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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

The Scene From Iowa As Caucuses Begin

Feb 3, 2020

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When it was announced Wednesday night in the House of Representatives that all of the time allotted for debate on impeachment had expired, a cheer went up within the chamber. After a dozen hours of rancor and wrangling, there seemed for a moment to be an end in sight.

The spirit of that cheer was generally shared by the nation at large. But alas, that night, there would be closure only for the House and not the nation.

Forty years ago this week, Morning Edition took the air for the first time just as a big story was breaking — one that would shock the nation and influence the next four decades of news.

It was coming from Iran, a country few Americans paid attention to at that time. A revolution had been underway that year, and on Nov. 4, 1979, a chanting crowd stormed the U.S Embassy in Tehran, taking Americans hostage.

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Updated at 1:57 p.m. ET

On the presidential campaign trail in Iowa and on the op-ed page of The New York Times, former Vice President Joe Biden has made the case for going back to a nationwide ban on assault weapons and making it "even stronger."

Some have reacted with quizzical expressions: "Back?" "Stronger?"

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The second night of the Democratic debates in Detroit did not stray from its predicted script: It was open season on front-runner Joe Biden right from the start.

But it was also something of a free-for-all, with every candidate for himself or herself. And the intensity and outcome of the exchanges may have come as a surprise to some of the people onstage.

Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Detroit was widely expected to pit the two leading progressives in the field against each other. Instead, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had each other's backs in fending off the other eight aspirants onstage.

They gave as good as they got, and emerged at least as strong as either was going in. That was particularly good news for Sanders, who had been perceived as ceding ground to Warren in recent months.

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America is about to be reintroduced to John Dean, the man whose cool, calm and controversial testimony in the Watergate investigation began the public demolition of President Richard Nixon.

As he spoke to the Senate's special investigating committee on June 25, 1973, Dean and his owlish glasses were imprinted on the national consciousness, his appearance carried live on all three TV networks and watched by tens of millions.

Welcome to the nightmare of being the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, Joe.

Two women have complained about being touched inappropriately by former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been the leading (if still undeclared) candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Biden's poll numbers, while far from overwhelming, have still been the best of the ever-widening Democratic field. So any story that even hints at a Biden scandal is going to lead the newscast and leap to the front page.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And from Don to Ron, let us bring in NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving, a man who has covered many presidents, many State of the Union addresses over the years. Welcome to the studio, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Mary Louise.

If you've been missing the force of Chris Christie's personality since he returned to private life last year, you can now get your fix at full blast from his autobiography, Let Me Finish.

But if you are looking for introspection or deep thoughts, look elsewhere. This is a big, loud book by a man with a full head of steam, stories to tell and scores to settle.

The 400-page tome's subtitle lays out the agenda: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.

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In a year of news tsunamis, this past week surpassed most. So you may not have noticed the quiet departure of a key player in President Trump's White House.

Donald McGahn II, the White House counsel, vacated his West Wing office without a news conference or a public send-off. But as counsel to the Trump campaign in 2016, general counsel for the transition and the only White House counsel since, the 50-year-old Washington insider has been integral to some historic proceedings.

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Anyone contemplating the impeachment of a president should read Ken Starr's new book on the case he made for the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998.

Not that the author of Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation is interested in setting the stage for the next impeachment. His immediate mission here is reshaping our memories of that earlier "national trauma."

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