This was the week David Dewhurst learned that phone calls to police stations are recorded. Ted Cruz learned what his Canadian birth certificate really means. Scott Brown learned that saying you’re not running for one office makes it more fun to say you’re thinking about another. Bob Filner learned that therapy isn’t the answer to everything. We learned that Richard Nixon learned that would-be presidents like to say encouraging things to the current president. And Anthony Weiner learned that having someone play you in the porn version of your personal life probably doesn’t help you in the polls.
As for next week’s lessons, we celebrate an anniversary, sample the tea being served at town halls, and brace for fast-moving events abroad. Here’s a peek at some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
REMEMBERING THE DREAM – The days-long commemoration of the March on Washington begins Saturday with a massive outdoor event at the Lincoln Memorial, and culminates on the actual date of the 50th anniversary on Wednesday. President Obama will be the main speaker in the rhetorical footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr., with the White House offering the helpful spoiler that while the president’s speech will be good, it won’t be “I-have-a-dream” good. It’s a chance to reflect on the state of race relations in America, with the first black president and his own complicated relationship with the black community – and race relations more generally, from the beer summits through Trayvon Martin – a focus. Wednesday also marks the fifth anniversary of Obama formally accepting the Democratic nomination for president, on the mountaintop and in the open air of Denver – a pretty good speech in its own right.
SEEING RED – It’s been a year since President Obama declared the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be a “red line,” and never in that time have we seemed closer to active US military engagement than now. The swift judgment by leading members of Congress regarding the latest alleged chemical attack is increasing pressure on the president to escalate American involvement. The president himself is now calling it a “big event of grave concern.” What to do about it, of course, is the complicated part of even a changed calculus, particularly given Syria’s geographical importance. Speaking of geography, there’s Egypt to contend with as well, with the once slow and now very sudden unwinding of the Arab spring. The drumbeat for major changes in US policy is quickening.
THE I-WORD – It must be a slow recess period when idle talk turns to impeachment. If there’s a trend emerging from town-hall meetings across the country, it’s Republican lawmakers being asked why they won’t impeach President Obama already, and those lawmakers opining that that’s not such a terrible idea. At least three such lawmakers – not all of them populating the fringes of the GOP – have responded with some positivity to the suggestion that members of Congress think about what might constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Impeachment buzz is being fueled by a new book on the subject, a book one Republican lawmaker is promising to circulating to colleagues, according to the book’s author. Pro-impeachment forces are operating with thin gruel when it comes to the particulars, and nobody’s getting impeached any time soon. But this is a window into the mindset of GOP lawmakers midway through the summer congressional recess. With heavy lifting awaiting them on budget matters and immigration reform, just for starters, the animosity toward the president that Republicans are channeling doesn’t bode well for much of anything.
LONE STAR LONGINGS – Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s phone call to a local police department had an undesired impact: It lit up Democratic switchboards in the Lone Star State, on behalf of Wendy Davis. Davis, the state senator whose one-woman filibuster show dramatically – if temporarily – held up a new anti-abortion law, is being heavily courted to run for governor next year. That’s a different office than Dewhurst is seeking reelection to – and those reelection chances were damaged by that initial call. To Democrats, though, Dewhurst’s misstep opens an argument for their party against an entrenched, and in their view entitled, ruling Republican Party. Campaign insiders say Davis will decide whether to run for governor before Labor Day, with a formal announcement likely to come in September.
PALMETTO PAIRINGS – Next week’s stop on the is-it-2016-already tour is a southern one, with South Carolina set to host more than its share of presidential contenders. Even by early-state standards, though, this is peculiar: Four potential Republican presidential candidates will within 30 miles of each other on Monday – at two competing fundraising events held by prominent elected officials. Gov. Nikki Haley is kicking off fundraising for her reelection race by hosting a troika of fellow governors who are mulling 2016 bids – Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, and Texas’ Rick Perry – in Greenville, S.C.. Just down the road in Anderson, meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Duncan will host Sen. Rand Paul, R-Tenn., plus South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — who will also be speaking at Gov. Haley’s fundraiser — his “Faith & Freedom BBQ” fundraiser. One could suggest that the distinct crowds will reflect some of the fault lines in the GOP; Duncan has significant tea party support, as do Paul and Scott. One could blame it on the inherent and indisputable greatness of South Carolina barbecue in the summer. Or one could just chalk it up to the increasing insanity of 2016 turf being staked out way, way too early.
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