🏈 Happy Saturday! Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,149 words ... 4 minutes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos by Getty Images photogs Joe Raedle, Jim Watson, Joshua Lott, Ethan Miller, Paras Griffin, Win McNamee, Alex Wong.
Now should be their time in life to grab the reins, but when it comes to the 2020 presidential field, Generation X candidates are becoming an endangered species, Axios White House editor Margaret Talev writes.
This week's departures from the race by Kamala Harris (55) and Steve Bullock (53) are just the latest examples of the failures of Gen X to gain traction.
Why it matters: Other generations might argue, it doesn't. (Ouch!) Gen X is a smaller pack population-wise than either boomers or millennials.
Flashback: In cycles past, being in the age range that now covers Gen X was a sweet spot for presidential candidates.
Our thought bubble: As Lelaina Pierce said, "I was really going to be somebody by the time I was 23."
Brian Hook, the State Department special representative for Iran, boarded a military plane at Andrews Air Force Base last night and flew to Zurich, where today he swapped an Iranian scientist for an American student who'd been captive in Iran.
A senior administration official told me how it went down:
Behind the scenes: As soon as the swap happened, administration officials called the families of other Americans held in Iran to share the news, and tell them that they're still working on their cases.
HHS took the extraordinary step of bringing in outside counsel earlier this year to investigate allegations of sex discrimination, Axios has learned — a sign of how badly the working relationship had deteriorated between Secretary Alex Azar and Medicare chief Seema Verma, Jonathan Swan and Caitlin Owens report.
Azar and Verma are charged with executing President Trump's agenda on prescription drug prices, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid.
The allegations of sex discrimination arose over the summer amid a personnel dispute between Verma and Azar, according to two sources:
The big picture: Azar and Verma's contentious relationship spilled into the public spotlight following Politico's extensive reporting on their disagreements.
A limping Harvey Weinstein, 67, is helped out of court in New York after a pretrial hearing. His lawyer said he had a back ailment.
Prosecutors said Weinstein had repeatedly violated his bail conditions by leaving home without activating his electronic ankle bracelet.
U.S. jobs in November grew by the most in 10 months, "the strongest sign yet the economy is in no danger of stalling," Reuters writes:
The big picture: "The unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.5% percent, matching September’s reading, ... the lowest level since December 1969."
A U.S. Border Protection officer stands in heavy rain near the border fence between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan. 1.
A dilemma after Disney bought Lucasfilm was how to bring aboard a new generation of Star Wars moviegoers "while avoiding turning off the die-hard fans that have an outsize voice in the success or failure of the films," The Wall Street Journal's Erich Schwartzel and R.T. Watson report (subscription).
Any whiff of marketing imperatives driving the creative decisions on the Star Wars franchise would immediately, in the eyes of devoted fans, cast Disney as the evil empire that had gobbled up their beloved modern-day myth. ...
The second episode of the new trilogy, the 2017 release "The Last Jedi," collected 33% less at the domestic box office than "Force Awakens." ...
The final film of the current trilogy, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," is in theaters on Dec. 19. Disney has indicated it needs to take a moment after that to reassess its strategy. "We’re gonna hit pause," Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said on a conference call with Wall Street analysts last month.
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