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Every American president fantasizes about being the Middle East peacemaker. It's the great unattainable — a sure-fire Nobel Peace Prize, and your own page in the history books.
Influential figures in the conservative pro-Israel community have concluded that President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have convinced themselves that their dealmaking talents can clinch this "ultimate deal" between Israel and the Palestinians.
Trump the dealmaker has begun inching to the left on Israel:
So what comes next?
The hardbitten view: A conservative pro-Israel leader tells me Trump's aspirations "will run up against the reality of dealing with the Palestinians."
The most hopeful words: In a recent interview on David Axelrod's podcast, The Atlantic's editor Jeffrey Goldberg repeated a joke that Jared Kushner's principal qualification to be Trump's Middle East peacemaker was that he'd been to Jewish summer camp. But Goldberg wisely noted that the "great geniuses of American diplomacy" have all failed to achieve a deal:
"There's almost like a Jewish comic novel in this ... And then a boy named Jared Kushner emerged from Trump Tower and brought peace to the tribes of Abraham. I mean ... who knows?"
The White House and Republican Hill leaders are setting a dauntingly high bar for their plan to replace Obamacare:
Echoing into the week ... On ABC's "This Week," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton had this warning for Republican House members: "Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote."
Inside the Oval Office last week, there was a telling exchange between conservative activist Jenny Beth Martin and the president.
During Trump's Wednesday meeting with conservative leaders over the healthcare plan, Tea Party Patriots leader Martin subtly reminded Trump that her super-PAC stood by him "through thick and thin" during the campaign, unlike a certain politician from Wisconsin.
According to two sources in the room, Martin didn't mention Paul Ryan's name. But everyone knew who she was talking about. She reminded Trump that in October — when the crude "Access Hollywood" tape leaked and Ryan disinvited Trump from a Wisconsin event — Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund volunteers were working the phones on Trump's behalf.
Trump smiled and glanced over at his chief of staff Reince Priebus. Trump said that, yes, he had been disinvited. And he thanked Martin for standing by him. (Of course, Martin wasn't always a Trump loyalist. She gave a blisteringly anti-Trump speech at CPAC in 2016, but has since changed her tune.)
It didn't get much media attention, but Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said something very important in a Friday interview with CNBC:
"We're going to have to be deficit neutral over a 10-year period."
Why this matters: Sources familiar with the administration's tax planning say there's nothing close to agreement on how — or if — the administration will "pay for" the cuts it has planned to corporate and individual rates. Given Trump's oft-professed love for debt, many sources had been assuming the administration would give up on revenue neutrality, instead suffering short-term deficit hikes in hopes of long-term growth.
Cohn's comments change that calculus, since they sure look like an official White House endorsement of the House's commitment to revenue neutrality.
I checked in with Stephen Moore, one of Trump's top economic advisors during the campaign. He worries that Cohn & Co. are preparing for a less ambitious rate cut.
The celebrity community is still having trouble adjusting to Trump's America, as was on display this week in two big ways:
Not your daddy's culture war, but here we are.