Good Sunday morning.
☕️ Situational awareness: 17 of last week's 20 most read articles on nytimes.com concerned Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The top article was a scoop about a mysterious entry in his yearbook in which he describes himself as a "Renate Alumnius."
Breaking: After an earthquake in Indonesia which triggered a tsunami, more than 800 people have died and many remain missing, with a frantic search for possible survivors trapped in buildings. (BBC)
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
A divided nation that usually shrugs at politics — and always shrugs at midterm elections — is suddenly united, passionately and addictively, in binge-watching the Greatest Show in American Politics:
The Trump Show has us watching more, running more, voting more:
The N.Y. Times' Amy Chozick writes in today's Sunday Review section ("Why Trump Will Win a Second Term") that "TV executives say the only way for the Trump show to get canceled is for ratings to fall off":
TV history shows that the most successful series — “American Idol,” “Lost,” “The West Wing” and, yes, “The Apprentice” — don’t see sharp declines in viewership or talk of cancellation until around Season 6.
By that logic, Mr. Trump would win re-election in 2020 unless, as many liberal viewers are probably hoping, impeachment and scandal end his presidency prematurely. (In what would no doubt be “The most dramatic finale of a presidency ever!”)
Be smart: Whether it's resistance or defiance, American public life is the most animated it has been in our lifetimes.
President Trump, rhapsodizes about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un last night at a rally in Wheeling, W.Va.:
I like him. He likes me. ... And then we fell in love. OK? No, really! He wrote me beautiful letters. And they're great letters. We fell in love. Now they'll say [imitates anchorman]: "Donald Trump said they fell in love. How horrible how horrible is that? So unpresidential!"
That echoed a Trump soliloquy during his epic press conference at the U.N.:
We have a very good relationship. He likes me. I like him. We get along. He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters. When I showed one of the letters — just one — to [Japanese] Prime Minister Abe, he said, 'This is actually a groundbreaking letter. This is an incredible — this is a historic letter." And it is a historic letter. It’s a beautiful — it’s a beautiful piece of art.
Be smart: Kim runs a murderous, autocratic regime that has not only called for America’s destruction, but built nuclear-armed missiles to actually do it.
"In a pivotal week for women in the United States, the U.N. put forth its own clarion set of female voices at its annual meeting of nations," AP's Angela Charlton writes from New York:
"The number of women presidents and prime ministers among the U.N.'s 193 member states doubled — to 19 — from 2005 to 2016."
One pooch catches a wave and the other takes a leap during the 10th annual Surf City Surf Dog contest in Huntington Beach, Calif., yesterday.
And we didn't even notice, the N.Y. Times' great Neil Irwin writes in "The Invisible Recession of 2016":
Why it matters: "It helps explain some of the economic discontent evident in manufacturing-heavy areas during the 2016 elections."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Elon Musk reached a settlement with federal regulators and will remain as Tesla CEO but step down as chairman, Axios' Dan Primack and Ben Geman report:
The bottom line: This is a smart decision for both Musk and Tesla. A drawn-out court case would have clouded both of their futures for months to come.
On the "Saturday Night Live" cold open, Matt Damon as Brett Kavanaugh calls himself "a keg is half full kind of guy," and apologizes for sassing Sen. Amy Klobuchar in an earlier answer: "I think I blacked out for a second."
"Kavanaugh" says he won't quit: "I don't know the meaning of the word 'stop'!"