After this week's Russia revelations, the mood in the West Wing is increasingly grim and paranoid. But President Trump seems to relish being embattled: One friend describes him as "acting like a corner man in a boxing match."
This is especially evident in Trump's constant patter about TV, as he praises aides for their combative appearances. He periodically asks about surrogates who have scored points on cable: "Why isn't she my press secretary?"
In calls and Oval Office chats with supporters who have been on the tube, Trump gleefully reenacts exchanges with anchors blow by blow, referring to CNN as "Fraud News" even in private conversation.
(BTW, regardless of what he or his staff say, he hate-watches "Morning Joe" — toggling among MSNBC, "Fox & Friends" and CNN's "New Day").
Be smart: Aides say Trump loves the combat, and just wants respect and deference.
An entertaining example of this phenomenon was captured by Axios' Jonathan Swan (whose reporting informed the above) in a piece about how much Trump loves the recent heated TV appearances by a deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka (Twitter bio: "Irregular Warfare Strategist"):
"Before Trump left for Paris, ... he was asking West Wing staff, 'Did you see Gorka? So great, I mean really, truly great.' Trump loved ... when Gorka told CNN morning host Alisyn Camerota that more people are interested in cartoons than CNN, and that the network's ratings are lower than 'Nick at Nite.'"
P.S. Trump, on whether he'd invite Putin to the White House (in Air Force One remarks that were off the record, but released by the White House after Trump asked Maggie Haberman why they weren't covered):
"I would say yes, yeah. At the right time. I don't think this is the right time, but the answer is yes I would."
Barry Blitt's "Grounded" ... New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly: "When we asked Barry Blitt about his image for next week's issue, he responded by quoting a Russian: 'Tolstoy said that 'happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' Somehow this seems to apply to the Trumps."
"If the Senate's health care bill dies, moderate Republicans will likely be the ones who kill it," Axios' Sam Baker writes. "And the changes released yesterday won't do much to allay their biggest concerns."
For the GOP, the outlook is bleak. With Republicans able to lose only two senators (Vice President Pence then breaks the tie), Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky remain hard "no"s. Republicans keep telling me Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, a third apparent "nay," will be "bought off."
Axios health-care editor David Nather texts me: "If you lose one [more — the vote that defeats the bill], you lose 10 more [because others will defect from a losing vote that could haunt them even more in future campaigns]. It's just that no one wants to be the one right now."
P.S. Wall Street Journal lead editorial, "ObamaCare Moment of Truth: GOP moderates get all they want and they still won't commit to yes": "Months of stations-of-the-cross negotiations between conservative and GOP moderates have pulled the bill towards the political center, and for the most part the new version continues the journey."
"This leftward shift is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's bid to meet the demands of still-recalcitrant Republican moderates. The bill remains a net improvement over the Obama Care status quo, but the question now is whether they'll take yes for an answer."
Trump is struggling to govern as a populist, with a forecast yesterday likely to inhibit "what the GOP hopes will be an ambitious fall of policymaking," according to a WashPost front-pager.
In "Trump's agenda threatened by forecast of weak growth," Damian Paletta, Ana Swanson and Max Ehrenfreund write:
Demos (pronounced with long "e") — a public-policy group trying to shape a Democratic agenda on working-class issues like household indebtedness, college affordability and economic challenges facing young people — tested economic messages with an online survey of 1,536 registered voters in June.
The most popular messages among all registered voters:
See the key findings (5 pages).
See the cross tabs (23 pages).
"Presidents Bush and Clinton: Be humble in victory, responsible with power," by Reuters' Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas: "Former U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton [said] they were able to forge mutual bonds of respect and friendship because the other had been gracious in victory and respectful of presidential power."
"The two did not mention President Donald Trump once during a nearly hour-long discussion where they traded quips and insights. But they offered indirect references that many in the crowd of about 300 people at the George W. Bush Presidential Library took to be references to the current president."
Streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu snagged 162 Emmy nominations this year, almost a third of the total and the most ever awarded to tech companies, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.
Christmas sales start as early as October. Halloween décor starts popping up in September. Now "It's July, and retailers want you to think 'back to school,'" according to a USA Today front-pager by Charisse James:
"Chains started hyping everything from folders to pencils as early as late June. Some of the discounts seem modest, like the 10% off backpacks at Target, while others run pretty deep, like 60% off select school uniforms at J.C. Penney. The midsummer push is partly aimed at early start dates of some school districts that resume classes long before Labor Day."