Politics with Jennifer Brooks

The slow news month took amphetamines

Good morning.

Discussion among Republicans these days: If you put up only token opposition to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (the current challenger, Rep. Jim Newberger, probably qualifies) maybe she spends most of her time helping colleagues around the country and going to Iowa and New Hampshire to test the waters, doesn't spend huge sums of money here. You put up a "tomato can" -- this is a great boxing term for someone you know will lose -- as a kind of gift to her in the hopes she won't help the DFL much down ballot.

Because if you put up a decent candidate, someone who can get 55 percent -- think of the second place finisher in the governor's race at the convention maybe? -- and she is her usual obsessive self, going to every county, raising and spending $15 million, her press staff calling to question the placement of a comma, then maybe she runs up the score, wins 70 counties or more and drags the rest of the DFL across the finish line. A Klob person gave a flash of recognition when I mentioned 1976, Hubert Humphrey's crushing win that secured his place as the most popular Minnesota pol in history.

But the other way of thinking is that it would be irresponsible for Minnesota Republicans to give her a pass. Sure, she has strong numbers, but so did Hillary Clinton in 2012. So did George H.W. Bush in 1991. When conservatives mulled taking on the teachers union decades ago, no doubt a lot of people thought it was crazy. For all her sheen of bipartisanship, the thinking goes, Klobuchar is a partisan DFLer with the votes to prove it, and it's time someone took her on, not personally, but on the issues. There's some recruiting going on.

Republicans in D.C. are playing hide the ball on tax reform. I met with Rep. Erik Paulsen and Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady and it's all about how great it will be to have lower rates and a simpler tax system, but ask them where the money comes from and here was the response from Brady: Still working on it. Skeptical this can get done. Story.

Tons of really interesting responses to my callout asking for questions for Paulsen, including questions about the charitable deduction, infrastructure funding, health care, the medical device tax. And, of course, standing up to Trump. Who knew we had so many readers?! I hope to allow more opportunity for you to participate in our journalism in the future. I'll transcribe the interview and share more next week.

City Pages with a nice scoop on something called Behold Barbarity Records, a metal label with a neo-Nazi bent, run by a partner at local patent law firm Patterson Thuente, which is HQed in the IDS tower in downtown Minneapolis. He quickly was placed on administrative leave.

Rep. Tim Walz, DFL candidate for gov, on Enbridge pipeline: Any line that goes through treaty lands is a nonstarter for me.

Rukmini Callimachi tweetstorm on the terrorist attack in Barcelona.

I have failed as a husband because I cannot make my wife laugh like she did at this dog attempting and failing to catch food thrown to him. She's not even a dog person (and obviously not a cat person either -- they're invasive songbird murderers.) Anyway, the music and array of foods make this a gem. Watch.

From the DFL: 11 #RiseandOrganize events this weekend in Minnesota. (Post story on it. DFL link. "We are encouraging people to hit the doors and talk to their neighbors about standing strong against bigotry."

Shrewd piece by my old pal Ben Smith on Bannon's attempt to forge a new coalition of working and middle class Americans, which explains his reaching out to labor-lefty Kuttner. But it always comes back to race in America.

Also shrewd: Michael Brendan Dougherty, in National Review, sees what the white nationalists were doing in Charlottesville: They were hoping to provoke violence from antifa, which would then create sympathy among mainstream conservatives:

what they wanted to do was to set a trap for conservatives. The explosive growth of Antifa during the 2016 campaign and since the election of Donald Trump has become a fixture in conservative media. Conservatives had warned that mainstream-media figures were summoning an awful thing into being by cheering on masked left-wingers who punched Nazis. Soon, anyone you wanted to punch would start looking like a Nazi. Sure enough. Aggressive left-wing “direct action” started falling on conservative speakers on campus. And Antifa played the main role in shutting down speeches by Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter. Even if conservatives, of the type that wears loafers and bowties, had become used to holding Yiannopoulos and Coulter at arm’s length, the sight of left-wingers using violence and the threat of worse riots to shut them down caused some rallying effect.

But then Heather Heyer was murdered and the whole thing went off the rails. Kinda tough to be a nonviolent Nazi. It's not a thing.

David French, also in National Review, on Trump's tweet about General Pershing, in which he (again) falsely claims Pershing engaged in a war crime. It didn't happen, and it'd be great if the president of the United States would stop saying it did.

Minnesotan and GOP operative Alex Conant with a tweetstorm on the White House comms fail as Trump has gone underground and the administration fails to find effective surrogates: "Crisis comms 101 is that when disaster happens on video, you need to create new/better video."

Release: "Boundary Waters Advocates Submit over 125,000 comments in support of protecting the Boundary Waters Wilderness."

Checked into this story a little bit about antifa protesters taking down the flag at the Hennepin County building, burning it and putting up their own flag. It was actually in front of the jail, not the county building, the county tweeted with a photo. The whole incident was less than 30 minutes, according to county Twitter feed.

Have you watched "Last Chance U"? Great documentary about a junior college in Mississippi where football players who have had discipline, substance abuse and academic issues get one last shot to get straight and make it to Division One ball. It's a fascinating portrait of these young men, most of them African-American, as well as their coaches and academic adviser. Season two is proving to be just as interesting as season one.

Gotta run off to an assignment, so no time to hit up my summer file. Have a great weekend all.

Correspond: patrick.coolican@startribune.com and @jpcoolican.

-- J. Patrick Coolican