The Oscars will be remembered for 'Moonlight.' But they were also a rebuke to Trump.
Yes, there was a showstopping mix-up between La La Land and Moonlight in the best picture category at Sunday night's Academy Awards. But let's focus on the fact that Moonlight, a low-budget film detailing the identity crisis of a queer black man growing up in Miami, won best picture after a year noted for its racially charged rhetoric.
It is a film the New York Times wrote "dwells on the dignity, beauty and terrible vulnerability of black bodies, on the existential and physical matter of black lives." Moonlight's Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor to win best supporting actor. The film featured an all-black cast. And its director grew up as the youngest of four children with no father figure in a poor Miami neighborhood. The win is truly a story of breaking barriers.
And while one can read into La La Land winning, then not winning, the top award, dwelling on the final moment misses the larger arc of the night. Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the evening with jab after jab at President Donald Trump, taking a lighthearted approach to the inevitable Trump tweet about the show.
"You'll get to give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about during his 5 a.m. bowel movement tomorrow," Kimmel said as he opened the show. As artists accepted awards, those who shared political messages were typically brief, yet direct. "This is for all the immigrants," Italian-born makeup artist Alessandro Bertolazzi said. "Tonight is proof that art has no borders," the Academy of Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said. The director of the best foreign film, Iran's Asghar Farhadi, boycotted the show to bring awareness to Trump's Muslim ban. Presenter Gael García Bernal, who is Mexican, said onstage, "I'm against any form of wall that wants to separate us."
It's not that these moments were charged or even unexpected. What made them notable was the way they flowed effortlessly into a four-hour production that was smooth (until the end). The film industry still faces a great deal of fair criticism over a lack of inclusion. But the Oscar wins for diverse artists — beyond Moonlight — demonstrated the academy does not want to build a wall around Hollywood.
This is Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America — and how it affects you. Welcome to the daily political newsletter that needs to watch Moonlight.
• Today: The Oscars sent a clear message: We value diversity, political consequences be damned.
• More: Trump is doubling down on promises to hack the federal budget to increase military spending. He's proposing 10% cuts across agencies. A clear path forward on health care remains hidden.
• Even more: Scott Pruitt's private email server comes into focus.
• Yes, more: Tom Perez is the new DNC chair. Key takeaways from Atlanta.
• This week: The new executive order on immigration is supposedly coming on Wednesday.
• Trump's agenda today: It's a packed day. Trump is meeting with governors and health insurance CEOs. He will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Meetings with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later will follow.
The latest Oval Office rumblings
Trump will ask federal agencies to cut 10% of their budgets to pay for an increase in military spending and maintain spending on Social Security and Medicare, according to the Washington Post. When announcing those cuts, Trump said, "We have to start winning wars again." That may mean slashing billions of dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department and welfare programs that do not serve older Americans.
And even then, the numbers may not add up. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — health care for low-income Americans that may not be protected — and defense spending account for about three-quarters of the federal budget. Cuts elsewhere would have to be deep to increase spending for the military.
There is still little clarity around Trump's plan for the Affordable Care Act. A Washington Post report described Trump shifting between lobbying by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Gov. Rick Scott on how to change the health care law. Despite repeatedly saying his plan to "fix" the ACA is imminent, Trump has not dedicated time to learning the minutiae of health care policy and is susceptible to shifting positions. The White House is "the political sounding board," while "the final voice of reason is what the Senate can accept," Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole told the Post. On Monday morning, Trump said, "nobody knew that health care could be so complicated" to a meeting of governors in Washington. He doubled down on comments that what Republicans produce will be "very good" while dismissing surveys that have shown a recent uptick in support for the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders are poised to move ahead with the ACA repeal — daring more moderate members of the GOP to face the consequences of blocking the death of Obama's health care law.
None of this is a surprise. Trump continues to double down on moves considered radical by the political establishment, and he's not sweating the details.
Speaking of the military: The father of a Navy SEAL killed in a raid in Yemen was critical of Trump over the weekend. Bill Owens told the Miami Herald he refused a meeting with Trump when the president came to see the body of William "Ryan" Owens return home in a flag-draped casket. "Don't hide behind my son's death," Owens said of Trump's handling of the raid. And Trump's nominee for secretary of the Navy has withdrawn over not wanting to divest his wealth. Philip Bilden, a private equity firm investor, is the second top-tier military nominee to withdraw because he did not want to cut back on his substantial personal wealth.
In case you haven't been watching the calendar: Trump will deliver a speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress. While not technically a State of the Union address, the pomp and circumstance will be similar. And with Trump's budget proposal rolling out this week, the speech will be a must-watch event.
The Indiana manufacturing plant you haven't heard of
There's a manufacturing plant near Indianapolis that is about to ship all its jobs to Mexico — and no, it is not the plant Trump has visited. The Rexnord Corp. ball bearings plant in west Indianapolis will send hundreds of jobs any day to Mexico. The Indianapolis Star profiled a worker at the factory who voted for Trump and found himself hopeful after the president saved 750 jobs at the nearby Carrier air conditioning factory.
But just a few miles away from the factory Trump claimed victory for in December, John Feltner is about to lose his $25-an-hour union job. The story is a reminder that even if Trump moves factory by factory, reversing shipments of American manufacturing jobs overseas has a long road ahead.
Scott Pruitt has email problems
As the vote for the now-confirmed EPA administrator came up 10 days ago, Democrats pleaded for a chance to review some controversial emails from the nominee before the vote. Republican senators dissented and confirmed Scott Pruitt anyway. Last week, those emails came out — and they paint a picture of close ties between the former Oklahoma attorney general and the fossil fuel industry he now oversees. Pruitt was routinely advised by conservative groups and energy companies in a bid to fight the EPA over environmental regulations. On Friday, an Oklahoma TV station confirmed Pruitt used a private email server during his time in state government, though the state says nothing was found in the private email that differed from what was released publicly.
Takeaways from the DNC: Mixed feelings about Tom Perez
Tom Perez's first actions and words as chairman of the Democratic National Committee pushed for unity. By all accounts, the former labor secretary has done everything he can to unite Democrats since the vote Saturday. But that will never be enough for some members of the party. Some key takeaways:
• After the first ballot did not bring a winner, Perez used the highly visible announcement of his victory to make Keith Ellison deputy chair of the committee. It was Ellison, not Perez, who gave the first full speech to the Democrats assembled in Atlanta. Ellison used that platform to call for unity.
• Perez and Ellison differ little on policy issues. But Perez is a former high-level Obama administration official, albeit a highly progressive one. Ellison was backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and was considered the grassroots choice for the party. Despite Perez's show of support for Ellison, some progressives told Mic they were not happy with the result of the race.
News and insight you cannot miss:
• George W. Bush said Monday "we all need answers" to Trump's alleged ties with Russia. He also said "it is important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power," calling having power "addictive and corrosive. (Associated Press)
• The Republican congressman who launched the investigation into the Benghazi attack says there needs to be a special prosecutor appointed to investigate alleged ties between Trump and Russia. (Mic)
• Churches are planning a modern underground railroad to shelter undocumented immigrants who fear deportation. (Mic)
• Trump's use of the phrase "enemy of the people" in reference to the media has a disturbing history — including ties to Josef Stalin. (New York Times)
• The Washington Post spoke with more than 100 Iowans who voted for Trump and have become quickly disillusioned by his presidency.
• White House press secretary Sean Spicer is angry his staff may be leaking to the media, so he demanded a review of their phones to ensure staffers were not using confidential messaging apps. Spicer asked that word of the meeting not be leaked — that leaked, too. (Politico)