Intel panel Republicans seem to back away from finding that Russia was not trying to help Trumpx

The leader of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation seemed to back off Tuesday from the most surprising finding in the GOP’s report that Russia was not trying to help President Trump as the panel’s top Democrat trashed the product as a political gift to the White House.

Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.) told reporters Tuesday that “it’s clear [Russian officials] were trying to hurt Hillary [Clinton]” by interfering in the 2016 election, and that “everybody gets to make up their own mind whether they were trying to hurt Hillary, help Trump, it’s kind of glass half-full, glass half-empty.”

.. When it comes to determining whether Russia interfered to hurt clinton or help Trump, “you can pitch that either way,” Conaway said Tuesday.

.. His comments came after other panel Republicans, including Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.) gave interviews in which they stressed that there was evidence that Russia had tried to damage Clinton’s candidacy.

.. Schiff added that the report was “little more than another Nunes memo in long form,”

.. Schiff and other Democrats on the committee released a 22-page “status update” Tuesday night, listing the various witnesses, firms and documents that the panel had declined to subpoena or otherwise examine

.. “The majority has decided they would rather shut down the investigation than find out the answers to the questions we had for Stephen K. Bannon,” Schiff said. “This majority doesn’t want to know the answers, and it has set a precedent now that will affect future Congresses’ ability to get answers from the executive.”

Is Nothing Funny, Mr. President?

Donald Trump almost never laughs. The leader of the free world frequently displays a tight-lipped smile, but mirth-wise, that is as far as he will go.

.. For the first time in recent memory, we have a commander in chief without a sense of humor — and America is paying the price.

.. For most presidents, humor is a tool for building bridges, especially with voters who may not be persuaded by their policy goals.

.. With no talent for gracious one-liners, he finds himself ill at ease in front of all but the most adoring audiences.

.. Surrounded by followers at rallies, he uses his well-honed sense of timing as a cudgel. He jeers. He mocks. His goal is to insult, rather than to entertain.

.. It should come as no surprise, then, that Mr. Trump governs the way he delivers a punch line: consolidating support among the hard core while alienating everybody else.

.. politicians use humor to identify, and ultimately to uphold, unwritten norms.

.. Peter McGraw, founder of the Humor Research Lab, has called “benign violation theory.” We laugh when something breaks one of life’s many rules.

.. By stepping up to the line without crossing it, a commander in chief tacitly acknowledges that a line exists.

.. President Trump does not possess the sense of nuance a well-told joke requires.

.. This refusal to recognize the unwritten rules that govern us, so evident during Mr. Trump’s failed attempts at humor, is a central feature of his presidential tenure thus far. If a leader does not understand the idea of benign violations, blatant violations inevitably occur.

.. Thanks to the power of the internet, there is proof that our president has indeed laughed at least once. This was during a campaign rally in January, when Mr. Trump’s speech was interrupted by a barking dog.

“It’s Hillary!” an audience member shouted. And the candidate tilted his head back, opened his mouth wide and laughed without reservation, quite possibly for the first time in his political life.

.. they reveal a president who is constantly, endlessly preoccupied with status.

‘Daily Show’ contributor Michelle Wolf will headline the White House correspondents’ dinner

Wolf jokes, after saying she voted for Clinton. “And you shouldn’t like Hillary. … We’re never going to have a nice lady run for president. Nice ladies aren’t in charge of things. And if you’re in charge of something, and you think you’re a nice lady — no one else does.”

.. Her solution to the culture of enabling sexual harassment? “Every time a guy gets caught sexually harassing someone, you just don’t fire him, you have to replace him with a woman,” she said.

.. “She has been primarily a cultural rather than political comedian, and much of her work has centered on women and society’s perceptions of women, which resonates amid the national reexamination from Hollywood to the corporate and sports worlds to government and of course our own profession of the treatment of women and girls,”

Why the Center-Left Became Immoderate

In polarized times, those without a clear guiding ideology become the most vicious partisans.

Democracy dies when one side loses respect for electoral outcomes and comes to consider the other illegitimate. Recent U.S. presidents, at least since Bill Clinton, have faced a degree of implacable opposition from the further reaches of the opposing party. But of late the problem seems to have intensified—and disrespect for democratic outcomes has become particularly acute on the center-left.

.. But although centrists are by definition skeptical of ideology, that does not make them any less prone to partisanship.

.. In polarized times, political competition comes to resemble tribal warfare. Everyone is under pressure to close ranks and boost morale.

.. Before being appointed to succeed Mrs. Clinton in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand was an upstate New York representative who belonged to the Blue Dog Coalition.

.. Many Democrats are unwilling to accept that Mrs. Clinton actually lost to Donald Trump. Those who find her standard center-left technocratic worldview congenial are disinclined to accept ideological explanations, so they look for scapegoats: Russia, James Comey, even the voters who supported Donald Trump.

.. Contrast the centrists with leftist standard-bearers like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They’re no fans of Mr. Trump, but they haven’t been at the forefront of calls for impeachment or intensifying the Russia investigation. Instead, they have focused their efforts on broadening the Democratic Party’s base with a more inclusive populism that takes seriously the systemic causes of inequality

.. Both have resisted the urge to write off Mr. Trump’s supporters, and Mr. Sanders in particular has made outreach to Republicans a major part of his postelection message. Mr. Sanders seems instinctively uncomfortable with identity politics,

.. People want something to believe in, but in the absence of a strong ideological sensibility among Democrats, partisanship and alarmism offer ready recourse. Having an enemy is a powerful motivator, and hating Mr. Trump is entertaining to boot.

.. Yesterday’s centrists have become some of today’s most intense partisans.