Newsletter: Focus, Democrats: Beating Trump is the issue

President Trump pauses during his speech at a rally July 17 in North Carolina.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. You can find a map of all the wildfires burning in California right now here. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Here’s a sobering fact: Donald Trump is the most likely American to be inaugurated president on Jan. 20, 2021, even though he faces impeachment in the House and continuing revelations of his illicit conduct as commander in chief. The Republican majority in the Senate will likely protect Trump from conviction on whatever articles of impeachment pass the House, and all the advantages of incumbency still apply to him as the Democratic hopefuls take aim mostly at each other and not the man they must defeat next year.

Given the near certainty that it will be up to voters and not lawmakers to end the Trump presidency, the L.A. Times Editorial Board set out this week to demonstrate why it is critically important for Americans to undo the great mistake of 2016 and “pull our country out of the illiberal abyss into which it is sinking and put it on a path toward reason and fairness and empathy and constructive engagement with the world.”


The editorial board directed the bulk of its criticism at Trump, mainly in two pieces — one that opened the series, and another that exhaustively listed his failures as president. But some of the more prescriptive pieces were directed at the Democrats, whom the editorial board warned not to get too obsessed with defeating each other in the primaries and encouraged to bridge the gap between moderates and progressives. Also in the series, the board addressed concerns about the candidates’ ages, how the Democrats talk about race in 2020 and the question of “electability.”

Meanwhile, Republicans turned their impeachment protest into a circus. The deposition of the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine was damning for Trump, and the president’s defenders in Congress didn’t offer a point-by-point rebuttal or do anything remotely suggesting confidence in the president’s innocence. “It’s so much easier for Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill to bleat about the process of the inquiry than it is to deny [Bill] Taylor’s account or defend the quid pro quo,” writes Jon Healey. L.A. Times

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard may not be a Russian asset. But she sure talks like one. She complained to Sean Hannity about her fellow Democrats’ supposed lack of transparency on impeachment. She’s oddly sympathetic to Syrian leader Bashar Assad. She hates Hillary Clinton. Brian A. Boyle offers the Hawaii Democrat some advice: “If you’re trying to beat Trump, don’t talk like Trump. That’s how you end up getting labeled as a Russian asset.” L.A. Times

Is Rep. Katie Hill a victim of revenge porn? The freshman Democrat from Santa Clarita is under a House ethics investigation into allegations she carried on a relationship with an office staffer, which she forcefully denies. More interesting and possibly troubling, however, is how these revelations about Hill’s personal life came to light: by the leaking of intimate photos, which may be a violation of “revenge porn” laws, says Mariel Garza. L.A. Times

California’s farmers are going without power too, and it may affect them more acutely than when the utilities cut off city dwellers. Crops must be irrigated and harvested and cooled when they are stored, and animals must have access to drinking water to survive. None of this happens when wells cannot be pumped and refrigerators and freezers cannot run, putting farmers’ perishable resources at great risk. New York Times


Paying for Medicare for All is no problem. Yes, the government will have to spend considerably more money to cover everyone under a single-payer plan. But figures like $3 trillion more in federal outlays per year don’t matter much without context: Americans already spend about $1.5 trillion per year out of pocket on healthcare, and Washington already kicks in another $1.5 trillion for Medicare and Medicaid. L.A. Times

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