April 23, 2014

A couple years ago, Republican candidate Herman Cain was leading Mitt Romney in the polls. Now, judging by the failure of these Jeopardy! contestants to successfully name him as the answer to a fairly obvious question, nobody even remembers him.

During the game show's Tuesday night airing, none of the contestants attempted to answer the clue, "This pizza magnate and 2012 presidential candidate was a math major at historically black Morehouse College."

Even Alex Trebek was a little taken aback when not a single contestant buzzed in. "How quickly you have forgotten Herman Cain," he said.

Most people would take this as a ding on Herman Cain, but I see this as an illustration of the ephemeral and superficial nature of modern political coverage. We obsess over the most granular ups and downs of politics (remember 9-9-9! or "DEEP DISH!" or "the water tastes the same!"?), but how much of what we obsess over will even be remembered a few years from now?

So thank you Herman Cain — and Alex Trebek! — for putting this all in perspective. Matt K. Lewis

10:35 a.m. ET

A South Carolina woman has been reunited with her purse — 25 years after it first went missing near a lake. Local fishing enthusiast Brodie Brooks, 11, reeled in the waterlogged handbag during an afternoon at Lake Hartwell, near Anderson. In a stroke of luck, one of Brooks' relatives recognized the owner of the purse from an old ID and returned it to her. April Bolt, now 49, no longer needs the bright lipstick or hair-teasing comb that were also found inside — but was thrilled to have her now-adult son's baby photos back. "It's a serious time capsule," she says. "It meant the world to me." Christina Colizza

9:57 a.m. ET
Rich Fury/Getty Images

It's official: Ryan Seacrest is returning to host the American Idol revival. More than two months after ABC announced that it was bringing the singing competition back to the airwaves, Kelly Ripa finally confirmed Thursday on Live! With Kelly and Ryan that the show's longtime host will be coming back, too.

Seacrest hosted American Idol since its start in 2002, and he said it's "an honor, if not a bit surreal" to be returning to host Idol just a year after Fox canceled it last April following a 15-season run. "Very exciting," Seacrest said. "First of all, I don't know if you've ever been in a 15-year relationship and for a reason you really don't know you break up … I thought, 'Gosh, it'd be great to get back together at some point.'"

ABC, which announced in May it would be reviving the beloved show, is equally excited. "We are thrilled to be ushering in this new era of American Idol with Ryan at the helm," said ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey. “So much of American Idol's overwhelming success can be attributed to Ryan."

In-person auditions for American Idol start Aug. 17 in Orlando, Florida. The new season is slated to debut in 2018. Becca Stanek

9:54 a.m. ET

Precisely six months ago, President Trump was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice John Roberts. "We will face challenges," Trump said in his inaugural address, "but we will get the job done."

The "job" in question had been outlined in part by Trump himself in late October, when he released his "Contract with the American Voter" that outlined his promises for the first 100 days of his administration. Ever ambitious, Trump promised to introduce and pass 10 bills by his 100th day, including a major tax relief plan; a law to fully fund his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; and, of course, a plan to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with "something terrific."

Trump's 100th day in office was April 29 — and by then, he'd accomplished almost none of his stated goals. But as the deadline loomed, the president was quick to dismiss the 100-day mark as a "ridiculous standard."

In fairness, even former President John F. Kennedy made sure to disavow the arbitrary date in his inaugural address in 1961. After all, 100 days isn't even a round measure of time! What else in life is measured by what you accomplish in 14.285 weeks, or 3.333 months? So let's give Trump a break. Let's look at what he's done in, say, six months' time, given Thursday marks his six-month anniversary in office.

There: half a year, nice round number, and total Republican control of Capitol Hill that whole time to boot. So, now how's it going?

Oh. Kimberly Alters

9:13 a.m. ET

Fear can be an effective tool for a political leader — and, per The New York Times, it's one President Trump totally lacks:

Fear is perhaps the most powerful motivating force in politics, and fear of a powerful president is the surest lever to move a lawmaker from a "no" to a "yes" on a presidential priority. But over the past month, Mr. Trump scared no one into supporting the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He has proved simply too unpopular nationally — polling at 36 to 40 percent approval this week — too weak in many senators' home states, too erratic, and too disengaged from the details of governing to harness his party, as other new presidents have. [The New York Times]

Rob Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a former aide to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), told The New York Times the total lack of fear is "a real problem," and one Trump "hasn't really tried" to remedy. "I don't get why he hasn't been more engaged," Jesmer said, wondering why Trump hasn't, for instance, appeared on local talk radio or made a trip to Kansas.

And it's not just senators who are totally unafraid of the man in the Oval Office: A Republican senator told The New York Times that Trump "scares no one in the Senate, not even the pages."

Read more on Trump's inability to inspire fear at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

8:22 a.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Republican Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho) told America what he really thinks of President Trump in an interview with Politico published Thursday: "I don't even pay any attention to what is going on with the administration because I don't care. They're a distraction. The family is a distraction, the president is a distraction. At first, it was, 'Well yeah, this is the guy we elected. He'll learn, he'll learn.' And you just don't see that happening."

Simpson's brutal honesty poured out as he and other Republicans lamented the week's health-care crash and burn, the latest flop to stymie Republicans' agenda. While Trump is starting to hassle congressional Republicans for not getting the job done on health care, Politico reported that lawmakers are "starting to blame Trump for his handling of the Russia probe, Twitter feuds, and attacks on the media." Becca Stanek

7:48 a.m. ET
Steffen Kugler /BPA via Getty Images

President Trump's national security and foreign policy advisers aren't so keen on his insistence on reaching out to Russia. The Associated Press reported Thursday that there are "deep divisions" within the Trump administration on how best to approach Russia and "mixed signals" between Trump and his advisers.

While Trump has been doubting U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusion that Russia meddled in the presidential election, pushing for cooperation with Russia on Syria, and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over dinner, AP reported that "some top aides, including National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, have been warning that Putin is not to be trusted":

McMaster expressed his disapproval of Trump's course to foreign officials during the lead-up to his trip to Germany. The general specifically said he'd disagreed with Trump's decision to hold an Oval Office meeting in May with top Russian diplomats and with the president's general reluctance to speak out against Russian aggression in Europe, according to the three foreign officials.

McMaster and other national security aides also advised the president against holding an official bilateral meeting with Putin. [The Associated Press]

Notably, McMaster did not attend Trump's bilateral meeting with Putin at the G-20 summit, though the AP noted that the national security adviser would typically be present at a meeting "with such critical national security operations."

Read more at The Associated Press. Becca Stanek

7:24 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Two new polls on Thursday show a sizable bipartisan majority of Americans wanting Republicans and Democrats to work together on health-care legislation, rather than the GOP trying to repeal and replace ObamaCare on its own. In a CNN/SSRS poll, 77 percent of respondents said they would like to see Republicans work with Democrats to pass a health bill with bipartisan support, including 69 percent of Republicans, while only 12 percent of all respondents (and 25 percent of Republicans) wanted the GOP to continue going it alone.

When asked how they would like Congress to handle ObamaCare, 35 percent said they wanted President Trump and the GOP to just abandon trying to change the law and keep it as is, 34 percent said they wanted to see parts of ObamaCare repealed only when a replacement was ready, and 18 percent (and 30 percent of Republicans) said they wanted ObamaCare scrapped, replacement or no.

In an Associated Press/NORC poll also released Thursday, 8 in 10 respondents — including 66 percent of Republicans — said they wanted Republicans to approach Democrats to negotiate, and almost 90 percent wanted Democrats to take the GOP up on that prospective offer, including 81 percent of Democrats. In the AP poll, solid majorities of voters opposed all the major parts of the GOP replacement plan, though they also did not seem enthusiastic about ObamaCare's individual mandate. And a growing majority, 62 percent, said the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health coverage, while 37 percent disagreed.

The CNN/SSRS poll was conducted July 14-18 among 1,019 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The AP/NORC poll was conducted July 13-17, also among 1,019 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 points. Peter Weber

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