Ron Elving

Anyone who has followed the saga of Sen. John McCain or ever reacted with emotion to his words or actions will recognize the man speaking in this valedictory volume.

The voice and manner are familiar enough that we can almost hear and see him on every page.

It recalls his previous literary efforts (he has written seven books with longtime collaborator Mark Salter), but it also ventures deeper into our collective memories of McCain and his world — as we prepare to part with both.

A Higher Loyalty, by far the most consequential book yet in the literature of the Trump presidency, is arriving as political conflict roils every aspect of that presidency. Former FBI Director James Comey's scathing review will not settle the arguments about President Trump, nor will it calm the controversy over its author. But it will furnish mountains of ammunition for combatants on all sides.

In Henry IV, Part 2, Shakespeare writes, "Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown."

Speakers of the House do not wear crowns. But if they did, these days their crowns might as well be woven of thorns.

Just ask Paul Ryan, who has announced he will relinquish the speakership by not seeking re-election this fall.

Five years ago, before he was a candidate for president, Donald Trump was pretty sure he knew what to do about Afghanistan. It was a losing proposition, "a complete waste" in terms of "blood and treasure."

"Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back?" he asked on Twitter in 2012. "Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!"

More recently, candidate Trump was less certain about exactly when the U.S. should exit the struggle that he had railed against continuing.

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And to help us understand what's happening on Capitol Hill tonight, I am joined by NPR's Ron Elving. Hello there, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Kelly.

In a hearing that stretched through nearly 12 hours Tuesday, the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch took a long step toward Senate confirmation.

Barring an utterly unforeseen reversal when the questioning resumes Wednesday, observers expect Judiciary Committee approval along party lines on April 3 and a similar win on the Senate floor.

Twenty senators took turns asking questions for half an hour each. The Republicans tried to get the country to share their affinity for the nominee. The Democrats tried to tie him to President Trump.

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Among the unusual elements of President-elect Donald Trump's Wednesday news conference was a 15-minute interlude in which an attorney took the podium and described Trump's plan to address potential conflicts of interest between his businesses and the responsibilities of his office.

The attorney, Sheri Dillon, outlined an arrangement by which Trump would turn over "total control" of his worldwide business interests to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, with whom he would not communicate about the family business.

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Little has gone as expected in this extraordinary presidential cycle, so we should have known Tuesday's vice presidential debate would have a twist or two in it, too.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence each represented three clients in their 90-minute debate from Farmville, Va. The two former attorneys pleaded the case for their respective principals (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump), to be sure, but also for their respective parties and for themselves.

The third night of the 2016 Democratic convention scaled several major peaks: President Obama gave, perhaps, the best-written oration of his career. Vice President Joe Biden gave, perhaps, his last national convention address, and his prospective successor, Tim Kaine, gave his first.

It has been said that "to cleave" is the only verb in English that connotes one specific action and its direct opposite. To cleave sometimes means to hold together, and it can also mean to split apart.

That's why Cleveland was the perfect city to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. Because this week, in this town, the GOP demonstrated both its persistent divisions and its instinct for overcoming them.

For all those who view the nominating conventions of the major parties as overly scripted, predictable and boring, Wednesday night's session of the Republican National Convention came as a jolt.

The third night of this extravaganza had all the usual hoopla — plus a blackout on the jumbo screens, delegates screaming at each other, and a major presidential candidate getting booed off the stage.

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The sudden and shocking death of Supreme Court icon Antonin Scalia this weekend will have enormous repercussions for the U.S. legal system and political process, both in the immediate term and for many years to come.

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Now we want to look ahead to the week in politics in this country. Joining us is NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Hi, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Michel.

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Americans grow up knowing their colors are red, white and blue. It's right there in the flag, right there in the World Series bunting and on those floats every fourth of July.

So when did we become a nation of red states and blue states? And what do they mean when they say a state is turning purple?

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Those who do vote in 36 states have a chance to vote for governor this fall. Governors' races tend to be a little less partisan than races for Congress. They're often more about what the guy in the statehouse, or the woman in the statehouse, can get done.

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Congress is heading into its last week before taking a summer recess. For a change, lawmakers are not racing the clock to overt a fiscal calamity. Still, the standoff between the two parties has all but stopped the process of governing.

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