Jun 25, 2018

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good Monday morning from Aspen.

  • 🍎 Debuting today: Axios contributes to Apple News for the midterms, launching with a weekly briefing that's at the top of Apple News.
  • Swipe left on your iPhone, or go to the Apple News app, to see Alexi McCammond's clever name for the voter group that'll be the soccer moms of this cycle.
1 big thing: Trump’s winning, cynical plan

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

An odd paradox in defining this moment in politics: The more President Trump does, says and tweets outrageous things, the more his critics go bananas and the better he does in the polls. 

  • Our parallel universes are spinning farther apart, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei writes.

The coverage (and much of the reality) is a White House in chaos, and an erratic president improvising as his own policy adviser, chief of staff, comms director and tweeter-in-chief.

Tune into Twitter, and you'd think the entire civilized world has turned against him. And yet:

  • Gallup has Trump's approval at a new high since the beginning of his presidency: 45%. That's roughly the same as others at this point: Barack Obama (46%), Bill Clinton (46%), Ronald Reagan (45%) and Jimmy Carter (43%).
  • Support among Republicans is 90% in Gallup, also a high.
  • Among independents, he's up to 42% — tied for his personal best, and only the fourth week in his presidency that he has been at 40% or above.
  • Trump's attacks on Mueller are working, too: The special counsel has a 53% unfavorable rating in Morning Consult polling — a new high, and a whopping 26-point spike since July of 2017

Trump thinks he has found a winning formula, his advisers tell us. And he might be right:

  • The more he trashes Mueller, and the more he trashes the media and the media trashes him, the more Republicans want to have his back.
  • And the more casual viewers see everything like the Russia probe as messy and muddy, not just Trump.
  •  Our politics are becoming ever more tribal, and his voters are numb to the outrageousness.
  • It's arguably the most cynical strategy imaginable. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful politically. 

Be smart: The rise in Trump’s numbers, and the shrinking Democratic advantage in House races, are reinforcing Trump’s worship of his own instincts on policy.

  • Except many of these choices may make his reelection even more dependent on his worshipful base, and less appealing to swing voters.
  • It’s a circular political strategy that relies on ignoring independent voters, and assuming they won’t turn out.
  • It creates a narrow, treacherous path to reelection.
2. Trump, China coming war over tech

"President Donald Trump, already embroiled in a trade battle with China, plans to ratchet commercial tensions higher by barring many Chinese companies from investing in U.S. technology firms, and by blocking additional technology exports to Beijing," The Wall Street Journal's Bob Davis reports:

  • "The twin initiatives, set to be announced by the end of the week, are designed to prevent Beijing from moving ahead with plans outlined in its 'Made in China 2025' report to become a global leader in 10 broad areas of technology, including information technology, aerospace, electric vehicles and biotechnology."
  • "The Treasury Department is crafting rules that would block firms with at least 25% Chinese ownership from buying companies involved in what the White House calls 'industrially significant technology.'"

Why it matters, from Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group:

  • "Of all the strands of U.S. trade and sanctions policy against China, perhaps least appreciated by markets is the potential for significant investment restrictions and export controls to be recommended by Treasury by the end of [this] week, ... and implemented soon thereafter by President Trump."
  • "This opens a major new front in the U.S.-China conflict, adding fuel to the ongoing trade war with potentially wide-ranging effects on financing markets."
3. Shaming and shunning public officials

"Anger and division in American politics are creating a rising phenomenon: the public shaming and shunning of political figures while they are going about their private lives," the WashPost's Mary Jordan writes:

  • "Few laws expressly prohibit a business from refusing service to a customer because of political views."
  • "Civil rights lawyers said that while there have been many cases in recent history involving establishments barring black people, women or members of the LGBT community, shunning people for their political ideology or affiliation has been relatively uncommon."

"[S]ocial media is magnifying the confrontations":

  • "Within hours, millions of Americans knew that White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant Friday."
  • "Pam Bondi, the Florida attorney general who often appears on Fox News and is closely aligned with President Trump, was shouted down at a movie screening in Tampa on Friday."
  • "Hecklers shouted 'Shame!' at Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, ... hastening her departure from a Mexican restaurant ... last week."
  • "Stephen Miller also was confronted at a restaurant last week and called a 'fascist.'"

"Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) [on MSNBC] this weekend encouraged harassment of Trump officials in public spaces."

  • Jon Meacham told the Post that he cannot recall a "similarly tribal moment” in recent history: "We’re kind of back to the Colonial era in terms of public shaming, with virtual and symbolic stocks in the public square rather than literal ones."
4. Pics du jour
Nariman El-Mofty/AP

Just after midnight yesterday, the first day that women were allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, Hessah al-Ajaji drives her car down busy Tahlia Street in the capital, Riyadh.

  • BBC: "It was the only country left in the world where women could not drive and families had to hire private chauffeurs for female relatives."
  • "However, the move comes amid an intensified crackdown on activists who campaigned for the right to drive."
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A young woman drives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Nariman El-Mofty/AP

Mabkhoutah al-Mari drives to work for the first time in Riyadh: "between a feeling of joy and astonishment."

5. Tweet du jour

How it's playing:

  • N.Y. Times front page, top of column 1: "Trump Wants No Due Process At U.S. Border: Constitutional Worries After a Fiery Attack."
  • Washington Post lead story, "Trump opposes trials for migrants ... Tweets: Send back illegal immigrants immediately."
  • USA Today lead story: "Trump: Bypass court process."
6. Life on the border
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A child reaches through from the Mexican side of the border fence at Sunland Park, New Mexico, yesterday.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A child climbs up the Mexican side (above), and kids gather (below).

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
7. The one person who's ignoring Donald Trump?
Courtesy New York Magazine

"The most popular American, whose legacy is the primary target of Donald Trump, has, for now, virtually disappeared from public life," by New York Magazine's Gabe Debenedetti:

  • "Obama ... has mostly opted out of liberal America’s collective Trump-outrage cycle. Though he reads the Times and other newspapers, he doesn’t [obsess over] daily Trump developments."
  • "He is upset by the administration’s actions, and he’s confided to friends that what worries him most is the international order, the standing of the office of the presidency, the erosion of democratic norms."
  • "Still, in conversations with political allies, Obama insists that today’s domestic mess is a blip on the long arc of history and argues that his own work must be focused on progress over time — specifically on empowering a new generation of leaders."
  • "He says his legacy is not what concerns him. ('Michelle and I are fine,' he tells those who ask about it.)"
  • "[I]n private conversations, Obama rarely mentions Trump at all. Those who’ve visited the office he’s leased from the World Wildlife Fund in Washington’s West End say he’s eager to talk for hours about the world’s ills."
  • "One friend of Obama’s recalled that after a 45-minute meeting that avoided the subject of Trump entirely, the pair ducked into an aide’s office and saw on television that the president was claiming to have been absolved in the Russia inquiry. Obama’s eyes flicked toward the chyron and his face took on a decidedly bemused aspect for a beat before he turned back to their conversation as if nothing had happened."

Keep reading.

8. Why climate change is the easiest news to fake

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Climate change is intangible and complicated, which makes it an easy target for our era of fake news, Amy Harder writes in her weekly "Harder Line" energy column:

  • Why it matters: Addressing climate change, whether through government or private action, requires acknowledging a problem exists. Misinformation about the science, including inaccurate statements and articles, make that harder.
  • Fake news and inaccurate climate information have been around for a long time, long before Donald Trump became president. But Trump’s election has enabled misinformation to spread by elevating leaders in politics and elsewhere who don’t acknowledge the scientific consensus on climate change.
  • We’ve seen this play out across different forums: media articles, congressional hearings and public speeches.

Go deeperAxios' special deep dive on climate change.

9. "A Great Day in Hollywood"
Kwaku Alston/Netflix

Inspired by a legendary 1958 photo — "A Great Day in Harlem," uniting the living legends of jazz at a Harlem brownstone — Netflix, after months of work, brought together (above) 47 African Americans from 20+ Netflix original shows, films and documentaries for "A Great Day in Hollywood."

  • Video director Lacey Duke: “It was a pretty magical couple of hours. All these amazingly talented, beautiful individuals in one space being supportive and just looking stunning together, all here to pull off this one take wonder! Alfre Woodard even led everyone in an epic rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before we started shooting. It was beautiful, and in a flash it was over."
  • From the script: "Playing Kings and Queens of our neighborhoods. Defeating larger than life forces trying to flip our world upside down. ... A day when black women are boldly the lead character, whether inmates or scholars. We’re not a genre because there’s no one way to be black. We’re writing while black."
  • Watch the YouTube.

The original ...

Thomas Monaster/N.Y. Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Documentary filmmaker Jean Bach directed and co-wrote "A Great Day in Harlem" — nominated for an Academy Award in 1995 — chronicling how photographer Art Kane coordinated a group photograph (hanging behind her) of all the top jazz musicians in New York in 1958.

10. ⚽️ 1 kick thing
A 9-0 match: In West Germany on June 18, 1974, Yugoslavia's Branko Oblek jumps for joy after scoring his team's seventh goal. Zaire's substitute goalkeeper Dimbi Tubilandu beats the ground in frustration. (AP Photo)

Soccer scores aren't always tiny ... England's 6-1 rout of Panama yesterday was the biggest winning margin at this year's World Cup, but falls well short of the record, AP's Pan Pylas writes from Volgograd, Russia:

  • 1982 in Spain: Hungary 10, El Salvador 1
  • 1954 in Switzerland: Hungary 9, South Korea 0 ... "The Hungary team of 1954 is one of the most-revered in World Cup history, and it had arguably the best player in the world in Ferenc Puskas. The 'Magical Magyars' [were] unbeaten in four years."
  • 1974 in West Germany: Yugoslavia 9, Zaire 0 ... "Zaire, now called Congo, has not been at a World Cup since."
Mike Allen

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