Key Take-Aways: The Republican mantra of Do As I Say, Not As I Do, is on full display with Steve Wynn. They have been very reluctant to severe ties. Mainly because of the monies that he gives and bundles for them. It will be up to the Mainstream Media to hold them accountable and make them own their decisions. I am not convinced that they will.
Key Take-Away from Graham: The refusal to read, and the resulting limits of Trump’s understanding of complicated issues, doesn’t mean that every decision he makes is bad. Indeed, it can be liberating—allowing him to act on instinct, even in the face of expert reservations. My colleague Krishnadev Calamur, for example, writes that the anger that led the White House to freeze aid to Pakistan this week is understandable. But the shaky grasp of the underlying currents means Trump is more likely to blunder on any given case, and Trump’s misstatements and missteps earn him mockery and undermine his stature around the world. Perhaps no single area better summarizes Trump’s strange tendency than his press shop. He was reportedly driven to distraction by Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s ill-fitting suits and bumbling demeanor, and eventually Spicer was pushed out in favor of Sarah Sanders, a calmer and more commanding force in the Brady Room. But in its written work, the White House press team continues to commit errors and gaffes and issue typo-flecked statements. While most problems faced by presidential administrations are incredibly complex, the solution to problems caused by a president who does not read is fairly simple: He ought to start reading. Simple and easy are very different matters, though, and expecting a man who has always preferred chatting and watching television to the printed word to become a reader at 71 would be foolish. There’s no Trump pivot, especially not to the bookshelf.
Key Take-Away from Coates: Obama saw—at least at that moment, before the election of Donald Trump—a straight path to that world. “Just play this out as a thought experiment,” he said. “Imagine if you had genuine, high-quality early-childhood education for every child, and suddenly every black child in America—but also every poor white child or Latino [child], but just stick with every black child in America—is getting a really good education. And they’re graduating from high school at the same rates that whites are, and they are going to college at the same rates that whites are, and they are able to afford college at the same rates because the government has universal programs that say that you’re not going to be barred from school just because of how much money your parents have. “So now they’re all graduating. And let’s also say that the Justice Department and the courts are making sure, as I’ve said in a speech before, that when Jamal sends his résumé in, he’s getting treated the same as when Johnny sends his résumé in. Now, are we going to have suddenly the same number of CEOs, billionaires, etc., as the white community? In 10 years? Probably not, maybe not even in 20 years.“ But I guarantee you that we would be thriving, we would be succeeding. We wouldn’t have huge numbers of young African American men in jail. We’d have more family formation as college-graduated girls are meeting boys who are their peers, which then in turn means the next generation of kids are growing up that much better. And suddenly you’ve got a whole generation that’s in a position to start using the incredible creativity that we see in music, and sports, and frankly even on the streets, channeled into starting all kinds of businesses. I feel pretty good about our odds in that situation.”
The thought experiment doesn’t hold up. The programs Obama favored would advance white America too—and without a specific commitment to equality, there is no guarantee that the programs would eschew discrimination. Obama’s solution relies on a goodwill that his own personal history tells him exists in the larger country. My own history tells me something different. The large numbers of black men in jail, for instance, are not just the result of poor policy, but of not seeing those men as human. When President Obama and I had this conversation, the target he was aiming to reach seemed to me to be many generations away, and now—as President-Elect Trump prepares for office—seems even many more generations off. Obama’s accomplishments were real: a $1 billion settlement on behalf of black farmers, a Justice Department that exposed Ferguson’s municipal plunder, the increased availability of Pell Grants (and their availability to some prisoners), and the slashing of the crack/cocaine disparity in sentencing guidelines, to name just a few. Obama was also the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. There was a feeling that he’d erected a foundation upon which further progressive policy could be built. It’s tempting to say that foundation is now endangered. The truth is, it was never safe.
Key Take-Away: There is literally nothing I can add to this. Simply amazing. We plan to post these for every year leading from 1968 to 2018. It will be amazing having all those images at your fingertips.
Key Take-Away from Coates: Yet despite this entrenched racial resentment, and in the face of complete resistance by congressional Republicans, overtly launched from the moment Obama arrived in the White House, the president accomplished major feats. He remade the nation’s health-care system. He revitalized a Justice Department that vigorously investigated police brutality and discrimination, and he began dismantling the private-prison system for federal inmates. Obama nominated the first Latina justice to the Supreme Court, gave presidential support to marriage equality, and ended the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, thus honoring the civil-rights tradition that had inspired him. And if his very existence inflamed America’s racist conscience, it also expanded the country’s anti-racist imagination. Millions of young people now know their only president to have been an African American. Writing for The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb once noted that “until there was a black Presidency it was impossible to conceive of the limitations of one.” This is just as true of the possibilities. In 2014, the Obama administration committed itself to reversing the War on Drugs through the power of presidential commutation. The administration said that it could commute the sentences of as many as 10,000 prisoners. As of November, the president had commuted only 944 sentences. By any measure, Obama’s effort fell woefully short, except for this small one: the measure of almost every other modern president who preceded him. Obama’s 944 commutations are the most in nearly a century—and more than the past 11 presidents’ combined.Obama was born into a country where laws barring his very conception—let alone his ascendancy to the presidency—had long stood in force. A black president would always be a contradiction for a government that, throughout most of its history, had oppressed black people. The attempt to resolve this contradiction through Obama—a black man with deep roots in the white world—was remarkable. The price it exacted, incredible. The world it gave way to, unthinkable.