Houseboat Diplomacy; Blinken and Diversity; Gold Standard

Good morning, it’s Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. The pandemic Olympics are over, albeit not without controversy.  Donald J. Trump found himself publicly rooting against the American women’s soccer team. Although his animus for some members of the team wasn’t unprovoked, let’s stipulate that this is a strange stance for a former U.S. president to take. Unheard of, really.

It was especially discordant this year because American women outperformed their male teammates and upheld the pride of the Stars and Stripes in the process: Of the 39 gold medals won by American athletes in Japan, 23 were won by women.

On behalf of the men’s team, we could put an asterisk beside two glamorous track and events: The 100-meter dash was won by Texas-born but Italy-raised Lamont Jacobs, who ran for the Italian team. Fred Kerley won silver, meaning that native-born Americans ran one-two. Likewise, in the pole vault, American Chris Nilsen won silver while the gold went to Armand Duplantis, who competed for Sweden. Except that Duplantis (whose mother is Swedish) was born and raised — and learned to vault — in Louisiana.

Still, the American women just kicked ass on the track, in the swimming pool, in the gymnastics events, and more: Even their bronze medal in soccer was hard-won. They upheld their nation’s honor.

Switching gears, 20 years ago today, George H.W. Bush, the retired 41st president of the United States, sent a poignant email to a White House correspondent he’d met only once. The journalist was writing a magazine story exploring what American presidents thought about when they invoked Thomas Jefferson’s famous phrase “the pursuit of happiness.”

Those words, found in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, are iconic — but also ambiguous. The reporter’s assignment was to divine what the concept meant to the chief executives who used it in times of national import.

Bush, along with Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Bush’s son George W. — who occupied the Oval Office at the time — all agreed to engage in this exercise. But after the reporting was done, and before the essay was published, the nation was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Tomorrow, I’ll relate what George H.W. Bush told me when I asked if that horrific event made him want to alter what he’d written.

For now, I’ll point you to our front page, which aggregates, as it does each day, columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. Today’s lineup includes Rep. Cori Bush on why she feels so strongly about evictions (CNN); Celia Viggo Wexler on how unvaccinated Americans are “ruining it” (NBC News); and Peter Van Buren explaining his view that “masks” is a shorthand for something not entirely benign (The American Conservative). We also offer a complement of original material from RCP reporters and contributors, including the following:

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Bipartisan Hope Floats on Manchin’s Houseboat. Bill Scher lauds the West Virginia senator’s outreach to Republicans as a throwback to the Ronald Reagan-Tip O’Neill days.  

The (Many) Good People in America. Dustin Siggins reflects on the heartening aspects of a medical emergency. 

Delta Variant Presents New Threat to Continuity of Congress. Taylor J. Swift, Robert Alexander, and David B. Cohen weigh the steps the Senate needs to take to avoid interrupting the chamber’s legislative business. 

Blinken’s Diversity & Inclusion Plan Erodes Equality & Excellence. Peter Berkowitz, who himself worked for the State Department, questions whether the secretary is placing a political agenda ahead fostering common goals of purpose and competence. 

Britney Spears Conservator Case Spurs Fans and Lawmakers to Act. Henry Kokkeler and London Lyle report on efforts to address allegedly abusive arrangements faced by the pop star and other wards of the conservatorship system. 

“Paid for” Infrastructure Spending Is Anything But. At RealClearMarkets, Andrew Wilford exposes bookkeeping gimmicks used to make the claim. 

Election Updates for the Week of Aug. 9. At RealClearPolicy, Todd Carney recaps primary results and other developments from around the country. 

Shining a Light on Mississippi’s Fat Cats. Also at RCPolicy, Douglas Carswell outlines a new report about highly paid public employees in the state whose effectiveness is among the worst in the nation. 

“Sprinting Through No Man’s Land.” At RealClearDefense, John Waters interviews Adin Dobkin about his book on the first Tour de France bicycle race held after World War I. 

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Carl M. Cannon 
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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