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Analysis: Trump's Puerto Rico Visit Is a Political Disaster

Making his first appearance in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico since Maria’s landfall, President Trump offered a hearty round of congratulations to federal relief efforts and thanked the island’s governor. But the president also suggested Maria was not a “real catastrophe,” made an odd and misleading comparison to the death toll from Hurricane Katrina, and joked about how the hurricane would affect the federal budget.

It was a typically strange, disjointed appearance by the president, and it came just days after Trump spent much of the weekend picking fights with the mayor of San Juan and insisting that, against all evidence, the recovery effort had largely responded to Puerto Rico’s needs. At Muñiz Air Force Base, Trump was eager to praise the work of federal agencies, including FEMA, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Coast Guard, amid a chorus of criticism that Washington’s response has been too slow and too small. But that praise led him in strange directions. 

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here...

How Democrats' Debt Ceiling Deal With President Trump May Have Backfired

“They may have spiked the ball in the end zone a little too early,” Mitch McConnell observed about his Democratic colleagues to The New York Times last week.

The Senate majority leader was referring to the celebrations from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the deal they struck with President Trump, in which the president agreed to a short-term increase in the debt ceiling over the objections of McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. McConnell boasted that because of the way he wrote the corresponding legislation, going forward Democrats won’t have the same leverage on the debt ceiling that they thought they would.

But the agreement that “Chuck and Nancy” reached with Trump may end up backfiring on Democrats in another way: It freed up time for Republicans to take one last stab at dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

The House and Senate entered September facing a series of deadlines at the end of the month, most significantly the expiration of government funding on the 30th and a possible debt default at around the same date. Congress being Congress, most in Washington expected the month’s final week to be consumed by the...

Analysis: Trump's Buck-Passing on Immigration

It wasn’t exactly a profile in courage, but it may turn out to be one of Donald Trump’s politically shrewder bits of buck-passing.

In moving to “wind down” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, aka DACA, Trump did not make the Tuesday announcement himself.  Rather, he handed the axe to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man devout in his belief that the path of righteousness is paved with the hardest of hardline immigration policies.

Indeed, if Trump’s goal was to avoid facing the general public with his DACA decision yet remind conservative fans of his anti-immigrant leanings, Sessions was the right messenger for the job. As the AG drawled and stammered through a mini-lecture on the threat that the 800,000 DACA “Dreamers” brought to the U.S. as children pose to the rule of law, public safety, and cultural assimilation, you could almost hear immigration advocates grinding their teeth—and Democrats licking their chops. The second that Sessions stopped speaking, my inbox swelled with press releases from DACA supporters slamming the administration’s decision as “cruel,” “mean-spirited,” “short-sighted,” “reprehensible,” and “destructive ” and calling on Congress to stop the madness before the program officially expires in...

Trump Has His 20th 'Worst Week' Out of 30 in Office

By the end of the week, count on headlines declaring this the worst week of Donald Trump’s presidency. That’s not really surprising. Any president who in one seven-day period threatened nuclear war in Korea, talked of a possible war in Venezuela, and found “some very fine people” marching with Nazis and white supremacists could expect those headlines.

But there is another reason why they won’t be surprising: Journalists and analysts have fallen in the habit of declaring almost every week in this presidency the worst yet. Perhaps befitting a president unlike any of his predecessors, this is a journalistic trend never seen before.

This is the 30th week since Trump was sworn into office. A neutral ranking of those weeks would show that 20 have been bad for the president, while only four weeks have been positive for him. The other six weeks were neither good nor bad.

Some weeks have been challenging to assess. The week of Feb. 27 to March 5, for example, began on a high note with the president’s well-received address to a joint session of Congress. But before the week ended, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation...

An Indelible Image From Trump's 'On Both Sides' Press Conference

It read like a poem—or, perhaps, an elegy.

"We
strongest
this egregious
bigotry, and
no place in"

And there the words ended. They were snippets of the text of the statement President Trump had delivered on Saturday, reacting to the events that had taken place in Charlottesville. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence,” he said—before adding, apparently as an ad-lib: “On many sides, on many sides.” They were words that the president had repeated on Monday, when he made, under pressure from his colleagues and from American citizens, a more expansive statement on Charlottesville. The bigotry on display in that city, he said, reading directly from a prompter, “has no place in America.” 

On Tuesday, however, those words were replaced with new ones—during a press conference, set in the lobby of Trump Tower, that was meant to be about infrastructure. At one point, as President Trump spoke, he removed from his jacket pocket the text of the earlier statement, printed in large and blunt sans serif, to refer to what he had said before: “I brought it, I brought it,” he said, reading the text before putting it...