May 26, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

📺 First look ... Season 2 of "Axios on HBO" premieres a week from today — 6 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, June 2. Check out the Season 2 trailer here

🏖️ Today's AM is a slim 975 ... < 4 minutes! Enjoy the holiday.

1 big thing: Pelosi's Trump-like taunts
Instant classic from this year's State of the Union (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Speaker Pelosi, who used to treat President Trump like a naughty grandchild, last week adopted a notably more confrontational public posture, as she tried to defuse the impeachment fever rising among House Democrats.

  • "I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country," Pelosi said Thursday at her weekly press conference.
  • "There’s no question, the White House is just crying out for impeachment," Pelosi added. "That’s why he flipped yesterday."
  • Asked about her "intervention" dig, Pelosi warmed to it: "That’s up to his family and his cabinet and his staff in the White House. This is not behavior that rises to the dignity of the office of president of the United States."

Why it matters: "Pelosi’s allies said her taunting of Trump now is intentional, designed to get under his skin and elicit an angry reaction," per the WashPost.

  • A senior Democratic aide told me: "She’s succeeded in making three things very clear: 1) She’s interested in getting things done and he walked away again 2) She’s the only adult in Washington and is leading Dems with precision 3) He’s a toddler who pays a price for attacking her because he resorts to such publicly infantile lows to attack her." 
  • Even Trump allies can't believe he keeps falling for it: "I do this with my dog," one of them said.
2. 2020 Trump insult tally
President Trump presents the President's Cup to Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament winner Asanoyama, at Ryogoku Kokugikan Stadium in Tokyo today. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

The N.Y. Times tallied how many times President Trump has ribbed or insulted 2020 Democratic candidates:

  • Biden: 21 ("I said, 'General, come here. Give me a kiss.' I felt like Joe Biden.")
  • Sanders: 14 "(show a little more anger")
  • Warren: 10 ("angry person")
  • Buttigieg: 5 ("I got Boot-edge-edge.")
  • O'Rourke, de Blasio: 2
  • Klobuchar: 1

Be smart: "The president appears to be focusing on the leading candidates, especially when they are enjoying an upsurge in media coverage."

3. Political polarization takes root worldwide

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The change that was promised by a wave of Trump-era leaders who rose to power around the world hasn't materialized, Axios' Shane Savitsky writes.

  • So they make waves internationally instead of draining their respective swamps.

Trump's stalled domestic agenda is small ball next to the international issues he has created or inserted himself into: trade wars, confrontations with Iran and summits with North Korea, Middle East peace.

  • It's not just Trump whose domestic agenda has stalled out. Both Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's far-right policies and French President Emmanuel Macron's technocratic centrism are struggling.

Why it matters: Democracy, designed to be deliberative and gradual, has become downright dysfunctional as political polarization takes root worldwide.

🇪🇺 Breaking later today ... With nationalists on the rise, first exit polls from European elections expected noon ET; preliminary results at 2:15 p.m. ET. (AP)

Bonus: Pics du jour
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Spring skiers enjoyed temps in the 50s at Arapahoe Basin ski and snowboard area in Dillon, Colo., which has extended the season until at least June 16.

  • In California, "Mammoth Mountain Ski Area will stay open ... into August, something that has only happened twice before," per the L.A. Times. The resort received 29 inches of snow this month, a record for May.
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
4. Pay-to-play invades National Spelling Bee
The 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee, at National Harbor, Md., last year (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Elite spellers now can pay to get a spot in the iconic Scripps National Spelling Bee, The Wall Street Journal's Shalini Shankar reports (subscription):

  • "Until last year, winning a regional spelling bee was the only way that children from across the U.S. could be invited."
  • "Then, 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani won the 2018 Bee, correctly spelling the word koinonia for the championship."
  • "He was part of the Bee’s first-ever class of 'invited' spellers: kids who lost at regionals but whose parents agreed to pay an entry fee of $750 and fund their family’s own travel and lodging, potentially thousands of dollars."

"This new pay-to-play option, called 'RSVBee,' nearly doubled the number of young people vying for the championship to more than 500."

  • "For this year’s event, which takes place [this] week, Scripps has raised the fee to $1,500, getting even more takers."

Why it matters: "Now, paying contestants will outnumber those who got there the traditional way."

5. Holiday read
Photo: Gillian Laub for The New York Times

Politics now makes up about 60% of airtime on ABC News' "The View," Amanda FitzSimons writes in today's N.Y. Times Magazine:

"The View" [ABC] has become an influential political talk show because it isn’t one. The panelists ... share intimate details of their lives: how many times a week they step on a scale, how long it was until they slept with someone else after their divorces. The show also has an off-the-cuff-ness that the panelists and producers take seriously — part of what they know viewers tune in to see. ...
"The View" isn’t the only show on TV that fuses entertainment with news and thrives off its ability to be unrehearsed. There’s MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," which could be described as what you might imagine "Meet the Press" is like during commercial breaks ...
According to the consumer-intelligence company MRI-Simmons, almost 65 percent of its viewers who are registered to vote are Democrats, and only 12.6 percent are Republicans. ... 72 percent of its audience is female.

Keep reading.

6. 1 Fourth thing
Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

"Trump’s tariffs could fizzle fireworks, an American tradition that’s 95 percent made in China," the WashPost's Taylor Telford reports:

  • Bruce Zoldan of Phantom Fireworks in Youngstown, Ohio, "met with White House officials on Wednesday to press his case [to] exempt the fireworks industry."
  • "A final decision by the White House could come in late June."

Why it matters: "[T]hough shipments for this year’s Fourth of July celebrations theoretically shouldn’t be affected by tariffs, vendors might raise prices anyway, to start making up for what they’ll lose once the taxes kick in."

  • "And come next summer, ... fireworks might suddenly be scarce."
Mike Allen

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