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.

As lawmakers fight over what to include in the next Coronavirus relief package, we look at the impact of delaying that aid. Also, do we know more about President Trump's agenda for his second term?

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At some point in the future, it is entirely possible that the full details of Donald Trump's business affairs, personal imbroglios and political maneuverings will be laid bare to the public. Should that happen, it is easy to imagine much of the world wondering how the man got away with so much for so long.

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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.

Norman Vincent Peale was born in 1898 in the town of Bowersville, Ohio, son of a physician who also became a Methodist minister. Another Ohioan named William McKinley was president, wrapping up the Spanish-American War and setting the stage for what would be known as the American Century.

It was a time of expanding commerce and industry — an era of skyrocketing confidence – and Peale would be part of carrying that spirit forward through a century of his own.

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.

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This week, the U.S. Supreme Court settled an important question about the function of the Electoral College that elects the U.S. president. But it did not address the question about the Electoral College.

The high court decided not only that states can require electors to follow the will of the popular vote within their states — but also that they can penalize or replace electors who fail to do so. The court's vote was unanimous.

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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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Even before President Trump went to court in an attempt to block publication of John Bolton's memoir, millions were waiting to hear what the former national security adviser had to say about Trump and the Ukraine affair that got him impeached.

After reading Bolton's The Room Where It Happened, few can wonder why the president wanted to stop it. While Bolton's report arrives too late to affect impeachment, it surely bolsters the case against Trump that was presented in the Senate trial.

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.

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What will official Washington do in the wake of the protests and destructive violence that scarred city after city in recent days, including the capital itself?

Unrest does not stop on command. If there is a pause in the mayhem, it does not mean that the rage has been spent or the wounds have healed.

Any effort to restore confidence in each other will be complicated by the nation's preexisting conditions of pandemic and recession — not to mention the persistent condition of racism in American life and law enforcement. Fires flare up again if not extinguished at the source.

Americans are suddenly consumed with multiple crises. Even before the outbreak of social unrest following yet another African American's death in police custody, the ravages of COVID-19 and economic free fall had disrupted the national life.

All of which means conditions are ripe for President Trump to assume more power and move closer to the status of autocratic ruler, says New Yorker writer Masha Gessen in a new book Surviving Autocracy.

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.

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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.

Week In Politics

May 2, 2020

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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.)

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