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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Book: Americans Are No More Polarized Than Pre-Reagan

Despite widespread perceptions of rising political polarization in the United States, the American public is no more polarized than it was before the Reagan era, says political scientist Morris Fiorina.

Fiorina, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution who studies elections and public opinion is the author of a new book, Unstable Majorities: Polarization, Party Sorting and Political Stalemate (Hoover Institution Press, 2017). Here, he offers his take:

Q: Are voters more polarized than ever?

A: No. Although pundits and politicos make that claim every day, it’s not true. If we take the electorate as a whole—without slicing it by partisanship, region, or anything else—the public doesn’t look any different than it did in 1976.

Polarization is the grouping of opinion around two extremes. No matter how we measure public opinion, this has not happened.

In 2016, more Americans classified themselves as moderates than as liberals or conservatives; moreover, the numbers are virtually identical to those registered in 1976.

The distribution of partisan identification flatly contradicts the polarization narrative: self-classified Republicans are no larger a proportion of the public than in the Eisenhower era, while self-identified Democrats are a significantly smaller proportion than in the 1960s...

These Are Donald Trump’s Unorthodox Views On Diet and Exercise

In 2015, during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s personal doctor, Harold Bornstein, declared that “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

That bold proclamation will be put to the test today when Trump, the oldest person ever elected president, has his first medical checkup as president at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The White House physician who also examined and treated Barack Obama will oversee the physical and give the post-exam readout.

The doctor might have something to say about Trump’s atypical views on diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

Trump’s diet

  • recent book co-authored by Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, revealed Trump had “four major food groups during the campaign: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke.” He also enjoys a well-done steak, doused in ketchup.
  • It’s been reported that Trump drinks as many as 12 Diet Cokes per day. The president even has a little red button on his desk to summon a White House butler to bring him more when he runs out, despite his public critique of the soda in 2009:

Trump Under Oath Is a Different Person

Sometime soon, President Trump is likely to be deposed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team. Several outlets, beginning with NBC News on Monday, report that Trump’s lawyers are negotiating with Mueller about the president testifying under oath, though Mueller has made no formal request so far.

The specific importance of such a deposition is hard to judge. Trump’s lawyers, who also appear to have leaked word of the discussions to the press, present it as a sign that Mueller is nearing the end of his investigation, though they have previously, and incorrectly, predicted the probe would be over by Thanksgiving or Christmas. The New York Times reports that Mueller seems interested in topics that would imply more of a focus on the possibility of obstruction of justice than on collusion with Russia during the campaign, but that is somewhat speculative.

Assuming the deposition occurs, Trump will make political history as only the fifth sitting president to be deposed, following in the footsteps of Ulysses Grant, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and, most consequentially Bill Clinton—whose lie about not having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky in a 1998 deposition led to his impeachment. For Trump, however...

Trump Battles Constraints on His Power

President Trump has never been shy about making his displeasure known—on any given subject—and last week, he offered criticism regarding the limits of his executive power. In a radio interview, the president declared:

You know, the saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I’m very frustrated by it.

This alone would have been noteworthy: a president openly declaring his wish to direct American law enforcement for political ends. Taken in the context of certain developments this week, Trump’s words are even more remarkable. In three separate instances, the president and his advisers appear to be unconcerned about improperly exerting pressure on outside agencies—or indifferent to creating the appearance of improperly exerting such pressure—to achieve partisan gains. As for those gains, they include attempting to discredit the work of American intelligence agencies, to muzzle a major American media outlet and to deport 57,000 American residents.

On Tuesday, the...

Grading President Trump

Supporters of President Trump like to say that despite all the tumult, the commander in chief is doing just fine. While the pundits rant and rave about whatever the “unprecedented” action of the day happens to be as he seems to move from one scandal to the next, the president’s allies dismiss the fireworks as nothing more than passing noise.

Even many cynical Democrats conclude in frustration that the president is simply distracting the public while he moves forward with an aggressive deregulatory agenda. After all, they say, when push comes to shove Donald Trump still is president of the United States despite all the controversy. Barring impeachment, he will be at least until 2020. Both his staunch supporters and cynical opponents love to dig into the polling data so that they can point out that his base still loves him, proof that Trump is succeeding.

But both of these measures tell us very little about whether his presidency is succeeding. Indeed, these are pretty ridiculous standards by which to measure the progress of any commander in chief. The “he’s still the president” standard would mean that anyone who serves a full term without voluntarily resigning or being...