With David Folkenflik
The White House’s new immigration plan. Alabama’s abortion bill. Don Jr. to testify. U.S.-Iran tensions rise. Clashes over tariffs with China. The roundtable is here.
Susan Glasser, staff writer for The New Yorker. CNN global affairs analyst. (@sbg1)
Jack Beatty, On Point News Analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)
From The Reading List
Bloomberg News: “California Primary Becomes a Tantalizing Prize for 2020 Democrats” — “California has long been a piggy bank for Democratic presidential hopefuls. In 2020, it’s got something just as compelling as money: a potentially decisive role in the nomination race.
“The state’s presidential primary is moving back into the so-called Super Tuesday round of voting next year, joining at least 13 other states on March 3 after an initial shake-out for the campaigns in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. At stake is the biggest cache of delegates available in the nomination race, three times the number available in the first four contests combined.
“That gives California Democrats the chance to either reshuffle or solidify the standings in the party’s biggest-ever field of candidates.”
New Yorker: “War Games: Trump, Bolton, and the Alleged March to Fight Iran” — “The question shouted at President Trump on Thursday as he waited outside the White House to greet the President of Switzerland was inevitable, even if the answer was less than conclusive. ‘Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?’ a reporter asked. ‘Hope not,’ Trump replied. After days of Administration sabre-rattling, U.S. intelligence reportedly identifying new Iranian threats, the withdrawal of nonessential U.S. personnel in nearby Iraq, and the deployment of an aircraft carrier and other forces to the Gulf, however, Trump’s vague reply did little to quell a full-fledged Washington furor.
“All week, many Trump critics and even some of his most fervent supporters have been warning that his Administration is on a march to unprovoked conflict with Iran. From columnists in Mother Jones to the far-right Fox host Laura Ingraham, the commentariat has been on high alert, seeing in the escalating moves against Iran all the warning signs of a potential shooting war. Some cited dangerous echoes of the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, arguing, as the Financial Times’s Ed Luce did, that ‘Dick Cheney’s heirs are laying the groundwork for an Iran conflict.’ Others, like Ingraham, worried that Trump was headed toward the kind of politically disastrous misadventure in the Middle East that he campaigned against. ‘War with Iran is one of the few almost certain paths for @realDonaldTrump to harm his re-election prospects,’ she tweeted. Across the political spectrum, fingers pointed at the President’s hawkish national-security adviser, John Bolton, who has long been a public advocate of regime change in Iran.
“But the sudden consensus about a march to war, at least initially, discounted one key factor: the President himself. If anything, it speaks to Trump’s frayed credibility and reputation for impulsivity that this debate even broke out. Everything we’ve learned about Trump until now suggests that if the President were serious about going to war with Iran, we would already know it.”
Associated Press: “Alabama governor invokes God in banning nearly all abortions” — “Alabama’s Republican governor has signed the nation’s strictest abortion ban into law, making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases, punishable by up to life in prison, and with no exceptions for rape and incest.
“Gov. Kay Ivey said the law she signed Wednesday is a testament to the belief that ‘every life is a sacred gift from God.’
“Democrats and abortion rights advocates call it a slap in the face to women.
“The law faces certain legal challenges on a journey to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Republicans hope President Donald Trump’s appointees will reverse Roe v. Wade and criminalize abortion nationwide.”
CNN: “Trump’s irritation with top aides grows over Iran strategy” — “President Donald Trump has become irritated at an emerging impression his hawkish national security advisers are marching him closer to war with Iran despite his isolationist tendencies, according to people familiar with the matter.
“Instead, Trump is signaling his intent to speak with the Iranians as tensions rise in the Persian Gulf, and his national security team has taken steps they hope could facilitate a new diplomatic opening.
“The likelihood of such an opening appears slim. But Trump has raised concern with the heightened rhetoric, believing a large-scale military intervention with Iran would be devastating to him politically, people familiar with the situation said. The President has told members of his team that starting a new conflict would amount to breaking his campaign promise to wind down foreign entanglements. And he’s chafed at suggestions his aides, led by national security adviser John Bolton, are somehow leading him to war.”
CNBC: “China’s state mouthpieces are taking an aggressive tone on the trade war” — “China’s state-run media outlets have come out in force this week after keeping relatively quiet in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of tariff increases on Chinese goods.
“Whether it’s the mouthpiece of the Communist Party or the national television broadcaster, the latest commentary exudes confidence about China’s ability to stand up to the U.S. That’s in contrast to a more muted press in preceding weeks. In an environment of tight government control of what messages are allowed to surface, the shift can shed light into what Chinese leaders are thinking about the drawn out trade negotiations.”
Anna Bauman produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.