Feb 20, 2019

Axios AM

❄️ Good Wednesday morning from Washington, where federal offices are closed because of a snow forecast.

1 big thing: Bernie Sanders and the age problem
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Data: 270toWin and Scholastic. Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Democrats seem to be addicted to old age, Axios' Alexi McCammond writes:

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 69, was one of this cycle's first to announce for president.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, 77 (five years older than President Trump, a spry 72), jumped in yesterday.
  • For some in the party, former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, is the savior.
  • Speaker Pelosi is 78.
  • Her #2, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, is 79.

Why it matters: Despite that lineup, today's Democratic Party is actually dominated by youthful energy.

  • That's clear from all the young House members in the 2018 midterms, the activists pushing lawmakers farther to the left, and the fact that millennials are Democrats' strongest age group.

The big picture: The party is suffering from what Democratic strategist Doug Sosnik calls the "barbell effect."

  • On one end are the seniors. On the other end are all the 40- and 50-somethings moving up in the ranks: Sens. Cory Booker (49), Kirsten Gillibrand (52), Kamala Harris (54) and Amy Klobuchar (58).
  • Plus, Pete Buttigieg (37), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (37), Julián Castro (44) and Beto O'Rourke (46).

And we rarely elect oldsters: Since 1828, only three Democratic presidents have been in their 60s when inaugurated — and none came close to Sanders, who would be 79 if elected in 2020.

  • The average age of every previous Democratic president in history on Inauguration Day is 52.

Be smart: If a 70-something is elected as president, it’s not going to stymie the grassroots generation of the Democratic Party. But it will throttle some of the younger activists' energy.

  • If a 40- or 50-something is elected, there’s likely going to be an emerging generation pushing to take power. Expect the voices of millennials and activists to be even louder.
2. Freeze frame: A sustained assault on federal law enforcement
The New York Times

President Trump "has attacked the law enforcement apparatus of his own government like no other president in history, and ... has turned the effort into an obsession," the N.Y. Times' Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos and Mike Schmidt report in a for-history tour de force:

  • "Trump has done it with the same tactics he once used in his business empire: demanding fierce loyalty from employees, applying pressure tactics to keep people in line and protecting the brand — himself — at all costs."

An eye-opening passage:

Last April, Mr. Trump hired Rudolph W. Giuliani, his longtime friend and a famously combative former mayor of New York, as his personal lawyer and ubiquitous television attack dog. A new war had begun.
In jettisoning his previous legal team — which had counseled that Mr. Trump should cooperate with the investigation — the president decided to combine a legal strategy with a public relations campaign in an aggressive effort to undermine the credibility of both Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department.
Mr. Mueller was unlikely to indict Mr. Trump, the president’s advisers believed, so the real danger to his presidency was impeachment — a political act that Congress would probably carry out only with broad public support. If Mr. Mueller’s investigation could be discredited, then impeachment might be less likely.

Trump's lawyers add what The Times calls "this novel response":

  • "The president has been public about his disdain for the Mueller investigation and other federal inquiries, so he is hardly engaged in a conspiracy. ... [T]hat, they say, is Donald Trump being Donald Trump."
  • "In other words, the president’s brazen public behavior might be his best defense."
3. White House plan to exploit Andrew McCabe
Andrew McCabe arrives on Stephen Colbert's set. (Screenshot via CBS)

White House officials and sources close to President Trump are treating Andrew McCabe's book as an opportunity, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports:

  • These people plan to keep promoting bits from "The Threat," which has rocketed past Michelle Obama's "Becoming" to #1 on Amazon's best-sellers list, that support their "deep state" narrative.
  • At the same time, they cynically plan to argue that the rest of the former FBI deputy director's claims are a pack of lies.

The part they’ll trumpet as true: McCabe’s comments about discussions, at the highest rungs of the FBI, about removing Trump from office.

  • Trump and his allies view this as vindicating his narrative that there’s a Deep State "coup" afoot.
  • That’s why Trump — and surrogates like former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino — have been amplifying McCabe's revelation about internal conversations about the 25th Amendment, and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein volunteering to wear a wire.
4. Pic du jour
Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

A "super snow moon," a full moon that's expected to be the brightest supermoon of 2019, dazzled New York yesterday.

5. The big bargaining chip

With their second summit a week away, speculation is growing that President Trump may give Kim Jong Un something he desperately wants: an announcement of a formal end to the Korean War, AP's Eric Talmadge reports:

  • "Such an announcement could make history. It would be right in line with Trump’s opposition to 'forever wars.'"
  • The asking price: "[A]s a prerequisite for peace, Washington wants ... 'the removal and destruction of stockpiles of fissile material, weapons, missiles, launchers, and other weapons of mass destruction.'"
  • The big question will be how hard a bargain Trump drives.

The context: "Though the shooting stopped in 1953, the conflict ended with an armistice, essentially a ceasefire ... [B]oth sides instead settled ever deeper into Cold War hostilities ... The conflict in Korea is technically America’s longest war."

6. 2020 vision: They're all geeks now

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For the first time, the ability to understand the impact of technology and explain it to the American voter isn’t something that sets a Democratic presidential aspirant apart — it's expected, Axios' David McCabe writes:

  • Why it matters: The debates that drive presidential races — like how to create economic opportunity, protect national security and safeguard democratic institutions — are all being shaped by rapid technological change.

For decades, Democratic presidential candidates have stood out by branding themselves as the tech-savvy candidate in the race. Now, candidates are all declaring their tech bona fides:

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar called for digital privacy and net neutrality rules while announcing her candidacy.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris made online harassment a signature issue as a prosecutor and took on some tech issues in the Senate.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren was an early proponent of stronger antitrust policies to take on tech giants.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand thinks America lags on privacy and cybersecurity.
  • Sen. Cory Booker is friendly with Mark Zuckerberg and tried to lure Amazon’s HQ2 to Newark, but has also expressed concerns about the size and power of large tech companies.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders mounted a successful campaign against Amazon over its labor practices.

Gary Hart: "Everybody’s now an Atari Democrat."

7. Sneak peek: "Manufacturers need people"

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, will send a message to future workers by delivering today's annual State of Manufacturing Address at a public community college in Houston.

At a time when automation threatens whole categories of jobs, Timmons will tell the Lone Star College students:

Manufacturers need people. ... Right now, manufacturers have 428,000 jobs open in America. ... [W]e’re going to need to fill about 4.6 million jobs over the next 10 years. ... 2.6 million of those jobs won’t get filled if we don’t recruit more people to join manufacturing — people like you, starting your career or looking to change your career.

Go deeper.

8. Data du jour

Axios' Neal Rothschild put together this fascinating social-media leaderboard for Sara Fischer's Axios Media Trends newsletter:

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Data: CrowdTangle, Nov. 17 to Feb. 17. Table: Axios Visuals

Go deeper.

9. "You matter, we care about you, we believe in you"
President Obama and Steph Curry (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama and Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry spoke to a roomful of minority young men in Oakland yesterday to mark the fifth anniversary of My Brother’s Keeper, which Obama started after the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

  • "We had to be able to say to them, 'You matter, we care about you, we believe in you and we are going to make sure that you have the opportunities and chances to move forward just like everybody else,'" Obama said, per AP.

"The men spoke for about an hour, answering questions from the audience and joking around. They talked about lacking confidence or being aimless as teens."

  • Saving my favorite for last: "Obama praised single mothers, including his own. He advised the boys to look for a mentor, and to find opportunities to guide others."
10. 1 walk thing

"Walk with me" ... Corporate America, trying to cut down on sitting meetings, has an epidemic of "walk-and-talks," which were pioneered by Apple's Steve Jobs, The Wall Street Journal's Te-Ping Chen writes (subscription):

  • Many workers "complain that such meetings entail aggravations such as blisters, insects and illegible notes."

"Some colleagues avert their eyes when they see me coming," says Edward M. Ellison, 63, executive medical director of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.

  • "He’s known ... for his enthusiasm for walking meetings and a tendency to incorporate stairs."
  • "He and a colleague, he says, once walked and talked up 27 flights."
  • "Sitting is the new smoking," Dr. Ellison says, echoing Axios edit0r-in-chief Nick Johnston.