September 28, 2021

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POLITICO Playbook: Did Texas just reset the 2022 campaign? – POLITICO – Politico

15 min read

If you want to understand the interplay between religious faith and politics at this moment, Ruby Cramer is out with an essential read on President JOE BIDEN’s very public, very personal clash with the Catholic Church over his support of abortion rights.

“He is a president who built his life in politics around the idea of faith, not in some vague way, but in a specifically Catholic way,” Ruby writes. “When he explains himself to the world, it is through Catholic social doctrine and the Catholic institutions he loved: the nuns, the schools, the culture. And yet he has arrived in the White House to discover that he is viewed suspiciously not by non-Catholics for being too Catholic, but rather by members of his own faith for not being Catholic enough. It was his position on abortion — and his decision in the Democratic primary to finally oppose the Hyde Amendment, the measure banning public funding for most abortions, the one thing he resisted for decades — that helped him win the White House after three decades and three presidential campaigns, but immediately made him a target of his own church.”

The debate over abortion is again moving to the front and center of American politics.

— One thing driving it: GOP dominance at the state level. Democrats control the White House, Senate and House. But GOP control of state and local governments has brought about something of a “provincial policy renaissance” for conservatives, WaPo’s Michael Sherer writes — including the spate of novel new restrictions on voting and abortion rights.

— Which led to Texas’ sweeping new abortion ban. The law blocks abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy — even in cases of rape — and allows anyone to sue a private citizen they suspect of having aided in such an abortion, including, for instance, an Uber driver who takes a woman to a clinic. Successful plaintiffs get a minimum of $10,000 and their legal fees paid for; successful defendants don’t get to recoup their costs. (Here’s a name you should learn: JONATHAN F. MITCHELL. He’s a 45-year-old litigator, Federalist Society member, former clerk to Justice ANTONIN SCALIA — and the legal mind behind the enforcement mechanism, writes WSJ’s Jacob Gershman.)

— Suddenly, stories that weren’t great political terrain for Biden and Democrats — the fallout from the Afghanistan pullout, the new Delta surge, humdrum new employment numbers, etc. — were replaced by the Texas news, then the Supreme Court non-ruling — a storyline that Democrats know will motivate their liberal base and potentially drive moderate women to the polls.

And that’s giving Democrats big hopes both in upcoming elections and for 2022. They can use what’s happening in other states — and the judiciary’s non-intervention — to nationalize their campaigns. All of these changes may end up provoking a backlash that motivates turnout for Dems in the midterms.

Democrats have two early trial runs of this approach in the next few weeks:

— California: “Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM is making abortion rights a central theme in his campaign to hold on to his office after a Texas ban on most abortions took effect this week, arguing Californians’ rights could be also be jeopardized if he’s replaced as governor by Republican LARRY ELDER,” reports the Sacramento Bee’s Sophia Bollag.

— Virginia: “As Texas law takes effect, abortion looms large in Virginia governor’s race,” by WaPo’s Laura Vozzella in Richmond: Texas pushed [Democrat TERRY MCAULIFFE’s] efforts into overdrive. … [GOP nominee GLENN YOUNGKIN] grumbled a bit that the issue was suddenly overshadowing all others.”

Good Sunday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

THREE TOP SUNDAY READS…

— A look at the “Biden doctrine” on foreign policy — and the bubble that enables it. In the wake of the Afghanistan withdrawal, NYT’s Helene Cooper, Lara Jakes, Michael Shear and Michael Crowley proclaim the emergence of a “Biden doctrine”: “a foreign policy that avoids the aggressive tactics of forever wars and nation building, while uniting allies against the authoritarianism of rising powers.”

One nugget buried deep in the story: “With the exception of the Pentagon … the president has surrounded himself with longtime national security aides who helped shape his view of how to advance American interests abroad,” they write, pointing to former aides like ANTONY BLINKEN, JAKE SULLIVAN and COLIN KAHL “The result, critics say, is that Mr. Biden’s doctrine is being formed by a group of like-minded officials, most of them largely on the same page as their boss,” which means that “the president may not be stress-testing his doctrine during internal meetings at the White House.”

— Inside CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO’s 2022 tightrope act, by WSJ’s Eliza Collins in Reno. The Nevada senator is one of the few Democratic incumbents facing a tight reelection campaign in 2022. And she’s aiming to prevail while walking a fine line: “embracing the bipartisan portion of President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar spending plans while distancing herself from the progressives who took over the Nevada state party, taking a centrist tack.”

— How CHUCK SCHUMER got the U.S. Senate moving again, by Time’s Molly Ball, who has new details about the Senate majority leader’s insistence on not programming fellow senators’ phone numbers into his ‘00s-era flip phone — or flip phones, to be more precise: he bought 20 of the same model in bulk, and is on number 18. “He sees he’s missed a call from a restricted number. ‘I know who’s restricted — it’s probably Warner,’ he says. He punches in the 10 digits for Virginia Senator Mark Warner, which he’s memorized along with all the others. ‘Did you just call me?’ Sure enough, that’s who it was.”

SUNDAY BEST …

FEMA Administrator DEANNE CRISWELL on “Fox News Sunday” on intensifying natural disasters: “I think this is going to be our new normal. … Last year was a record number of hurricanes and a record wildfire season. The UN had just put out their climate report and they said that this is the climate crisis that we’re facing and it’s only going to continue to get worse.”

White House senior adviser CEDRIC RICHMOND on ABC’s “This Week” on Hurricane Ida: “These once-in-a-century storms are starting to come almost every other year. They’re bigger, stronger. They wreak more havoc. If you look at New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, people should see what climate change is doing. We’re going to address that in our legislation. The president created this legislation over a year ago. So he was ahead of this. Now we need Congress to come along with us to protect the American people and invest in them.” More from David Cohen

White House COS RON KLAIN on the remaining Americans in Afghanistan on CNN’s “State of the Union”: “We believe it’s around 100. We’re in touch with all of them who we have identified on a regular basis. Obviously, we’re hopeful that, in the coming days, the Qataris will be able to resume air service out of Kabul. And, if they do, we’re obviously going to look to see if Americans can be part of those flights.”

Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minn.) on Supreme Court Justice STEPHEN BREYER potentially retiring on CNN’s “State of the Union”: “I believe, if he is seriously considering retirement — and he has said he would do it based on not only his own health, but also the future of the court — if this [Texas] decision doesn’t cry out for that, I don’t know what does.”

— On Sen. JOE MANCHIN’s (D-W.Va.) stated opposition to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill: “I don’t quite use the word ‘persuadable,’ because it’s — I’m trying to picture ‘persuading’ Joe Manchin. But he gets to the right place. We knew this was going to be a tough negotiation. I’m not surprised by what he wrote. And we will get this done.”

Sen. BILL CASSIDY (R-La.) on the Texas abortion ban on ABC’s “This Week”: “I think the Supreme Court will swat it away once it comes to them in an appropriate manner. If it’s as terrible as people say it is, it‘ll be destroyed by the Supreme Court. … People are using it to gin up their base to distract from disastrous policies in Afghanistan, maybe for fundraising appeals. I wish we would focus on issues as opposed to, as opposed to theater. It was about if they had standing, nothing to do with constitutionality. I think we should move on to other issues.” More from David Cohen

BIDEN’S AND HARRIS’ SUNDAY: The president and VP have nothing on their public schedules.

WHITE HOUSE

BIDEN APPROVAL RATING SINKS — There’s a new Washington Post-ABC News poll with some not-great numbers for Biden amid the latest pandemic and economic news.

— Biden’s overall approval rating: 44%, down six points from June.

— Approval of his handling of the economy: 45%, down seven points from April.

— Approval of his handling of the pandemic: 52%, down 10 points from June.

— Another worrying trend for Biden: 47% of Americans “rate their risk of getting sick from the coronavirus as moderate or high, up 18 percentage points from late June.” And among partially or fully vaccinated adults, concerns about catching the virus rocketed up 20 points in the same period.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL — “In Invoking Beau, Biden Broaches a Loss That’s Guided His Presidency,” by NYT’s Katie Rogers: “Biden is still haunted by the memory of a son he had always described to confidants as ‘me, but without all the downsides,’ and … his anguish over that loss can clash with the political realities of being president. …

“The president still sometimes mentions his son in the present tense in private discussions … He carries his son’s rosary beads with him, once holding them aloft during a virtual meeting at the White House this spring with the president of Mexico. Several people close to Mr. Biden conceded that he sometimes does not always seem to be aware that broaching his own loss can make others uncomfortable.”

TALIBAN TAKEOVER

— Did the U.S. undercount the number of Americans left behind? Veteran-led rescue groups tell the AP that the Biden administration’s count of roughly 200 U.S. citizens in Afghanistan “is too low and also overlooks hundreds of other … permanent legal residents with green cards.”

— In Kabul, Taliban militants violently put down a group of women protesting against the new regime, per the NYT.

— They’re also terrorizing shelters for abused women and children, vandalizing their buildings and sending staff members into hiding amid death threats, reports NYT’s Alissa Rubin.

— Afghan evacuees who fail initial screenings will be taken to Kosovo, writes the AP.

— Gen. MARK MILLEY says that Afghan forces “were not designed appropriately” to secure their nation, via a Fox News interview. Also: Milley says a civil war is “likely.”

— How the Taliban outlasted the U.S. at the negotiating table, by WaPo’s Karen DeYoung.

PAGING EISENHOWER — “Corporate boards, consulting, speaking fees: How U.S. generals thrived after Afghanistan,” by WaPo’s Isaac Stanley-Becker: “The eight generals who commanded American forces in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2018 have gone on to serve on more than 20 corporate boards … [Stanley] McChrystal is the runaway corporate leader.”

20 YEARS SINCE 9/11

FOR YOUR RADAR — The Bidens will travel Saturday to all three sites of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. VP KAMALA HARRIS and second gentleman DOUG EMHOFF will be in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

TOUCHING READ — “They Lost Their Fathers on Sept. 11. Then They Found Each Other,” by WSJ’s Leslie Brody: “The first time they met, EDWARD SEAMAN and JULIA COOMBS were attending a camp in Belfast, Ireland, for teenagers who had lost parents to terrorism. The second time they met, Mr. Seaman saw Ms. Coombs walking toward him at orientation at Loyola University Maryland. To his blushing dismay, Mr. Seaman promptly spilled his Diet Coke all over the lunch table.

“Within a year they had fallen in love. Now they are planning a wedding by the ocean in Newport, R.I., in October. The ceremony will include tributes to their fathers, both killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Ms. Coombs and Mr. Seaman say they feel grateful to have found a partner who knows what it is like to endure sudden, lasting heartache from such a public tragedy. On the 9/11 anniversary, they often walk across the Brooklyn Bridge together to see the lights shining from the Manhattan memorial. … ‘It’s like our dads wanted us to be together,’ says Ms. Coombs.” Also from Brody: “The Children of 9/11: Lessons in Resilience”

TOP-ED — “9/11 was a test. The books of the last two decades show how America failed,” by WaPo book critic Carlos Lozada in a major essay: “Rather than exemplify the nation’s highest values, the official response to 9/11 unleashed some of its worst qualities: deception, brutality, arrogance, ignorance, delusion, overreach and carelessness.

“This conclusion is laid bare in the sprawling literature to emerge from 9/11 over the past two decades — the works of investigation, memoir and narrative by journalists and former officials that have charted the path to that day, revealed the heroism and confusion of the early response, chronicled the battles in and about Afghanistan and Iraq, and uncovered the excesses of the war on terror. Reading or rereading a collection of such books today is like watching an old movie that feels more anguishing and frustrating than you remember. The anguish comes from knowing how the tale will unfold; the frustration from realizing that this was hardly the only possible outcome.”

HISTORY LESSON — “How a Long Island Man Became the ‘Forrest Gump of Jihad’ — and Then Flipped,” by Carla Power for POLITICO Magazine

TEXAS ABORTION BAN FALLOUT

BIG BUSINESS NOT TOUCHING THIS ONE — “Corporate America, critical of restrictive voting bills, remains largely silent on Texas abortion ban,” by WaPo’s Todd Frankel and Jena McGregor: “Texas-based American Airlines and Dell Technologies, which earlier this year criticized Republican-led attempts to restrict voting access in Texas and other states, have remained silent … Dallas-based Southwest Airlines also declined to comment, as did Hewlett-Packard Enterprise … Many other corporations with large Texas workforces — including Amazon, Apple, Google, Kimberly Clark and AT&T — did not respond to inquiries from The Washington Post.

“The silence from a large swath of corporate America reflects a deep uncertainty about whether and how to enter the debate over abortion, a topic that divides the nation … On Friday, Uber and Lyft said they would cover legal fees for drivers sued under the law. Meanwhile, the Web hosting provider GoDaddy told Texas Right to Life to find a different provider for prolifewhistleblower.com … The online dating sites Match and Bumble, the latter of which is based in Austin, have set up funds to help employees who may be impacted by the ban.”

— CHOOSE YOUR NEWS: “U.S. companies lash out at Texas law changes, including abortion ban,” by Reuters’ Tina Bellon and Jessica Dinapoli … “These companies are pushing back against the Texas abortion law,” by CNN’s Matt McFarland

POLITICS ROUNDUP

2022 WATCH — “There’s a hot new trend in Democratic Senate primaries: They exist,” by NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald and Henry Gomez: “Republicans are no strangers to raucous primaries … But it’s a new approach for Democrats, who have prided themselves on coalescing behind one candidate early — even when it rankles activists and disfavored candidates — and have often called attention to the chaos on the GOP side. …

“Washington power brokers have had a harder time throwing their weight around, since candidates can now build their own fundraising and support networks online. And, this year, a number of well-qualified Democrats jumped into Senate races especially early — including some who did so in order to try to get ahead of their party’s bigfoots.”

TRUMP CARDS

TRUMP INC. — “Trump nears deal for D.C. hotel,” by Axios’ Jonathan Swan and Dan Primack: “Former President Trump is in advanced talks to sell rights to his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. … The removal of Trump’s big, golden name from Pennsylvania Avenue would be a symbolic bombshell savored by opponents. …

“Trump would sell the leasing rights to a real estate developer, who in turn would negotiate with hotel companies that would manage the property and rebrand it. Details of the deal’s terms aren’t yet known but Trump’s representatives have been in talks with major hotel chains and investors. … Sources said the former president is likely to get less than the $500 million he was reportedly seeking in 2019.”

BEYOND THE BELTWAY

THE CLIMATE CRISIS IS HERE — “Nearly 1 in 3 Americans experienced a weather disaster this summer,” by WaPo’s Sarah Kaplan and Andrew Ba Tran: “Nearly 1 in 3 Americans live in a county hit by a weather disaster in the past three months, according to a new Washington Post analysis of federal disaster declarations. On top of that, 64 percent live in places that experienced a multiday heat wave …

“Americans’ growing sense of vulnerability is palpable. … Even seasoned survivors say that recent disasters are the worst they’ve ever experienced. People who never considered themselves at risk from climate change are suddenly waking up to floodwaters outside their windows and smoke in their skies, wondering if anywhere is safe. The true test of this summer’s significance will be in whether the United States can meaningfully curb its planet-warming emissions — and fast.”

AMERICA AND THE WORLD

COMING SOON TO A FOX NEWS CHYRON — “New migrant caravan sets off for U.S. from southern Mexico,” by Reuters’ Jose Torres: “A migrant caravan of around 400 people, including many children, set off from the southern Mexican city of Tapachula for the United States on Saturday, just a couple of days after security and migration officials dispersed another large group.”

DESSERT

PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION — “DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future’ parked on the National Mall,” WTOP: “The vehicle will remain on the mall until Thursday. It’s part of the ‘Cars at the Capital’ event, which showcases notable cars inside a glass box.”

Pete and Chasten Buttigieg announced that they’ve become fathers, introducing the world to newborn twins Penelope Rose and Joseph August.

Kathy Hochul appears to have sharpied over the “Lt.” in the “Lt. Governor” embroidered on her emergency response jacket.

SPOTTED: Energy Sec. Jennifer Granholm riding a Capital Bikeshare past Union Station while fully decked out in University of Michigan Wolverines gear.

Astead Herndon attended the U.S. Open, where he booed Novak Djokovic

Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) went to an anti-pipeline protest in Bemidji, Minn., the mythical home of Paul Bunyan.

WHITE HOUSE ARRIVAL LOUNGE — Nik Marda is now junior policy adviser for artificial intelligence at the White House. He most recently was policy consultant to the Data & Society Research Institute.

WEEKEND WEDDINGS — Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) and Rob Gulley, a software engineer at Rightpoint in Royal Oak, got married on Friday surrounded by their closest friends and family in a small ceremony in their home state of Michigan. Guests were required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival. Michigan A.G. Dana Nessel performed the service. Stevens and Gulley attended the same high school and reconnected in 2017. SPOTTED: Reps. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Abby Finkenauer and Neera Tanden. Pic Another pic

— Garrett Haake, Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News, and Allison Harris, White House correspondent for NewsNation, got married on Saturday night in Essex, Conn. The two were married by Harris’ brother in an intimate ceremony overlooking the Connecticut River. The D.C.-Texan couple met in Dallas in 2019. Pic

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) … theGrio’s April Ryan … Pangiam’s Kevin McAleenan (5-0) … DGA’s Noam Lee … Atlantic Council’s Fred KempeJessica Mejía … WSJ’s Ted MannRob Lehman … NYT’s Clay RisenMatthew AllenAnne Marie Hoffman of the Harbour Group … Jeremy FurchtgottDavid Fauvre of Arnold & Porter … CBS’ Kris Van CleaveDale Neugebauer of DNstrategic … Abby McIntyre … Fox News’ Amy Fenton POLITICO’s Aaron Lorenzo and Janaki Chadha Brian Wolff of the Edison Electric Institute … Raytheon’s Erica Donovan Natalie CofieldDavid Yarkin of Procurated … Justin Schwab of CGCN Law … Annie Nguyen … CNN’s Rachel Janfaza … former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.) … Catherine Reynolds Kum Kang Weklar … Girls Who Code’s Tarika Barrett (49) … Stephanie Green Melissa Sowerwine of IDS International

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