Mona Charen | Editorial
22024
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  • 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 […]

  • Mitt Romney: A Modern Man for All Seasons for 02/07/2020

    During his floor speech explaining his vote to convict Donald Trump, Mitt Romney was overcome by emotion and paused to compose himself. The intense moment came when he spoke of his devotion to God, saying: "I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am." Lump in throat. Long pause. "I take an oath before God as enormously consequential." The oath, in this case, was the one all 100 senators swore — to do impartial justice as jurors in the trial of the president. It made me think of a line from Robert Bolt's play "A Man for All Seasons," a classic that used to be much quoted by people who now dance as marionettes on Donald Trump's strings. It's a play about conscience, politics, the pressure to conform to the group and the sticking point when men of integrity can be pushed so far and no farther. Like reverence for Winston Churchill, admiration for this play used to be nearly universal among conservatives. (The 1966 movie, starring Paul Scofield, is a gem.)Updated: Fri Feb 07, 2020 […]

  • Stepping Around Human Misery for 01/31/2020

    Attending a meeting near Union Station in Washington, D.C., requires me to park a few blocks away and then walk under a bridge to an office building. People in business attire, like me, step carefully around the homeless men and women who have pitched tents under the bridge. They look filthy and miserable, especially in winter. The persistence of large numbers of homeless Americans is one of the signal policy failures of the past two generations. A 2015 survey found that more than half a million people are homeless on any given night. According to Mentalillnesspolicy.org, about 45 percent of them are suffering from mental illness. When they are not on the street, many severely mentally ill people wind up in even worse surroundings. Jane Brody of The New York Times reports that "the country's three largest facilities housing the mentally ill are jails: the Twin Towers in Los Angeles, the Cook County Jail in Chicago and Rikers Island in New York City." More mentally people are in jails and prisons than in hospitals.Updated: Fri Jan 31, 2020 […]

  • A Time to Build for 01/23/2020

    In July 2018, Commentary published an article by Yuval Levin that caused everyone who thinks about the balance of power among the branches in Washington, D.C., to say: "Of course! That's it exactly!" It had long been observed that Congress had, over the course of several decades, relinquished its powers to the executive and the courts. That wasn't news. Others had remarked that geographic sorting and gerrymandering had increased the ideological polarization of the two parties. This spurs members of Congress to side with presidents of their own party more than with their fellow legislators. Levin's insight went further. The piece was titled "Congress is Weak Because Its Members Want It to be Weak." During Obama's presidency, Democratic members of Congress called upon the president to change immigration law by executive decree. The Republicans had majorities in both bodies in 2018 and a president who was willing to sign nearly anything, yet the Congress passed only tax reform and then elected to sit idle "waiting to see what the president will say next." Even worse, despite unified control, the Congress came close to a government shutdown, and neither body even considered a budget resolution — the key legislative responsibility. "Congress," Levin wrote, "is broken." Updated: Thu Jan 23, 2020 […]

  • Will Democrats Choose Safety or Risk? for 01/17/2020

    When the economy shows signs of weakness, Wall Street analysts expect to see what they call a "flight to safety." Investors sell stocks and buy bonds or gold. The same phenomenon can sometimes be found in politics. Understanding that George W. Bush was riding high in 2004, after what was perceived as a successful response to the 9/11 attacks, Democrats wagered that Vietnam veteran Sen. John Kerry would stand a better chance of victory than the candidate who most excited them, Vermont's Howard Dean. A popular lapel pin at the time captured the mood, "Dated Dean. Married Kerry." The strategy — to neutralize Bush's war advantage with Kerry's war record — ran into difficulties. There was partisan wrangling over whether Kerry deserved his Purple Hearts and other citations, but most damaging was Kerry's dubious makeover — transforming himself from prominent Vietnam War critic into Vietnam War hero. The threads didn't mesh, and Kerry found himself tangled in contradictions.Updated: Fri Jan 17, 2020 […]

  • Was the Soleimani Killing a Policy Success? for 01/10/2020

    There's an old story — apocryphal, as the best stories always seem to be — that Richard Nixon asked Chinese premier Zhou Enlai what he thought about the French Revolution, and Zhou said, "It's too soon to tell." At first blush, the minicrisis between Iran and the United States appears to have ended well for the U.S., but it may be too soon to tell. On the positive side of the ledger, Trump's action rid the world of an effective terror master. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds ("Jerusalem") force, was instrumental in creating Hezbollah, which has been responsible for attacks around the globe and has specifically targeted the United States and Israel. Hezbollah was behind the 1983 bombings of the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, as well as the embassy annex the following year. They kidnapped CIA station chief William Buckley and tortured him to death. In 1985, Hezbollah hijacked a TWA airliner and killed a U.S. Navy diver, dropping his body onto the airport tarmac. Updated: Fri Jan 10, 2020 […]

  • Gertrude Himmelfarb, RIP for 01/03/2020

    When I emailed Mary Ellen Bork that our mutual friend, Gertrude Himmelfarb, aka Bea Kristol, had passed away at 97, she replied, after expressions of sadness, "Now she and Irving can resume their conversation." Irving was Irving Kristol, Bea's husband of 67 years. It was one of the great marriages of our time — two towering intellects who were also devoted to one another and to their family and friends. Irving would not have been the giant he was without Bea, and vice versa. They were also completely down to Earth.Updated: Fri Jan 03, 2020 […]

  • Lovable Ol' Bernie? for 12/27/2019

    You won't hear young Democrats deride Bernie Sanders with the "OK, boomer" dig. At 78, he's actually too old for the cohort, but that's not why he won't get dinged. He's the most popular Democrat among the under-35 crowd, and judging by recent polling, he's the second-most popular Democrat overall. Sanders has raised nearly twice as much money as the frontrunner, Joe Biden, and seems to have scooped up support from a declining Elizabeth Warren in the past 60 days. Despite a heart attack that sidelined him for a week, he marches on, now buoyed by a poll showing that in a head-to-head matchup against Donald Trump, he would do better than Biden — though within the margin of error. Sanders' appeal, the experts explain, is founded on "authenticity." Is he humorless, repetitive, cloying and rigid? Sure. But these are signs that he really believes something! He's not a packaged, blow-dried (no argument there), insincere pol cooked up in a political laboratory. He's the real deal. Let's concede that Sanders is sincere, and that he is, with some small hypocrisies — did you know he was a millionaire? — honest. But what people actually believe is kind of important, and Sanders professes and sells a series of prejudices that do him no credit. Updated: Fri Dec 27, 2019 […]

  • What Senate Acquittal Will Mean for 12/17/2019

    If I have this straight, House Republicans are united in the belief that public integrity is critically important for our nation. Accordingly, Joe Biden deserves to be impeached. During a meeting of the Rules Committee, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., referencing Biden's supposed role in pressuring Ukraine to cease investigating his own son's company, demanded, "If you're running for president, does that mean you can do anything overseas?" Republicans, even very sophisticated ones, have bought this line — that Joe Biden was engaged in unconscionable corruption while vice president. This is Donald Trump's comfort zone. His jujitsu is to accuse any critic or opponent of corruption. The press is corrupt. The pollsters are corrupt. Adam Schiff is corrupt. The FBI is corrupt. The Mueller investigation was corrupt. "Corrupt" is his favorite epithet.Updated: Tue Dec 17, 2019 […]