Another week, another list of random political stories we didn't have time to cover. Here's a close reading of a few of them.
Make America Rate Again
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's campaigns have both released apps that try to turn the campaign into even more of a game, which is great news for no one. If there is a person out there who collects CNN chyrons like Pokémon and ends the day roaring “NEED MOAR!” before taking handfuls of voter registration cards and shoving them into their face, they would not think these apps were fun.
The Clinton app has a “Trump or False” quiz where you have to figure out if Trump really said women need to be treated “like shit,” or if that was just good ol’ Benito Mussolini. Trump's app quiz lets you prove that you know which fancy Ivy League school he went to and where Trump Towers are located. It's called America First (of course), has a countdown clock for the “Time Left Until We Defeat Crooked Hillary,” and is reportedly bad at protecting users' privacy. It is the fourth App Store search result for “Donald Trump” after “Fake Call from Trump,” a collection of Trump sound effects, and “TRUMP'S WALL — Build it Huuuge.”
The only fun thing about these apps is that their existence affords us the opportunity to read reviews of them, which often say a lot about the reviewers' deep thoughts on the election writ large. The criticisms of Hillary 2016 range from “Super fun app!” to “Boring af: Also Hillary is a corrupted [sic] liar responsible for the deaths of innocent Americans.” Although Trump's app hasn't been around as long as Clinton's, it has far more reviews — which is to be expected, as the internet is drawn to Trump content like his foot is to his mouth. These “reviews” are mostly jokes about how there are no brakes on the Trump train. “The layout and functionality is as intuitive as can be,” reads one. “I can only assume that this app is under budget and ahead of schedule!” Another asks, “Built for tiny hands? As a big strong man with large hands, the buttons in this app are too close together.”
The 100th anniversary of the National Park Service was last week, and to celebrate, President Obama created a new national monument in Maine out of land donated by the founder of Burt's Bees. He also expanded a marine reserve in Hawaii; it is now bigger than Texas.
Maine's new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, larger than Acadia National Park, has prompted some grumbling from locals and legislators. This happens a lot. Jimmy Carter created most of the National Parks in Alaska, and many locals hated the changes so much that throwing bottles at his picture was a game at the state fair. “Just months after Mr. Carter left office,” the New York Times reported in 2000, “he stopped in Anchorage on his way to Tokyo, and the Secret Service urged him not to leave the air base for fear of what angry Alaskans might do to him.” When President Clinton created the Grand Staircase national monument in Utah, one congressional candidate said, “I feel like I'm back in the 1850s again, with the Federal Government encamped all around us.” Utahns are currently battling over whether the Bears Ears Buttes should become a national monument in the first place.
In other words, the National Park Service got to celebrate its anniversary in a fashion befitting its history — with people alternatingly cheering and rueing its existence. National Park visitors also appear to be celebrating by acting badly: The AP reports that in “July alone, law enforcement rangers handled more than 11,000 incidents at the 10 most-visited national parks.” These include taking selfies where one shouldn't, putting animals in one's car, and walking off of boardwalks and falling into pits of boiling water.
Late on Friday evening, NBC News reported that Donald Trump's doctor — the one who looks like a face-meld of Steven Spielberg and Diane Keaton — wrote a note saying, “Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” The doc penned this missive in five minutes while a black car straight from Trump Tower waited to retrieve it. Harold Bornstein stands by the Trumpian declaration: “I like that sentence, to be quite honest with you, and all the rest of them are either sick or dead,” he told NBC News. “I think I picked up his kind of language and then just interpreted it to my own.”
It's not the most novel compliment, however — Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and Richard Nixon have all been called the healthiest president. But, as Trump's doctor points out, they are dead and can't defend themselves.
Clinton and Trump have both released far fewer details about their health than previous presidents, despite the fact they are older than most candidates.
Are you ready for some debates?
The first sure-to-be-a-doozy debate between Clinton and Trump is less than a month away. Both candidates are getting ready; according to the Washington Post, Clinton is “methodically preparing” to try to live up to voters' high expectations — while Trump is testing out “zingers” while consuming “bacon cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and glasses of Coca-Cola” with his advisors. He is reportedly “not holding any mock debates, proudly boasting that a performer with his talents does not need that sort of prepping.” His debate strategy is like his ISIS strategy: His campaign says it won't reveal it because it is just too good. “I don’t believe in telegraphing one’s punches,” Roger Stone told the Post.
If Trump decides in the next month that he does want to prepare a bit, there are people in his party who have experience playing Clinton for debate prep: Senator Rob Portman did it when Rick Lazio was getting ready for his debates during the 2000 Senate race. According to Yahoo! News, “he left shocked at how well Portman could transform himself into the former first lady...‘No wig, no dress,’ Lazio said, ‘but otherwise very effective.’” Portman is busy trying to win reelection, however, and may not want to do anything Trump-related for the next few months, so Laura Ingraham might play Trump's opponent instead. Clinton's campaign hasn't released information on who is playing Trump for them — or maybe they haven't been able to find anyone. Slate has offered Al Franken or Al Pacino as obviously worthwhile choices.