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D.C. Memo: China, if you’re listening…

photo of president trump saluting
REUTERS/Tom Brenner
During a press conference Thursday, President Donald Trump requested that China investigate the Biden family.

The D.C. Memo is a weekly recap of Washington political news, journalism, and opinion, delivered with an eye toward what matters for Minnesota. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week in Washington, 2020 begins (again), climate science suppression and campaign finance reports. Let’s get on with this.

A challenger appears

In the First District, DFLer Dan Feehan confirms what has been rumored since his loss in 2018 ⁠— he will be running against Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn. Hagedorn beat Feehan by about 1,300 votes, setting up what is likely to be an expensive rematch. In a district where Trump won by 15 points, Feehan aims to downplay talk of impeachment and focus on bringing back jobs to the district.


In the Eighth District, Quinn Nystrom, a long-time advocate for accessible insulin, will challenge freshman Republican Rep. Pete Stauber as a Democrat. Stauber’s last challenger, Joe Radinovich, opted not to run again. He lost the race by around five points in 2016.

The political climate

Senate Democrats and outgoing USDA climate scientists are calling attention to the Trump administration’s treatment of climate science: forcing scientists to move or quit and keeping climate science, with practical implications, from the hands of farmers.

“This assault on science has real impacts on people and communities,” said Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum. “Keeping USDA climate science from the public inhibits farmers’ ability to be resilient to increasingly severe and erratic weather and climate patterns — like the extreme rainfall and flooding seen throughout much of the country, including in Minnesota, over the last year.”

Read more at MinnPost.

Another accusation against Franken

In New York Magazine, a former Democratic campaign staffer spoke out about her experience with former Sen. Al Franken in 2006:

I was working the photo line, and he pulled me in. Murray said, “Let’s take the picture.” And he puts his hand on my ass. He’s telling the photographer, “Take another one. I think I blinked. Take another one.” And I’m just frozen. It’s so violating. And then he gives me a little squeeze on my buttock, and I am bright red. I don’t say anything at the time, but I felt deeply, deeply uncomfortable. It was such a confusing experience. At first, I didn’t take it all that seriously.

The accusation of sexual misconduct follows eight others from 2017 and Franken’s resignation from the Senate. Franken has recently been on a media tour as he prepares to launch a radio show on SiriusXM.


“When this first happened, if you had asked me, ‘Have you ever made a woman feel uncomfortable by the way you put your arm around her or touched her or something like that’ I would have said no,” Franken told Conan O’Brien. “And after all these allegations came in, I thought, well, I must be doing something wrong. Right? Ever since, I’ve been a lot more mindful in my interactions with pretty much everyone.”

Taking the stage

Last weekend, National Republican Congressional Committee Chair and Sixth District Rep. Tom Emmer and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois) shared a stage. Most of it was expected back and forth between two campaign-arm chairs, but one exchange stuck out:

“I don’t get personal,” Bustos said. “I don’t talk about people’s wives. I don’t talk about people’s children. I don’t talk about if somebody’s in marriage counseling. I don’t talk about those kind of things. I think you can talk about somebody’s voting record, and I think all of that’s fair game. But I don’t believe in getting personal.”

Bustos was referring to a recent attack from the NRCC that mocked Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-South Carolina) for participating in marriage counseling. Emmer responded that the DCCC does much of the same, but the attack he was referring to was actually a spat between two individual members of Congress: Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), who last week called retiring Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) “a racist Christian pretender” on Twitter.

The NRCC this campaign cycle has made liberal use of personal insults, even suggesting that many Jewish members of Congress are antisemitic.

Redistricting fight

MinnPost’s Peter Callaghan has an explainer on why the state Senate will prove to be critical for redistricting, especially as Minnesota could lose a congressional seat.

“Our work is now more important than ever before because if Republicans don’t win in states where the Legislature plays a critical role in redistricting, our party won’t win a majority in the U.S. House for the next decade,” read a statement from Ron Weiser, a former ambassador to Slovakia and the finance chair of the Republican State Leadership Committee.

The president next door

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is back in Iowa again this week for another swing through the state. She intends to make her case in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties before the Iowa Caucus on Feb. 3, 2020.

The last day for the October quarter’s fundraising was on September 30 and the deadline to file is October 15. While some of her competitors have released their numbers, Klobuchar has yet to release her own. Her fundraising, stacked up against the surprising $10 million raised by Andrew Yang (who has no political experience) and the formidable $25.3 million raised by Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be a test for her ability to continue a national campaign.

In other news

Quote of the week

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” President Trump said on Thursday, amid an impeachment inquiry looking to determine if he pressured the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

What I’m reading

Maya King for Politico: Warren gets ‘dramatic shift’ in support from black voters

In Politico, Maya King writes about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s positive shift in support from black voters. Polling earlier in the campaign cycle has prompted concern from supporters and allies alike. While Black voters are not monolithic, they are the Democratic party’s most reliable constituency.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/04/2019 - 12:29 pm.

    It’s a truism in rhetoric, that when someone has no real argument to make, they attack the person arguing with them. Republicans do that all the time, and as DCCC Chair Bustos points out, Democrats prefer to discuss or argue issues and policies. Not personalities. that’s because Democrats have policies!

    One other aspect of today’s Republican rhetoric? They rant. All the time. They are highly emotional and they almost scream their views, whether it’s on Fox TV or Chris Cuomo’s CNN show or a panel on “Anderson Cooper 360.” They go on and on, preventing anyone from interrupting, and they avoid any semblance of talking with another person. Stephen Miller did that last week in an interview with Jake Tapper. It’s Rudy Giuliani’s modus operandi! Some GOP congressman went on an interminable don’t-stop-for-a-second rant on CNN last night and–even without anyone permitted to intervene, the guy got red in the face about poor Donald Trump.

    Now Donald Trump is publicly ranting and getting red in the face, all by himself with no one speaking at all (and the Finnish president, who Trump forgets is even there, looking like he wants to get out of the room!).

    Someone ought to look into this GOP tactic–why are they all so afraid to have a sane, calm discussion?

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 10/07/2019 - 09:21 am.

      It can be a consciously adopted technique. About twenty years ago, I participated in an e-mail forum for Japanese-English translators, and there was one member who was knowledgeable and helpful when it came to professional matters, but every once in a while, he would go off on a right-wing rant.

      If people objected to his ranting, he would start flinging insults, sometimes even going to people’s personal websites and making nasty, even threatening remarks about their spouses and children. (“Wouldn’t I like to get one of your daughters alone in a locked room.”) This continued until one of the targets of the harassment found embarrassing photos of the right-wing guy online and posted them.

      At one point, someone asked him why he was prone to ranting, and in a moment of candor, he said that it was a technique he had perfected while “surrounded by airhead liberals” at Berkeley. When someone challenged his opinions, he would start ranting, and they would give up and leave him alone.

      Those of us who had been targeted exchanged private e-mails among ourselves and decided to declare on the mailing list that he was now on “Ignore.” Only we didn’t put him on “Ignore.” We just stopped responding. We then watched as his personal attacks became increasingly hysterical and nonsensical. Receiving no response, he left the mailing list.

      If you search online, you can find website articles with titles like “How to Argue with a Liberal.” These articles never advocate dealing in facts. They’re all about rhetorical techniques such as ad hominem attacks, overwhelming your opponent with a barrage of unrelated questions, changing the subject, straw man statements, and so on.

      A great example of an extended straw man argument is found in yesterday’s Star-Tribune. The author claims that in advocating “socialism,” Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want the U.S. to be like China, when in fact, what they want is for the U.S. to be more like the northern European countries, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

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