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.

President Trump's refusal to concede and the delayed transition to the administration of President-elect Joe Biden have raised many questions about the transfer of power in our system.

One in particular has long been asked: Why do we wait until the latter part of January to swear in a president we elect in November? Put another way: How is it that the Brits can have a newly elected prime minister meeting with the queen to form a new government within a day or two, but we need 10 or 11 weeks to install a new crew?

This year's election was among the most anticipated and perhaps most consequential in U.S. history.

But it was not an easy election to celebrate. The results rolled in over several days and sometimes seemed confusing. Even now, President Trump has refused to concede. While the outcome is not really in doubt, it is still disputed by the ousted president and his most fervent followers.

For weeks, the world wondered whether President Trump would win a second term. Now that election officials and observers have declared his opponent "President-elect Joe Biden," the world wonders whether Trump will concede.

So far, the president has not. Instead, he has said that he won the election "if you count the legal votes" and that he will pursue numerous challenges to the vote-counting process in court. Earlier in the fall, he had said he would agree to a peaceful transfer of power unless the election was "rigged."

Not since the beginning of time has anyone ever made greater use of superlatives than Donald Trump. He has constantly been "the most" this, "the least" that and always the "best ever."

What do you do when Election Day is a week away, you're down in the polls and more than 60 million votes have already been cast?

If you're President Trump, you hit the road. And you hit it big time, mounting rally stages and treating big raucous crowds to big servings of red meat.

The Week In Politics

Oct 10, 2020

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No sooner had it become known that President Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus than controversy arose over the amount and detail and truthfulness of the information about his condition that was coming from the White House.

President Trump has been hospitalized after testing positive for the coronavirus. Doctors gave an update on his condition Saturday.

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Through the years President Trump has been in office, Americans have grown accustomed to hearing of "norms" ignored and "guardrails" broken. Trump has fulfilled his supporters' desire for an unconventional leader unbound by the sort of unwritten rules other presidents have followed.

Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster wants you to know he has not written the book you probably wanted to read — and he says it right up front.

"This is not the book that most people wanted me to write ... a tell-all about my experience in the White House to confirm their opinions of Donald Trump," the author warns in his preface.

That might have been "lucrative," he says, but it would not be "useful or satisfactory for most readers."

No reader should skip the prologue to Bob Woodward's new book on President Trump, because the author puts his best scene on its first page.

Woodward's Rage opens on the Oval Office, where the two top officials from the president's national security team are telling him that COVID-19 is a major threat to the U.S. and far worse than the flu.

"This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency," says Robert O'Brien, the national security adviser (Trump's fourth). "This is going to be the roughest thing you face."

The 2020 Republican National Convention this week began and ended with two performances by the man who designed it all, President Donald J. Trump.

Most of the attention went, of course, to the final night's event, when a live audience saw him "profoundly accept" his renomination in an hourlong speech delivered on the South Lawn of the White House. Backed by a forest of American flags, the president looked out upon members of his family and staff, members of his Cabinet and members of his party in Congress.

It turns out going virtual has its virtues.

Just ask the Democrats, grinning and basking after their first-ever online national convention this week.

No one knew what to expect, and there were plenty of doubters looking for glitches, flubbed cues and dead air — not to mention lots of dull and boring segments. Most significantly, we feared all involved would miss the sense of history being made in real time.

When former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. becomes the Democratic Party's official nominee for president on Thursday, he will complete two historic and improbable comebacks.

Earlier this year, Biden rose from roadkill status in early February voting to effectively claim the nomination by the end of March.

President Trump has long been a champion of what's been called positive thinking — the power to make things that you want to see happen actually happen.

"Affirm it, believe it, visualize it, and it will actualize itself." Such mantras have characterized much of the Trump story from his childhood when he first absorbed it from the man who first spoke it, Norman Vincent Peale.

This week, two more books appeared on the ever-widening shelf of literature lambasting President Trump and his presidency. One sold nearly 1 million copies on its first day, based on the name of the author and weeks of publicity. But the other is the better book to buy for insight into what Trump's rise and rule really mean — here and abroad — for democracy in our time.

People once wished each other well on Independence Day by saying: "Have a glorious Fourth!"

A bit antique, perhaps, in the best of times, but a phrase you still heard. Until now.

Can you imagine well-wishers offering that sentiment this weekend, without a trace of irony or a wistful look?

Not likely, not in the summer of 2020, the summer of resurgent COVID-19 cases, of restaurants and beaches that had reopened only to close again — of workers recently returned to work who have been laid off again.

One of the oldest traditions in American politics is "running against Washington," which has been a common campaign theme since the city was first created as the capital and the home of the federal government.

In fact, candidates for president and Congress have found running against Washington one of the surest ways to get there. Some do it to stay there, too.

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In 2020, things happen that never happened before. And right now, they seem to be happening all at once.

Atop a global pandemic and resulting recession, May and June have given us another dimension of head-spinning events. Following two weeks of widespread street protests after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, a change of attitude seems to have swept through the national culture like a sudden wind.

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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