Mona Charen | Editorial
22024
page-template-default,page,page-id-22024,tribe-no-js,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,select-theme-ver-3.8.1,vertical_menu_enabled,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.1.1,vc_responsive
  • 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.Updated: Fri Feb 21, 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 […]

  • US Blocks Examination of Crimes Against Humanity for 12/13/2019

    It's easy to treat Kim Jong Un as a figure of ridicule. I've done it myself. His foreign ministry issues statements like this: "If any language and expressions stoking the atmosphere of confrontation are used once again on purpose at a crucial moment as now, that must really be diagnosed as the relapse of the dotage of a dotard." His youth, his odd haircut, and his rotund physique don't signal menace so much as clownishness. But that's a mistake. He is, in fact, guilty of crimes against humanity on a massive scale, and the United States government has just chosen to block a United Nations Security Council session that would take up those atrocities.Updated: Fri Dec 13, 2019 […]

  • Red Death, Blue Health? for 12/06/2019

    Josef Stalin is reputed to have said: "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic." In the hands of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the deaths of thousands can be a partisan bludgeon. A number of scholars have pondered the recent rise in deaths of despair — those attributed to alcoholism, suicide and drug overdoses. Krugman sees a chance to make a crude red state/blue state comparison. Updated: Fri Dec 06, 2019 […]

  • On Being the Good Guys for 11/29/2019

    People often offer cynical interpretations of American support for Israel. It's the malign influence of the Jewish lobby, or Israel is a colonial outpost of the American hegemon or Israel has brainwashed American policymakers. What these right-wing conspiracists, anti-Semites and committed leftists miss is that there isn't any mystery about the bond between the U.S. and Israel. U.S. support for Israel, and vice versa, has been based on shared values. Israel shares with the United States respect for human rights and the rule of law. Though often besieged by enemies who target innocent civilians in terror attacks, use their own civilians as human shields, and celebrate as heroes terrorists who massacre unarmed men, women and children, Israel does not sink to that level. Though Israel vigorously defends herself, she does not resort to targeting civilians, nor to indiscriminate bombing (despite accusations to the contrary). And — this is crucial — when Israeli soldiers go too far and kill unarmed Palestinians, Israel does not name public squares after them. They are tried and punished.Updated: Fri Nov 29, 2019 […]

  • Is Caitlin Flanagan Right About the Abortion Debate? for 11/21/2019

    Caitlin Flanagan has written a searing piece for The Atlantic titled "The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate: Why We Need to Face the Best Arguments From the Other Side." Flanagan argues that neither the pro nor the anti side of the abortion debate reckons with the best arguments of the other side. She then takes the reader through some heartbreaking true stories. Flanagan is an affecting writer, and her plea that both sides of a bitter dispute offer more respect to the other is one with which I am in sympathy. But the argument she makes — movingly told as it is — is not quite convincing.Updated: Thu Nov 21, 2019 […]

  • What Is the American Idea? for 11/15/2019

    If I were addressing a young audience today, I would face an uphill battle to explain why conservatism so inspired me during my own impressionable years. Today, what has been dubbed "Conservatism, Inc" has become so cynical, so nasty, so truth-challenged, and so dumbed-down that it repels all but one-quarter of people between 18-29. The Republican Party, now a training ground for Fox News, has shed dignity and principle like a Siberian Husky blowing its coat. Even among conservative intellectuals, this era has provoked a shocking departure from ideas and identities that had been brilliantly conceived and painstakingly argued for decades. It is now even fashionable in some right-wing quarters to question American exceptionalism — which had enjoyed nearly universal acclaim less than a decade ago. Today, we are invited to believe that America is just a nation like any other, and that American nationalism — based upon language, history and geography — has the truest claim on our hearts.Updated: Fri Nov 15, 2019 […]