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 was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been a Distinguished Visiting Professional in Residence at American University, where he is now an adjunct professor. In this role, Elving received American University's 2016 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown University.

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 the manager of NPR's Washington coverage, NPR 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.

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Once again, and sadly not for the last time, a mass shooting has stunned the nation and shocked the rest of the civilized world, spurring a national debate about guns and gun laws.

And once again, and surely not for the last time, that debate features the pre-eminent organization of gun owners, the National Rifle Association, known as the NRA.

Some years back a hit song filled the summertime airwaves with its chorus of "See You In September."

It was meant to be a lover's promise of joyful reunion at summer's end.

But to use those words in Washington, D.C., right now sounds more like a warning ... or even a threat.

If you picked up a print copy of The New York Times on Friday, you may have noticed something unusual about it — something missing. There were no front-page headlines about President Trump, no pictures of him — not even a little "key" to a story on an inside page.

The name Trump did appear in one story, a profile of John W. Nicholson Jr., the Army general commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The president was necessarily mentioned in that story, but the story was not about the president.

Now that Donald Trump Jr.'s emails have produced the kind of solid evidence the Russia connection story had been lacking, what had been mostly speculative reporting has instead become the first draft of history.

Expect that history to be much debated. All accounts of political skulduggery with foreign actors tend to be "tangled and murky," as one foreign policy historian has written.

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In the Rose Garden last week President Trump and the House Republican leadership celebrated their vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as though it had actually repealed and replaced the 2010 law colloquially known as Obamacare.

It had not, of course. Several more giant steps remain in the process. And more than a few of these same Republicans may well be grateful.

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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.

Americans have complained for years about presidential campaigns that start too early and last too long.

Now, they are confronted with one that refuses to end — even after reaching the White House.

There may never be a "last word" written or spoken about President Trump's 77-minute barrage in the East Room Thursday, but the first word from many was: "Wow."

President Trump and his inner circle have reached their first crisis with the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, but the crisis extends well beyond one empty chair in one critical moment.

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First, we had a candidate and a campaign like no other, then an election and transition like no other. We should have expected President Trump's first two weeks in office to be just as dizzying as they have been.

Yet Trump lovers and haters alike have stood by, mouths agape. Editorialists have worn out the words "whirlwind" and "firehose," just as they had recently burned through "unprecedented."

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.

In the Washington of 2016, even when the policy can be bipartisan, the politics cannot. And in that sense, this year shows little sign of ending on Dec. 31.

When President Obama moved to sanction Russia over its alleged interference in the U.S. election just concluded, some Republicans who had long called for similar or more severe measures could scarcely bring themselves to approve.

Several of Donald Trump's Cabinet choices have prompted controversy from the moment they were named, but the one most likely to face real Senate opposition is Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, whom Trump wants as his secretary of state.

How badly did Trump want Tillerson on his team? Badly enough to defend his pick's remarkable profile as a Russophile, a reputation so vivid that several Republican senators immediately began flashing yellow cards — if not red.

We are all in transition these days. Washington is getting used to the idea of a new and very different president, who is getting used to the idea of Washington.

One thing we are learning about the mind of President-elect Donald Trump is that his train of thought rarely runs on a single track.

Consider the Cabinet announcements this week, dramatically at odds with those of the previous week. Trump named South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as United Nations ambassador and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.

With the defeat of Hillary Clinton and the election of Donald Trump, Democrats may feel they have hit bottom.

The new power structure in Washington will combine a Republican president and a Republican Congress for the first time since 2006. Throw in pending and prospective vacancies on the Supreme Court, and you can see why many progressives consider this the worst-case scenario.

But it is not.

When American voters must choose a new president, reaction tends to rule. Given a choice between continuity and contrast, we favor contrast — even when the retiring incumbent leaves office with relatively high public approval.

This sometimes is called the pendulum effect: The farther the pendulum swings in one direction, the farther it is likely to swing back. In physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction; in politics, the pushback sometimes can be disproportionate.

When Donald Trump came down the escalator in June of 2015 in the tower he named for himself in Manhattan, few of us who do politics for a living took his off-the-cuff announcement for president seriously.

But the past 17 months have been a lesson to all of us who flattered ourselves — as campaign pros, polling pros and media pros — that we knew more about politics than he did.

What have we learned? That Trump was being taken very seriously, indeed, by the people who ultimately mattered: voters.

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Let's go back to NPR's Ron Elving, still with us in studio here in Washington, D.C. Ron, briefly, what is the biggest issue for the campaigns now?

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Here's a little information that Americans have usually been able to ignore.

It's about the Electoral College, a uniquely American institution that's been with us from the beginning and that's occasionally given us fits.

Typically, the Electoral College meets and does its thing a month or so after the election, and few people even notice or care. Once in a while, though, people do notice and do care — a lot.

Will 2016 be one of those years?

It's not something reasonable people would hope for, but it cannot be ruled out.

First, the basics.

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