Ron Elving | WYPR

Ron Elving

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

He is also a professorial lecturer and Executive in Residence in the School of Public Affairs at American University, where he has also taught in the School of Communication. In 2016, he was honored with the University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown.

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as manager of NPR's Washington desk from 1999 to 2014, the desk's reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2008, the American Political Science Association awarded NPR the Carey McWilliams Award "in recognition of a major contribution to the understanding of political science."

Ron came to Washington in 1984 as a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association and worked for two years as a staff member in the House and Senate. Previously, he had been state capital bureau chief for The Milwaukee Journal.

He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California – Berkeley.

There was something different about the Democratic debate this week, compared to the earlier rounds this summer. Something was happening that was hard to pin down, but palpable. Not the contrast of night and day, but perhaps the difference between dusk and dawn.

It's a critical difference and it comes at a crucial time. Because the Trump presidency these candidates are competing to truncate has reached what may be a critical juncture. But more of that in a moment.

Questions will linger about President Trump's aborted plan to host peace talks between Afghanistan's elected leader and representatives of the Taliban, but one aspect of that ill-starred rendezvous is relatively easy to understand — the proposed location at Camp David.

The venue, a federal facility in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland about 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., has been associated in the past with U.S. presidents and momentous meetings.

Many heads got scratched this week when President Trump doubled down on his erroneous claim that Alabama had been in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Apparently relying on a map that warned of high winds, or another showing hypothetical paths for the storm, the president over the weekend insisted Alabama was "in the crosshairs." At midweek, sitting in the Oval Office, he held up a map on which someone using a marking pen had ballooned the area of actual hurricane threat to include Alabama.

"How does one man have so much power?"

One hears that question asked in Washington a lot these days, often with exasperation and bewilderment.

And it is not always a reference to President Trump.

Quite often, the man in question is Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky.

The man who calls himself the "Grim Reaper" — of signature Democratic initiatives.

Updated at 1:57 p.m. ET

On the presidential campaign trail in Iowa and on the op-ed page of The New York Times, former Vice President Joe Biden has made the case for going back to a nationwide ban on assault weapons and making it "even stronger."

Some have reacted with quizzical expressions: "Back?" "Stronger?"

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The second night of the Democratic debates in Detroit did not stray from its predicted script: It was open season on front-runner Joe Biden right from the start.

But it was also something of a free-for-all, with every candidate for himself or herself. And the intensity and outcome of the exchanges may have come as a surprise to some of the people onstage.

Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Detroit was widely expected to pit the two leading progressives in the field against each other. Instead, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had each other's backs in fending off the other eight aspirants onstage.

They gave as good as they got, and emerged at least as strong as either was going in. That was particularly good news for Sanders, who had been perceived as ceding ground to Warren in recent months.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

With his latest round of attacks on four first-year members of Congress who are women of color, President Trump has once again touched the raw nerve of racism in American life.

He has also tapped into one of the oldest strains in our politics — the fear and vilification of immigrants and their descendants.

Day after day, you're seeing stories about the 2020 census on the front page and all over TV news, even though the once-a-decade head count is still months away.

The president wants the census questionnaire to include: "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" He's willing to delay the count "for as long as it takes" to have it his way.

When history looks back on the first round of debates among Democrats in the 2020 presidential cycle, it will see a generational milestone.

Both nights of the twin bill in Miami put the spotlight on a national party in transition, loosening the bonds of its past and looking ahead to new personalities to propel its future.

As President Trump attends the G-20 summit in Japan this week, a score of Democrats who want his job are debating in Miami — vying for a nomination that looks increasingly worth having.

Updated at 10:12 a.m. ET

The founders of American democracy could not have anticipated the technology of the 21st century or many of the other changes that have redefined the republic they created. But they clearly foresaw one challenge that faces the inheritors of their handiwork – the threat of foreign interference in our elections.

America is about to be reintroduced to John Dean, the man whose cool, calm and controversial testimony in the Watergate investigation began the public demolition of President Richard Nixon.

As he spoke to the Senate's special investigating committee on June 25, 1973, Dean and his owlish glasses were imprinted on the national consciousness, his appearance carried live on all three TV networks and watched by tens of millions.

Michael Wolff's new book about President Trump, Siege: Trump Under Fire, offers many surprising stories — but its power to shock may be limited.

Most Americans have long since decided what they think of Trump. And most people who pay attention to such books have made up their minds about Wolff, as well.

The presidency of Donald Trump reached a new and ominous phase this week in its confrontations with opponents within the government.

Beleaguered by investigations on several fronts, the president made a show of breaking off negotiations with Democrats in Congress on an array of legislative issues and vowing he would not relent until they ended the probes.

The latest book-length tell-all on life inside President Trump's White House has appeared, and it's just as unsparing about dysfunction and deception as all those earlier versions by journalists, gossip mavens and former staffers. Maybe more so.

The difference is that the president likes this one.

Or at least he says he likes it. And it's probably not because of the catchy title (Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election), or any previous works by the author, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The news world is ravenously awaiting the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference.

But Attorney General William Barr's two trips to the Capitol last week strongly suggest that the version of the report he releases will only whet the appetites of many in Congress and beyond for more information.

Welcome to the nightmare of being the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, Joe.

Two women have complained about being touched inappropriately by former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been the leading (if still undeclared) candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Biden's poll numbers, while far from overwhelming, have still been the best of the ever-widening Democratic field. So any story that even hints at a Biden scandal is going to lead the newscast and leap to the front page.

Federal judges have sentenced other former aides of Donald Trump to prison, but a filmmaker is seeking a different kind of judgment on Steve Bannon, the onetime guru who thinks he's the one who got Trump elected president.

A presidential pardon can't be stopped, blocked, vetoed or overturned. So where does this power come from? And is there any limit to it?

President Trump says he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself (though he says he wouldn't need to because he hasn't done anything wrong).

Andrew McCabe, the former acting director of the FBI, says President Trump's treatment of the bureau and its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign was so profoundly disturbing during the spring of 2017 that Justice Department officials discussed contacting Cabinet members to initiate Trump's removal from office under the 25th Amendment.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

As a rule, presidents want to have it both ways in their annual State of the Union addresses.

They want to "reach out to all Americans" with uplifting appeals to unity and bipartisanship. But they can't resist pumping up the pep rally for their party and most loyal supporters.

If that applies to all presidents in all seasons, it surely applied Tuesday night to President Trump, who has found the halfway point of his term to be fraught with political travail.

Congratulations, Stacey Abrams, you have just won the most dubious political prize in Washington!

Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the Georgia State Assembly, was named last week to respond to President Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Who would question that it's a privilege to deliver the opposition party's response to the president's State of the Union address? Well, perhaps you could start with some of the people who have actually done it.

If you've been missing the force of Chris Christie's personality since he returned to private life last year, you can now get your fix at full blast from his autobiography, Let Me Finish.

But if you are looking for introspection or deep thoughts, look elsewhere. This is a big, loud book by a man with a full head of steam, stories to tell and scores to settle.

The 400-page tome's subtitle lays out the agenda: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.

In the late summer of 2018, The New York Times reported that St. Martin's Press had signed a seven-figure deal for a "tell-all book" about President Trump's White House.

The amount of the advance raised eyebrows because the author, Cliff Sims, had served 18 months in that White House without making much of a name for himself anywhere else.

Who was this Cliff Sims? What did he mean to Trump? And what might a book called Team of Vipers add to what had already been written and said about the snake pit at 1600?

Updated Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. ET

It was nearly midnight Wednesday when President Trump sent the tweet saying he would wait to deliver his "great" State of the Union speech until after the government is fully reopened.

When President Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night he will be sharing the space with more than a teleprompter and an array of TV cameras.

The room with the legendary shape will also be filled with ghosts. The spirit of every president in the television age will be alive in the memories of millions watching at home.

Rarely have six words meant so much, and so many different things, to so many.

As the years pass, we edit and compress our memories of presidents and other national figures until only a few salient impressions endure. Most of what we once knew recedes into our cerebral hard disk. That may be especially true for one-term presidents, often remembered more for what turned them out of office than for what got them there.

Would this apply to the one-term president who died Friday, George H.W. Bush? His name was attached to some of the nation's top positions for more than two decades even before his namesake son won the White House twice.

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