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CEO Daily: A bloody week yields a fragile peace

Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington

Some encouraging signs emerged yesterday from the ravages of a month barely a week old and already soaked in innocent blood. Rather than retreating to old talking points and recriminations, partisans and activists from across the spectrum, for the most part, instead made appeals for peace and new efforts at mutual understanding. Even Donald Trump, who’s proved a reliable provocateur in the wake of national tragedies, demonstrated some surprising restraint.

Will it last? Who knows.

It’s impossible to say where we’ll be a month from now — much less four, on Election Day, or nine, 100 days into the next administration. So whether a fragile center holds and enables a breakthrough in Congress, at least on the start-and-stop attempt at criminal justice reform or a gun control measure, remains to be seen.

But the forces buffeting our politics are bigger and more intractable than those at work in the debate over policing. And it’s as easy to imagine the post-Dallas armistice crumbling, with renewed anger spilling over and adding to the populist animus that’s exerted a centrifugal pull on the campaign all year. Evidence of that pull is stamped all over the draft Democratic platform, a notably anti-business document that Bernie Sanders’s team is aiming now to drive even further left as his candidacy’s final act. And Trump for his part won’t soon abandon his harangues against a “rigged system” that’ve formed the spine of his case. No wonder, then, that Mehlman Castagnetti, one of Washington’s leading lobbying shops, sees the populism that’s defined the season shaping the policy-making agenda into next year. In a new presentation to clients, the bipartisan firm predicts that who wins the presidency will matter a lot: Hillary Clinton would be tougher, from a business perspective, on taxes, regulation, and energy, for example, while Trump would square off with the U.S. Chamber crowd on immigration, trade and encryption.

In the meantime, a policy-based response to this week’s violence could be its own reward — while also giving lawmakers something to build on and voters a reason to think their governing institutions aren’t hopelessly broken. It’s not a lot to ask, but it may be too much.

Tory Newmyer

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