Mona Charen | Editorial
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  • Trump Smashes the Right's Ability to Police Itself for 05/22/2020

    Among dozens of addled tweets from the commander in chief over the past few days, one in particular deserves pausing over because it demonstrates not just the weak-mindedness of our president but also the way his leadership is sabotaging conservatism. Trump retweeted a post featuring disgraced columnist Michelle Malkin, who complained about being silenced on social media. Trump responded: "The radical left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The administration is working to remedy this illegal situation. Stay tuned, and send names & events. Thank you Michelle!" In the name of standing up for aggrieved conservatives, Trump soils the brand. First, a detail. The "radical left" is not in control of those outlets, and even if it were, they are private entities and therefore perfectly free to make their own judgments about content. There is nothing "illegal" about it. If the administration were working to "remedy" the situation, that is what would be illegal. Another detail: Trump has 19.7 million followers on Instagram, 26.7 million on Facebook and 80 million on Twitter. Perhaps what keeps him so popular is his audience's inexhaustible appetite for whining. Updated: Sat May 23, 2020 […]

  • But He Fights! for 05/15/2020

    One of the chief selling points about Donald Trump in 2016, one that persuaded many initially dubious Republicans, was the argument that "he fights." Some of us tried to counter that his battles nearly always concerned his own fragile ego, not the cause of conservatism, nor even the Republican Party, but these objections were swept aside. Since January, we have witnessed a vivid lesson in the limits of fighting. There were ample reasons before now to recoil from Trump's style of combat. It is so consistently cruel, witless, below-the-belt and unhinged (e.g. his recent tweets implying that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was guilty of murder), that it taints by association any reasonable arguments that might be advanced for conservative ideas. But what we've witnessed in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic is that even when a dire emergency calls for traits other than bellicosity, fighting is all he knows how to do. This is proving to be a catastrophe for the nation, and also for Trump's self-interest. Updated: Fri May 15, 2020 […]

  • You Can Choke on Schadenfreude for 05/08/2020

    During Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings, some conservatives, including supposedly Donald Trump-despising ones, declared themselves "radicalized." "Kavanaugh snapped something in me," Sohrab Ahmari tweeted. The Democrats had demonstrated their depravity, they said. On the strength of this revelation, they ran into the arms of Trump. What is the logic of that response? If the Democrats and progressives resorted to irresponsible character assassination, trafficked in loose accusations and failed to respect due process, how is the correct response to do exactly the same thing to them? "He is a liar and a cheat; therefore I must be one?" If that is the standard, then we are consigned to an endless cycle of slander, with each side pointing to the other's previous outrage to justify itself. Updated: Fri May 08, 2020 […]

  • Testing: The Way Out of This Trap for 05/01/2020

    One of the less helpful aspects of our current quandary is the shrill argument between two closed-minded camps. One condemns those who wish to open up the economy as science-defying ghouls who care nothing for human life. The other depicts the stay-at-homes as economic saboteurs willing to destroy the national economy in the name of unobtainable safety. Neither reckons with the indispensable bridge — the testing problem. Whatever mayors, governors, or presidents might say, we cannot restart the economy as long as people are too frightened to resume working, shopping, and socializing. An NPR/Marist poll found that 65% of Americans believe that it would be a "bad idea" to have people return to work until further testing is available, and 80% say the same about eating in restaurants. Even larger majorities oppose opening schools or sporting events. On the other hand, it's simply untenable to keep huge sectors of the economy in what Will Wilkinson of the Niskanen Center calls "soft house arrest" indefinitely, or to open up only to be forced to shut down again in the face of new illness spikes. We are stuck in limbo. We've succeeded in flattening the curve but haven't conceived a way to avoid thousands of more deaths without causing an economic catastrophe.Updated: Fri May 01, 2020 […]

  • Puzzling Over African American COVID Deaths for 04/24/2020

    The numbers are preliminary, but it seems that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at alarming rates. In Louisiana, for instance, blacks represent 70% of the dead but only 33% of the population. In Michigan, blacks comprise 33% of the infected, but 40% of the fatalities. This has occasioned an outpouring of analysis suggesting that racism is to blame. Racism and discrimination have unarguably left grave traces in the lives of African Americans, but the rush to identify racism as the cause of this particular disparity may be too pat. CNN, like many others, cited lower levels of health insurance among blacks as one reason for the higher death rate. "Compared to white people, blacks have lower levels of health insurance coverage and are less likely to have insurance coverage through an employer." According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, this is true, but the differences are quite small. Among whites in 2018, 7.5% lacked health insurance. Among blacks, the figure was 11.5%. The Hispanic rate was significantly higher at 19%.Updated: Fri Apr 24, 2020 […]

  • Vote By Mail, Just This Once for 04/17/2020

    Who among us, knowing what we know now about COVID-19, doesn't wish we could roll back the clock to Jan. 1, 2020 and make very different decisions about testing, contact tracing, PPE and social distancing? Well, we are staring at another possible disaster bearing down on us. I refer to the Nov. 3 election. There is still time to act wisely, but not much time. Updated: Fri Apr 17, 2020 […]

  • Joe Biden Should Go for Unity for 04/10/2020

    Elizabeth II's speech to the United Kingdom was moving, even for those of us who are lifelong small-r republicans. In some respects, her model cannot be copied in the United States. She is a monarch, and we had some disagreements about that matter in 1776. She is a living link to the most harrowing experience in living memory, the Second World War. And, at 92, she has accumulated a lifetime's reservoir of trust and goodwill. But the queen's address does have lessons for us Yanks, and particularly for Joe Biden. Part of what made the Queen's speech affecting was its theme of unity. The queen didn't speak to the people so much as for the people. She thanked, first of all, the health care workers and other essential employees who "selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all." Next, she extended her thoughts to those remaining in their homes and caring for loved ones. "Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it." In a nod to Winston Churchill's iconic "finest hour" speech, she offered a tribute to the nation's character:Updated: Fri Apr 10, 2020 […]

  • What Is the Best-Case Scenario? for 04/03/2020

    Faced with the greatest public health threat in a century, we are stumbling in the dark. Each day's death toll is treated as a shock, rather than what it ought to be — a fire bell in the night. Only on April 1, for example, did Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issue a stay-at-home order. As recently as March 28 — even as refrigerator trucks were parking outside New York hospitals to serve as overflow morgues — many of Florida's beaches were packed. Responding to criticism, DeSantis said he was taking cues from the White House. "If any of those task force folks tell me that we should do X, Y or Z, of course, we're going to consider it." President Donald Trump initially praised DeSantis for this, calling him "a great governor who knows exactly what he's doing," but apparently thought better of it later and encouraged DeSantis to issue the stay-at-home order.Updated: Fri Apr 03, 2020 […]

  • China's Lies, and Ours for 03/27/2020

    This is a tale of two governments. Both were faced with a potential disaster — a new and deadly epidemic. Both made choices that the world will judge. China. The virus made its first appearance in a Wuhan "wet market," an emporium (apparently common in China) that featured live and newly slaughtered animals in close proximity. SARS and Avian flu are also thought to have originated in these markets, which amount to an ongoing threat to global health.Updated: Fri Mar 27, 2020 […]

  • Preserve Our Election for 03/20/2020

    We are facing one discrete problem in the mass of chaos surrounding this pandemic that we can and must address immediately — the security of November's election. Voting in the traditional way requires us to do the very thing that epidemiologists and public health authorities have forbidden us to do — gather in large groups for prolonged periods. That's inevitable when you must wait in long lines to vote. Updated: Fri Mar 20, 2020 […]

  • After This, Voters Will Take Their Responsibility Seriously for 03/13/2020

    "Let's blow it all up." That was the sentiment that animated any number of Republican primary voters in 2016. The "it" was (take your pick) the Republican Party, the "establishment," the country. There were many good reasons for voters to be dissatisfied with the state of things in 2016. There were also any number of able candidates who could have instituted reforms. But that wasn't the mood, at least not for the nihilistic 30%. It's hard to think of a less conservative impulse than "Burn it down!" But that's what this minority did, voting for the malignant narcissist who had never served anything other than his bottom line. Eventually, when the Republican Party's winner-take-all rules made Donald Trump the likely nominee, most Republicans threw in their lots with him, too, because partisanship is the opiate of the people. By elevating Trump, they violated their sacred responsibility. Before considerations of policy or identity or history or "fight," voters must ask themselves whether the person to whom they are granting the powers of the presidency is fit to handle an emergency. If the answer is even a bit uncertain, that person must be ruled out. Trump has been fortunate until now — as have we all — because no crisis happened. But the coronavirus has obliterated that lucky streak. It's the most serious challenge we have faced since the 9/11 attacks, and it may yet turn out to be far deadlier. Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician for the U.S. Congress, estimates that between 75 million and 100 million Americans will contract COVID-19. If the mortality estimates of 1% hold up, that would mean up to a million Americans could die. It may not be as bad as that, but it could be worse.Updated: Fri Mar 13, 2020 […]

  • Biden's Second Chance Is One for the Record Books for 03/06/2020

    Sweet relief. Super Tuesday was the worst setback for left-wing populism since Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party crashed and burned. But while the voters have handed Joe Biden another chance, it's important to recognize why they've had doubts. From the start of this election cycle, majorities of Democrats had signaled that their highest priority was beating President Donald Trump. Not "Medicare for All." Not the Green New Deal. Not a federally guaranteed $15 an hour job. A March 2019 USA Today/Suffolk poll was typical: By 55 to 35, voters said they preferred a candidate who could beat Trump to one who shared their own policy views. Updated: Fri Mar 06, 2020 […]

  • Moral Failing for 02/28/2020

    According to CNN, Bernie Sanders "has been consistent for 40 years." Some find this reassuring. Sanders is not a finger-in-the-wind politician who tacks this way or that depending upon what's popular. On the other hand, if someone has never changed his mind throughout 78 years of life, it suggests ideological rigidity and imperviousness to evidence, not high principle. Why make a fuss about Sanders' past praise of communist dictatorships? After all, the Cold War ended three decades ago, and a would-be President Sanders cannot exactly surrender to the Soviet Union. Updated: Fri Feb 28, 2020 […]

  • Democrats' Only Hope for 02/21/2020

    The pre-Nevada Democratic debate was a gift to Donald Trump. Instead of training their fire on the incumbent, or on the vulnerable front-runner, Bernie Sanders, the candidates tore Mike Bloomberg to shreds while saving plenty of darts for one another. That nice young man Pete Buttigieg became that supercilious egoist needling Amy Klobuchar over trifles. Elizabeth Warren the policy wonk became Elizabeth Warren the Terminator. Bottom line: A clear win for Sanders, which can be seen as an indirect win for Trump. Bloomberg had a dismal night. Coming out from behind the curtain of gauzy advertising was not kind to him. He was arrogant. Asked why he hasn't yet released his taxes he said, "I can't go to TurboTax." His apology/explanation for stop-and-frisk was stiff and unconvincing, as Elizabeth Warren and others were quick to point out. He could have framed it in terms that a Democratic audience would view sympathetically — that the point of stop-and-frisk was to get illegal guns off the streets. He could have elaborated on his long-standing anti-gun activism (which has the advantage of being true). And then he could have said that while the program was successful in reducing crime, specifically murders and other gun crimes almost entirely in minority neighborhoods, it went too far and needed to be scaled back. Also, in one of the worst word choices of this primary season, Bloomberg explained that he wouldn't release women from nondisclosure agreements because the contracts were "consensual." Updated: Tue Feb 25, 2020 […]

  • Bully Wannabes for 02/13/2020

    Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative (cough) Union, which hosts the annual CPAC conference, tweeted that he was disinviting Mitt Romney from the confab this year because he "could not guarantee his physical safety" after the senator voted to convict Donald Trump in the impeachment trial. A number of commentators on the left have responded to this by dismissing CPAC attendees as a bunch of brown shirts. I don't think that's right. I spoke at CPAC in 2018 and courted trouble by criticizing both Roy Moore and Donald Trump for their documented histories of sexual misconduct, as well as CPAC itself for inviting the niece of Marine Le Pen, Marion Marechal Le Pen, a right-wing nativist from France.Updated: Thu Feb 13, 2020 […]