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After pleas for unity, rhetoric in Washington remains heated

The public is noticing a breakdown of civility in Washington since Trump took office. According to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, about 70 percent of Americans believe the tone in Washington has gotten worse since November, and only six percent say the tone has improved.

Cornell Clayton
Clayton

According to Cornell William Clayton, co-editor of “Civility and Democracy in America” and a professor of government at Washington State University, Trump cannot expect his critics to tone down their rhetoric while he frequently engages in such personal attacks against them.

“It’s just so unusual to hear a politician so focused on the kind of personal vendettas he’s focused on,” he said.

Clayton said the problem in Washington is less that politicians are engaging in uncivil rhetoric and more that they have proven incapable of compromise on major issues. The prospect of working with Democrats on health care has become a worst-case scenario for Senate Republicans, but a bipartisan agreement could reinforce the importance of working toward the common good.

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WJLA

Opinion: Incivility rooted in resistance to compromise

Cornell Clayton
Clayton

By Cornell Clayton, professor of political science and director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at WSU

Two weeks ago five people including the Republican House Whip Steve Scalise were shot by a deranged gunman as they practiced for the annual congressional baseball game in the nation’s capital. Shocked by the violence, a rare moment of bipartisanship erupted as leaders of both parties called for greater civility in our politics. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even sat down to a joint television interview to show they could be nice each other.

Similar calls to change the tone of our political discourse came after the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in 2011, when a national center for civil discourse was even established. Such calls for greater civility are sincere and sensible. We should be more civil. They are also unlikely to succeed absent a more fundamental change in how we think about politics.

Over the past decade the Foley Institute at WSU has hosted a series of conferences and research programs focused on political polarization and incivility. Here is what we know.

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The Spokesman-Review

Republican Handel wins Georgia House election

Republican Karen Handel won a nationally watched congressional election Tuesday in Georgia, and she thanked President Donald Trump after she avoided an upset that would have rocked Washington ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Cornell Clayton
Clayton

Both U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Washington State University professor of political science Cornell Clayton said it’s too early to tell what the results of the election will mean for the 2018 midterm elections.

Clayton, the Thomas S. Foley distinguished professor at WSU’s Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, said the race became symbolic for both parties but may not be a bellwether for the 2018 midterm elections.

“I think it was overhyped,” Clayton said.

The fact that it was close in a traditionally Republican district could mean generic GOP candidates will have trouble next year, he said. On the other hand, the fact that a Democrat couldn’t win in a swing district where Trump didn’t do so well might mean 2018 won’t be a wave election.

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The Spokesman-Review

What’s the ‘greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history’? We asked the experts

Who is the most unfairly investigated U.S. politician of all time?

According to President Trump, he is. But in conversations with academics, President Bill Clinton emerged above all other politicians as the most unfairly targeted.

Cornell Clayton
Clayton

“[It] began with business dealings in Whitewater and after years and millions of dollars wound up with Monica Lewinsky,” said Cornell W. Clayton, a professor of government and public policy at Washington State University.

Lewinsky was the White House intern with whom Clinton had an affair. Whitewater was the name of a real estate company with questionable practices that had included Bill and Hillary Clinton as investors. While more than a dozen people were convicted in the real estate inquiry, the president was absolved.

Congress impeached President Clinton on charges of obstruction and lying about having the affair, but then acquitted him.

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Los Angeles Times

WSUV student body president defeats addiction, earns bachelor’s

Skye TroySkye Troy is still learning to talk about the hardest times in her life, including being kicked out of high school for doing drugs, and later arrested for stealing credit cards.

The student body president spoke at Washington State University Vancouver’s commencement ceremony, where she received her degree in public affairs.

Now 22 and clean for six years, Troy hopes to go to work as a government relations liaison in the fields of social justice, economic equality and women’s rights. She’s passionate for social reform at the local level, drawing from her own experience growing up in the rural Oklahoma city of Owasso to drive her.

“I had to overcome so many obstacles,” she said.

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The Columbian