Ron Elving | KERA News

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.

Two new polls out this week indicate a majority of Americans fear a "second wave" of COVID-19 cases in the near future, which may be washing away the chances for traditional presidential nominating conventions this year.

Updated at 10:25 a.m. ET

Presidents have been asked all manner of questions about their behavior, but no one had ever asked whether the president should wear a mask. Until now.

As April began and Americans were being told to fear COVID-19 and stay home, President Trump said there would not need to be a "massive recession." As recently as Monday, he said the economy would have "a tremendous third quarter." By Wednesday, he was looking forward to "a fourth quarter that's going to be fantastic" and then to "a tremendous 2021."

It now seems apparent that COVID-19 will dominate American life for months to come, quite possibly through the national election in November.

That means the disease, and efforts to respond to it, will likewise dominate the 2020 campaign and make it largely about something it has never been about before.

That something is science.

President Trump's nightly briefings on COVID-19 this week have featured stunning pronouncements and reversals.

Take the widespread response to the president's assertion on Monday that he could reopen local businesses by fiat — even against the wishes of governors: "When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total."

That sentence looks like a true-false question on a test in constitutional law class. (Answer: False.)

Perhaps the last thing we needed in this hyperpartisan election year was another reminder of what divides us as a nation. Then the COVID-19 crisis arrived and gave us one.

The virus is affecting everyone, in one way or another, but in terms of actual sickness and death, it is disproportionately afflicting people of color. So far, at least, it is afflicting primarily those people of color who live in the most densely populated cores of our metropolitan centers.

Mention government financing public works projects and sooner or later someone's going to bring up the Works Progress Administration.

That conjures scenes from the 1930s, the breadlines and soup kitchens and the wan-faced men selling apples on the street. And also the image of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the man elected president in 1932 promising a "New Deal" to end the Great Depression.

Let us all have a moment of sympathy – and perhaps even understanding — for Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky.

Massie was the guy who caught hell from all sides Friday when he tried to force a roll call vote on the coronavirus relief bill in the House of Representatives. He said he wanted every individual member to record his or her vote on the gargantuan $2 trillion package, which he called the biggest relief bill in the history of mankind.

On March 18, in the midst of a presidential news conference on the coronavirus, Donald Trump compared himself to a "wartime president."

This president has never been shy about casting himself in heroic roles. But his attempt to adopt the military mien raised more than a few eyebrows under the circumstances.

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Aside from times of genuine national crisis, it is hard to recall a week with as many events of political significance as the one we have all just witnessed.

As a kickoff for the re-election year of a president, it could scarcely have been more fraught. And as always, our perception of events was subject to our differing political perspectives.

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Book-length critiques of the presidency of Donald Trump keep piling up on American reading tables, so it seems time for a one-volume wrapup on what we have learned so far.

Imagine, for a moment, a high-octane courtroom prosecutor summing up for the jury a case built on the vivid testimony of multiple eyewitnesses.

Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET

Viewers tuning in for the latest Democratic presidential candidates' debate Tuesday night may sense something missing in Des Moines.

Don't put too much stock in all those New Year's predictions you're hearing and seeing about American politics in 2020. Anyone saying they know what will happen is probably just trying to get our attention.

And probably succeeding. We've all fallen for headlines and clickbait proclaiming foreknowledge of events. We do it for sports, the stock market and just about any other outcome that cannot be foreseen.

That goes for elections — especially for elections — and particularly in a high-stakes, pivotal cycle such as we are in now.

When it was announced Wednesday night in the House of Representatives that all of the time allotted for debate on impeachment had expired, a cheer went up within the chamber. After a dozen hours of rancor and wrangling, there seemed for a moment to be an end in sight.

The spirit of that cheer was generally shared by the nation at large. But alas, that night, there would be closure only for the House and not the nation.

How big a deal was this week's House vote formalizing the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Trump?

It could be quite a big deal indeed.

As has been noted, the vote opens the impeachment inquiry to public view and responds to complaints about its secrecy. The vote also may, in the view of legal scholars, strengthen the case for courts to enforce congressional subpoenas that have been issued — or soon will be.

President Trump will present the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor Tuesday, to a former top aide to President Ronald Reagan who has been a stalwart of the conservative movement for the past half-century.

Edwin Meese III, always known as Ed, is a native Californian and a living reminder of the time when the Republican Party counted on the Golden State as the cornerstone of its Electoral College majorities.

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The topic of impeachment is back and hotter than ever in Washington. But is it back by popular demand? Will the issue simmer into the fall, or will the heat dissipate in the days ahead?

More Democrats than ever — a majority — now favor opening formal proceedings to remove President Trump from office. More joined the chorus over the weekend after reports suggested Trump pressured an ally to support a certain line of attack on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

But the fever for impeachment has yet to be felt by much of the public at large.

There was something different about the Democratic debate this week, compared with the earlier rounds this summer. Something was happening that was hard to pin down, but it was 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.

Week In Politics

Aug 31, 2019

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We're watching Hurricane Dorian as it heads towards the U.S. and the storm on the economic horizon and clouds of tear gas in the streets of Hong Kong. NPR's senior Washington editor and correspondent Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

"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?"

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