Quick Takes: A Pact Among Trump’s Cabinet Members

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* In writing about Tilerson’s response to rumors that he has considered resigning, John Hudson reports this little tidbit from an inside source:

One US official expressed confidence in Tillerson’s status due to a so-called “suicide pact” forged between Defense Secretary James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Tillerson whereby all three cabinet secretaries vow to leave in the event that the president makes moves against one of them.

* You might remember that a few weeks ago Sen. Bob Corker told reporters that Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.” Today, while not naming the president specifically, he indicated who he thinks is responsible for the chaos.

* Matt Yglesias provides this documentation for what he calls “Trump’s reverse midas touch.”

A Reuters poll released on October 3 “found that the percentage of adults who said they had a ‘great deal’ or ‘some’ confidence in the press rose to 48 percent in September from 39 percent last November.”

On October 2 USA Today poll found that previously unpopular NFL player protests are now seen as appropriate by a 51 to 42 percent margin.

A Fox News poll in late September found the number of people who favor deporting illegal immigrants working in the United States had halved since the summer of 2015, with a staggering 83 to 14 margin in favor of a path to citizenship.

Gallup found on October 2 that support for more government action to solve national problems has risen to 45 percent, the highest it’s been in decades outside of a brief post-9/11 spike.

ABC News found on September 28 that “more than half of Americans now see climate change as responsible for the severity of recent hurricanes — an about-face from 12 years ago, when most attributed it to happenstance.”

* Yesterday, Randall Woodfin upset the two-term Democratic mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, to become the youngest mayor of that city in more than 100 years. Chris Cillizza’s article about that is titled, “A Bernie Sanders-backed candidate just got elected mayor in the deep south.” For that, Clillizza took some heat on twitter (something that happens quite often).

* Charles Pierce picked up on Cillizza’s theme and wrote that if Democrats don’t learn a lesson from this progressive Sanders-inspired win in a deep red state, they deserve to lose forever. He extrapolates from that race the idea that Democrats would be crazy to not go all-in to support Doug Jones in his battle against Roy Moore. Obviously neither of them read the interview Cillizza conducted with Erin Edgemon, a local Birmingham reporter.

Woodfin’s win wasn’t a big victory for Bernie Sanders, but more a reflection of Birmingham voters wanting a change from long-time politicians. Our Revolution’s involvement did likely bring more young voters to the polls, though.

There’s often a misconception of Birmingham on the national level. Birmingham is a more progressive city that cares about human rights…

In terms of Alabama politics, Woodfin’s win isn’t very significant. For decades, Birmingham has been the blue city in a red state…

The win isn’t likely to change Alabama’s red political landscape — where ultra-conservative and biblical Roy Moore is aiming to win election to Alabama’s Senate.

* Brian Beutler left the New Republic in order to become the editor-in-chief at Crooked Media. His first entry there reminds us that Republican aversion to the truth didn’t begin with the election of Donald Trump. He points to an essay Josh Marshal wrote here at the Washington Monthly back in 2003.

In the Washington Monthly essay, Marshall distinguished between liberals and modern conservatives by way of comparison between Bill Clinton, who treated governing as a means of solving specifiable problems, and Newt Gingrich, for whom ideology was a totalizing source of motivation. Out of that distinction between liberals and movement conservatives grows the unmistakable fact that Democrats devise and sell policy in a more above board manner than Republicans do, sometimes to their own political detriment…

Republicans, by contrast, use the most convenient justifications available to them at any given moment to sell agenda items (tax cuts, deregulation, a welfare state rollback) that they’re committed to year in, year out, irrespective of prevailing circumstances…

In this method, “we find the kernel of almost every problem the administration has faced over recent months-and a foretaste of the troubles the nation may confront in coming years,” Marshall warned way back before Iraq descended into civil war, and Katrina devastated New Orleans. “Muzzling the experts helped the White House muscle its revisionist plans through. But in numerous cases, it prevented them from implementing even their own plans effectively.”

* Finally, Paul Ryan’s response to the shooting in Las Vegas is to work on “mental illness reform” – whatever the hell that means. But it’s a good reminder about how the test that is implemented after every mass shooting limits our discussion to two topics.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.