Magazine | October 14, 2019, Issue

The Week

(Roman Genn)

• Amazingly, Bill de Blasio turned out to be almost as unpopular in Iowa as he is in New York.

• Reporters for the New York Times have a new book that undermines the central claim against Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Leland Keyser — Christine Blasey Ford’s friend, and the person Ford herself testified was also at the party where Ford claims Kavanaugh assaulted her — has stated on the record that she doesn’t have “any confidence” in Ford’s story. Not only does she not recall the specific party at issue, she doesn’t recall “any others like it.” Moreover, Keyser maintains this recollection in spite of a determined effort by old friends to get her to change her testimony: a pressure campaign that Keyser admirably resisted. The Times didn’t highlight this story. Instead the reporters made a new allegation against Kavanaugh in the paper. They claimed that a man named Max Stier alleged that at a drunken college party, “friends” pushed Kavanaugh’s penis into the hand of a female student. Democrats furiously denounced Kavanaugh. Only later did the Times add that the female student “declined to be interviewed,” and her “friends say that she does not recall the incident.” The Times went into full spin mode. One had not thought the newspaper would be able to top its partisan and inaccurate coverage of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. But it seems determined to continue disgracing itself.

• Elizabeth Warren is rising fast in the Democratic primaries. She’s capitalizing on doubts about Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, and benefiting from great press about her allegedly thoughtful policy proposals (about which, see this issue). Still to be determined is whether she can appeal to black voters. But she is already slightly ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire, where they don’t exist in any numbers. That embarrassing DNA test is just a distant memory — until she wins the nomination.

• For a few days, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., had nothing to say. Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg finally called the news “extremely disturbing” and said he hoped it would not become political. Ulrich Klopfer, who operated an abortion clinic in town before losing his license for legal and ethical violations, had recently died in Illinois, whereupon it had been discovered that his garage contained 2,246 “fetal remains,” as the news accounts put it. It is indeed disturbing that Klopfer kept the corpses of his victims. It ought to disturb us more that politics enabled him to rack up so many.

• New numbers from the Guttmacher Institute confirm that the long-running decline in the abortion rate continued through 2017. At that point it was lower than in 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade. The institute cautions that the decline may be overstated, as an increasing number of pregnant women may be using abortion pills and not reporting it. Because the institute is firmly ensconced inside the abortion lobby, it takes pains to deny that the decline has much to do with pro-life legislation or a shift in attitudes. It prefers to credit reduced pregnancy rates, which it then links to increased contraceptive use and finally to Obamacare’s subsidies and mandates. But the institute’s own numbers show that the abortion ratio — the percentage of pregnancies that end in abortion — has also declined, and that this decline too predates Obamacare. The movement against abortion is making some progress. As the number is at least 862,000 per year, none of its members will take it as a reason to rest.

• Democrats called for the resignation of the housing and urban-development secretary, Ben Carson, after supposedly “transphobic” comments he made during a recent visit to San Francisco. In an internal meeting, Carson explained to around 50 HUD staffers the dangers of “big, hairy men” trying to infiltrate women’s shelters, which had been brought to his attention by various women’s groups that had told him that the abused women they serve feel “unsafe.” After some HUD staffers were offended by Carson’s statement, it became a national news story. Carson kept his nerve, a sufficiently rare occasion these days to be worth commending.

• Cory Booker is not right about much, but he was right to suggest that Democrats have an “obligation to listen to scientists” on nuclear power, lest they resemble the so-called climate deniers in the GOP. If the Democrats believe their own increasingly hysterical invocations of looming climate cataclysm, they should acknowledge that nuclear power is the most efficient and effective alternative to fossil fuels. Nuclear power emits no greenhouse gases and, despite high startup costs, is cheaper than almost any alternative energy source on a per-unit basis. Booker is one of a vanishingly small number of Democratic candidates willing to say so, and for that we give Spartacus a momentary salute.

• Thirteen and a half years ago Al Gore warned us, in the course of promoting a movie, that we were in a “true planetary emergency” and that “unless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases [were] taken within the next 10 years, the world [would] reach a point of no return.” Connoisseurs of catastrophism will note that it is always about ten years until the true nightmare begins: just close enough that immediate action is needed, just far enough to persuade us that we can swerve to avoid the looming threat. Like the sweaty gambler who swears that this time his tip will pay off, global-warming alarmists never acknowledge error in the past, which is why their predictions of future trends tend to be treated with skepticism. Sometimes the alarmists undercut their own warnings. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told us last winter, “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change,” but added a few weeks later that this remark was “dry humor and sarcasm.” The joke is lost on the likes of the bitter 16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg, who led a global strike of children to persuade the world to “take action” on climate change. Thunberg’s demented address to a delighted United Nations Climate Summit on September 23 (“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. . . . We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”) was a new high-water mark in hysteria, breathlessly hyped by media that have become convinced that using hyperbolic terms such as “climate crisis” or “climate emergency” will finally convince us to “do something.” Climate change is a problem that should be dealt with, but the media’s unhinged rants and slavering coverage of Thunberg’s paranoia are needlessly terrifying impressionable children.

• Andrew Yang, the Democratic Silicon Valley presidential hopeful, can surprise, pleasantly. Like Cory Booker, he has good words for nuclear power, which his website calls “a crucial component” of a “sustainable, carbon-free energy” policy. After Saturday Night Live dropped Shane Gillis, a new hire who turned out to have told some dodgy Chinese jokes in his time, Yang said that, after watching videos of Gillis’s routines, he did not find him “malignant or evil” and agreed to meet him. But then Yang will come out with a proposal to raise the price of beef in order to “modify Americans’ diets over time” (since cattle are “very energy-consuming”), or speculate about the future of the car: President Yang would offer to buy back gas guzzlers, while futurist Yang hopes that by 2050 privately owned cars will be replaced by fleets of roving electric vehicles. Sounds like Yang should be running for a consultancy at the Energy Department, or possibly a slot on the White House staff instead.

• Farmers, according to President Trump, “can’t be too upset, because I gave them $12 billion, and I gave them $16 billion this year.” Pardon us — who gave them all that money? President Trump is here giving a lesson in swampology — it is easy, painless, and rewarding to give away other people’s money. At issue here are the president’s ill-advised tariffs on China. While disagreeing with his strategy, we have held out hope that it would yet lead to a good deal. But the costs are mounting. The aid given to farmers hurt by Chinese trade retaliation has now cost more than twice what was paid out in the auto-company bailouts of 2008–09: cost American taxpayers, that is, not the president.

• The Trump administration has allowed itself to be buffaloed into a panic over “vaping,” in which electronic devices are used to produce a nicotine-laced vapor that is inhaled, often as a substitute for cigarette smoking. The media-bred panic follows an outbreak of lung trouble among vapers, with about 500 cases and eight deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control. The vast majority of those cases involved the use of illegal black-market vaping cartridges containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. One of the cases involved marijuana oil bought from a legal dispensary. The exact cause of the lung damage remains unclear. The most popular vaping product, Juul, is marketed as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, and studies have suggested that using nicotine vapor, which involves no combustion of tobacco, is much less harmful than smoking cigarettes. (It isn’t the nicotine that gives smokers cancer — it’s the smoke.) The Trump administration plans to prohibit certain flavors of vaping products on the theory that these appeal to underage users; a far better approach would be to punish those who illegally sell these products to children with heavy fines, revocation of business licenses, and, if warranted, jail time. Done properly, vaping is a way to reduce the harm of nicotine use. But vaping garbage cooked up in some drug dealer’s garage may be — surprise — hazardous to your health. 

• The Environmental Protection Agency plans to repeal the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, an overreaching piece of late-Obama-era regulation that extended the federal government’s oversight of the country’s navigable waters to every irrigation ditch and cow pond from sea to shining sea. The regulatory sleight-of-hand at work involved the concept of “significant nexus,” here interpreted to mean that the federal government can manage any body of water that ultimately drains into the bodies of water under federal oversight — meaning, in effect, every body of water. It was a nightmare for farmers and ranchers, who suddenly found themselves under EPA scrutiny over ponds and ditches and other bodies of water that are not only insignificant but temporary. Thirty states, most of them Republican-led, were joined by agribusiness groups in a lawsuit against the rule, while most Democratic-run states sided with the Obama administration and WOTUS. As an editorial in the Capital Press points out, WOTUS was a boon for lawyers, though it did nothing significant for the cause of clean water. If there is a Democratic administration in 2021, it will nonetheless likely be reinstated.

• Trump is right to end the waiver given to California so that it may set its own carbon-emission rules for motor vehicles. For one thing, the statute creating the waiver was designed to let California deal with its smog problem, not to address global issues such as climate change. And for another, despite its pretensions to federalism, the waiver has served to give California an outsized influence over national policy: Under the Obama administration, the state leveraged the car industry’s desire for a single national standard into an agreement with the federal government under which the nationwide regulations would reflect California’s priorities and car buyers throughout the country would pay the price. Congress has generally preempted state laws in this area so that automakers don’t have to follow 50 different regulatory regimes, and there is no reason California and California alone should have the right to set up a second one.

• Bad news for our California readers with school-age kids: Effective next year, the state has banned suspensions for “willful defiance” of teachers in public elementary and middle schools, so the disruptive hellion in your seventh-grader’s classroom is there to stay. Unsurprisingly, a study of earlier suspension bans in California found a detrimental impact on reading and especially math scores — but the state was clearly undeterred. This is part of a broader trend in the country away from disciplining students out of a fear of racially disparate outcomes; as Parkland dad Andrew Pollack and think-tanker Max Eden explain in their book Why Meadow Died, such fears contributed to the atrocity at Marjory Stoneman Douglas by prompting authorities to look the other way as the future shooter waved one red flag after another. Willful defiance of common sense has unfortunately become a California specialty.

• The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany all agree: Iran was responsible for attacks on two important Saudi oil facilities. These strikes resulted in the temporary shutdown of roughly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production and represented a significant escalation in tensions not just between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but between Iran and the United States as well. The strikes were also a demonstration of Iran’s improved capacity to inflict real harm on its enemies and impede the flow of oil from the Middle East. It’s crystal-clear that the stakes of any conflict in the Persian Gulf are very high. So far the Trump administration is wisely refusing to retaliate on Saudi Arabia’s behalf, and Saudi Arabia has wisely chosen to refuse to respond in kind. Iran is under immense economic pressure from American sanctions, and time is on America’s side. It’s incumbent on the Trump administration to stay the course, continuing to inflict economic pain on the Iranian regime until it’s willing to renegotiate Obama’s dreadful deal. There is no easy path forward, but for now — in spite of Iran’s obvious and egregious provocations — war is the least-best course.

• Mao Zedong set up Communist China in October 1949, and if he were to come back to life he would find that his successors these past 70 years have been as loyal as they could be to his legacy. The structure of Leader for Life, Politburo, and Central Committee remains intact, dictating policy from the top to the bottom. The Party has 90 million members. Mao would certainly approve the senior official who has just explained the anniversary celebrations: “The purpose is to motivate and mobilize the whole Party, the whole military, and all of the people to unite clearly around the CCP Central Committee with Xi at the core.” The military are expanding throughout the Indo-Pacific region, claiming territory and building harbors and fleets. Dissidence on the part of minorities, the Uighur Muslims or Tibetans, is crushed, and any potential reformer or artist with public appeal must expect a spell in laogai, “reform through labor,” the Chinese gulag. Beijing explicitly threatens to use force against the mass protests for human and political rights in Hong Kong. What alone might baffle Mao, though, is the separation of economics from politics, an anti-Marxist-Leninist feature that has somehow developed in China uniquely. Whoever makes a fortune has to be sure to play no part in political life. A recent Beijing University survey found that 1 percent of households hold a third of the country’s wealth while the poorest 25 percent own only 1 percent of it. This corruption is systemic, and let’s hope that before another 70 years it will bring the system down. 

• Beijing has a rule: A foreign government can have relations with it (the PRC) or with Taiwan, but not both. You have to choose. The United States chose the PRC a full 40 years ago, in 1979. Today, Taiwan is recognized by just 15 governments. Taiwan has lost seven since 2016. What happens, as a rule, is that Beijing outbids Taipei when it comes to aid: development money, inducements, or bribes, if you like. The latest governments to switch to the PRC are those of Kiribati, in Micronesia, and the Solomon Islands, in Oceania. The 15 that remain are similarly modest. Will Taiwan — free, democratic — be able to remain separate from Communist China? That depends, in significant measure, on the willingness of the United States to make China think that swallowing the island would be more trouble than it is worth.

• Turkey is an ever-tightening dictatorship under Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A man named Burhan Borak has now received the longest sentence ever handed out for insulting the dictator on social media: twelve years and three months. This is for seven posts written in 2014. News reports do not indicate what the posts said. But Turks have been prosecuted for asking such questions as, “Why does our government fear a play in a theater?” The prosecution, and persecution, of Mr. Borak reminds us of the nature of today’s Turkey — and of the good fortune that we in free countries enjoy.

• Israelis either love Bibi Netanyahu, their prime minister this past decade and more, or they loathe him. Either way, he’s conservative. What’s kept him in office so fixedly is the peculiarity of the Israeli parliamentary process. The Knesset, or parliament, has 120 seats, so the prime minister needs a majority of 61 to be able to govern. A two-party system would throw up a winner and a loser, but Israel has proportional representation, an ingenious method of distributing votes so that a majority almost inevitably depends on horse-trading to form a coalition. In elections in April, Netanyahu and his main rival, Benny Gantz, a big-tent liberal, failed to get the numbers. Nine parties ran in this second attempt in September. In an unprecedented move, four Arab parties backed Gantz, but proportional representation still got the better of them. The one and only way out is for Netanyahu and Gantz to fuse the love and the loathing in a government of national unity. Failing that, it’s a third general election in the same year, and perhaps ad infinitum.

• Russia’s foreign ministry, along with Russian embassies throughout the world, likes to repeat Soviet propaganda on Twitter. These tweets make hilarious reading, but they are serious, too. Recently, the foreign ministry was tweeting about the Nazi–Soviet Pact — a.k.a. the Hitler–Stalin Pact or the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact — signed 80 years ago this year. The pact, said the ministry, was an act of mercy on the part of Moscow, protecting vulnerable populations and saving “hundreds of thousands of lives.” Timothy Garton Ash, the historian, commented archly, “Molotov would be proud of his old department.” Today’s Russia is not the Soviet Union. But does the Kremlin know it?

• Gleb Garanich is a veteran Ukrainian photographer. As Radio Free Europe noted recently, “he was famously photographed soaked with blood after being struck by a riot policeman during Ukraine’s 2013–14 Euromaidan protests.” He continued working that day. In September of this year, he put his camera down to save someone’s life. There had been a gay-pride march in Kharkov, the city in northeastern Ukraine. “When the march ended, most of the participants left safely through a nearby subway station,” reported RFE, “but a crowd of far-right counterdemonstrators had gathered in a neighboring park, apparently on the hunt for LGBT activists attempting to leave on foot.” One of these activists was a “slightly built teenager with a streak of dyed hair,” who tried to “move through the burly opposition group.” They set upon him “amid chants and cheers.” Garanich “shot several photographs of the shocking scene that unfolded in front of him.” Then he stepped in to rescue the victim and, “without addressing the mob, simply walked the teen out of the situation.” Hail this name, Gleb Garanich.

• In 2016, a geriatric specialist at a nursing home in the Netherlands laced the coffee of a 74-year-old woman. The sedative didn’t stop her from struggling as the doctor gave her a lethal injection while relatives held her down. A year earlier she had renewed an advance directive approving euthanasia “whenever I think the time is right.” At the nursing home she was asked several times about euthanasia. She said, “Not yet,” until her dementia rendered her unable to answer, at which point the doctor and family members answered for her. The public prosecutor took the case to The Hague district court, where judges have acquitted the doctor, ruling that she acted in accord with the “explicit and serious desire” of the patient, whose last communication on the question, however, was clearly No. Two years ago, more than 200 Dutch doctors signed an open statement against the practice of relying on advance directives to euthanize dementia patients who could not confirm that they wanted to die. Critics say that the doctor crossed a line in this case. It was crossed when the Dutch senate legalized euthanasia in 2001.

• Blackface, and minstrelsy, the performance tradition that featured it, bear a freight of white condescension and contempt. They also carried an undercurrent of mimicry and mockery of white culture. Who was laughing at whom? These days, blackface means racism, pure and simple. So when pictures of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau wearing blackface in his twenties surfaced in the homestretch of Canada’s election, they swallowed the news cycle. Objectively, what Trudeau did is trivial; PC rigidly applied would ban an awful lot of costumes, including Halloween ones (one of his dark appearances was as a turbaned Aladdin). At the same time, it is satisfying to see a purebred liberal behaving as liberals imagine only yahoos do. It is, finally, amusing to see Canadians agonizing about blackface, not a significant issue in Canadian history — the small country trying, yet again, to acquire attention and importance by emulating the problems of its troubled neighbor to the south.

• Sam Smith, an English singer-songwriter, has declared himself “nonbinary,” meaning that he “identifies” as neither male nor female. He also announced that he has new pronouns: He wishes to be referred to as “they” and “them.” In related news, Merriam-Webster added a definition of “they”: “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” Peter Sokolowski, an editor and lexicographer with the company, said, “If we see that a term is used frequently, then it’s going to get into the dictionary. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if it weren’t reflecting the truth of the way language is used.” And we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t stand athwart history, yelling Stop.

• The gender fad is now being extended to the animal kingdom . . . sorry, we mean the animal monarchy. At a London aquarium, the staff somehow deduced that two of their female penguins had formed a couple, so in a fit of wokeness, they gave the pair an egg to hatch and decided that when the baby was born, it would not be assigned a gender. What does that mean, exactly, in the penguin-development context? Will it wear a ball gown every other day instead of a tuxedo? Nope. In fact, it turns out not to mean much at all. The baby bird will not be given a gendered name, and instead of a red or blue tag to identify it as male or female, it will wear a neutral purple one. That’s it. According to the Washington Examiner, aquarium staff admit that the penguins probably don’t know that they are deconstructing gender norms, and that “any future breeding of the [baby] penguin will be determined based on ‘the gender its biology determines.’” Hmm, biology determining gender? Time for this aquarium to be canceled.

• Iowa State was hosting the University of Iowa in their annual football showdown, and during the pre-game broadcast, a fan named Carson King held up a sign with his username from Venmo (a cash-transfer website), soliciting contributions so he could buy beer. Within a few minutes, he had $400, and by the end of the game, the total was more than $1,000. King announced that after deducting the price of a case of Busch Light, he would donate all the money he collected to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Then the donations really started pouring in. Busch made a generous contribution, as did Venmo; the news coverage spread; more companies and individuals kicked in; and within a week King had raised more than a million dollars for the hospital. Who knew so much good could start with asking for beer money?

• One of NR’s strengths is the long tenure of many colleagues. Such comes with a downside: When one moves on, it comes as a blow. Kevin Longstreet, longtime ad salesman, life of any party, joy of any office scrum, leaves us after 30-plus years to seek new ventures. He was a favorite of Bill Buckley, who had competition from his wife. Scene from an NR cruise: At the port in Harwich (U.K.), Pat Buckley — steamed that WFB had gotten them onto the wrong bus (to the Tower of London) — emerged from a frustrating sojourn and, before scores of gang-planking subscribers, loudly faux-raged that she would seek a divorce . . . to be followed by marriage to Young Kevin. Never refusing a company task, Kevin expressed his willingness. There was always a new NR duty for him: Over the decades, the former NR mailroom jockey and colorful, caper-pulling, street-smart, ready-to-rumble Yankee fan had roles as the right hand to publisher Ed Capano, first mate on scores of NR cruises, successful ad salesman, friend to all. No matter the station of those he encountered, Kevin shared his nature and rogue’s humor, generously and equally, and got the same in return. The anecdotes are legend. Another from an NR sailing: Kevin picked up cruise speaker Karl Rove from a Mexican airport, after which gun-toting cops surrounded and stopped their car, from which sprang Kevin, firing expletives and brandishing intimidation and threats. The federales backed down. On the ship, an admiring Rove regaled the crowd about his new BFF with a talent for getting things done. Deep friendships remain, as do heavy hearts. We wish him godspeed.

• Cokie Roberts was a fixture in the Washington media for more than 40 years. She grew up there: a daughter of Hale Boggs, the House member from New Orleans (Democrat) who served as majority leader. He died in a plane crash in 1972. He was succeeded in Congress by his wife, Cokie’s mother, Lindy Boggs — who later, under Clinton, became ambassador to the Holy See. Cokie worked for NPR, ABC, and other outlets. She is looked up to by many political journalists as a “founding mother.” She was distinguished by her unique first name, professional competence, good cheer, and good looks. One of the raps against her was that she represented the establishment view and the conventional wisdom. In her case, those things weren’t always bad. Cokie Roberts has died at 75. R.I.P.

• T. Boone Pickens pursued several distinct careers: He began as an oilman, spent the Eighties as what we used to call a “corporate raider,” launched a hedge fund, and spent the last years of his career as an outright crony capitalist looking to have his businesses subsidized by the federal government in the name of “energy independence.” His record of achievement was rich if mixed: Most of his high-profile corporate-takeover attempts failed, but they did make him and his investors a pile of money, and the notoriety landed him on magazine covers. He was a generous philanthropist, a sometime advocate of “peak oil” theory, and a political dilettante — after toying with a Trump-style run for the presidency in 1988, he grew close to both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president in a 2007 article for National Review. His relations with this magazine were not always friendly: During a visit to our Manhattan offices, he descended into pique when an editor described his “Pickens Plan” as a trillion-dollar subsidy for his wind-power and natural-gas businesses being sold under the label of “economic patriotism” — which it was. Even the arch-capitalist is vulnerable to the lure of central planning. Dead at 91. R.I.P.

• “I always say that if you had been there you would have done exactly the same,” Diet Eman told an American audience in 2012, referring to her rescue of Dutch Jews during the Second World War, downplaying her heroism. After Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 and enacted anti-Semitic laws, Eman, 20 years old, secured hiding for a friend who had been designated for “relocation” to a concentration camp. Before long, she had found refuge for another 60, traveling by train and bicycle to sneak ration cards and false ID papers to those attempting to evade Nazi authorities. Arrested by the Gestapo, she spent three months at the Vught concentration camp; her fiancé died at Dachau. A serious Christian, she explained in her memoir that she had no patience for the pious claim that “we shouldn’t interfere with what went on because the Occupation itself was God’s will.” President Reagan thanked her for her courage, in 1982. In 1998, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem granted her the title “Righteous among the Gentiles.” Dead at 99. Rest in well-deserved peace.

POLITICS
The Ukraine Mess

After a year of tap-dancing along the river’s edge, Nancy Pelosi may have crossed the Rubicon. She endorsed a formal impeachment inquiry into the president that will likely lead to House Democrats’ impeaching him. 

The proximate cause is the fact that Trump urged Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had a lucrative gig on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The political backdrop, of course, is the Biden presidential candidacy.

Trump shouldn’t have raised this with his Ukrainian counterpart. American political campaigns should be American affairs. Yet a presidential act can be wrong, even blatantly wrong, without justifying impeachment. Democrats in the grip of an anti-Trump fever currently are ignoring that distinction.

But whatever the vulnerabilities of the Bidens, pursuing them is obviously not an appropriate goal of U.S. foreign policy. It would be even worse if Ukraine were presented with a quid pro quo, an investigation of Biden in exchange for U.S. defense aid.

As we went to press, the White House released a transcript of a key call between Trump and Zelensky that contained no explicit quid pro quo, although Trump did raise the Bidens. The White House is also preparing to give Congress a whistleblower complaint from an intelligence official that got the story going.

The brewing impeachment fight will inevitably involve questions about the analogous behavior of past presidents. We would want to learn, for example, about the Obama administration’s dealings with Kyiv in 2016, when a Ukrainian investigation involving Trump-campaign official Paul Manafort was suddenly revived, and a leak of documents — sourced to a Ukrainian legislator tied to the Clinton campaign — resulted in Manafort’s ouster as campaign chairman. We would also want to learn more about the investigation of alleged Trump–Russia “collusion,” which appears to have been encouraged by the Obama administration and whose origins are currently being probed by the Trump Justice Department.

We mention this not to excuse anything Trump has done, or the politicization of American foreign relations. They should be conducted solely on the basis of America’s interests, not those of the president. But Donald Trump would not be the first president to commingle these as if they were one and the same. Now, whether the public considers his conduct truly impeachable will be one of the crucial questions laying the groundwork for the 2020 election.

NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

In This Issue

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White House

More Evidence the Guardrails Are Gone

At the end of last month, just as the news of the Ukraine scandal started dominating the news cycle, I argued that we're seeing evidence that the guardrails that staff had placed around Donald Trump's worst instincts were in the process of breaking down. When Trump's staff was at its best, it was possible to draw ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review

Farewell

Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More
Elections

Democrats Think They Can Win without You

A  few days ago, Ericka Anderson, an old friend of National Review, popped up in the pages of the New York Times lamenting that “the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion ... Read More