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The Obama-Trump Truce Is Already Over

It took George W. Bush and Barack Obama a while to warm up to each other. They had many differences—in party, in age, in temperament, in style. Obama had risen to the presidency in part by peddling a harsh critique of Bush’s administration. The relationship grew gradually over time. The two men joked at the unveiling of Bush’s White House portrait in 2012. Bush invited Obama to the opening of his presidential library. By the time Michelle Obama and the former president embraced at the opening of the National Museum of African American History, stories emerged about the odd friendship between the couples. 

That growing warmth was fostered in part by a detente between the two men. While Obama fired broadsides against Bush on the campaign trail, Bush mostly shrugged it off. He instructed Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to keep Obama briefed on responses to the economic crisis, Jonathan Alter reported, with Paulson deeming Obama far more informed about the economy than John McCain. During the transition process, Bush invited Obama and his national-security appointees to war games.

After Obama’s inauguration, Bush quietly left the scene and mostly avoided talking about politics. He repeatedly stressed the...

How Many of His 'Day One' Promises Did Trump Fulfill?

“On Day One.” The notion of immediately turning the page on policy is a staple of presidential transitions, from Franklin Roosevelt’s “first 100 days” on, but Donald Trump made the promise of things he’d get done on his first day in the White House into a special mantra throughout the campaign.

The full list, as Tim Murphy chronicled, included some things that were either wildly implausible and evidently figurative, or things that are impossible to assess. (How would you “fix” the Veterans Affairs Department on Day One? What does it mean to start taking care of the military?) But Trump also laid out a set of 18 specific, discrete promises for his first day in office in what he called a “Contract With the American Voter.” So how did he do?

First, let’s acknowledge that Trump changed the criteria a little bit, designating Monday as his real first day. “I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration,” he told The Times of London. With that, on to the promises.

The first six concern corruption:

Propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.

If Trump...

How Democrats Paved the Way for the Confirmation of Trump's Cabinet

A little over three years ago, Senator Mitch McConnell stood on the Senate floor and issued a warning to the Democrats who then controlled the majority.

“I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you’ll regret this,” McConnell, then the minority leader, told them. “And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

At the urging of Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrats had just voted along strict party lines to change the rules of the Senate, deploying what had become known in Washington as “the nuclear option.” McConnell and his Republican colleagues were furious. Under the new rules, presidential nominees for all executive-branch position—including the Cabinet—and judicial vacancies below the Supreme Court could advance with a simple majority of 51 votes. The rules for legislation were untouched, but the 60-vote threshold for overcoming a filibuster on nearly all nominations was dead. 

As Donald Trump prepares to assume the presidency this afternoon flanked by Republican majorities in Congress, McConnell’s warning is looking more and more prescient. Trump may win Senate confirmation of his entire Cabinet, and while Democrats will oppose many of his nominees, it was their vote in November 2013...

How To Measure Trump’s Performance

For Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans, these are heady times. Against ex­pect­a­tions, they main­tained con­trol of their ma­jor­ity and are vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed of keep­ing con­trol of the up­per cham­ber after the 2018 midterms, thanks to a fa­vor­able map. With at least 11 Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors in their sights—and only one or two Re­pub­lic­ans to de­fend—they have dreams of a su­per­ma­jor­ity.

But the op­tim­ism of the trans­ition peri­od is soon go­ing to col­lide with the real­ity of Trump’s po­lar­iz­ing pres­id­ency. The in­com­ing pres­id­ent is alarm­ingly un­pop­u­lar even be­fore be­ing sworn in, with just 40 per­cent of voters view­ing him fa­vor­ably in two new polls. Midterms tra­di­tion­ally run against the party in power, which would make it easi­er for vul­ner­able Demo­crats to ar­gue that they provide a ne­ces­sary check on his ad­min­is...

Liberals Narrow Their List of Trump Picks to Target

Faced with a long list of ad­versari­al Cab­in­et nom­in­ees, the Sen­ate’s lead­ing voices on the Left have de­cided to nar­row their tar­get list.

Rather than com­plain about every­one that Pres­id­ent-elect Trump has picked, lib­er­als on the Hill say they’re fo­cus­ing their at­ten­tion on can­did­ates who seek to un­der­mine the agen­cies they could soon rep­res­ent.

Top­ping their con­cerns in the con­firm­a­tion hear­ings, they say, are En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency nom­in­ee Scott Pruitt, At­tor­ney Gen­er­al nom­in­ee Jeff Ses­sions, and sec­ret­ary of State nom­in­ee Rex Tiller­son. In the com­ing weeks, that list will ex­pand to in­clude Health and Hu­man Ser­vices nom­in­ee Rep. Tom Price and Labor nom­in­ee Andy Puzder.

While all of Trump’s nom­in­ees are ex­pec­ted to be con­firmed, lib­er­als’ strategy on their con­firm­a­tion hear­ings could of...

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