As President Trump formally launches his tax-reform drive this afternoon with a no-details, "vision-casting" speech in Springfield, Missouri, the self-inflicted wounds of the past 222 days are adding up. (Speech preview here, off embargo at 6 a.m.)
The "most powerful man in the world" is suddenly looking mighty powerless:
19 days in August: Trump's road not taken ... Now imagine where Trump would be today if he had instantly (and only) condemned the racist violence in Charlottesville, blown off the Arizona meltdown rally, and held off on the Arpaio pardon till the usual protocol could be followed.
The press would be writing about a new, late-summer Trump who had managed two crises like a normal president, and cleaned house of the most toxic "America First" true believers. His Texas trip would have gotten a high grade, with his trademark brio and well-received remarks.
Now snap back to reality: Instead, Trump has escalated his war with the judiciary, media and Republican establishment. At the same time, he has created a monster on the outside in the form of Steve Bannon and his merry band of Breitbart brawlers.
And he chose that path with crises sprouting all around:
Be smart: Chief of Staff John Kelly has instilled order and process to the White House. But there's not even a hint of a governing strategy that calms crises, or results in substantive legislative wins.
Coming crisis ... Houstonians with no flood insurance: "When Harvey struck Houston there were far fewer homes and other properties in the area with flood insurance than just five years ago ... The sharp drop means many residents fleeing Harvey's floodwaters have no financial backup to fix up their homes." (AP)
Corey Lewandowski, Trump's first campaign manager, is on the cover of the forthcoming N.Y. Times Magazine ... "The Bucks Start Here: How to Get Rich in Trump's Washington ... His presidency has changed the rules of influence in the nation's capital — and spawned a new breed of lobbyist," by Nick Confessore:
Also in the forthcoming Magazine ... "Democracy vs. Math: The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars ... Sophisticated computer modeling has taken district manipulation to new extremes. To fix this, courts might have to learn how to run the numbers themselves," by Emily Bazelon.
Trump will return to Texas on Saturday and perhaps go to Louisiana, depending on weather.
In his own words:
Volunteer Elizabeth Hill, 8, plays with evacuee Skyler Smith, 7, at a shelter at St. Thomas Presbyterian Church in west Houston yesterday.
Kathryn Loder sorts donated clothes yesterday at downtown Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center, which has filled to nearly double its announced capacity of 5,000.
Citing the Harvey catastrophe, Goldman Sachs Economics Research lowers the "probability of a shutdown in early October [to] 35%, down from our prior view of 50% ... Allowing a partial government shutdown when federal relief efforts are underway would pose greater political risks than under normal circumstances, raising the probability that lawmakers will find a way to resolve disagreements."
CNBC's Jim Cramer says Trump's proposed tax overhaul could face delays once again as the administration and Congress focus on the hurricane's devastating impact: "If it's a Katrina-like event, it's all hands on deck."
"Uber's board of directors [last] evening sent an email to company employees, saying that it voted unanimously to name current Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi as its next CEO," Axios' Dan Primack and Ina Fried report.
"With a new school year dawning, education officials are grappling with whether to remove the names, images and statues of Confederate figures from public schools — especially since some are now filled with students of color," per AP's Jesse Holland, who covers race and ethnicity:
As part of Axios' popular Expert Voices, astrophysicist Paul Sutter (who calls himself "Agent to the Stars") dishes: "There are rumors within the astronomical community that LIGO, the super-advanced gravitational wave observatory, may have spotted the signature of two neutron stars colliding." Make the leap.
Possible reasons for stagnation in Westeros ... "Ice and fire: what Game of Thrones can teach us about power politics — Panelists at Washington's Cato Institute discussed what real-world lessons could be drawn from the complexities and ambiguities of the show's political feuds," by The Guardian's Paul Owen: