How Roy Moore’s Misdeeds Are Forcing an Awakening on the Left

Are liberals having a moral awakening? Watching the political contortions of Republicans to defend a candidate accused of sexually molesting teenage girls, Democrats and liberal pundits are reckoning publicly with their own history of fervid rationalizations on behalf of a recent president. But this should be just the beginning of a painful re-examination.

This new consciousness was glimpsed first in a tweet from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, a commentator of stoutly progressive persuasion. “As gross and cynical and hypocritical as the right’s ‘what about Bill Clinton’ stuff is,” he wrote, “it’s also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.”

It was glimpsed in passing in a New York Times editorial, Ground Zero of conventional liberalism. “Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape—all of which Continue reading “How Roy Moore’s Misdeeds Are Forcing an Awakening on the Left”

Trump’s GOP Firewall

“Political Science” may be an oxymoron, but there is one rule in politics that approaches scientific certainty: A president, no matter how beleaguered, can survive if he retains significant support within his party.

Lyndon Johnson abandoned re-election when some 40 percent of the voters chose Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 New Hampshire primary, triggering Robert Kennedy’s entry into the race. Richard Nixon was doomed when his congressional base eroded; six GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee voted for at least one article of impeachment. Bill Clinton survived when only five of 211 House Democrats voted to impeach him, and not a single Democratic senator voted to convict.

Now, with indictments unsealed and Washington churning with feverish speculation about where Special Counsel Robert Mueller might strike next, and as GOP insiders tell reporters that “the walls are closing in,” President Trump can find at last temporary comfort in this enduring Continue reading “Trump’s GOP Firewall”

The Deafening Silence of the Republican Lambs

If you are one of the millions of Americans who believe that a dangerously unfit man is presently occupying the Oval Office, you are likely to be cheering the words of Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake. On Tuesday, having announced their respective retirements in 2018, the two Republicans were unsparing in their denunciations of the titular leader of their party.

President Donald Trump exhibits “a flagrant disregard for truth and decency,” Arizona’s Flake thundered from the Senate floor, denouncing “the coarseness of our leadership.” Trump’s conduct is “reckless, outrageous, and undignified,” Tennessee’s Corker charged earlier in the morning. “He is debasing our nation.”

It is the kind of language that not so long ago—10 months ago, to be more precise—would have hit the capital like a meteor. Now, apart from celebratory op-ed pieces and chatter on cable and social media, it will likely have “all the impact Continue reading “The Deafening Silence of the Republican Lambs”

The Deafening Silence of the Republican Lambs

If you are one of the millions of Americans who believe that a dangerously unfit man is presently occupying the Oval Office, you are likely to be cheering the words of Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake. On Tuesday, having announced their respective retirements in 2018, the two Republicans were unsparing in their denunciations of the titular leader of their party.

President Donald Trump exhibits “a flagrant disregard for truth and decency,” Arizona’s Flake thundered from the Senate floor, denouncing “the coarseness of our leadership.” Trump’s conduct is “reckless, outrageous, and undignified,” Tennessee’s Corker charged earlier in the morning. “He is debasing our nation.”

It is the kind of language that not so long ago—10 months ago, to be more precise—would have hit the capital like a meteor. Now, apart from celebratory op-ed pieces and chatter on cable and social media, it will likely have “all the impact Continue reading “The Deafening Silence of the Republican Lambs”

The Tragedy of John McCain

It was near the end of 2007, and the presidential campaign of John McCain, left for dead six months earlier, was beginning to show signs of life. With no money, a skeleton, unpaid staff and a press corps taking bets on the date of his surrender, the Arizona senator was drawing the kinds of crowds in New Hampshire that had propelled him to a primary victory there in 2000.

“So, senator,” I asked him half-seriously. “Is there something about you that requires you to be dangling off a cliff with a fraying rope before you can start to succeed?”

“You know,” he said with a laugh, “there might be something to that.”

In a sense, much of McCain’s adult life can be defined by Vince Lombardi’s observation that “the real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back.” The rebellious, sometimes reckless Naval pilot Continue reading “The Tragedy of John McCain”

Why Health Care Drives Presidents Insane

I can’t prove this happened, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bill Clinton and Barack Obama placed a conference call to President Trump, where they began by proclaiming: “Welcome to the club!”

Once again, a new American president has received a significant shock by daring to touch what is now the reigning third rail of American politics: health care. Do I exaggerate? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

In 1993, Clinton entered the presidency with a Congress firmly in the grip of the Democratic Party—57 seats in the Senate and 258 seats in the House, which had been Democratic for some 35 years. He proposed a sweeping plan to provide universal health care. It called for employer mandates, regional health alliances, subsidies for the poor and a National Health Board to measure the quality of health care. Fatefully, he put his wife in charge of the Continue reading “Why Health Care Drives Presidents Insane”

Is All the Russia Talk Helping Putin?

Not since the end of the Cold War has the political climate in the United States been so focused on Russia. Suspicions that the president tried to shut down investigations into his campaign’s ties to Moscow imperil his political future. Russia and the United States are moving toward a confrontation of sorts over Syrian airspace. Almost daily, stories surface about Russian attempts to inject false information into last year’s political debate, or—far more unsettling—to hack into the election software of several states. The Senate, brushing aside the administration’s objections, voted almost unanimously to impose new sanctions against Russia and to limit Trump’s ability to soften them. Allies’ concerns about the president’s distance from NATO and his withdrawal from the Paris Climate accord are rooted in the fear that he is providing aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin’s basic goal of splintering the Western alliance.

What unites these disparate events is Continue reading “Is All the Russia Talk Helping Putin?”