Immigration

Really? Biden’s ‘Border Czar’ Was Always Meant to Serve Just 100 Days?

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White House Coordinator for the Southern Border Ambassador Roberta Jacobson takes a question during a daily press briefing hosted by Press Secretary Jen Psaki at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 10, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Really?

Roberta S. Jacobson, the former ambassador to Mexico whom President Biden chose as his “border czar” on the National Security Council, will step down at the end of the month, she said on Friday, even as the administration struggles to confront a surge of migrants at the nation’s southwestern border.

Jacobson said that her appointment as a special assistant to the president and as the border coordinator in the White House was always intended to last for only about 100 days — a period that will expire at the end of April, when she intends to leave government.

Really? Who goes to work for the White House for 100 days?

Because there was no mention or indication of her appointment being a temporary, 100-day job when she started:

In this newly-established NSC position, Jacobson will play a key role in implementing the Biden administration’s proposed reforms to the national asylum system and managing national security challenges stemming from Mexico and Central America.

[Mari Carmen Aponte, a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs under President Barack Obama] praised the decision to bring Jacobson into the NSC, characterizing her as a dogged diplomat with deep knowledge of how Washington works and extensive contacts across Latin America.

[Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute] said Jacobson—and the rest of the incoming administration—will be tasked with striking a difficult balance, reforming the asylum system without triggering any new surges in migrants attempting to cross the border.

“There’s a real balancing act between starting to make changes, but not doing it so quickly that you incentivize large unauthorized flows [of new migrants] that undermine the space you have to work,” he said.

Does that sound like they’re describing a person who would be in the job for just a bit more than three months?

Nor was there any indication that Jacobson was in a temporary position when she addressed the White House press corps a month ago. This was the press conference where Jacobson said in English, “the border is not open,” and then declared in Spanish, “la frontera no esta cerrada,” which means “the border is not closed,” before correcting herself several minutes later.

Look, maybe Jacobson always meant to serve for just 100 days, or about 16 Scaramucci Units. But Biden’s immediate changes on border policy generated the first, most pressing, and most consequential crisis of his administration, leaving him lamely insisting that the waves of migrants were just part of a normal seasonal pattern, an absurd position now that more than 172,000 migrants were caught at the Southern border, the most in more than two decades. And if Jacobson really was the right choice to serve as a “border czar,” this seems like a particularly odd time for a “border czar” to leave, as the crisis is still ongoing.

Rather than this always being a temporary position – a fact that apparently everyone in the Biden administration just forgot to mention — it seems more likely that either Jacobson wants to get out before she becomes a scapegoat for the disastrous policy changes, or is getting shoved out behind the scenes because she is indeed becoming a scapegoat for the disastrous policy changes.

Oh, and on March 24, Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris  would “lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle and the countries that help — are going to need help in stemming the movement of so many folks, stemming the migration to our southern border.”

Since then, Harris has not traveled to the border or held a press conference or on-camera briefing on the ongoing efforts.

Health Care

The Vaccine Paradox

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People who have been vaccinated are less likely to consider it safe to travel than people who haven’t been vaccinated and don’t want to be. Philip Klein suggests that the perverse messaging from public-health officials helps to explain this pattern. I suspect, though, that part of the explanation is simply that people who have been vaccinated think of COVID as a greater risk in general than people who reject the vaccine. Those who fear COVID more are more likely both to take the vaccine and to take other steps to reduce their exposure.

PC Culture

Undercover Videos Protected for Animal-Rights Activists, but Not Pro-Life Ones

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Activists often use undercover video exposés as part of their advocacy campaigns. But it is increasingly apparent that the legality of such activities may not depend on the question of secretly taping, but on the ideology of the activists with the cameras.

For example, an Iowa “ag gag” law preventing the infiltration and filming of animal industry facilities was declared unconstitutional by a federal court. From the 2019 USA Today story:

A federal judge has ruled that Iowa’s “ag gag” law is unconstitutional, saying the industry-backed statute violates the First Amendment’s free-speech protections.

Senior Judge James Gritzner granted summary judgment Wednesday to a group that sued over the law.

“Today’s decision is an important victory for free speech in Iowa,” said Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU of Iowa legal director.

“It has effectively silenced advocates and ensured that animal cruelty, unsafe food safety practices, environmental hazards, and inhumane working conditions go unreported for years.”

Meanwhile, a different federal court has just enjoined pro-life activist David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress from publicly releasing undercover videos taken at an abortion-industry convention. From the celebratory National Abortion Federation press release:

Today, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the National Abortion Federation (NAF) summary judgment and a permanent injunction barring David Daleiden, Biomax Procurement Services LLC, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), and their agents and co-conspirators from releasing recordings and materials they illegally obtained at NAF’s educational meetings.

So, are undercover videos constitutionally protected free-speech/press activities or properly subject to legal restraints? I guess it depends on whose ox — or fetus — is being gored.

 

Elections

Donald Trump Enfranchised Millions

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I’ve been reading some of the research on the effect on turnout of various changes in the voting rules. It seems that a move to universal mail-in balloting does increase turnout at the margin, while other changes — like the kind of reforms we’ve been debating in Georgia — don’t make much difference one way or another.

As far as I can tell, the most persuasive theory is that what really drives turnout isn’t the convenience of voting so much as voter interest, i.e., if you can get someone engaged in an election, he’s going vote no matter what the rules are.

MIT political scientist Adam Berinsky has made this point:

The problem, I believe, is that when we talk about the “costs” of voting, we have been thinking about the wrong kinds of costs—the direct costs of registering to vote and casting a ballot. Most politicians and scholars have focused reform efforts on these tangible barriers to voting, making it easier for all citizens to vote, regardless of their personal circumstances. But, as I have argued elsewhere, the more significant costs of participation are the cognitive costs of becoming involved with and informed about the political world. Studies of voting from the last 60 years make this point clear. Political interest and engagement, after all, determine to a large extent who votes and who does not.

If this is true, Donald Trump was one the most powerful tools of enfranchisement, in the sense of people actually voting, that American politics has seen in a very long time. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing. It depended on both Trump supporters and opponents being constantly in a state of high agitation. But it was a boon for turnout, and one that changes such as more no-excuse absentee voting or more early voting days couldn’t possibly match.

Health Care

Just 29 Percent of Vaccinated Adults Say It’s Now Safe to Travel — Compared with 51 Percent of Vaccine Rejecters

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Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci waits to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/Reuters Pool)

For months, public-health officials and the media have made the inexplicable decision to consistently downplay the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Everybody from Joe Biden to Anthony Fauci on down has emphasized that post-vaccination, people have to avoid returning to their normal, pre-pandemic lives. It turns out this bizarre public messaging campaign has had an effect.

A new Economist/YouGov poll finds:

In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, three in 10 Americans who have received at least one vaccinate shot (29%) believe it is safe for them to travel within the United States today. By contrast, half of the one in four Americans who reject the vaccine believe it is safe for them to venture out now.

Another question in the poll found that those who are already vaccinated are also significantly more likely to be worried about experiencing COVID-19 than those who don’t want to be vaccinated.

This is bananas. Remember, the leading vaccines are 72 percent to 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections, and nearly 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations and death.

But the results are no surprise given the messaging coming from leading officials. Fauci said that after getting vaccinated, people still shouldn’t dine indoors or go to theaters. Biden said that people should wear masks until everybody is vaccinated. Taken literally, this would mean forever.

Not only has such messaging created irrational fear among those already vaccinated, but it has undercut the pitch for people who are on the fence about vaccines. Why bother?

Law & the Courts

Look Out! A Bipartisan Blue-Ribbon Commission Is Coming This Way!

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The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., August 29, 2020 (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

All other things being equal, I would prefer that the Biden administration was not creating a bipartisan commission to examine expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court or setting term limits for justices.

But I’m not that worried about it — or at least, I’m not that worried that this “bipartisan commission” will generate much political cover for Biden and Senate Democrats altering the number of justices for the first time since 1869. And I think deep down, Joe Biden would rather not even try.

If a president wants to enact a particular proposal . . . he enacts a particular proposal. He doesn’t sit and wait another six months for some blue-ribbon commission to look at and write up a report about what they think. Presidents kick thorny, complicated issues to bipartisan blue-ribbon commissions because they either don’t want to deal with it, genuinely don’t know what to do, or want political cover for a decision they know will be unpopular. And expanding the court is unpopular: A Yahoo News/YouGov poll last year found only 32 percent of Americans backed the proposal.

Bipartisan blue-ribbon commissions generally turn into one-day stories. The last one that had a lasting policy impact was the 9/11 Commission. The Iraq Study Group called for a full withdrawal by early 2008, but President Bush pursued the surge of 30,000 additional troops. Commissions on fiscal policy haven’t fared much better:

President George W. Bush had a bipartisan commission, co-chaired by former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D., N.Y.) and Richard Parsons, chief operating officer of AOL/Time Warner. The commission unveiled their recommendations . . . and it went nowhere. Nobody on Capitol Hill was interested in making a dramatic change to Social Security, and other issues like the war on terror, Iraq, and Katrina overtook the agenda. The Obama administration had the Simpson-Bowles National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform . . . and those proposals also went nowhere.

Bipartisan commissions can only make recommendations, not decisions. The lawmakers who face the judgment of the voters at the ballot box often choose to ignore those recommendations.

Law & the Courts

Big Government Protects Itself

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Yesterday I wrote about the suppression by YouTube of a video with Governor DeSantis and a group of public-health experts. Allies of the mega-state would rather that criticism of its authoritarian COVID policies be suppressed.

Today, I read that the Legal Insurrection Foundation is continuing its battle to get records from SUNY Upstate Medical School regarding its apparently sweeping “diversity, equity and inclusion” program. Read Bill Jacobson’s article on it here.

The officials who run the school obviously would like to prevent people from knowing exactly what their obsession with diversity is doing and what it costs. Despite New York’s Freedom of Information Law, the school’s officials don’t want any sunlight to penetrate their actions.

This reminds me of the way the State Bar of California has fought to keep UCLA law professor Rick Sander from getting information about the impact of affirmation action in law schools so he can further support his case that racial preferences are counterproductive.

World

TikTok Continues to Suppress Videos Critical of the CCP, Indicating That It Misled the Public

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(Illustration: Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

I have a column today on how U.S. social-media companies have failed to confront propaganda spread by official CCP state media and government accounts. In the piece, I discuss the findings of a recent study on the problem by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

There’s an additional takeaway from that report that has not garnered the attention that it deserves: TikTok continues to censor content related to Xinjiang.

The debate surrounding the Chinese video-sharing app has simmered down since it reached a fever pitch amidst the Trump administration’s efforts to ban it last year. The critics pointed out that TikTok, under China’s National Intelligence Law, would be required to share American users’ data with Beijing, and its parent company’s work with the Xinjiang authorities, among other concerns. But the campaign to ban TikTok, justified as it may have been, faced litigation, and the Biden administration has signaled that it won’t attempt to enforce a ban on the app. The White House is currently reviewing the U.S. policy toward the platform.

Part of the case against TikTok was its apparent censorship of content related to the Chinese Communist Party’s repression of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region — and in one situation, it even banned a teen who spoke out about the human-rights violations there. And in November 2019, the Washington Post reported that, “Former [TikTok] employees said their attempts to persuade Chinese teams not to block or penalize certain videos were routinely ignored, out of caution about the Chinese government’s restrictions and previous penalties on other ByteDance apps.”

After the company’s conduct was picked apart by the press, TikTok executives admitted that Xinjiang-related content had been suppressed as the result of general content moderation policies that policed “conflict” on the app. The company reinstated the user critical of Beijing’s actions against the Uyghurs, said that it fixed TikTok’s treatment of anti-CCP videos, and denied that the platform engaged in political censorship.

But TikTok continues to promote content supporting the CCP’s campaign to whitewash the situation in Xinjiang over more critical videos, according to the ASPI report:

In August 2020, ASPI ICPC research found that, out of 444 publicly visible videos using the hashtag #Xinjiang, only 5.6% were critical of the CCP’s policies in the region. Analysis of the #Xinjiang hashtag in March 2021 showed similar results: the hashtag had more than 9 million views in total, but the top three videos on the #xinjiang hashtag page depicted beautiful Xinjiang landscapes and had fewer than 600 likes each. It is unclear how videos are ordered on TikTok hashtag pages, but our analysis suggests they are typically ordered at least partially by the number of likes received (videos with more likes are generally listed higher on the page, see Figure 3). One video with the caption ‘Free Uyghur’ had 2,831 likes and was ranked 129th on the page whereas other videos with similar likes appeared among the top 30 videos.

In addition, the Xinjiang hashtag in Mandarin (#新疆) had more than 900,000 views distributed between 245 publicly accessible videos, but only one video was critical of CCP policies. In contrast, there appears to be less effort to curate the #uyghur and #uyghurlivesmatter hashtags, which had nearly 65 million and 9 million views, respectively, and most videos in the top 20 were critical of the CCP.

TikTok has been caught in blatant lies before, including its false assertions that U.S. user data are stored in locations beyond the reach of the CCP’s jurisdiction via the National Intelligence Law, as a court filing revealed.

While TikTok doesn’t seem to be deleting content critical of the CCP outright, it seems to have ranked such videos according to a set of criteria different from that applied to videos depicting Xinjiang as a beautiful landscape, rather than the location of ongoing mass atrocities.

As the Biden administration considers its next steps, it ought to take this into account and put a TikTok ban back on the table, if it wasn’t there before.

Law & the Courts

Demand Justice Demands a ‘Black Woman Justice.’ Biden Has Already Pledged to Comply

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Demand Justice is “a progressive movement fighting to restore balance to the courts.” Today, the organization’s demands go well beyond justice:

Selecting jurists to serve on the nation’s highest court on the basis of their immutable characteristics may seem a flawed idea to a country that opposes the use of such preferences even in much less weighty circumstances such as college admissions (those opposed include 62 percent of African Americans), but it’s nevertheless one that’s been endorsed by President Joe Biden. When the president is pledging to use an unpopular and radical racialist selection process advocated by groups such as Demand Justice while simultaneously threatening to pack the Supreme Court, you may not have elected the unifying norm-restorer you were promised.

Maybe It Wasn’t the Mailbox

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A worker gathers items for delivery from the warehouse floor at Amazon’s distribution center in Phoenix, Ariz., in 2013. (Ralph D. Freso/Reuters)

Did the union drive at Amazon’s warehouse in Alabama fail because there was a USPS mailbox outside of the facility? Or did it fail because the employees didn’t want to form a union? The New York Times suggests that, astonishingly, it may be the latter:

William and Lavonette Stokes, who started work at the Bessemer warehouse in July, said the union had failed to convince them how it could improve their working conditions. Amazon already provides good benefits, relatively high pay that starts at $15 an hour and opportunities to advance, said the couple, who have five children.

“Amazon is the only job I know where they pay your health insurance from Day 1,” Ms. Stokes, 52, said. She added that she had been turned off by how organizers tried to cast the union drive as an extension of the Black Lives Matter movement because most of the workers are Black.

“This was not an African-American issue,’’ said Ms. Stokes, who is Black. “I feel you can work there comfortably without being harassed.”

The vote could lead to a rethinking of strategy inside the labor movement.

Given the RWDSU’s reaction to the outcome, I wouldn’t count on it.

Law & the Courts

‘What Judicial Activism Looks Like’ to Linda Greenhouse

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“Judicial activism” is a notoriously malleable phrase. Back in 2011, longtime New York Times legal correspondent Linda Greenhouse wrote that for more than 60 years “it’s been clear . . . that the definition lay in the eyes of the beholder – nearly always a disgruntled beholder, since people rarely describe as ‘activist’ a judicial outcome with which they are satisfied. Judicial activism is a protean concept that changes with the times.”

No such note of skepticism sounds in her latest offering, which straightforwardly condemns Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch for engaging in judicial activism. She doesn’t actually supply a definition herself, instead repeating the assertion three times (four counting the headline). Their offense consists of wanting to reverse a 1977 Supreme Court precedent that narrowly interpreted the religious accommodations that employers have to extend under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She closes her column with what is, I suppose, meant as the coup de grâce:

Has Congress never considered repudiating the court’s de minimis interpretation of “undue hardship”? Actually, it has: Bills to do just that were introduced in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010. They failed to pass. So now Justice Alito and his one or two allies want to do Congress’s work for it. Someday, maybe soon, when the right case arrives, he may find the additional allies he needs.

That’s what judicial activism looks like.

Remarkably, Greenhouse does not mention that the Supreme Court, less than a year ago, decided a big case involving the interpretation of the very same statute. In that case, the question was whether the statute’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex includes a prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. It had never previously been held to include such a prohibition.

Has Congress ever considered changing the law to prohibit such discrimination? Actually, yes it had. Bills of this nature were introduced in 1974, 1975, and every Congress from 1994 to today, with one exception. They failed to pass. Six Supreme Court justices — led by Gorsuch, one of the same justices Greenhouse condemns today — decided to do Congress’s work for it.

Naturally, she urged the Supreme Court to take that step and applauded when it did and said zilch about the failure of the bills in Congress in either column. Somehow the phrase “judicial activism” also didn’t come up either time.

What If Nobody Voted?

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Voters wait in a 90-minute line to cast their ballots on the first day of the state’s in-person early voting for the national elections in Durham, N.C., October 15, 2020. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

La Russell, Mo., has reached a sort of nirvana in terms of low-turnout elections: The town held an election and literally nobody voted:

Local elections in April generally attract few voters but a small southwest Missouri town hit a new low this week when not one of its 70 residents cast a ballot. Deborah Burton, La Russell city clerk and wife of Mayor Rick Burton, said her husband was in the hospital until Wednesday after he became ill last week. “I was there with him, so I guess we didn’t throw up the flag and let everyone know there was an

Politics & Policy

Biden Budget Asks for $1 Billion to Deal with Mental-Health Toll of School Closures

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President Joe Biden (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Since taking office, President Biden has repeatedly acquiesced to the teachers’ unions when it comes to school closures.

Now, his budget request for fiscal 2022 is calling for an additional $1 billion in funding to deal with the predictable mental health consequences:

Prioritizes the Physical and Mental Well-Being of Students. COVID-19 pandemic disruptions and school closings continue to take a toll on the physical and mental health of students, teachers, and school staff. Recognizing the profound effect of physical and mental health on academic achievement, the discretionary request provides $1 billion, in addition to the resources in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to increase the number of counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals in schools. In addition, it provides $430 million for Full Service Community Schools, which play a critical role in providing comprehensive wrap-around services to students and their families, from afterschool, to adult education opportunities, and health and nutrition services.

You know what would prioritize the mental well-being of students? Opening the damn schools. Instead, Biden has repeatedly scaled back back his pledge to reopen schools for in-person learning in his first 100 days. While ultimately school reopenings are a matter for local governments, Biden has set the tone up top by deferring to unions, insisting, “They just want to work in a safe environment.” He has stood by them as they continue to move the goal posts on reopening. They have balked at reopening even after leapfrogging to the front of the vaccination line and even after Biden funneled $128 billion to K–12 in his coronavirus relief package. CDC was also pressured into issuing guidance that has made reopening schools more difficult in the face of overwhelming evidence that schools are safe.

For Biden to now swoop in after the damage that has been done and act as if $1 billion amounts to prioritizing the well-being of students is infuriating.

Law & the Courts

Biden’s Court-Packing Theater Is Another Unforced Error

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(Yoeml/Getty Images)

I argued yesterday that Joe Biden’s gun-control executive orders were destined to hurt him:

The president’s proposals put him firmly in the worst of both worlds, in that they confer few substantive advantages while yielding serious political risk. Naturally, Biden cannot say in public that what he’s doing here is merely for show. On the contrary: He has obliged himself to pretend that the measures he’s outlined are meaningful and to use dramatic, self-aggrandizing language when selling them.

. . .

Every pro-gun voter in the country was just informed by the president of the United States that he has decided to bypass Congress and take executive action to advance gun control. At the same time, less engaged voters, who are accustomed to being informed that “nothing is ever done about guns,” are being led by the president’s own language to believe that this is no longer true. And for what?

To this mistake we can now add another. Brittany notes that:

President Joe Biden is set to issue an executive order on Friday forming a bipartisan commission that will perform a 180-day study of potential changes to the Supreme Court, including court packing and setting term limits for justices.

“The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals,” the White House said in a statement. “The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.”

The Democratic Party is not going to pack the Supreme Court. It doesn’t have the votes, the idea is broadly opposed, and the Court is more trusted at present than it has been for a while. Joe Biden knows this, which is why he’s announced a “bipartisan study commission” that will achieve nothing except rile up Republican voters who care about this issue a great deal. And for what?

Health Care

Asa Hutchinson’s Latest Lame Defense

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Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson — after an embarrassing appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight spent trying to explain his veto of a bill meant to protect transgender children from experimental hormone treatments and gender-reassignment surgeries — has fled for the friendlier pastures of the New York Times. His answers, while less flagrantly nonsensical in written form, still reflect the indefensible nature of his position.

Asked why he opposes the bill, Hutchinson again leans on buzzwords such as “overbroad,” calling it the “most extreme” in the country. The only specific provision he could cite in support of his thesis was that children currently being subjected to these euphemistic treatments would not be grandfathered in and allowed to continue them. This only follows if you believe these procedures and treatments to be justifiable in the first place — a case Hutchinson makes nowhere in the interview.

Asked why he signed other bills related to the issue that barred biological males who have transitioned or are transitioning from participating in women’s sports and allowed for conscience exemptions permitting medical workers not to participate in transition-related procedures but not this latest measure, Hutchinson explained that, when this measure his desk, he said, “We’ve got to show greater tolerance. We’ve got to show greater compassion.” This is a platitudinal dodge. There’s nothing compassionate about allowing troubled children to be swept up not only psychologically, but also physically in a new social and political movement. As for tolerance, nothing in the bill calls for hatred or discrimination toward those afflicted with gender dysphoria.

Asked if all three bills constitute “laws in search of a problem,” Hutchinson basically concurs. “That’s one of the biggest problems in the cultural war that we have — sometimes we’re trying to address the fear of something that does not exist in reality,” he says. Is that so? Children are being subjected to experimental treatments and mutilating surgeries as proposed solutions to a condition that is often grown out of with time. Moreover, the number of children with gender dysphoria is proliferating as transgender ideology expands into our schools and other elite institutions such as the New York Times.

Asked about his personal concerns over the GOP’s approach to cultural issues, Hutchinson responds:

. . . as we support our social conservatives and we fight for these issues, we still have to ask the question, is this a proper role of government? Is this something that should be managed through families and churches and where they impact the culture or are we going to fight every battle by the state trying to change the culture or preserve the culture?

Hutchinson does not explain what principle of limited government, precisely, calls for showing restraint in safeguarding children’s physical development while they remain mentally and emotionally incapable of making life-changing medical decisions for themselves. One of the more frustrating aspects of our politics is that while progressives continue to use the state to push their cultural agenda, conservative efforts to push back are regarded as a myopia with the “culture war.” Hutchinson evidently buys in to this manifestly absurd framing.

Asked what he would say to those who might lose access to transition-related treatments because of the legislation, Hutchinson says he hopes “that they have a sense that the highest official in Arkansas supports them.” I would hope every American supports children suffering from gender dysphoria or any other affliction. Support does not, however, mean indulging a child’s weighty and ill-founded decisions about permanently changing their body’s form and chemical composition.

Altogether, it was another unimpressive performance by a man who shows little command of this important issue, and less still of our political moment.