down Affordable Care Act
If successful, the move would permanently end the health insurance program popularly known as Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.
Democrats, who view health care a winning issue and who reclaimed the House majority in 2018 on their promise to expand access and bring down costs, are trying to use the Supreme Court case to press their advantage. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote for Monday on a measure to expand the health care law, in an effort to draw a sharp contrast between Democrats and Republicans.

24 June
Democrats urge delegates to stay away from convention
The change of plans comes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats announced on Wednesday that the convention would move from the expansive Fiserv Forum — a state-of-the-art arena where the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team plays — to the much smaller Wisconsin Center, the city’s convention center. Attendees will be capped at 1,000 people, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.
The convention is scheduled to run for four days. Party officials said standing committee meetings would be held virtually, and organizers said parties for media and volunteers would not take place in Milwaukee.
The programming will feature “both live broadcasts and curated content from Milwaukee and other satellite cities, locations and landmarks across the country,” Democrats said in a news release.
They also announced that they would consult epidemiologists Ian Lipkin and Larry Brilliant on the convention planning.

16 June
Things Are Not Going Well for Amy McGrath
By Sarah Jones
(New York) McGrath faces a robust challenge from Charles Booker, the youngest Black legislator in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Booker has run to her left, and while McGrath holds a major fundraising advantage, Booker is gaining significant momentum ahead of the primary on June 23. Two of the state’s largest newspapers have endorsed him, and on Tuesday, Booker earned another major supporter. Alison Lundergan Grimes, who challenged McConnell in 2014, endorsed him over McGrath.
Enthusiasm might not be enough to propel Booker to victory over McGrath, but it’s a symptom of a bigger problem. National Democrats think they know what Kentucky wants, but Kentucky may disagree. A theory that recommends McGrath over Booker is one worth reconsideration, and not only because Booker marshals local support that McGrath lacks.

5 June
Aaron Blake:  The 11 most logical picks for Joe Biden’s vice president, ranked
Below is my latest ranking of the 11 candidates who make the most sense for the ticket at this moment. (Here’s my last list.) All 11 are women, in keeping with Biden’s pledge to pick a female running mate.

2 June
Joe Biden Laces Into Trump for Fanning ‘Flames of Hate’
In a speech in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden assailed the president’s handling of the protests over police brutality and racial justice, declaring that he had “turned this country into a battlefield.”
(NYT) In his first formal speech out in public since the coronavirus shuttered the campaign trail in mid-March, Mr. Biden delivered perhaps his closest approximation yet of a presidential address to the nation. He emphasized themes of empathy and unity to draw a clear contrast with Mr. Trump, who has threatened to deploy the military nationwide to dominate protesters and has portrayed those demonstrating as “thugs.”
With Mr. Trump determined to cast himself as a self-described “law and order” president, Mr. Biden aimed to appeal to a broader range of the electorate’s concerns, pledging to address economic inequality and racial injustice but also urging the nation to come together at a moment of deep civil unrest.
Transcript of the speech

29 May
The VP Choice Everyone Is Missing
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice has a powerful backer and an array of experiences that complement Biden’s.
(The Atlantic) Joe Biden’s concern about the national-security impact of the coronavirus has led him to weigh picking the Obama-administration national security adviser Susan Rice as his running mate, according to several people who’ve spoken privately with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in recent weeks.
Rice is well known in Washington, but has a much lower national profile than most of the other women being considered, and comes with few conventional political upsides. She isn’t particularly likely to be selected, people inside the campaign say (some who have spoken about her with Biden see her as a more likely pick for secretary of defense or secretary of state), and Rice has told confidants that she knows that.
Biden has a variety of personal and professional connections to some of the other women his campaign is looking at …. But Rice is the only one of these possibilities whom he’s worked with every day, during the eight years they both spent in the Obama administration, and none of the others has Rice’s level of experience in the executive branch, or in crisis management..
Biden’s Vice-President Shortlist Is Shrinking Before Our Eyes
By Ed Kilgore
One prominent prospect, Nevada senator Catherine Cortez Masto, has taken herself out of the running. Another, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, may have damaged her suitability significantly by a jewelry purchase that arguably violated her own stay-at-home order.
Now the sudden upsurge of protests over police killings, sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, is threatening to knock Amy Klobuchar out of contention, as the New York Times reports.
… two of the most prominent African-American names in the hopper, Kamala Harris and Val Demings (who penned an op-ed condemning the police misconduct in Minneapolis), both have law enforcement backgrounds. Harris’s shaky record on criminal-justice issues as a prosecutor and attorney general in California became an area of scrutiny during her presidential campaign, and such concerns won’t go away in the current climate.

21 May
Joe Biden’s VP Search Is Turning Into an Open Audition
By Gabriel Debenedetti
(New York) Formally, the committee members — former senator and lobbyist Chris Dodd, Delaware congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, and former Biden aide and Apple government affairs head Cynthia Hogan — have quietly been seeking the counsel of high-ranking elected officials, labor leaders, and people close to Barack Obama, who has spoken with Biden himself extensively about the process. They’re looking for the pros and cons of the individual contenders, people familiar with the conversations tell New York, but also for information about what various party constituencies are interested in and concerned about. … many people close to Biden are convinced he will ultimately choose among Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar — and many game their chances in roughly that order, though the ranking has shifted a few times in recent weeks, in their view, and likely will again.
… The omnipresent devastation of the pandemic has helped clarify the choice among at least some of the people around Biden. For one, multiple informal advisers cast doubt on the idea that he could choose a governor, since it’s unclear if she would have time to devote herself to campaigning amid the outbreak. “If you listen to Fauci, this is spiking in the fall, and if it spikes badly, Whitmer can’t be on the campaign trail,” warned Ed Rendell, a Biden friend and a former Pennsylvania governor and DNC chairman.
The imperative of finding someone who can seamlessly step into an executive disaster-management role in January has also dimmed the prospects of potential contenders who haven’t yet been elected to statewide office — like Abrams and Demings — in the eyes of some Biden whisperers. It’s increasingly likely, they say, that the tradition-bound Biden will keep a trend going: The party’s last six vice-presidential nominees — and 14 of its last 16 — were senators.
… But the close-readers’ consensus is that the nearest Biden’s gotten to tipping his hand may have been on a video call with supporters one Wednesday afternoon in early April. Roughly 50 high-powered backers …looked on as Biden thanked Harris for her support.

15 May
We have had suspicions about the Tara Reade story since it first surfaced
New Reporting Increases Doubts on Tara Reade’s Allegation Against Joe Biden
By Jonathan Chait
(New York) …three detailed reports — by Vox’s Laura McGann, PBS NewsHour, and Politico’s Natasha Korecki — have delved into Reade’s allegations. Neither reaches a definitive conclusion. But all of them on balance add a lot of grounds for skepticism. At this point, Reade’s allegation seems to me to be more likely to be false than true.

11 May
Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee by campaigning as a throwback — a comfortable, moderate Obama–era restorationist, making no special promises on the stump. That wasn’t just a strategy based on Democratic voters’ focus on electability, it was also a character trait. The former vice-president is an intuitive centrist who likes to be a dealmaker and doesn’t like being out ahead of things. But sometimes crises make strange personalities into world-historical figures, and inside the Biden campaign the presidency now looks very different than it did back in the primary: The candidate believes the country will be profoundly broken in January 2021, much worse than it was in 2009, and his job will be much bigger than Obama’s was then, indeed than any president’s has been since FDR. Or perhaps ever. Gabriel Debenedetti reports on how Biden is planning this imperial administration now from his Wilmington, Delaware, bunker — and trying to answer to a credible accusation of sexual assault, as well. — David Wallace-Wells, deputy editor, New York
Biden Is Planning an FDR-Size Presidency

3 May
Unexpected outcome in Wisconsin: Tens of thousands of ballots that arrived after Election Day were counted, thanks to court decisions
(WaPo) …tens of thousands of mail ballots that arrived after the April 7 presidential primaries and spring elections were counted by local officials — the unexpected result of last-minute intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court …  [and] a largely unexamined aspect of the court’s decision that temporarily changed which ballots were counted. Because of the order, election officials for the first time tallied absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day, rather than just those received by then — underscoring the power of narrow court decisions to significantly shape which votes are counted. Democrats think they have secured a game-changing precedent from the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 order. In the past week alone, lawsuits bankrolled by Democratic committees have been filed in four states seeking similar postmark rules and citing the Wisconsin opinion to bolster their argument. More cases are expected in the coming week.

29 April
Trump to begin preparing for transition in case he loses in November
(PBS Newshour) … Biden has been discussing transition plans with former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, a longtime top aide who was appointed to fill Biden’s Senate seat when he became vice president. Biden assured donors that he’s proceeding regardless of how Trump handles the matter.
The former vice president said he’s already considering his Cabinet secretaries and “sub-Cabinet” political appointees. Biden added that he has contemplated the unusual step of identifying some top Cabinet picks “even before we are able to win” so that voters will “have a better idea of what my administration will look like.”
The law requires presidential candidates and the General Services Administration to reach a memorandum of understanding that governs everything from the provision of federal office space to access to sensitive documents by Sept. 1, though generally it is reached sooner.
Transition teams begin vetting candidates for jobs in a future administration, including beginning the time-consuming security clearance process for likely appointees who need to be ready to take their posts on Inauguration Day.

13 April
If Biden Wins, He’ll Have to Put the World Back Together
His post-pandemic agenda will have to be a master class in redesign.
Thomas Wright, Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and
Kurt M. Campbell, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific
(The Atlantic) If Joe Biden wins the election in November, he will likely be sworn in —perhaps virtually— under the most challenging circumstances since Harry Truman became president in 1945. The country will probably be in the end stages of a brutal pandemic and faced with the worst economy since the Great Depression. The Treasury will be significantly depleted. Millions of people will have lost loved ones, their jobs, much of their net worth. Hopefully a vaccine or an effective treatment will be closer to reality, and our national attention can shift to what comes next.
We judge our great presidents by how they managed harrowing trials and wars …. But many of the bigger and less historically rewarding challenges are what come immediately after —how to rebuild and remake the country and engage in the wider world. Think about Ulysses S. Grant and Reconstruction, Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations, Truman and the architecture to wage the Cold War, George H. W. Bush and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some failed; others succeeded. All faced enormous obstacles explaining what just happened, what had changed, and how we must adapt. This is the category of presidency that Biden, or Donald Trump if he is reelected, will find himself in.

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