Opinion | David Leonhardt: Trump’s Overhyped Speech

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I’ll confess to being torn concerning the main tv networks’ resolution to air President Trump’s speech tonight on the border wall. On the one hand, the networks stated no to President Barack Obama when he requested for airtime to present a speech on immigration in 2014. They stated it was too political to deserve a free prime-time spot — and Trump’s speech is clearly political, as nicely.

But if they’d stated no to Trump, the choice would have dominated the political dialog for at the very least a few days. The problem could be a battle between Trump and the media as a lot as it will be concerning the authorities shutdown or immigration coverage. And I feel fights between Trump and the media have a tendency to profit Trump. They flip consideration away from his personal presidential incompetence and misbehavior towards journalists, who aren’t precisely the most well-liked group of individuals within the nation.

Of course, this entire scenario implies that Trump is successfully rewarded for his scorched-earth model of politics — with a prime-time handle. But don’t despair. The speech in all probability received’t matter, as Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg Opinion explains. “We have loads of proof on this one: Presidential speeches not often change minds,” he writes this morning. “Voters most certainly to tune in to such a speech are the partisans least prone to change their minds, both concerning the coverage or the president.”

I do hope the networks fact-check Trump as quickly because the speech is over. It’s prone to be stuffed together with his traditional array of false claims.


In the run-up to the midterms, some wild claims made the rounds concerning the doubtless affect of gerrymandering. One much-quoted evaluation predicted that Democrats would want to win the favored vote by 11 proportion factors to retake the House.

These claims — which largely got here from the political left — had been fallacious. Democrats received the favored vote by 9 factors and likewise received a 36-seat majority within the House. Gerrymandering wasn’t as large of a deal as many had feared.

Since the midterms, although, we’ve seen a mirror picture model of these wild pre-election claims. The new argument — largely from the political proper — is that the midterms have proven that gerrymandering isn’t an issue in any respect. “The Gerrymander Excuse Implodes,” a Wall Street Journal editorial declared.

This argument can be fallacious. Gerrymandering stays an issue. In many states, politicians have drawn oddly formed congressional (and state-legislature) districts to maintain members of their very own occasion in energy. The follow is “an insult to voters, whichever occasion is in cost,” the editorial board of the The Charlotte Observer just lately wrote. “It basically robs thousands and thousands of voters of their voice, for the reason that final result is preordained.”

The drawback exists in states the place Democrats final drew the districts, like Illinois and Maryland — and it’s much more extreme in Republican-drawn states, like Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The easiest approach to see gerrymandering is to match the present House to the earlier one. In 2016, Republicans received the House widespread vote by a mere 1 proportion level — however that translated right into a 47-seat benefit, even bigger than the present Democratic margin. Gerrymandering continues to make the votes of some Americans rely greater than others.

The excellent news is that some states are beginning to attract districts extra pretty, thanks both to judicial rulings or voter initiatives. In November, anti-gerrymandering poll measures handed in Colorado, Michigan and Missouri.

But the final word answer must be federal — to create a uniform algorithm and maintain each events from being tempted to gerrymander. Which brings us to the information on Friday that the Supreme Court agreed to listen to two gerrymandering circumstances. …

The justices and democracy

Unfortunately, the justices might determine to make the gerrymandering drawback even worse.

When Anthony Kennedy was on the court docket, the court docket repeatedly sidestepped a definitive ruling on the difficulty, as Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog explains. The 4 justices appointed by Democratic presidents favored such a ruling, however the 5 Republican-appointed justices didn’t. And apart from Kennedy, who appeared torn, the Republican justices had been keen to uphold gerrymandering plans.

Now that Brett Kavanaugh has changed Kennedy, the authorized scholar Richard Hasen predicts that the court docket is prone to help gerrymandering — by reversing lower-court rulings which have discovered it to be unconstitutional. Even worse, Hasen writes in The Atlantic, the court docket may finally hear a case difficult poll initiatives that prohibit gerrymandering. If so, the court docket could be participating in an aggressive transfer to reverse the democratic course of.

This is prone to be an extended battle. I proceed to suppose a federal regulation to limit gerrymandering is the very best long-term plan.

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