‐ Whoever used that hammer on Hillary’s phones should loan it to Huma Abedin.
‐ Acting as if it were an arm of the Clinton campaign, the FBI dumped the contents of its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail practices into the public domain on the Friday afternoon before Labor Day. The files did nothing to exonerate Clinton and instead added key details demonstrating the extent of her recklessness. Her team deleted e-mails even as she publicly called for transparency. She had 13 e-mail devices, yet mysteriously her legal team couldn’t locate a single one to turn over to the FBI. Her aides admitted to “talking around” classified information on unclassified systems, a practice that endangers national security. And Clinton herself claimed not to remember key briefings and not even to understand a common classification marking. All in all, it adds up to an operation that was amateurish at best and a criminal conspiracy at worst, with more than enough evidence to support an indictment. Less prominent people would be busy negotiating a plea bargain, but Hillary continues her run for president. It is indeed good to be a Clinton.
‐ We now learn, after the FBI recommended against prosecuting Mrs. Clinton, that the thousands of government files she sought to destroy — destroying just one is a felony — included about 30 related to the Benghazi terrorist attack. That means they were withheld and an attempt was made to destroy them, even though the attack was the subject of a State Department internal inquiry, several congressional-committee investigations, one criminal prosecution, and several Freedom of Information Act cases in federal court — in all of which the law mandates the production of relevant documents. Clinton, of course, repeatedly told the public that she gave the State Department all e-mails related to government business, a claim proved by the FBI’s forensic examination to be false. But the brazen obstruction of justice and official investigations, and the Justice Department’s indifference to it, is breathtaking. Obama-administration lawyers, meanwhile, continue to protect Clinton, audaciously telling a federal judge that it would take another month to review the 30 e-mails to ensure that no classified information is revealed — a review that the FBI told us it had already undertaken, notwithstanding Clinton’s serial false claims not to have transmitted classified information. No wonder Clinton is again speaking of the vast right-wing conspiracy.
‐ When Clinton was interviewed by the FBI, her longtime Rasputin, Cheryl Mills, was permitted to participate as her lawyer. Mindboggling. Mills, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, was intimately involved in issues related to Clinton’s private e-mail setup, discussions with security officials about getting Clinton a secure BlackBerry, and questions raised (including in Freedom of Information Act requests) about Clinton’s e-mail communications. Mills was thus a key actor in and witness to the conduct under investigation. Under the bar’s rules of professional responsibility, an attorney may not represent a client “in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee.” Yet the Obama Justice Department permitted Mills to represent Clinton in the FBI’s investigation. Worse, it relied on her status as one of Clinton’s lawyers to bar questioning by the FBI about the process, run by Mills, of deciding which e-mails would be turned over to the State Department and which destroyed — i.e., the crux of the case. As scandalous as Clinton’s behavior has been, in this case the Obama administration’s was worse.
‐ Not once, not twice, but three times Anthony Weiner was caught sending lewd pictures of himself to strange women, though this was the first time such a picture included Weiner’s four-year-old son, who had sleepily crawled into bed with him. Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, announced that they would separate. One can only feel pity for the man debased by such compulsions, for the woman who stayed with him, and for their child. But Weinergate only distracts from what is publicly noteworthy about Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide. The New York Times reported in 2013 that Abedin simultaneously served as Hillary’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and as a paid consultant to the Clinton Foundation. Now the latest batch of State Department documents uncovered by Judicial Watch shows that Abedin at State did favors for donors to Clinton-family charities — from American rich guys to the crown prince of Bahrain to rocker Bono. Nothing lewd here: Just the tribute that money pays to power, and the lines that the Clintons and their abettors have been blurring for decades.
‐ Clinton is tying Trump to the KKK, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists, and something called the “alt-right” — which turns out to be a tiny group of people who think that both liberals and conservatives have gone astray by failing to uphold a racial hierarchy that puts whites and Asians at the top and blacks and Hispanics at the bottom. The ties are thin. Trump should not have gone on Alex Jones’s radio show and praised him fulsomely, but what are we supposed to infer from Jones’s theory that the Sandy Hook slaughter was staged? We have no reason to think Trump agrees with this lunacy or knows about it. The case against each of the major-party candidates is lengthy. Neither needs to play six degrees of separation to fill out an indictment of the other.
‐ Trump spoke at a black church in Detroit, the latest in a series of recent efforts to court black voters. Good for him for asking for black votes: More Republicans should. He is right, too, to suggest that many Democratic policies have served blacks, like other Americans, poorly. But he should quit telling blacks that they should vote for him because “they have nothing to lose,” a comment that ignores the black middle class. And he should tell blacks the same things he tells everyone else. If Black Lives Matter is worth criticizing at mostly white rallies, it is worth criticizing before black audiences as well. Trump’s talk in Detroit, like many of his Teleprompter speeches, was written by someone who either does not care or is not able to match his voice. He departed from the text to say “So true!” at one point, as though running across the words he had said for the first time. According to the polls, blacks are giving Trump even less support than they gave John McCain and Mitt Romney. Trump’s new outreach campaign is almost surely coming too late to change that. Future Republicans should do this work earlier, and better.
‐ Howard Wolfson is feeling remorseful. Wolfson, a veteran liberal operative, told Frank Bruni of the New York Times that the harsh rhetoric he and fellow Democrats once used against John McCain and Mitt Romney undercuts the harsh rhetoric they are using against Donald Trump now — when they really, really mean it. “It’s only when you find yourself describing someone who really is the definition of an extremist — who really is, essentially, in my opinion, a fascist — that you recognize that the language that you’ve used in the past to describe other people was hyperbolic and inappropriate and cheap.” Democrats have been playing the fascist card a long time, witness the New York Times headline of October 26, 1948: “President Likens Dewey to Hitler as Fascist Tool.” That would be President Harry Truman, sliming Thomas Dewey, governor of New York. BTW, we don’t think Donald Trump is a fascist — just a demagogue. You may quote us, Howard, though no doubt you will stick with the F-word.
‐ John McCain and Marco Rubio easily defeated primary challengers who tried to run as mini-Trumps. Their victories suggest that Trump’s success was not reducible to a formula that other politicians can employ. His celebrity, his talent for commanding media attention, and the divisions among his opponents were all necessary for his victory in the nomination contest. That doesn’t mean that Trump’s issues, particularly immigration, were irrelevant: Neither his celebrity nor his message alone would have carried him to victory. But Trump is a man, not a movement.
‐ Arriving in China for the G-20 summit, President Obama got a frosty welcome. There was no red-carpeted staircase for him. He had to make do with the airplane’s stairs in the back. Other leaders arriving at the summit — including Vladimir Putin — got the red-carpet treatment. After Obama and his team disembarked, a Chinese official blocked the way of Susan Rice, the national-security adviser, and spoke angrily to her. An American Secret Service agent had to step between them. Then, this same Chinese official barked at a White House press aide, saying, “This is our country! This is our airport!” Yes, indeed. Obama cautioned reporters not to “over-crank the significance” of this reception. But let’s not under-crank it either. The ruling Chinese Communists gave the American president the back of their hand. And for almost eight years, he has gone out of his way to accommodate them. He is allergic to the subject of human rights, for example. He has also gone out of his way to accommodate the Iranian dictatorship and the Cuban dictatorship. For some reason, his eagerness to please has not engendered respect.
‐ The Obama administration and Beijing signed the Paris agreement — don’t call it a treaty! — on climate change, with China having taken the additional step of ratifying it. President Obama insists this is a mere executive agreement, so it will not be sent to the Senate for advice and consent. The discussion of the agreement has been almost entirely removed from the relevant economic context. The Guardian, for example, points out that the United States and China together account for nearly 40 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, which is true but elides the fact that China emits substantially more than does the United States while creating much less economic value: China produces more than 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and about 16 percent of world economic output; the United States produces less than 18 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and about 25 percent of the world’s economic output. Beyond the U.S. and China, the countries that have actually ratified the Paris agreement account for about 1 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions. The agreement will not come into force at all until at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions have ratified it, and countries such as India have made it clear that they will go along with the Paris accord only if the United States, Europe, and Japan are forced to bear the brunt of its costs. That’s a high price for an agreement that will probably accomplish something within a rounding error of nothing.
‐ Colin Kaepernick, NFL quarterback, believes that the United States “oppresses black people and people of color.” So he decided to behave badly, and shamefully. The bad behavior was not to stand during the pregame playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Kaepernick’s analysis is arguably simplistic and his action certainly oafish, but it’s a free country, so if he wants to sit, let him; if fans want to boo, let them too. The shameful behavior is wearing socks that depict cops as pigs. Black Lives Matter is depicted as the modern civil-rights movement — and it is already zooming to its Black Panther cop-hating phase. Kaepernick’s choice of hose is a public service, presenting an important aspect of a movement often obscured by media melodrama.
mental-health efforts, should be to mitigate the public consequences of serious mental illness, and, as much as possible, to alleviate the suffering of those afflicted. Hillary Clinton’s newly released “Comprehensive Agenda for Mental Health” promises more of the grim status quo. While expressing concern that “our criminal justice system is increasingly becoming the ‘front line’ of engagement with individuals with mental health problems,” she proposes policies that will do nothing to change that fact, instead promoting mental-health insurance-parity policies that are largely irrelevant to serious mental illness, and promoting the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness program, which is used to enable people who are not in their right minds to avoid treatment. About the provisions in federal law that prohibit Medicaid or Medicare monies from going to mental-health treatment in facilities of a certain size — provisions that are largely responsible for the shuttering of psychiatric hospitals and the increased dearth of care for the seriously mentally ill — Clinton’s plan is silent, just as it is silent about the failed Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the federal mental-health bureaucracy that is largely responsible for the current situation. Serious mental illness has gone untended for decades, with doleful consequences on our streets and in our prisons that Clinton’s agenda is unlikely to change.
‐ Georgetown University has addressed an 1838 sale of 272 slaves, a sale that saved the institution from bankruptcy. Because the Jesuits who did the deal kept careful records, it is possible to track where the slaves went and who some of their descendants now are. History lives on in us, both good and bad, and we can never know too much about it. But what should now be done? The Washington Post quoted Barry Bogues, director of Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice: “Where questions of diversity of faculty and students have not been given serious consideration, you’re going to see more activity.” In other words, old sins justify the modern Left’s remedies (reverse discrimination, social-justice hiring). Lincoln told us that the wealth built and the blood shed by slaves must be paid. But he thought that terrible debt had been discharged by a terrible civil war. To blame what black Americans suffer now in poverty or crime on what Jesuits or other white Americans did in 1838 is to turn the study of history into an endless religious rite.
‐ To stop the spread of the Zika virus, scientists are working to develop genetic-engineering techniques to eradicate Aedes aegypti, the species of mosquito that is a major carrier of that deadly disease and others, including dengue and yellow fever. Zach Adelman at Texas A&M University, for example, is investigating gene-editing methods for ensuring that all such mosquitoes hatched are male, as only the females bite and infect humans, and in any case the suppression of X chromosomes would spell the species’ eventual extinction. In London, researchers are aiming to write a self-destructive trait into the genes of the mosquito species that is most responsible for malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Some thoughtful scientists and bioethicists wring their hands. Kevin Esvelt, a researcher at MIT, makes the unassailable observation that undertaking to “alter the traits of a wild population” is “not something we should do lightly.” So let’s do it weightily. Killing the disease-bearing mosquitoes would have a minimal effect on the food chain, and it would save human lives. The biology behind the endeavor may be delicate and difficult, but the ethical issues here are not. Kill the mosquitoes.
‐ SpaceX, Elon Musk’s private space-launch company, says an “anomaly on the pad” caused its rocket to fail two days before it was to launch. Well, that’s one way to put it. While the rocket was being filled with propellant, a catastrophic explosion destroyed the unmanned spacecraft and its payload (a Facebook satellite that would have provided direct Internet access to remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa) and sent a towering fireball into the Cape Canaveral sky. These things happen — if it were easy, they wouldn’t call it “rocket science” — and we would do well to remember that while SpaceX has had its fair share of highly visible failures, it has also had its triumphs, such as last May’s successful landing of a Falcon 9 rocket on a floating barge at sea (the company hopes to reuse the rocket, reducing costs). Besides: Facebook Internet-providing satellites? Private space travel? This isn’t your granddaddy’s space program. The future is now — and it looks like it will be brought to you by good old-fashioned American free enterprise.
‐ The series of sting videos released last summer by the Center for Medical Progress exposed the ghoulish reality of America’s abortion industry. So, naturally, California lawmakers are trying to deter any future whistleblowers. Under Assembly Bill 1671, recording or “intentionally disclos[ing] or distribut[ing] . . . the contents of a confidential communication with a health care provider” would be punishable with a fine or imprisonment. But in their zeal to endear themselves to Planned Parenthood, legislators have written a bill so broad that it could potentially ensnare even lawyers or journalists who share or publish transcripts in the course of doing their jobs. For that reason, the California branch of the ACLU has criticized the bill, and the Los Angeles Times editorial board — which recently demanded that Congress end its “witch hunt for ‘baby body part’ sellers” — has opposed it. But the bill was passed by both chambers of the state legislature and, at press time, was awaiting the governor’s signature. A witch hunt, directed against less deserving targets, is exactly what Democratic politicians in California seem to want.
‐ Global fame, which she never sought, began to descend on Mother Teresa in the 1970s. For nearly half a century she has been venerated as a de facto Catholic saint, eliciting awe, gratitude, and affection for her service to the poorest of the poor. In middle age, responding to a “call within the call” to religious life, the headmistress of a convent school in Calcutta left her comfortable position to tend to the needs of the destitute who filled the neighboring streets. Big-hearted and tough-minded in equal measure, she attracted followers. In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation whose members now number about 5,000. They serve in 139 countries, where they run shelters, clinics, schools, and homes for the dying. Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979; in her acceptance speech, she caused a stir by defending the right to life of unborn children. She defended it often thereafter. On September 4, Pope Francis formally canonized her a saint, who with loving kindness, as the faithful believe, looks down on us from heaven; but no one has to be Catholic to look up to her.
‐ The Olympic Games in Rio distracted attention from the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil. She has been found guilty of a “crime of responsibility,” in other words carelessness about the use of public money. The parliamentarians who finally voted her out of office are themselves mired in accusations of corruption. Rousseff, once a Marxist guerrilla, says she is the victim of a right-wing coup, and appeals to her supporters with the words “I know we will all fight.” Her successor is Michel Temer, 75, from the Brazilian Democratic Movement party. The Right has replaced the Left, but in Brazil they do things their own way. Since the end of dictatorship 30 years ago, just two of the eight elected presidents completed their turn of office. The Games are over, but the crisis isn’t.
‐ Always looking for a new area into which he might push his nose, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced in August that he would very much like it if his fellow countrymen stopped drinking after work. His reasoning? That because women have babies — and because babies need looking after in the evenings — post-work outings are contributing to Britain’s rampant gender inequality. (Britain’s female prime minister, Conservative Theresa May, was not immediately available for comment.) Quite how a Corbyn administration would endeavor to police the drinking habits of British workers was not immediately clear. Whatever his aim, the initiative seems to have had an effect opposite to that intended: Instead of starting a “national conversation” about the urgent need for feminism, it has reminded the public what a killjoy looks like in his natural habitat.
– and too many in the West have decided that the best defense is abject capitulation.
‐ The European Commission wants Ireland to collect back taxes from Apple — back taxes that Ireland does not think Apple owes. The commission’s claim is that Ireland is showing Apple preferential treatment that other companies do not get. It has done little to substantiate the claim. If it does not do so during pending judicial proceedings, it will confirm several suspicions about the European Union: that it is hostile to low-tax states; that it seeks to harm the American tech industry; and that Britain will be well rid of it, as would other countries that wish to protect their right to govern themselves.
‐ Conservationists describe handsome, donor-pleasing animals as “charismatic megafauna,” and there are few megafauna more charismatic than the giant panda. So animal lovers rejoiced recently when the International Union for Conservation of Nature upgraded the black-and-white behemoth’s status from “endangered” to merely “vulnerable.” An official from the World Wildlife Fund said the news “proves that a united approach can bring a substantial difference to threatened species, even at a time of great economic growth in China.” “Even”? Without economic growth, China’s government could never have afforded and enforced the conservation measures that allowed the giant panda’s resurgence; impoverished rural dwellers will poach or chop down anything that helps them survive. On the other hand, there’s no denying that China’s breakneck growth, with the attendant pollution and habitat destruction, has killed off innumerable other species, but since these tend to be less winsome than the giant panda, no one ever hears about them. That explains why wildlife activists find charismatic megafauna to be both a blessing and a curse.
‐ This year’s incoming freshmen at the University of Chicago were welcomed with a bracing letter from the dean of students. It warned that the administration would not condone the suppression of the free exchange of ideas by means of “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” or the disinvitation of speakers deemed too controversial by student activists. The letter was widely circulated online, generating applause in some quarters and backlash in others. (“Who exactly is this letter meant to welcome?” Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson wanted to know.) That such a full-throated defense of open discourse in the academy now amounts to trend-bucking is as dispiriting as the statement was welcome.
‐ This fall, for the first time in 50 academic years, Hadley Arkes is absent from the roster of active faculty at Amherst College. A pillar of its political-science department, he has officially retired. Two years ago he taught what turned out to be his final class. At a ceremony at the Union League Club in New York earlier this year, friends and colleagues honored his half century of service. He studied under Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago and developed a special interest in natural rights. For decades, Arkes has argued forcefully against abortion, in a professional environment in which to do so has taken courage and independence of mind. In 2010, he converted to Catholicism, calling it a fulfillment of the Jewish faith into which he was born. He is a prolific author of books and articles pitched to general and scholarly readers alike. Congratulations, and thanks, to the Edward N. Ney Professor of American Institutions, emeritus.
‐ The Hillsdale Collegian is the ninth-best college newspaper in America, according to the Princeton Review, a private company specializing in tutoring and other services for university applicants and students. Of the top ten papers in the Review’s 25th annual ranking, the Collegian represents the smallest school — at 1,500, Hillsdale’s enrollment is lower than that of many high schools — and the most conservative one. That latter superlative may be hard to quantify, but who would dispute it? Through its classical liberal-arts curriculum, Hillsdale feeds the cultural conservatism that is the great garden in which the political ideas of Locke, Burke, Hayek, et al. can flourish. Celebration of “diversity” in higher education these days typically entails an insistence on ideological uniformity along left-liberal lines, so it’s refreshing to see Hillsdale next to (and, ahem, besting) the likes of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
‐ Lena Dunham, the daffy young actress whose supraparodic self-absorption has made her the sad mascot of the millennial generation, did not have a very good time at the annual Met Gala. Because she is not slim, she is self-conscious about her body, particularly in the company of the sort of people who attend such events — we can hear you weeping for the Met Gala crowd from here — and she responded by attending in drag. She was seated with the football player Odell Beckham Jr. If Dunham’s reports are to be believed, Beckham had the good sense to remain almost entirely indifferent to her presence. What followed was a long exercise in pseudo-literary self-indulgence and feminist nonsense in which Dunham publicly imagined what must have been going through Beckham’s mind as he contemplated the dumpy woman in the tuxedo. Dunham was criticized, partly on inevitable racial grounds, for attributing misogynistic sexual thoughts to a young black man who had not said a word to her one way or the other. Dunham later issued an apology — and, true to form, it was almost entirely about her: her insecurities, her anxieties, her feelings. Beckham, for his part, still seems to be only vaguely aware that Lena Dunham exists. We envy him.
‐ The actor Mark Ruffalo, whose exquisite political correctness defines Hollywood smug, boasted some months ago that he was producing a “daring” film about a transgender prostitute. (Set in Los Angeles, of course; “daring” has its limits.) Ruffalo cast as his lead Matt Bomer, and the part of the entertainment world that is more ridiculous than Mark Ruffalo — they exist — was scandalized. Bomer, you see, is merely gay, not transgender. Casting him in the role of a transgender prostitute was not just an act of bad taste, according to Jen Richards, an Emmy-nominated director of transgender-themed entertainment, but an act that “will directly lead to violence.” This is the poisonous line of argument that transgender activists deploy in favor of censorship: that speech that offends them or fails to comport with their beliefs is indistinguishable from acts of violence. The same argument was used in the petition to have our correspondent Kevin D. Williamson fired from the Chicago Sun-Times for arguing that the transgender actor Laverne Cox is not a woman. (The Sun-Times obliged, which was amusing inasmuch as Williamson did not work there.) This is a deeply illiberal and dangerous mode of discourse, and should be fought even when its target is as richly deserving as Mark Ruffalo.
‐ Imagine a cross between 1930s goldfish swallowing and 1960s anti-war protests, and you have the current gender-pronoun craze at colleges across America. Vanderbilt has plastered its campus with gender-usage posters that rival prescription-drug instructions for length and complexity, detailing the differences between ze/zir/zirs and ze/hir/hirs and listing manifold “proactive ways to affirm Vanderbilt’s commitment to gender inclusion.” Vermont’s Champlain College gives new students buttons that say “Hello, my pronouns are Xe/Xem/Xyrs” (or “He/Him/His,” “They/Them/Their,” or even “My pronouns are Fluid, please ask me”). And Wisconsin-Milwaukee has posted a chart listing twelve different pronoun sets, each of which includes five different forms; the administration sternly notes that “it is your job to remember people’s PGPs” [personal gender pronouns], and that failing to do so “is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive,” although the worst thing you can do if you make a mistake is to apologize profusely, which “is inappropriate and makes the person who was mis-gendered feel awkward.” Who said etiquette was dead?
‐ The 1930s were heady times for Chicago. It hosted a World’s Fair, the Cubs won the pennant three times, and a University of Chicago player was awarded the first Heisman Trophy. The decade also saw the opening, in 1934, of the Brookfield Zoo, one of whose original inhabitants was a year-old cockatoo named Cookie. Over the years, Cookie became a symbol of Chicago’s zoo, and of the city’s resilience, surviving well past his species’ normal lifespan of 40 to 60 years to set a world record for parrot longevity. Visitors loved the pink-headed bird with the one-word vocabulary (his own name), though as he grew older and more frail, he was put on display less and less often — sometimes just for his birthday celebrations, which always drew throngs and were well covered in Chicago’s press. In recent years Cookie was kept in an office behind the scenes, though a sign informed anxious visitors that he was still alive and squawking up a storm, until late last month, when Cookie finally expired. Dead at 83, R.I.P.
‐ Gene Wilder in his best screen roles, most of them collaborations with director Mel Brooks, perfected a blend of bland good humor and manic upset, the shifts between the two both startling and perfectly timed. One of his best bits came in Blazing Saddles: Wilder, a washed-up gunslinger, consoles black sheriff Cleavon Little, dismayed by the racism of the townspeople he is supposed to protect. “You gotta remember,” croons Wilder, “that these are just simple farmers. [Beat] People of the land. [Beat] The common clay of the new West. [Beat] You know. [Long beat] Morons.” Hilarious. But that way of dealing with common clay, which goes back to Voltaire and Flaubert, stretched on, in America, through Norman Lear to The Daily Show. No argument, just derision. The common clay gets the joke too, and sometimes gets tired of it. Wilder milked the trope for a laugh, and floated on, gloriously, to his next. Dead at 83. R.I.P.
‐ Phyllis Schlafly was one of the original happy warriors. She liked to open her lectures by thanking her husband, Fred, for allowing her to appear. No one who knew her thought anybody allowed her to do anything; strangely, the feminists never stopped hating her for that. Raised in difficult financial circumstances, she entered Maryville College at 16 and finished three years later (after transferring to Washington University) with a political-science degree; nine months after that, she had a master’s from Radcliffe, followed by a job on an unsuccessful Republican congressional campaign and a deep dip into conservative thinking at the predecessor to the American Enterprise Institute. In 1952 she was for Robert Taft and in 1964 she was for Goldwater, supporting his campaign in her book A Choice Not an Echo, millions of copies of which went into circulation. But it was her campaign against the so-called Equal Rights Amendment that made her a household name. The passage of the ERA was taken as a foregone conclusion in political and intellectual circles, but Schlafly had other ideas. Likewise, when the best and brightest told the Republican party to cool it on abortion, Schlafly was there to keep up the heat. She managed to raise six children along the way. Her hawkishness on immigration and her suspicion of international trade accords made her a natural ally of Donald Trump, and her 27th book, published just barely posthumously, makes the case for his candidacy. She was a hard enemy to have and a gracious friend. Dead at 92. R.I.P.
Trump in Mexico
Donald Trump executed perhaps the most successful strike into Mexico since General Zachary Taylor, and followed it up with a tough immigration speech in Arizona.
The Trump team wangled an invitation to visit out of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and benefited when Trump stood with him — awkwardly — at a joint press conference afterwards. Trump has had problems, to put it mildly, convincing voters that he has the attributes of a potential commander-in-chief, and it was priceless publicity for him to have a diplomatic exchange with the president of a country that he has repeatedly lambasted.
Peña Nieto easily could have blown up the joint appearance when Trump, in response to a journalist’s question, said that Mexico’s paying for a U.S.–Mexico border wall hadn’t been discussed. Peña Nieto says he told Trump at the beginning of their private meeting that Mexico wouldn’t pay for the wall. Peña Nieto let it go (and has since been pilloried in his own country — his minister who arranged the Trump visit has resigned).
A few hours later, Trump clarified his position on immigration after a couple of weeks of wobbling. He embraced a comprehensive, cogent enforcement-first agenda that implicitly dumped his wholly unrealistic pledge to rapidly deport 11 million illegal aliens, and at the same time rejected a Gang of Eight–style amnesty. Instead, Trump promised more enforcement at the border and the workplace and said we can decide whether to legalize remaining illegal immigrants after the illegal population has diminished.
This is a sound position, although Trump didn’t quite stick the landing. The speech was hazy on the matter of whether illegal immigrants will have to leave before getting legal status in the future, and in his public comments Trump has continued to sow confusion on this question. Yet he is on much more solid ground substantively now than when he supported mass deportation to be followed by a touchback amnesty (once deported, the best illegal immigrants would be allowed back), a bizarre mishmash supported by no serious restrictionist.
Trump’s Mexico gambit and speech marked a new effort by his campaign to make him seem more palatable to swing voters. He is still the same Trump — he shouted parts of the immigration speech to an enthusiastic crowd at a rally. But he has stopped hurting himself, and has regained ground on an anemic Hillary Clinton.