Good morning from Washington, D.C, where the weather is brisk and decidedly un-swamp-like! This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Monday, January 29, 2018.
1. Trump’s big moment
Well that’s silly. Trump’s big moment? If we have learned anything over the last two years it is that Donald Trump’s presence on the political stage is never-ending. Whether you like it or not, they are all Trump’s moments.
Still, Tuesday’s State of the Union is a big opportunity for the president. Here are a few reasons why:
- At a time when negotiations seem to have broken down a bit on a DACA-for-Wall agreement, President Trump gets the power of the bully pulpit to lay out his argument.
- And guess what? Most Americans want both increased border security and a solution that doesn’t see a million immigrants who were brought here as children suddenly deported. So, if he sticks to the script, he might sound pretty reasonable, especially in comparison to Democrats who are planning all manner of related protests.
- You’d expect this to be the mother of all victory laps for the last year of economic success under Trump’s watch. Unemployment is way down, companies continue to hand out goodies in response to the tax reform bill, and the stock market’s amazing performance is freaking everybody out.
- If he is true to form, there will be a lot of “I told you people I knew what I was doing.” Most hack speechwriters like me would try to convey the message in a more conciliatory tone that seeks to share the credit and encourage more teamwork. But, yeah right! Who are we kidding?
- Everybody loves roads. Congress loves giving out road money. State legislators like passing it through. Mayors and county commissions love a brand new bypass or a freshly paved highway.
- Presidents love applause lines, and a really good way to get people clapping is to talk about roads. That’s why I think we’ll hear a little more about infrastructure in Tuesday’s speech.
- Speaking of infrastructure, I hope you’ll take a moment to read my column on how the leaked White House infrastructure memo might spur Alabama lawmakers to pass a road plan. I appreciate The Montgomery Advertiser running it in Sunday’s edition.
- When is the last time the fight with ISIS led the nightly news? The war isn’t over by any means. But, American and coalition forces have ISIS on the run. Expect the president to tout these victories.
AXIOS co-founer Mike Allen says to expect Trump’s “inside voice” at this year’s State of the Union. So, what do I know?
I’ll be visiting with some Members of the Alabama Congressional Delegation and their staffs this week to get their thoughts and reactions, so look for that later this week.
2. Jeff Sessions’ turbulent year
- What a ride it has been for Jeff Sessions.
- The Associated Press has a lengthy and well-written story about the ups and downs that Sessions has faced in the last year. If you haven’t already read it, the story is well worth your time this morning.
- Also worth your time is a write up in Politico about Attorney General Sessions’ commitment to “de politicizing” the Department of Justice.
- Reading between the lines here, I don’t think it is a coincidence that amid some of his toughest trials as Attorney General, Sessions is reminding career law enforcement officials that he wants Justice to be Justice again.
- His predecessors – Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch – famously turned DOJ into a legal arm of the White House and the Democratic Party.
- Everybody on the right was horrified by that and wanted to change it, but not everybody agrees on how. Some want to give Democrats a taste of their own medicine and turn DOJ into Trump’s own Justice League. Others want to return the Department to its roots of being above the partisan hackery that consumes so much of Washington.
- Sessions seems to be telegraphing that he is in that second camp.
- To be fair, Sessions can try to have it both ways. There are legitimate law enforcement initiatives that are sure to please conservatives. Cracking down on sanctuary cities comes to mind. So does fighting the opioid epidemic and violent crime.
- But, there’s a difference between throwing out red meat as a result of bona fide law enforcement and using the awesome power of the federal government to settle scores with political enemies.
- As the tail wags the dog on Capitol Hill, what a time to be saying so.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – ‘Violence affects everybody’: Spike in Montgomery homicides mirrored across state.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Rural Health project draws praise.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – State bill could introduce more scholarship funding for two-year programs.
AL.COM – Conference on possible opioid settlement coming this week.
AL.COM – Chatting with State House Minority leader: the Dem’s agenda, gov’s race, teaching third-graders.
AL.COM – Peeping toms with cell phones: Video voyeurism not illegal in Alabama, but for how much longer?
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Alabama cyber security programs ramp up amid rising threats.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Addiction expert warns of ‘silent epidemic’ from anti-anxiety drugs.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Editor Pepper Bryars: If Sen. Doug Jones wants to represent a majority of Alabamians, he should moderate his pro-choice position.
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: AG’s office investigating lawmakers’ campaign accounts.
AL.COM – Columnist John Hammontree: Keep the momentum moving forward: Fund Gov. Ivey’s pre-K increase.
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: What it means to be from Birmingham.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Why Trump’s desire to fire Mueller may invite obstruction case and why it’s such a big deal.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor Vanzetta McPherson: Baby Boomers, let the new order lead
DOTHAN EAGLE – The Dothan Eagle: Reconsidering the death penalty.
ATHENS NEWS COURIER – Expedia names Mooresville a ‘must-see’ city.
CULLMAN TIMES – New DUI bill would mean drastic changes.
CULLMAN TIMES – The Cullman Times: Inappropriate words, actions.
DECATUR DAILY – Cost should not outweigh voice of the people.
TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Jeff Sessions weathers turbulent year as attorney general.
DECATUR DAILY – New car plant creates hopes for Decatur’s residential growth.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – The Times Daily: Special elections bill a case of sour grapes.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Officials hoping elections attract voters.
ANNISTON STAR – Alabama gets low marks for fighting corruption, and candidates for state office can’t seem to talk about anything else.
ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star: Free speech on campus.
DOTHAN EAGLE – For Olson, memories of tragedy still vivid.
WASHINGTON POST – Immigration proposal contains bitter pills for both sides.
NEW YORK TIMES – As Gridlock Deepens in Congress, Only Gloom Is Bipartisan
WASHINGTON POST – Contributor Joe Scarborough: Even now, Republicans are ignoring the storm clouds.
NEW YORK TIMES – Kochs Warm to Trump Policies, Not Behavior
NEW YORK TIMES – Oil Boom Gives the U.S. a New Edge in Energy and Diplomacy
THE ATLANTIC – Trump’s State of the Union Will Be an Economic Victory Lap