August 20

* Earlier today, I argued that nothing President Obama says about Ferguson is going to promote healing. Jonathan Capehart says black people in particular have unrealistic expectations about what Obama can or should do:

Throughout his presidency, some African Americans have called on Obama to do more to show he cares about the black community. Or as one headline put it, “Still waiting for our first black president.” My response then is the same now: stop waiting for and start paying attention to our first black president. As I wrote then, some folks won’t be satisfied, it seems, until he bursts into the East Room clad in Kente cloth and brandishing a definable “black agenda”or whatever else so many blacks seem to want from him to prove that he cares.

Obama cares. Deeply. But if you’re expecting him to do seemingly heroic and showy things that make you feel good but do nothing to actually fix big, systemic problems in the long-term you will never be satisfied.

On the night of the 2008 South Carolina primary, Obama supporters at his headquarters chanted “Race doesn’t matter! Race doesn’t matter!” after he won. Seems like a long time ago.

* In Ferguson today, Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of college students about a time he was racially profiled by police. Holder has always been less reluctant than Obama to talk about this kind of thing; it’ll be interesting to see how directly he addresses the racial dimensions of the Ferguson shooting.

* In the annals of “stupid things people are saying about Ferguson,” apparently some conservatives saw Missouri state patrol captain Ron Johnson doing things with his fingers, and were convinced he was flashing gang signs. Actually, as Soraya Nadia McDonald reports, it’s a greeting from Johnson’s college fraternity. But it’s good that you’re all on top of this kind of thing.

* Steve Benen tracks the spread of this particularly idiotic little faux controversy.

* While some people have been criticizing Mark Pryor for not using the word “Obamacare” in his new ad touting his vote for the Affordable Care Act, Charles Gaba explains why that’s just fine:

Mark Pryor shows Democrats how they should campaign on the Affordable Care Act in a red state. You don’t have to mention Obamacare (which technically doesn’t even exist), you don’t have to even mention the Affordable Care Act. You do have to personalize what the law actually means for real people with real medical issues which were fixed or improved by the law.

And if conservatives can say all kinds of bogus things about the law, what’s wrong with saying true things about it, even if you don’t say the word that sets people off?

* Jonathan Bernstein with a good post arguing that the new Pryor ad suggests that we’re slowly reverting to normality on the health care issue, which means evetually it will again become something Democrats talk about and Republicans avoid.

* The Affordable Care Act is fading as an issue in this year’s elections, and Robert Schlesinger explains why: it’s the unusual influence of reality on a political debate, with all the piling up of good Obamacare news making falsehoods about it less potent.

* Via Taegan Goddard, Harry Enten has a useful overview of the Senate map, and concludes that once you give Republicans three seats up front, six remaining races will determine control of the Senate:

The map right now is simple: Control of the Senate will be decided in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina. Republicans must win at least half of these races. Yet, we still can’t say with much confidence who will win the Senate….All these races are too close to call. The races have also been consistently tight.

Republicans could win all of these races. Or Democrats could win all of them. Or it could land somewhere in between, with either of the two parties ending up in control. It’s not clear who will win the Senate, though I continue to think there’s a slight GOP lean. — gs

* Ed Kilgore makes an important point: The big wild card in the Senate battle is whether the Dem effort to address their “midterm voter dropoff problem,” which Dems are taking extremely seriously, ends up working or not:

We don’t know yet whether the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee’s “Bannock Street Project” — a heavy investment in turning the Obama ’12 campaign’s voter targeting and mobilization techniques into a disruption of past midterm turnout patterns — is going to pay off. The impression I get, however, is that it’s a deadly serious enterprise, and potentially crucial in, for example, Arkansas, where African-American turnout has been abnormally low in recent elections. We also don’t know if Republican “independent” groups are going to be as feckless as they generally were in 2012 in spending their considerable resources.

* Politifact takes apart some particularly ham-handed dishonesty from Karl Rove’s Crossroads, in the form of an ad accusing Pryor of wanting to shred the safety net for the elderly.

* Also see Philip Klein for a good critique of the Rove/Crossroads ad from the right.

* A Suffolk University poll finds the North Carolina Senate race remains tight, with Kay Hagan leading Thom Tillis by two points, which is also where the HuffPo average of polls has the race. More confirmation that all these red state races are extremely close.

* Mitch McConnell has essentially vowed that GOP control of the Senate means maximum confrontations designed to bend Obama to Republicans’ will. Brian Beutler explains just how crazy this is and why it matters:

The promise of brinksmanship is the most important revelation…it’s important because it sets a level of expectation among Republicans in Congress that will be very difficult to ratchet back…if Republicans claim the Senate, they will find themselves at the apogee of their power under Barack Obama, just as Obama reaches the point where he has the least to lose by calling their bluff. Obama will have no more elections in front of him, and thus no reason to cave. Republicans will be less inclined to back down than at any point in the past four years.

* Sam Stein explains that the key takeaway from McConnell’s comments is that the “confrontational” policy mechanisms he’s vowing to use make “high drama budget battles” a very real possibility.

* And at the American Prospect, I explained why cheerleading for Uber is not going to convince young people that the GOP is the cool party.