‐ Maybe the Democrats should just go back to using fax machines.
‐ A lot of Republicans got very mad at Ted Cruz for pointedly declining to endorse Donald Trump at the Republican convention. There were three lines of criticism. 1) He was a “jerk,” says Peggy Noonan, who argues that you don’t go to a party and punch the host. But it’s not as though Cruz insulted Trump: He merely said people should vote their consciences. If Trump supporters consider that an insult, they should reconsider their consciences. Moreover, Trump had not insisted on an endorsement before letting him speak, so Cruz was coming to the “party” on terms they had agreed to. Trump’s people, however, orchestrated booing to the point that Cruz’s wife had to be escorted to safety. Perhaps Noonan can comment on whether these are acceptable manners in a party host. 2) He was condemned for breaking his pledge to support the nominee. It was a foolish pledge and he should not have made it, but it also disintegrated once Trump announced, in the primaries, that he would not abide by his own pledge to do the same. 3) He was attacked for helping Hillary Clinton win. His former supporter Kellyanne Conway, a pollster now working for Trump, told the New York Times that Cruz is not a patriot. But no candidate is entitled to any voter’s support; it’s up to the candidate to earn it. Agree or disagree with Cruz’s decision not to endorse, he is justified in having doubts about Trump’s fitness for office. Watching Trump react by repeating his demented attacks on Cruz’s father cannot have allayed them.
‐ Some Republican delegates to the convention — many of them Trump opponents, but also supporters who wanted more grassroots input into party decisions — sought to change the convention rules. An alliance of the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee quashed them, denying them even a roll-call vote. That alliance ignored anyone who said “No!” in voice votes, tried to keep delegates from being able to hand forms to the relevant officials, and refused to disclose which state delegations had petitioned for a roll-call vote. Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), speaking for the petitioning delegates, was a model of calm under pressure. He would probably have lost the vote if it had been held; the RNC and Trump could have shown political strength that way. But they appear to define strength more crudely than that.
‐ Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort picked an odd way to start the Republican convention: attacking the popular Republican governor of the state hosting the convention, John Kasich, and drawing attention to Kasich’s refusal to endorse Trump. With his typical grace and grammar, Trump himself weighed in: “If I were him and gotten beaten that badly I probably wouldn’t show up either.” Trump almost certainly has to win Ohio to win the election, and Kasich could do him a lot of good by lending him his support and his organization. But Trump just can’t bring himself to make it easy for Kasich to come around.
‐ Donald Trump, in an interview with the New York Times, discussed the future of NATO. Its brief future? Trump was asked whether NATO states, “including the new members in the Baltics, [could] count on the United States to come to their military aid if they were attacked by Russia.” “Have they fulfilled their obligations to us?” Trump answered. “If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.” Trump supporter Newt Gingrich, in an interview with CBS, observed dismissively that Estonia was “the suburbs of St. Petersburg.” Many NATO members fall short of their military-spending requirements (Estonia, as it happens, pays up — and steps up, suffering battle deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan). NATO spending is a matter of internal housekeeping. The loose talk of Trump and his sidekicks has devalued the guarantee that has kept the peace in Europe for 67 years. Call it “Speak loudly, and carry a tiny stick.”
‐ Trump’s New York Times interview also touched on the failed military coup in Turkey and President Erdogan’s crackdown (at the time of the interview, 50,000 Turks had been jailed). “I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems. . . . We have tremendous problems when you have policemen being shot in the streets, when you have riots, when you have Ferguson [and] Baltimore.” We are as bad as everyone else, so we should just shut up; Howard Zinn couldn’t have said it better. But for Trump to believe that his America is like Erdogan’s Turkey, he must not only accept the Left’s narrative that cops deliberately kill blacks, he must also think that the government somehow kills its own cops. He blames America first, and he blames it dumbly.
‐ Hillary Clinton was asked in a 60 Minutes interview to explain why people see her as corrupt. “I often feel,” she responded, “like there’s the Hillary standard and then there’s the standard for everybody else.” Incredibly, she believes this double standard is working to her detriment: She is the victim of “unfounded, inaccurate, mean-spirited attacks with no basis in truth.” One suspects that everybody else — at least everybody guilty of criminal misconduct — would prefer to be held to the Hillary standard.
‐ Virginia Democratic senator Tim Kaine is affable and smart, liked by many Republicans. He was a liberal by the standards of Virginia in 2005, when he won the governor’s race. As Virginia has gotten bluer, he has gotten even more liberal. Now Hillary Clinton has picked him to be her running mate, necessitating some additional moves to the left. He has already discovered troubling provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, just as Clinton has. Kaine, who says he is personally opposed to abortion, has reportedly dropped his opposition to taxpayer subsidies for it. Reporters will continue to insert the phrase “devout Catholic” into every story on him.
‐ Any schadenfreude derived from watching the Democratic party squirm after hacked e-mails revealed it to be just as pro-Clinton as Bernie Sanders supporters believed should be tempered by a disturbing reality: A foreign power appears to be meddling in an American presidential campaign. The best available evidence indicates that Russians penetrated Democratic computers, and that the Putin regime worked with WikiLeaks to do maximum damage to Hillary Clinton. This is an ominous development, one demonstrating that Russia is ready, willing, and — critically — able to use its intelligence assets to disrupt American politics. If there is one silver lining in this dark cloud, it’s that the Russian hack has finally awakened Democrats to the reality of the Russian threat. Mitt Romney was right to say that Russia is a geopolitical rival of our nation. And now Democrats might finally agree.
‐ Once again. On July 17, Gavin Eugene Long, an ex-Marine–turned–black nationalist, shot six policemen in Baton Rouge in retaliation for the shooting death, earlier in the month, of Alton Sterling. Three cops — Brad Garafola, Matthew Gerald, and Montrell Jackson — died; the murderer was shot at the scene. Officer Jackson, nine days before he was killed, posted this message on Facebook: “I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat. I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core. . . . These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better.” Echoing him, President Obama said, after the crime, “We must temper our words and open our hearts — all of us.” Yes.
‐ John Kerry traveled to Vienna to rally his negotiators. They were working on an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 treaty designed to protect the ozone layer. The amendment would phase out hydrofluorocarbons, which are mainly used as refrigerants (in your AC, for example). Secretary Kerry said, “Yesterday, I met in Washington with 45 nations — defense ministers and foreign ministers — as we were working together on the challenge of Daesh, ISIL, and terrorism. It’s hard for some people to grasp it, but what we, you, are doing here right now is of equal importance, because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.” It comes as some relief to know that this administration is working on terrorism, as well as refrigerants.
‐ A media era ended when Roger Ailes resigned from Fox News. A former Mike Douglas Show producer and Nixon aide, Ailes was a TV pioneer, and Fox is his crowning achievement. He built the network from scratch into a juggernaut that changed the media and the political landscape. As Charles Krauthammer quips, Ailes identified a market niche that was half of America. A sexual-harassment suit by a former anchor, Gretchen Carlson, precipitated his fall when it unleashed a flurry of allegations from other women that pointed to a corporate culture worthy of the worst of Mad Men. Rupert Murdoch has taken the helm as he searches for a successor. We wish Fox continued success and best of luck in the transition to a new chapter.
‐ “Alt-right” provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was “permanently suspended” from Twitter in June, after he was accused of inciting a “hate mob” to attack the actress Leslie Jones. There is no doubt that Yiannopoulos routinely crosses the line of decency on social media; that he violated Twitter’s terms and conditions; or that, as a private company, Twitter can suspend whomever it chooses. But there is nonetheless something a little disturbing about the development. As anybody who has ventured onto social media can attest, services such as Twitter are packed full of smut, profanity, and abuse — most of which, alas, is left happily in place. On the face of it, one can understand the company’s desire to clear the medium up. But there have been few other public suspensions, and the vast array of hate-spewing accounts that ruin the service for everybody continue to operate.
‐ The Democrats are fighting a two-front war against free speech: In the states, Democratic attorneys general are launching investigations of global-warming skeptics; in the U.S. Capitol, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) is leading a political jihad against them, with vitriolic public denunciations of private citizens and firms from the Senate floor. Their crime? They “funded think tanks,” “paid public-relations firms,” and “developed and executed a massive campaign” to spread their views — i.e., they engaged in politics the Democrats oppose. The main targets here are Exxon and its money, and the Koch brothers and their activism. One of the biggest cheers at the DNC came in response to Senator Bernie Sanders’s call to overturn Citizens United, in which the Supreme Court affirmed that the First Amendment forbids the government to censor a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton, then as now a presidential candidate. This is a full-court press to criminalize political dissent, beginning with climate change and energy policy. Global warming presents complex questions, not only scientific but also economic and political. Let’s say, arguendo, that the climate alarmists are correct, that the evidence is incontrovertible and that the necessary policy responses are obvious: How unpopular does a dissenting political opinion have to be before it’s illegal to express it? Exxon has for the most part taken the conventional line on the scientific questions but takes policy views different from those of Democrats — according to Whitehouse et al., this isn’t debate, but fraud. There’s fraud here, all right, but it isn’t Exxon’s doing.
‐ The Harris County (Texas) district attorney’s office dismissed all charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress, both of whom were indicted after their undercover videos suggested that Planned Parenthood was involved in illegal fetal-tissue trafficking. In January of this year, the grand jury tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood as a result of the videos instead decided to indict the two investigators themselves, charging them with second-degree felonies for tampering with governmental records in order to make fake identity cards. Daleiden also faced a misdemeanor charge for allegedly attempting to purchase human organs. Since the videos emerged last July, one of Planned Parenthood’s primary defenses has been to accuse the investigators of illegal activity, saying their undercover actions rendered the evidence inadmissible. Now that the charges have been dropped, this attempted defense seems to have been invalidated — and the prosecution looks like a failed attempt to criminalize journalism of which the DA disapproves.
‐ Speaking of politically motivated prosecutions, Maryland prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against three Baltimore police officers relating to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American who died after suffering a severe spinal injury in a police van following his arrest. State’s attorney Marilyn Mosby — who began her prosecution by declaring that she would give voice to rioters’ ultimatum of “no justice, no peace” — has now failed to win a conviction against any of the six policemen charged (three officers had already been acquitted at trial). Gray’s death was a tragic accident, not a prosecutable homicide. Officers acted reasonably in arresting Gray, and the medical examiner concluded that he would not have been injured if he had remained where he was placed — prone on the floor. While there may be need of reform at the Baltimore Police Department, these charges should never have been filed. That they were suggests that Mosby was playing to the mob rather than following the evidence.
‐ The National Basketball Association announced in late July that it will pull the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C., over the state’s House Bill 2, which establishes a statewide bathroom policy with regard to transgender individuals’ use of government facilities. North Carolina stands to lose an estimated $100 million in economic benefits from the game’s relocation. A U.S. representative from the state, Robert Pittenger, wrote a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, noting that, while the Chinese government perpetrates forced abortions and forced organ harvesting, the NBA continues to schedule pre-season games in China. Pittenger wrote, “Is the NBA implying China’s abhorrent violation of basic human rights is acceptable, but North Carolina’s saying men shouldn’t use the girls’ locker room is a bridge too far?”
‐ An appeals court has ruled that Navy submarines may not use a sonar-based surveillance system whose low frequencies are also used by whales, because the sonar can leave the whales disoriented, sometimes even causing their death. The decision is not quite as sweeping as it may sound; it applies to only one particular type of sonar, whose use was already restricted, and the court’s decision turned on the distinction between “negligible impact” and “least practicable adverse impact.” So perhaps it’s worth handing a new technical challenge to our Navy, however underfunded it may be, in order to save these magnificent sea mammals. On the other hand, every year millions of birds and bats are chopped to bits by wind turbines or fried by solar-power plants, and the carnage is taken in stride. What is written off as collateral damage when incurred in pursuit of expensive, erratic “green” energy becomes unacceptable, it seems, when it helps our armed forces defend America.
‐ The Obama administration released 28 pages from a congressional investigation into the 9/11 attacks, suppressed for 14 years despite objections from committee members. As predicted, they strongly suggest Saudi-government support for al-Qaeda and its suicide hijackers, 15 (out of 19) of whom were Saudis. Jarringly, suspicion centers on Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to the United States. He and his wife, Princess Haifa, made payments to Osama Bassnan, an operative of a California-based Saudi intelligence network that facilitated the jihadists who plowed Flight 77 into the Pentagon. When apprehended in Pakistan in 2002, key al-Qaeda financier Abu Zubaida was carrying phone numbers for Bandar’s embassy bodyguard and the company that managed Bandar’s Aspen chalet. Meanwhile, a Saudi interior-ministry official just happens to have stayed in the same Dulles-area hotel as the Flight 77 hijackers the night before the attack. The FBI’s investigation into Saudi complicity was thwarted when the Bush administration permitted well-connected Saudis (including bin Laden family members) to be whisked out of the United States immediately after the attack. Now we know at least a little more of the disturbing truth.
‐ At the finale of a Bastille Day fireworks display, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian, drove a 19-ton truck down the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, killing 84 people. Among the murdered were children, three Americans, and an estimated 30 Muslims. The killer, who was finally shot at the scene, was a mental case who beat his estranged wife and led a double life as a salsa-dancing gigolo. But for displaced or distressed Muslims, terrorism holds out blood as the final solution. ISIS hailed him online as a “soldier of the Islamic State.” Five suspected collaborators — three Tunisians and two Albanians — have been arrested: the lone-wolf pack. France must step up roadblocks and other forms of security at its public celebrations. But the strongest measure to repel the menace must be the destruction, and humiliation, of ISIS in its homeland.
‐ Father Jacques Hamel was celebrating Mass on a Tuesday morning in a suburb of Rouen, France, when two men armed with knives burst in. They shouted in Arabic, forced the 85-year-old priest to his knees, and filmed themselves slitting his throat. They held three nuns and two parishioners hostage, critically injuring one, before being shot dead by police. ISIS claimed them as “soldiers” who had responded to the call to “target Crusader coalition states.” One of them was Adel Kermiche, a 19-year-old jihadist known to French authorities, who had been placed under a lenient form of house arrest after making multiple attempts to join ISIS in Syria. In the end, he carried out his mission closer to home. Father Hamel, unlike his killers, died a martyr’s death.
‐ In the aftermath of the military coup that failed to oust Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, many Turks are afraid that his vengeance will remake the country in his authoritarian and Islamist image. Changing the constitution in his own favor, he has already transformed parliamentary democracy into rule by himself as president — a classic power grab. Declaring a state of emergency, he is, in his words, “cleansing all state institutions.” The purge is on an almost Maoist scale: Among the 58,000 arrested and detained without trial are 12,745 judges, 21,000 private-school teachers, 118 generals and admirals, about a thousand policemen, and 7,500 soldiers. Some of these men have evidently been beaten in custody. Erdogan is accusing Fethullah Gulen — a colleague-turned-rival who is now in exile in Pennsylvania — of organizing a conspiracy in which aircraft bombed his palace and he escaped with his life by a matter of minutes. Many people throughout the Middle East believe that Erdogan himself conspired to arrange the events that have played so conclusively into his hands — and in Turkey especially, conspiracy theories are sometimes true.
‐ Another shocking revelation marked the one-year anniversary of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced a previously undisclosed side deal that enables Iran to replace dismantled centrifuges after only ten years. Mind you, the deal does not require Iran to dismantle all its centrifuges (over 5,000 are currently operating). But Obama has been insisting that the deal will prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons for 15 years — which is itself a betrayal of his prior commitment to prevent an Iranian bomb, period. Quite apart from the fact that the deal allows the mullahs, in the interim, to continue research work and develop an industrial-size “civilian” nuclear program, the replacement centrifuges covered by the side deal will be five to ten times more efficient than Iran’s current stock — dramatically reducing the “breakout time” required for Iran to build an atomic bomb. In essence, the side deal means that even without violating the agreement’s terms, Iran could be a nuclear power in nine years. Meanwhile, the regime continues to violate the agreement by purchasing nuclear material on the market even as it tests ballistic missiles and abets terrorism. How much more aid and comfort does the administration intend to give this enemy?
‐ The Obama administration established diplomatic relations with the Castro dictatorship one year ago. On the anniversary, the Miami Herald ran a headline saying, “Cuba’s human rights abuses worse despite U.S. ties.” Despite, or because of? Well before the anniversary, Berta Soler, the leader of Cuba’s Ladies in White, noted that Obama had made a promise concerning normalization: It would empower civil society. He made this promise to Soler, among others, personally. “But we are seeing,” said Soler, “that what he has done is give a green light to the Cuban government to crush civil society.” If the president regrets this consequence of his policy or is even paying attention, he has yet to say so.
‐ Only a few ministers of foreign affairs and their international lawyers will know about the Paracel and Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal, mostly uninhabited outcrops of rock in the South China Sea. Yet they have the potential to set off a nasty war. Possession is not settled, and rival claims clash. Mainland China, 500 miles away, has been building a militarized presence out there. The Philippines, 100 miles away, brought its objection to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which under United Nations auspices is supreme on issues such as this. This court’s recent ruling against Chinese territorial claims raised the temperature. At a meeting of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Philippines wanted to include this ruling in an official statement. Secretary of State John Kerry supported this position at bilateral meetings with other ASEAN representatives. Under pressure, the Philippines withdrew, China got its way, and the United States has another helping of crow to swallow.
‐ The International Olympic Committee (IOC) punted when asked whether Russian athletes should be allowed to compete in the upcoming Rio Olympics. It recently came out that the Russian state and its intelligence services had colluded with their athletes to engage in a massive doping program during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Agents fed athletes a cocktail of steroids and liquor throughout the games; spies then skulked into the laboratories that contained drug-test urine samples and swapped the contaminated samples with clean ones. Current IOC president Thomas Bach said just last year that the organization has “zero tolerance” when it comes to “doping and any kind of manipulation and corruption.” But that was before he realized doping, manipulation, and corruption was the institutional practice of Team Putin. Now Bach is allowing Russian athletes to compete so long as they are cleared by their individual sport’s federation. They don’t give out medals for courage.
‐ Australians have a well-deserved reputation for being down-to-earth, but they are no more immune than any other wealthy nation to interference by social-justice stickybeaks. In recent years, Aussie “hate speech” laws have been used to harass Christian pastors, and now some Antipodean authoritarians are trying to undo human nature itself. A teachers’ union in New South Wales has directed its members not to use the terms “mum” and “dad” when speaking to students, presumably to avoid some vague notion of “stereotyping.” The guidelines also recommend that boys should be “encouraged” to dress like girls and then, somewhat contradictorily, to engage in “non-gender-specific free play.” Meanwhile, an all-female public school announced a ban on the use of cis-normative terms such as “girls,” “ladies,” or “women” to describe its students — before rescinding the order after it was greeted with an encouraging outburst of ridicule. Australia: where men are men and women are women, despite their teachers’ best efforts.
‐ During the radical street theater in Cleveland, one demonstrator got a bit too liberal with the lighter fluid while attempting to burn an American flag and ended up setting his clothes on fire. Soon he was blazing away like the Cuyahoga River; the flames even spread to a few of his fellow protesters. Since the Supreme Court has not yet extended First Amendment protection to self-immolation, Cleveland police quickly doused the flames, and, thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. Dumb lives matter.
‐ Pokémon Go is an online game in which players use cellphones to locate and capture virtual game characters. To do this, they wander through “the real world,” as gamers quaintly refer to our planet, because stalking the wild Pokémon can take them just about anywhere: streets, parks, church, the neighbors’ yard. So engrossing is the game that some participants need to be warned not to play while driving, and places as far-flung as Arlington National Cemetery, an Australian courthouse, a Bosnian minefield, and the Kremlin have had to point out that, for various reasons, they are not appropriate locales for Pokémon hunting. It is reported that even the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the Auschwitz concentration camp have found it necessary to ask visitors to abstain from playing Pokémon Go on their premises. The real world still has its claims.
‐ For decades, Americans’ lives were governed by the weekly television schedule. If you missed an episode of your favorite show, you had to wait months for it to come around in reruns, and the wait could be excruciating. Then, in the late 1970s, videocassette recorders (VCRs) became widely available. Early models were expensive and clunky and couldn’t read one another’s tapes, but within a decade they were nearly universal — just in time to be made obsolescent themselves, first by videodiscs and then by online streaming. That’s why Japan’s Funai Electric, the last surviving maker of VCRs, has just stopped producing them. For a dead technology, the VCR has been surprisingly lively: Last year Funai sold 750,000 units, mostly in developing nations. And its story might not be completely over. After all, phonograph records have made an unlikely comeback among trendsetters, so perhaps someday soon VCRs will do the same. Bearded grad students will rehash the Betamax-vs.-VHS debate as they mine their grandparents’ attic for salvageable spare parts, and the ultimate accessory will be a complete original set of Three’s Company tapes.
‐ Italy’s last king, Umberto II, was exiled from his country in 1946 when it became a republic, ending the reign of the House of Savoy. His grandson and sole male heir, Emanuele Filiberto, has opened a business in California, selling handmade pasta from a food truck. On a recent trip to America, he saw an opening in the market for fresh and affordable high-quality Italian cuisine. He now spends his days driving his bright-blue truck, the “Prince of Venice,” around Los Angeles and dishing out $16 truffle linguine. “I want the Prince of Venice to become a quality brand and hope to add two new trucks by September,” he told an Italian news outlet. We wish him luck in that noble pursuit.
‐ Garry Marshall broke into the television scene during the 1960s as a joke writer for The Tonight Show back when Jack Paar was in front of the camera. After Marshall moved on to writing for The Dick Van Dyke Show during the 1960s, his career quickly accelerated; before long, he had created beloved TV programs that defined the 1970s and ’80s, including Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork & Mindy. Later in life, he proved his talents went beyond the small screen and created such popular feature films as Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries. Marshall was equally proficient in front of the camera and behind it, proving himself to be a talented actor, comedian, and voice artist. At a time when the comedy scene has mostly devolved into the crass and crude, Marshall’s contributions to TV and cinema endure as reminders that mass entertainment can be better than that. Dead at 81. R.I.P.
Donald Trump’s Republican Party
The Cleveland Republican convention was a schizophrenic affair, well suited to a party in the act of transforming itself. Parts of it would not have been out of place at any GOP convention held during the last 36 years — speakers like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, most of the platform. They and it spoke of freedom, small government, and opportunity. But then, as with a molting cicada, there was the new party, represented by its nominee, Donald Trump.
Cut through the D-list celebrities (Scott Baio?) and the attractive but somehow-too-present family members (are we electing a president or a royal house?) and go straight, as he would have it, to the man himself. Trump’s acceptance speech was long, lacking in his trademark humor, and delivered in a solid shout. But it made a clear case, with one direct and powerful point.
Trump’s speech spun around three issues, two of which have preoccupied him for decades. Trump has been worrying about the balance of trade since the 1980s, when the Japanese were said to be eating our lunch (now it is the Chinese). He has also long made an issue of law and order — a hot issue now thanks to Black Lives Matter and the assassination of cops. His new concern, which first gave him traction in the nomination contest, is illegal immigration. Unfortunately all his solutions to these problems are wrong or beside the point. Trade wars would cripple our economy; though the shut factory is always easier to spot, new jobs (including factory jobs) are more numerous. Trump’s answer to crime is simply to get tough, with no specifics; he played no role, intellectual or supporting, in the revolution in policing methods (begun in his own city, no less) that brought crime down nationwide over the last 20 years. Trump’s border wall, if Mexico pays for it (which it won’t), will have a door in it allowing touchback amnesty, which punts the problem.
More important (and more ominous) than his program and its shortcomings was his appeal to the hearts of his listeners. He played off Hillary Clinton’s tagline: “Her campaign slogan is ‘I’m with her.’ You know what my response to that is? I’m with you, the American people.” He also said: “I am your voice.” This is an old political role: the reformer, the tribune, the patriot king, who comes from outside a corrupt system and cleanses it. It can easily slide — and in Trump’s case has slid — into demagogy and Caesarism. The man who compulsively mocks his rivals, even in defeat, and who thinks that judges sign bills and that a president could “open up” the laws of libel, has no understanding of checks and balances, coalition-building, or political maneuver. He promises quick solutions — even in the war against Islamic terror — and promises to deliver them personally.
Ronald Reagan is dead, even as a memory. The man who spoke of liberty, the vise of big government, the right to life, and the Evil Empire has been replaced by a man devoted to strength, statism, Planned Parenthood, and Putin.
Old political parties often change their stripes. England’s Tories changed from the party of squires to one-nation democracy; America’s Democrats stood for slavery and the Klan, then for civil rights. Trump, win or lose, will take the GOP in an entirely new direction, and not a better one.