Ron Elving

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Travel back in time with me for a moment to 1981, the government shutdown. Two-hundred-forty-one-thousand federal employees were furloughed, and this is what it sounded like when you called the White House switchboard.

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Capitol Hill Republicans are nervous about November. The margins of their majority are dwindling in both chambers. It's looking like a good year to run as a Democrat, and President Trump isn't helping with his weak polls and potent controversies.

This past week brought a series of stunning reports about President Trump and his White House, reports some Americans found hard to believe. But one quote attributed to the president should have surprised no one: the one in The New York Times where the president asked, "Where's my Roy Cohn?"

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A Senate election in Alabama. A Republican tax bill moving through Congress. Violent protests in the Middle East following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

What could these widely disparate matters have in common, besides heavy news coverage? It turns out that they all have enabled President Trump to send a message to one distinct and crucial category of his supporters.

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LIANE HANSEN, BYLINE: I'm Liane Hansen. A woman who served as personal assistant to Clarence Thomas for over two years has accused him of sexually harassing her. National Public Radio has learned that the woman...

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Senate Republicans are moving closer this week to a vote on their tax bill. The effort looks a lot different than another time Congress really took on taxes. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was a real moment of bipartisanship.

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The news did not improve this week for Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat who is facing sexual assault allegations. While new accusers came forward, several of Moore's previous, prominent supporters took a step back.

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If the Republican Party has spent the last 30 years looking for another Ronald Reagan, the Democrats have spent the last 70 looking for another Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The latter case of longing is likely to intensify with Robert Dallek's new single-volume biography, Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life, a 700-page tome devoted to demonstrating "what great presidential leadership looks like."

Week In Politics

Oct 28, 2017

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The word debase - debase has been trending on Merriam-Webster's website.

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This week, President Trump steps into the role of consoler in chief in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas. He also moved toward a couple of policy changes he's hinted about previously and plopped a mystery in front of the press one night after dinner.

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President Trump continues to learn things about his job and the rest of us continue to learn things about Donald Trump.

Last week, faced with one natural disaster festering in Texas and another impending in Florida, Trump used a storm relief bill to save Congress from a fiscal disaster of its own making.

Moreover, he did it by shunning his own party's leaders in the House and Senate and cutting a deal instead with the leaders of the opposition.

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Both Hurricane Irma and Harvey have also had some impact in Washington, D.C., where a few glints of partisanship have broken out. NPR senior political correspondent and editor Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

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Some years back a hit song filled the summertime airwaves with its chorus of "See You In September."

It was meant to be a lover's promise of joyful reunion at summer's end.

But to use those words in Washington, D.C., right now sounds more like a warning ... or even a threat.

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A storm of breaking news overnight. We just don't mean Hurricane Harvey. Presidential pardon, another White House aide departs, a week of fiery rhetoric and explicit threats. NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

If you picked up a print copy of The New York Times on Friday, you may have noticed something unusual about it — something missing. There were no front-page headlines about President Trump, no pictures of him — not even a little "key" to a story on an inside page.

The name Trump did appear in one story, a profile of John W. Nicholson Jr., the Army general commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The president was necessarily mentioned in that story, but the story was not about the president.

Five years ago, before he was a candidate for president, Donald Trump was pretty sure he knew what to do about Afghanistan. It was a losing proposition, "a complete waste" in terms of "blood and treasure."

"Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back?" he asked on Twitter in 2012. "Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!"

More recently, candidate Trump was less certain about exactly when the U.S. should exit the struggle that he had railed against continuing.

President Trump is only the latest man in the White House to see his plans, his governing coalition and his popular standing all at risk because of a racially charged issue.

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