FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
June 21, 2017

The day after Democrats lost yet another special House election, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) offered a brutal analysis of his party's struggle to define its economic message. "I think we've been hyperconfused over the course of the past five years," Murphy said Wednesday on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "Some of the time we're talking about economic growth, some of the time we're talking about economic fairness."

Murphy said he thinks Democrats ought to instead be "hyperfocused on this question of wage growth and job growth." He urged Democrats not to be "scared off by that message just because it's been what Republicans have been talking about."

Murphy dished out his advice after Republican Karen Handel soundly defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff by a 4 percent margin in Georgia's special House election Tuesday. Also Tuesday, Democrat Archie Parnell lost to Republican Ralph Norman in South Carolina's 5th congressional district, securing an 0-4 record for Democrats in special House races this year.

Watch Murphy's analysis of Democrats' messaging struggles below, and read more on how Democrats should move on here. Becca Stanek

March 24, 2017
Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Conservative commentator David Brooks had some harsh words for Republicans in his column Friday in The New York Times. Underneath a headline declaring the "Trump elite" to be like "the old elite, but worse," Brooks argued the GOP health-care bill is "not molded to the actual health-care needs of regular voters." "It was written by elites to serve the needs of elites," Brooks wrote. "Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp, but this bill is pure swamp."

The bill, Brooks said, appears to have been written only because the new GOP leaders "needed something they could call ObamaCare repeal — anything that they could call ObamaCare repeal," and because President Trump "needed a win":

They were more concerned with bending, distorting, and folding the bill to meet the Byrd rule, an arbitrary congressional peculiarity of no real purpose to the outside world. They were more concerned with what this internal faction, or that internal faction, might want. The result was a pedantic hodgepodge that made no one happy. [David Brooks, via The New York Times]

While Republicans may feel caught between supporting party leaders and opposing a bill that's widely disliked and "bad for most voters, especially Republican voters," Brooks warned: "This bill takes the most vicious progressive stereotypes about conservatives and validates them."

Read Brooks' full column at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

March 20, 2017

The House is planning to vote Thursday on the Republican proposal to replace ObamaCare, known as the American Health Care Act. The bill — drafted mostly by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — has faced criticism from both sides of the aisle, as some Republicans object to its keeping certain provisions of former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, while Democrats have pointed to the millions of Americans who would lose insurance.

President Trump has declared his support for the American Health Care Act, and The Washington Post reported last week that Trump was "relishing a role as a high-stakes 'closer'" in the negotiations over the bill. Trump has asked several members of the House directly to support the bill, the Post reported, and Ryan said earlier this month he was confident Republicans would produce the 218 votes needed to advance the bill to the Senate.

But one Republican congressman, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), hinted at a much different reality in a tweet Monday morning:

Amash was elected to Congress in 2010. He is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which said Friday it "opposes the GOP replacement bill in its current form." Kimberly Alters

November 9, 2016
PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump's victory was bad news for more than just Hillary Clinton's supporters. Bloomberg reported that, at the opening bell Wednesday morning, the collective wealth of the world's billionaires was down $41 billion as the shock of Trump's win roiled the markets. Earlier in the week, when Clinton looked poised for a victory, the world's richest saw their wealth increase by a collective $57 billion.

Carlos Slim, Mexico's richest man and the fifth-richest person in the world, was hit particularly hard by the news of Trump's impending victory. As the peso plummeted "as much as 12 percent on the news" of Trump's win, Bloomberg reported that Slim lost $5.1 billion — about 9.2 percent of his wealth.

In brighter news, the markets opened higher than expected Wednesday after taking a nosedive Tuesday night. And as Money magazine pointed out, the losses of the world's wealthiest weren't as bad as they were after the U.K.'s Brexit vote, when their collective wealth plunged $212 billion. Becca Stanek

October 20, 2016

While ostensibly campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, President Obama sure made a convincing case against Marco Rubio. The Florida senator is up for re-election to his Senate seat, facing a challenge from Democratic congressman Patrick Murphy — but it seems like Obama hasn't quite forgiven Rubio for the last campaign he ran, when he made attacking Obama a central theme of his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Obama sandwiched his case against Donald Trump with dings at Rubio, telling the assembled crowd that Rubio once called Trump — a candidate he is planning to vote for — a "con artist" and an "erratic individual" who shouldn't be trusted with the nuclear codes. "That begs the question: Since we're in Florida, why does Marco Rubio still plan to vote for Donald Trump? Why is he supporting Donald Trump?" Obama asked. He then moved on to attacking Trump before circling back to Rubio, and in explaining Rubio's apparent line-toeing on the Republican nominee, Obama went for the jugular:

Watch Obama's whole takedown of Rubio, courtesy of CNN and Mediaite — the knife-twist happens around the 8:30 mark in the video below. Kimberly Alters

October 3, 2016

After watching this new Hillary Clinton ad, it's hard to say what's worse: the revelations from Donald Trump's tax returns, or his golf swing. Clinton's latest ad, entitled "Arrogant," shines a spotlight on The New York Times' report over the weekend that Trump might not have paid federal income taxes for "nearly two decades." "He claims he's worth $10 billion," the ad says, while showing a clip of Trump taking a choppy swing at a golf ball. So, the ad asks, "Why didn't Donald Trump pay his [taxes]?"

Watch the ad below. Becca Stanek

September 14, 2016

Denver Broncos safety Darian Stewart and linebacker Brandon Marshall were fined for aggressive hits to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in last Thursday's NFL season opener. Stewart was fined $18,231 for a helmet-to-helmet clash early in the game that sent Newton sprawling and earned Stewart a flag, while Marshall was fined $24,309 for "impermissible use of a helmet," though he was not flagged on the corresponding play during the game, an anonymous insider told ESPN.

The Broncos have defended their play, with head coach Gary Kubiak telling The Denver Post, "I mean, [Newton's] a top player in football — they are designed runs for him. You better tackle him like a back [...] We were playing hard. They were playing hard. They knocked the heck out of us a lot too."

The league is also reviewing hits on Newton by Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Von Miller. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 21-20 in the game. Jeva Lange

September 1, 2016
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

"The cap does not look good on you," writes former Prairie Home Companion host and radio personality Garrison Keillor, issuing a direct rebuke straight to Donald Trump's brim-shadowed face. In a scathing open letter to the Republican nominee, distributed by The Washington Post, Keillor imagines Trump's greatest insecurities, portraying the 2016 presidential race as the Queens-born real estate mogul's "last bid for the respect of Manhattan."

Needless to say, Keillor does not pull punches:

What the fans don't know is that it's not much fun being a billionaire. You own a lot of big houses and you wander around in them, followed by a waiter, a bartender, a masseuse, three housekeepers, and a concierge, and they probably gossip about you behind your back. Just like nine-tenths of your campaign staff. You're losing and they know it and they're telling mean stories about you to everybody and his brother. [Garrison Keillor, via Chicago Tribune]

"When this is over, I will have nothing that I want," Keillor imagines a dejected Trump thinking. Read the entire, brutal letter here. Kimberly Alters

See More Speed Reads