Magazine May 23, 2016, Issue

The Week

(Roman Genn)

‐ As Abraham Lincoln said, “You’re fired.”

‐ Protesters, many of them riotous, dogged Donald Trump in southern California. In Costa Mesa, they blocked an interstate, threw debris at passing cars, and attacked police cars, all the while waving Mexican flags. In Burlingame, Trump had to enter the hall via a back door. Such disorder is a boon to Trump: He joked that his improvised entry was like “crossing the border.” Uproar and hooliganism has long been a feature of American democratic politics; spectacle is a staple of American popular culture. These stubborn facts do not relieve us of the burdens of arguing, listening, and thinking — which Americans have also, at times, memorably done.

‐ Donald Trump gave a major foreign-policy address at the Mayflower Hotel, an element of a long-discussed pivot toward being “presidential.” Stylistically, he kept to this goal: He read a text displayed on two teleprompters and did not ask anyone in the audience to punch someone. Substantively, he sought to invoke the tradition of nationalist realism, even echoing John Quincy Adams (“We do not go abroad in search of enemies”). He called for a more prosperous America, spending more on a military that would be used less. He promised a more consistent policy that would earn the respect of rivals and the trust of friends. All worthy sentiments. Yet he breezed over contradictions: He pledged to destroy ISIS, which will require hard work on the ground with Middle Eastern allies — the very kind of entanglement that he says he disdains. He pursued his bromance with Vladimir Putin: “Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.” And, like many businessmen, he put his faith in “talented experts with approaches and practical ideas” — new experts, of course, not the old ones, whom he will brush aside. A Trump foreign policy would be like giving a teenager the keys to his first superpower.

‐ In the days before Trump clinched the nomination, John Boehner thought it important to register how much he dislikes Ted Cruz. In a witless cheap shot, the former speaker called him “Lucifer in the flesh” while speaking at Stanford University. This attitude is widespread among Republican insiders, who foolishly allowed personal ill will to cloud their reasoned judgment about who, among the candidates in the GOP race, was the best representative of conservative principles and policies, and about who would be the best candidate in the upcoming general election. On both counts, Cruz was the obvious choice. This is why prominent conservatives who might not be counted among his friends — Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush come to mind — urged the party to rally around Cruz. They were right to do so, and not to give in to Boehner’s petty grudge-holding. If Republicans lose control of Congress as they lose the presidential election, Boehner and his kind will be part of the reason.

‐ A more-than-random number of Trump supporters and watchers see him as a father figure: Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos calls him “Daddy,” Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams tags him as the dad who fixes things. What can that possibly mean in a country that declared that all men are created equal? More than you might think. Any executive, royal or elective, wears a trace of paternal authority (queens — and Margaret Thatcher — vary the pattern without breaking it). Great men in times of crisis wear it more openly — George Washington was known as the father of his country, Abraham Lincoln as Father Abraham. There are, naturally, bad father/rulers, just as there are bad fathers (e.g., Papa Doc Duvalier). It is the task of the republican father to inspire the people he leads to be responsible. Donald Trump grasps something about wearing the pants on a debate stage. About mature citizenship, less.

‐ For GQ, Julia Ioffe wrote a profile of Melania Trump. The Trump camp did not like it. Ioffe was then the target of a wave of anti-Semitic attacks. Tweeters tweeted ovens and the like. She would pick up the phone and hear recordings of Hitler speeches. She received death threats sent in abhorrently creative ways. Ioffe was born in Moscow. And here is a tweet of her own: “For those among you who appreciate irony: my family arrived in the U.S. (legally) 26 years ago today. We were fleeing anti-Semitism.”

‐ A lengthy attack on liberal smugness appeared in, of all places, Vox. Emmett Rensin argues that liberal condescension has alienated white, working-class voters, making liberalism both less able to win the “class struggle” and less interested in trying. He even sticks up for Kim Davis, Kentucky’s most famous county clerk, suggesting that liberals should have opposed her without celebrating her imprisonment or attacking her personally. Class struggle aside, Rensin is clearly on to something. What he does not consider is that the attitude he decries follows naturally from progressives’ long-standing conviction that neither tradition nor markets channel any wisdom. Condescension is indeed a vice, but it is only a tributary of the deeper sin of pride.

‐ There really is nothing that the Obama administration will not yoke to identity politics. To the position of librarian of Congress, vacant since the retirement of Reagan appointee James H. Billington last fall, Obama has appointed Carla D. Hayden, who, if confirmed, “would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position,” the president noted in his nomination statement, “both of which are long overdue.” Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Md., and president of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004, is not obviously the best candidate for the job. The Library of Congress is, first and foremost, the go-to research center for the 535 members of the federal legislature. But over more than two centuries, it has also become the de facto repository of the intellectual artifacts of American civilization — the storehouse of much of our knowledge and culture, and thus of much of the world’s. That has made it a destination for researchers from across the globe. For that reason, recent appointees have not been librarians — the library’s 3,000-person staff already has plenty of those — but noted scholars (Billington, for example, and his predecessor, Daniel J. Boorstin). Hayden is not a professional scholar. She is also an activist. “We are fighters for freedom,” she told Ms. magazine in 2003, waxing grandiose about “the social work aspect of librarianship.” The Nation recently called her a “radical librarian.” The Library of Congress should not be a place for ideological agenda-pushing.

‐ Kamala Harris, the California attorney general running for a Senate seat, attempted to do with her office what Lois Lerner did with the IRS: weaponize it for politics. In this case, that meant changing California practice with regard to nonprofits, demanding that they hand over IRS documents identifying contributors. The IRS itself has a history of abusing these documents — it was obliged to pay the National Organization for Marriage a settlement after illegally leaking donor information for political purposes — and there is no reason to believe that Kamala Harris would behave any more responsibly, especially given that her demand for the documentation is nakedly political in the first place. Democrats at the IRS used selective investigation of conservative groups to harass them before the 2012 election, and used illegal leaks to enable campaigns of retribution and intimidation against conservative donors; Democrats in prosecutors’ offices around the country routinely misuse their powers in political crusades (the Texas cases alone — Tom DeLay, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Rick Perry — are enough to give pause to all but the most reflexive liberal partisans); and Harris is an active part of a multi-jurisdiction conspiracy (she is joined by the AGs of New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands, among others) to use prosecutorial powers against critics of the global-warming policies favored by Democrats. This is undiluted, unapologetic political persecution and abuse of police powers. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, one of the conservative groups Harris targeted, sued and has, for the moment, prevailed in federal court. But the fight is far from over.

‐ Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe (D.) has signed an executive action returning the franchise to more than 200,000 convicted felons, on the grounds that disfranchisement “disproportionately affects racial minorities and economically disadvantaged Virginians” and that “all individuals who have served the terms of their incarceration and any periods of supervised release deserve to re-enter society on fair and just terms.” Neither rationale is compelling. The former contention ignores the question of discriminatory intent, which the Supreme Court rightly says must be proved to make a disfranchisement provision unconstitutional. And as for the latter, federal and state laws place a long roster of “civil disabilities” on felons who have completed their terms, including prohibitions against owning a firearm. Why, by McAuliffe’s logic, should the privilege of voting be restored, but the constitutional right to keep a firearm not be? Under the Virginia constitution, the governor can restore certain civil rights on a case-by-case basis: a power that recognizes that some felons genuinely turn over a new leaf. But McAuliffe has obliterated that individualized process under the dubious legal rationale that the constitution gives him the power to grant the vote to felons as a class, a claim with which the last two governors of the state — one a Republican, one a Democrat — disagreed. Restoring voting and other civil rights can be an element in helping criminals who have served their time and who have changed their ways to reenter society. But those rights should not be granted lightly. In his zeal for justice — if that is what this is — McAuliffe has circumvented the law and subverted good governance. That’s an injustice to the rest of Virginia’s voters.

‐ Bill de Blasio gave the teachers’ union the keys to his educational policy, he enraged the police by siding with black protesters, and he picked fights with the governor, a member of his own party, for not being left-wing enough. All par for the course in the world of Gotham liberalism. Is the mayor also a crook? Two aides (Emma Wolfe and Ross Offinger) and one polling firm founded by an adviser (Jonathan Rosen) have been subpoenaed as part of an investigation into straw donations to upstate Democratic-party organizations, intended to bypass spending limits on campaigns for the state senate (where Republicans hold a working majority). The violations, said a spokesman for the state’s Board of Elections, “can only be described as willful and flagrant.” New York City had a two-party system under mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, though those days are done. De Blasio’s replacement will likely be another left-wing nullity, hopefully honest, though don’t count on it.

The CBO’s Clouded Crystal Ball

As the 2016 presidential-election cycle kicks into gear, economic-policy discussion has been virtually off the table. Yet whoever wins will inherit a stagnant economy and a policy trajectory that changes course with the suddenness of the Queen Mary. One can be sure that our next president will try to do something to improve economic growth, and that at a crucial moment, the proposed legislation’s passage will hang by a thin thread spun by the Congressional Budget Office. A smile from the CBO and policy will be easier to change. A frown from the CBO could prove deadly.

And when the next president leaves office, we will look back on that period’s policy and economy and wonder what effect the president truly had. In that process, too, the CBO will play an outsized role. It offers forecasts of taxes, spending, and deficits before the new president does anything and then revisits its analysis of the president’s policies when she or he leaves office. The history of how key variables unfolded relative to the CBO’s expectations of them, then, offers a perspective on the marginal impact of each president.

The next president’s agenda will depend most crucially on the deficit estimates, so let’s look at those. The chart shows how federal budget deficits unfolded relative to the CBO forecasts generated when a president took office. For each, we use the January CBO forecast in the inaugural year. The dotted lines are the CBO forecasts; the solid lines, the actual experience. For the first part of the sample, the starting forecast windows were five years, but by the end, they were ten.

The chart shows that the CBO has tended to be too optimistic. As one can see, the deficit exceeded the CBO forecast for every modern president besides Bill Clinton, who was committed to the deficit-hawk policies prescribed by Robert Rubin and benefited from the dot-com boom.

In the case of George H. W. Bush, it would be difficult for any deficit-reducing policies to overshadow in the public mind the famous “Read my lips: No new taxes” pledge that he violated. To his credit, however, he also attempted to restore a measure of responsibility to federal spending. But, as Arthur Laffer predicted, the deficit increased relative to expectation after the tax hike.

George W. Bush started with a surplus stretching as far as the eye could see but squandered much of it on “compassionate” tax cuts, such as the child credit, that have little impact on economic growth. Meanwhile, the bursting of the dot-com bubble and 9/11 dampened economic activity early on, and the financial crisis blew the lid off the deficit stew by the end. All told, the deficit was about 15 percent of GDP higher than expected when he left office.

In the early Obama years, deficits continued to swell far more than the CBO had forecast. As with Clinton before him, however, Obama’s fiscal policies moved in a responsible direction once Republicans controlled Congress.

Perhaps the biggest lesson in the chart is how awe-inspiring the scale of the misses can be. Sometimes it’s because of policy changes, sometimes it’s because the economy changes, and sometimes it’s because both things happen. The next president will inherit a deficit path that is fairly favorable. Whether it stays that way is anyone’s guess. If history is any guide, however, you would do well to be skeptical of even the informed guess of the CBO.

‐ The British Labour party has presented its Marxoid leader Jeremy Corbyn with an explosive issue. The chairman of its Oxford branch resigned because his members had views about Jews that he found racist. Naseem Shah, Labour M.P. for a constituency in Bradford, a city with a large Muslim population, wrote that Israelis should all be transported to the United States in a “solution” that gives the land to Palestinians. She apologized before the House of Commons. Ken Livingstone, a Labour grandee even more hard-line than Corbyn, said there was no need to apologize, Zionists were in the wrong, and Hitler himself had been a Zionist “before he went mad.” On the grounds of anti-Semitism, the Labour party has suspended the repentant Naseem Shah, the infuriated Livingstone, three local councilors who are all Muslims, and about 50 members. An apparently unfazed Corbyn says that the number who have misspoken is small, and he celebrated May Day alongside Communists bearing portraits of their hero Stalin — who was also no friend of the Jews.

‐ When Venezuela’s caudillo, Hugo Chávez, died in 2013, his successor, Nicolás Maduro, vowed to continue Chávez’s policies. Unfortunately, this is a promise that he has kept. Since Maduro took office, Venezuela has passed rapidly through the stages of imploding socialism: price controls, unemployment, riots, violent repression, hyperinflation, blaming the U.S., and, finally, a spate of stories in the yanqui media about stores’ running out of toilet paper. Venezuela’s government is now so poor that it doesn’t have enough money to pay for printing as much money as it wants. The billions in banknotes it can print should all have Chávez’s face on them. It would remind long-suffering Venezuelans who is responsible for their current mess, and if continuing hyperinflation renders the currency even more worthless, they will get a grim satisfaction from repurposing the bills to replace what the stores can’t supply.

‐ This time, Alexander Hamilton dodged the bullet. The Treasury Department has decided that its first secretary, currently experiencing a historical renascence, will remain on the front of the $10 bill, while Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. Tubman is an admirable choice. Not only was she a courageous chaperone along the Underground Railroad, responsible for escorting more than 300 slaves to freedom; she was also a scout and spy for the Union Army, the first woman in American history to lead a military raid (against Combahee Ferry, in South Carolina, where she helped liberate more than 700 slaves), a Republican, a devout Christian, and a staunch defender of the right to bear arms. Still, this contretemps over the countenances on our currency highlights the way in which the histories of particular groups and interests are now often preferred to a larger, unifying American history, and it’s hard to see how future administrations will be able to resist the temptation to further turn our money into a Who’s Who of Americans from designated interest groups. The administration’s other proposed changes, which will accompany the Tubman redesign — refashioning the back of the $10 bill to highlight portraits of leaders of the women’s-suffrage movement, and the back of the $5 bill to include images of Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and opera singer–cum–civil-rights activist Marian Anderson — are exactly this sort of overindulgence. The currency of political symbolism rapidly devalues.

‐ “We see this trend of political intolerance across the country . . . even on college campuses, where students and faculty have attempted to censor political opponents,” said Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, in his commencement address at the University of Michigan on April 30. Then he mentioned the case of one student whose travails were described in this space in 2014. “I know that one of today’s graduates, Omar Mahmood, has faced threats and intimidation because he dared to write political satire about being left-handed.” Mahmood’s satire appeared in the pages of the Michigan Review, a conservative student newspaper, and it cost him his job at the Michigan Daily, where he wrote a column. “He refused to apologize for it,” continued Bloomberg. “Omar, wherever you are out there, I’m glad you stood your ground.” And we’re glad that Bloomberg stood up for him, in such a high-profile forum. If only more professors and administrators would do the same.

‐ Melissa Click, the scholar of Lady Gaga studies dismissed from her professorship in the University of Missouri’s department of communication for assaulting a student journalist, has a new complaint: Her actions during the Black Lives Matter protests got her fired because she’s white. “I’m a white lady,” she said. “That makes me an easy target.” She is white, to be sure, but a lady? She physically struck a student journalist attempting to commit an act of journalism on campus and then called for “some muscle” to eject the student from the scene of the protest. She also attempted to use her position as a professor to intimidate the student journalist and keep him from doing his job — while also enjoying the benefits of an appointment in the Mizzou journalism department, no less. Ladies and gentlemen do not behave that way. And though it takes a great deal to rouse a university administration against a misbehaving professor, assaulting a student (Click was obliged to reach a non-prosecution agreement with police) is enough, apparently, for the University of Missouri.

‐ Yale University has decided to keep one of its residential colleges named after John C. Calhoun (class of 1804). The name, bestowed in the 1930s, commemorates a titan of the Senate and passionate political theorist. Unfortunately Calhoun’s theories laid the groundwork for secession and upheld slavery as a positive good. The best argument against retiring his name is that it would whitewash history. But names are also honors: Should New Haven, Conn., put up a statue to local merchant Benedict Arnold? Yale also decided no longer to call the heads of its colleges “master,” on the grounds that it sounds like a plantation title. This is ahistorical — masters ran colleges at Oxford and Cambridge in the Middle Ages, when all serfs were white. Finally, Yale stole a base, naming a new residential college after Benjamin Franklin, on the grounds that it gave him an honorary degree in 1753. Really now — leave Ben to Penn (which he founded), or better yet, the College of Life (where he studied). Curriculum: experience. Degrees offered: success, wisdom. Can Yale brush up on the last?

‐ Curt Schilling has a famously big and colorful mouth, which is why ESPN hired the former major-league pitcher and World Series champ as an analyst for its baseball programming. Now ESPN has fired Schilling for his famously big and colorful mouth. Schilling had shared on his Facebook page a crude meme that commented on the recent transgender-bathroom imbroglio and added: “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.” ESPN, a basic-cable sports channel with pretensions of grandeur, declared itself “an inclusive company” and announced that “Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.” ESPN is a private company: It can associate with and employ whomever it wants. But it should drop the fiction that it’s “inclusive” of anyone who disagrees with the politically correct company line.

‐ Meghann Foye, a New York magazine editor who “got to work on big stories, attend cool events, and meet famous celebs all the time,” nonetheless felt unfulfilled and directionless after she hit 30, and envied her peers who could take maternity leave. So she came up with the idea of “meternity leave” — a mid-career period of rest, growth, and reflection for professionals who are childless and thus have the time to feel alienated. Meternity leave is just like maternity leave, except that in one of them you cater to the whims of a self-centered, needy tyrant who spends lots of time sleeping and crying, while in the other you look after a baby. Today we laugh, and tomorrow a mandate for it will be in the Democratic platform.

‐ At the University of North Georgia in April, a student group dedicated to promoting “secular tolerance and skeptical thought” held a pro-abortion event. They had a table featuring cookies shaped like babies. Some of the baby-cookies had their heads or limbs torn off and were displayed around sheets of paper on which students were invited to complete the sentence: “Abortion should remain legal because . . .” One student wrote, “a woman controls her own body.” Another, “my vagina is too pretty to let a fetus crawl out.” Some pro-life students took photos of the display, which were posted online to widespread shock and disgust. The secular-tolerance group issued a defensive statement: “We determined the fetus shaped cookies used in the event to be the least graphic way to display a divisive topic.” They may be callous, but at least they’re candid.

‐ California’s state legislature has voted against designating May 26 “John Wayne Day” after some in the state general assembly objected to remarks the actor made in a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine. Wayne’s remarks — that he believed in a policy of “white supremacy” until such a point as African Americans were educated to the point of civic responsibility — were indeed ugly. (And, we should note, not wildly dissimilar from opinions expressed in these pages in the 1950s.) Setting aside the question of why we should designate a day to honor an actor who played American heroes (and Genghis Khan) in the movies rather than, say, one of the heroes he played, we question the value of looking for unpretty sentiments and outdated language in interviews given decades ago. But if we’re going to engage in this business, then the attitudes of the current secretary of state toward, say, Daniel Ortega, or those of any number of active political figures toward Hugo Chávez, are of much greater public importance than those of a long-dead movie star. Whatever his defects, John Wayne was a picture of enlightenment compared with Robert Byrd or William Fulbright, who were actors in public affairs rather than in the movies. One supporter of the Wayne holiday complained that opposition was like “opposing apple pie, fireworks, baseball, the free-enterprise system, and the Fourth of July.” We wonder whether he has met his Democratic colleagues.

‐ Prince Rogers Nelson, better known by his first name, as an unpronounceable doodle, as an artist formerly known by his first name, and finally again by his first name, had many qualities that were admirable or that at least showed cultivated talent and independence of mind. A workaholic, he was never without a new album. He wrote his own songs and reportedly played nearly all the instruments on his recordings (onstage he had to share the work and the limelight). He was loyal to his hometown, Minneapolis, and though reports of his Republicanism seem to be exaggerated, he had flashes of demureness (no cursing) grounded in his faith (raised Seventh-day Adventist, converted to Jehovah’s Witness). Some even see in his absorption with eros a defiance of both casual pick-up culture and identity pigeonholing. But why oh why was he, like so many rock musicians, apparently crazy? Celebrities must think they have everything, including constant adulation, when they are in fact some of the loneliest people on earth. Dead at 57. R.I.P.

‐ Harry Wu was a symbol of the struggle against Chinese tyranny and for Chinese democracy. But, more than a symbol, he was a man. He was born in 1937. He was arrested in 1960, when he was 23. His mother then killed herself. Wu spent 19 years in laogai, “reform through labor,” the Chinese gulag. He was subjected to the usual abuses but survived. He came to the United States to dedicate the rest of his life to spreading the truth about the Chinese Communist Party and its crimes. He thought the word laogai should be as well known as “Gulag” (which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did much to make known). He established the Laogai Museum in Washington, D.C. He wrote for National Review, and his longtime administrator, Ann Noonan, is a sister of our publisher, Jack Fowler. Harry Wu suffered terribly and then did all he could to see that others did not have to. What a heroic life. Dead at 79. R.I.P.

‐ “Modernism in the streets,” Lionel Trilling called it. Student anarchists ran amok in New York and Paris. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April; Robert F. Kennedy in June. In the spirit of the season, spring 1968, Daniel Berrigan joined eight other Catholic activists in raiding a Selective Service office in Maryland. They burned draft records in the parking lot, posing for a UPI photographer. Berrigan became famous overnight. A Jesuit priest and a pacifist, he often trespassed and vandalized to dramatize his cause over the next three decades, and he spent time in prisons. He applied similar tactics on the matter of abortion, which he condemned. In 1991, he was arrested for blocking the entrance to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Rochester, N.Y. In sum, he broke things, including the law, to promote his broad view of the sanctity of human life. In midlife he taught at several universities. A prolific author and award-winning poet who off the page as well as on it expressed his bold vision with panache, Father Berrigan was by turns thoughtful and rash, filled with the virtue of courage but not that of prudence. Dead at 94. Requiescat in pace.

‐ Before TV commercials sounded like nursing-home residents discussing their symptoms, before they became minute-long suspense playlets to keep you from clicking away, before they were the subject of academic papers and TV shows of their own, commercials were commercial. Insomniacs in dark, silent houses let their minds wander from a 17th viewing of the Honeymooners golf episode to think deep thoughts, such as: “You know, I really ought to try that Veg-O-Matic. I could make my own French fries and save enough to buy a new TV set.” No one understood late-night selling better than Phil Kives, founder of K-Tel. A rapid-fire series of miraculous demonstrations made the Miracle Brush or Pocket Fisherman seem criminally underpriced at $4.99, even before the inevitable “But wait, there’s more!” and the closing “Order before midnight tonight!” (an injunction that left most potential purchasers with about 23 hours to decide). Later he branched out into pop-music greatest-hits collections: “Souled Out! — 20 original hits by 20 original stars — available on LP, cassette, and 8-track tape!” Kives, a Canadian, outlived all those technologies and almost did the same with broadcast television; for his achievements in horse racing he was enshrined in the highly exclusive Manitoba Jewish Athletes Wall of Honour. Dead at 87. R.I.P.


Trump, Alack

For months, Donald Trump has complained that he should not have to win a majority of delegates to the Republican convention to be the party’s nominee. We were among those who insisted to the contrary — that he had to win a majority and otherwise abide by the procedures the party had set forth in advance of the nomination contest. Now that he has won the Indiana primary and Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich have dropped out of the race, he is guaranteed to do that: to win fair and square, without the threat of violence in Cleveland that he had previously and shamefully raised.

His victory demonstrated some real strengths that it would be foolish to deny. His mastery of the media was one, and we do not make that observation backhandedly: Would that a conservative of good character had displayed such an ability to use the networks to convey his messages. Trump had a better sense of where Republican voters are on immigration than most of the other candidates (even if he has taken no interest in the crucial details). His campaign has also shown boldness and imagination. Who else would have tried to win while spending almost no money? Who else would have ignored the strategists and consultants and just winged it, day after day, and successfully too?

There ends our praise. We regret that Trump will be the Republican nominee and think Senator Cruz, our preferred candidate, would have been vastly better. Trump has done little to demonstrate any commitment to, or even understanding of, conservative principles; his instinct seems to be to use government power to silence his critics; he has no experience in government, a lack that we persist in seeing as a bad thing; his ethical record is disturbing; he will simply make things up when it suits his purposes; he traffics in conspiracy theories about everything from Iraq to the JFK assassination; he exhibits little self-control. We assume that in coming days we will hear even more discussion than previously of a new, more “presidential” Trump in the offing. We’ll believe it when we see it sustained.

Trump has won more primary votes than any nominee before him; but it is also true that no nominee has seen more primary votes cast for his opponents. He eked out a bare majority in Indiana at a time when past nominees were winning supermajorities. Any other nominee in this weak position would now turn to unifying his party. But Trump has in recent days said that he can win without doing that. If he finds a way to win the general election without nearly uniform support from Republicans, he will again have broken the mold of modern politics. He enters the race as an underdog against Hillary Clinton, who is, thanks entirely to him and notwithstanding her own primary defeat in the state, the other great victor in Indiana.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Politics & Policy


THE SS NORMANDIE Confiscated from Vichy France, she sat In the Hudson for months until the fire. The smoke was so thick over midtown, rumors Spread the Japanese had attacked New York. The old transatlantic ...
Politics & Policy


The Apartment of Labor Scott Lincicome’s comprehensive and illuminating article “The Truth about Trade” (April 11) describes several government policies that have acted to exacerbate current labor-market inefficiencies. One could speculate ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ As Abraham Lincoln said, “You’re fired.” ‐ Protesters, many of them riotous, dogged Donald Trump in southern California. In Costa Mesa, they blocked an interstate, threw debris at passing cars, ...

Most Popular


The Highest-Stakes Moment Brings the Worst Debate

Tonight’s debate would have been only marginally less incoherent, noisy, and grating to the ears if CBS had broadcast two hours of static. The last debate before the South Carolina primary featured so much shouting, you would think that the candidates had just been told their microphones weren’t working. ... Read More

The Highest-Stakes Moment Brings the Worst Debate

Tonight’s debate would have been only marginally less incoherent, noisy, and grating to the ears if CBS had broadcast two hours of static. The last debate before the South Carolina primary featured so much shouting, you would think that the candidates had just been told their microphones weren’t working. ... Read More

‘Undiagnosed Sociopath’

As we abandon moral language for clinical language, we run into technical difficulties. Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman describes the 2020 presidential election as one that may be a contest between “a self-proclaimed socialist and an undiagnosed sociopath.” There is no such thing as an ... Read More

‘Undiagnosed Sociopath’

As we abandon moral language for clinical language, we run into technical difficulties. Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman describes the 2020 presidential election as one that may be a contest between “a self-proclaimed socialist and an undiagnosed sociopath.” There is no such thing as an ... Read More

Bernie Sanders Hates America

Bernie Sanders, the socialist from Vermont from Brooklyn, has stepped in it and stepped in deep with his praise of Fidel Castro’s brutal dictatorship in Cuba and its fictitious advances in, among other things, literacy. Republicans must be looking forward to watching him defend that in Florida in front of ... Read More

Bernie Sanders Hates America

Bernie Sanders, the socialist from Vermont from Brooklyn, has stepped in it and stepped in deep with his praise of Fidel Castro’s brutal dictatorship in Cuba and its fictitious advances in, among other things, literacy. Republicans must be looking forward to watching him defend that in Florida in front of ... Read More