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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I had thought the intra-Democratic divisions this year couldn’t help but be less than 2016. Divisions usually come more to the surface when a party has had a decent run in power. They’re not as hungry for the presidency. The risks of its loss are less palpable. There’s more focus on reordering who the dominant party faction is. The crisis of President Trump you would think would concentrate people’s minds. And indeed poll after poll shows just that: overwhelmingly Democrats want whoever can beat Trump.

But that’s not how it’s looking.

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We’re in a pretty dramatically different situation in the Democratic primaries than we were a week ago. Everything could change on Tuesday. But for now it looks much more likely that Bernie Sanders will be the nominee than it did a week ago or certainly a month or two ago. With that in mind, I wanted to flag a set of facts that tie back to what I discussed earlier this afternoon about Trump’s even more blatant post-impeachment abuses of power.

Most of these facts have been rattling around my head for the last six months but a reader from the Bernie world flagged an article to mention this evening which renewed my attention.

Back in 2016 and then again into 2017 a series of press reports raised questions about Sanders’ wife Jane Sanders and her time as President of Burlington College. The college underwent a dramatic expansion under Sanders’ leadership and then closed in 2016 under a mountain of debt. Press reports and political critics suggested that Jane Sanders and Senator Sanders’ Senate office had pressured People’s United Bank to make a $6.7 million loan to the bank which underwrote the expansion.

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President Trump has made clear repeatedly over the last week that he is not only vindicated but wants payback meted out against his political opponents. Susan Collins lamely claimed Trump had learned his lesson by being impeached. Even she had to take that back and say she hoped he had. Numerous press reports from news organizations with strong sourcing inside the White House say that Trump not only feels vindicated and wants payback but feels something like invincible. All the ‘adults in the room’ told him not to do this and not to do that. He did all of it and more and what happened? He’s still President. He’s even reasonably well positioned for reelection. So, he reasons, he was right all along and he can in fact do anything he wants.

Along those lines I want to point out just two things we’ve learned in the last forty-eight hours.

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Starting in December of 2004 and into the early months of 2005 TPM turned itself almost exclusively over to a focus on President Bush’s eventually failed effort to partially phase out Social Security and replace it with a system of private investment accounts. This got the attention of a Harvard Law Professor named Elizabeth Warren and her students and alerted them to the potential of online advocacy about key public policy issues affecting ordinary Americans’ lives. Warren and her students reached out to me and this led to our setting up a short-run blog exclusively focused on the federal bankruptcy bill then moving through Congress. Around the time that legislative battle had run its course we were launching TPMCafe. We decided to make that short-term effort permanent with Warren Reports, one of five sections of the original TPMCafe.

In 2005 Warren was far from an unknown figure. She had published widely read books on middle class squeeze and consumer debt issues and her public profile was growing. But she wasn’t an elected politician and I suspect (though obviously I can’t know) had little expectation of becoming one. Certainly she was far less well known than she is today and has been for going on a decade.

So today we’re republishing the posts she wrote for the TPM Bankruptcy Bill Blog (read them here) and Warren Reports (read them here) from mid-2005 through 2008, after which she went into the Obama administration.

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If the President’s press secretary is to be believed the President’s post-impeachment ‘victory’ speech today will be a sort of weaponized Festivus, a mix of grievances, complaints and calls for vengeance against his political foes.

I admit that Mitt Romney surprised me on this. Didn’t expect it. It’s easy to say that this is just a personal decision and it doesn’t matter. I don’t think that’s quite true. Obviously Trump will be acquitted. Almost certainly Romney will be the only Republican who votes to convict the President. But a couple days ago I noted how much Republicans gain by their unanimity. That has a profound, opinion-shaping, normalizing effect.

There’s one line that jumped out at me. Romney said about how history will record his vote that “they will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong.”

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A couple months ago I said that I was not surprised that Michael Bloomberg’s blanket television air war had ginned him up low single digit support. It’s sort of sad that a year of campaigning for an accomplished rising star Senator like Cory Booker couldn’t get that traction. But life isn’t fair. Running a lot of ads makes the first few points easy. There’s a decent number of floating voters. But once you get past 3% or 4% and try getting closer to 10% you need to start peeling away people with more fixed views and people who support other candidates. That’s much, much harder.

Well, I was wrong. It hasn’t been that hard.

The RCP average now has Bloomberg at 10.6% support nationally. That’s just a few percentage points behind Elizabeth Warren and rising rapidly.

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