Let’s end this week with a bang: The Conservative party enjoys a gargantuan win over in the United Kingdom, ensuring the passage of Brexit and utterly crushing the hopes of the Left that socialism would be a big winner at the ballot box; a new revelation about Joe Biden and his son Hunter might shake up the Democratic primary; Politico offers a bizarre assessment about Congress; and a Democratic House member is caught watching golf during the impeachment markup.
The Sun Rises on a Whole New World for Conservatives
Holy smokes, what an absolute drubbing from beginning to end — and I’m not just talking about last night’s Jets game. In yesterday’s elections in the United Kingdom, the Conservative party needed 326 seats to have a majority, and they have, as of this writing, 364 with one seat still being counted. That’s a pickup of 47 seats and the biggest win since Margaret Thatcher won her third term in 1987.
Yesterday I laid out why Johnson’s top opponent, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, would be so bad for his country and particularly bad for the United States. Thankfully, the voters in the U.K. rejected the prospect of him as prime minister unequivocally and thoroughly: the Labour party lost 59 seats, in its worst showing since 1935. Corbyn announced last night that he will eventually step down as head of the Labour party.
Last night, Alastair Campbell, a longtime aide to Tony Blair, splashed a bucket of cold water into his party’s face: “It’s so obvious what has to happen . . . They’re delusional if they think the public is going to support their politics. If Boris Johnson gets a full term, it will have been 50 years since any Labour leader other than Tony Blair won a general election. Can they let that sink into their heads and possibly start to reroute their politics back to where people live their lives?”
Brexit is going forward. Skeptics wanted a second referendum; they more or less got one. Last night Johnson declared, “We will get Brexit done on time on the 31st of January — no ifs, no buts, no maybes.”
And while the United Kingdom is not the same as the United States, Boris Johnson is not the same as Donald Trump, and the Labour party is not the same as the U.S. Democratic party . . . if you’re a Democrat, you really should be at least mildly freaked out this morning. Some of the same political and populist currents are running through both countries, and if an old socialist tried to close the deal with British voters in December 2019 and fell flat on his face, there’s good reason to think that an old socialist who tries to close the deal with American voters in 2020 will also fall flat on his face. Bernie Sanders had nothing to do with what happened in the U.K. last night, but he may be one of the figures most damaged by the results.
Last night Joe Biden started making this argument. Speaking at a San Francisco fundraiser, Biden said, “Boris Johnson is winning in a walk . . . Look what happens when the Labour party moves so, so far to the left. It comes up with ideas that are not able to be contained within a rational basis quickly.”
Where there are parallels is that both the U.S. and the U.K. have a media world that is dominated by figures who subscribe to a center-left to harder-left ideology, and who reflexively dismiss conservatives as racist, xenophobic, selfish, greedy, and backward, and who neither understand voters in the suburbs and exurbs nor want to understand them. They have their own heroic narrative about their own enlightenment and superiority over those backward and intolerant hicks, and they’re not interested in anything that interferes with that happy fantasy.
Most of the British media fully expected a close race and perhaps even a “hung parliament,” meaning no party had a majority. In that scenario, it was possible that Corbyn’s party could have won enough seats and created enough alliances with other parties to form a working coalition with a majority, leaving Johnson and the conservatives out in the cold. (Last night, 82 seats went to the Scottish National party, the Liberal Democrats, and other parties.) It is safe to say that most of the people covering the election and informing the public about the election were blindsided — just as they were blindsided by the results of the Brexit referendum in summer of 2016 and many of us stateside were shocked by the election of Donald Trump later that year.
The British media, the governing party of the center-Left, many leaders of the business community . . . many of them all come from the same group and have little interaction with people of dramatically different views. If they are not in the “Davos class,” then they are Davos-class-adjacent. Almost all of them saw Johnson as a bumbling buffoon. Almost all of them see Brexit as economic suicide and subscribed to the idea that it should be stopped by any means necessary — including members of parliament who had campaigned on supporting the idea suddenly changing their minds when asked to enact it.
How many times do western countries have to go through this for urban progressive elites to recognize that they live in a bubble and are offering a vision that is unappealing to so many of their countrymen?
Joe Biden’s Campaign Has Withstood a Lot, but This Scandal Looks Different
For most of 2019, I’ve been bullish — as in the stock market, not as in the droppings — about the chances of Joe Biden to win the Democratic nomination, despite his age, frequent gaffes, and other glaring flaws. He’s been the steady front-runner in national polling since the beginning, he’s still got the most support among African-Americans, and he’s the only major candidate not competing for the Woke Twitter vote, which is wildly overrepresented in our national conversation.
But last night, the Washington Examiner reported a story that hits the Biden campaign hard:
Joe Biden’s son Hunter was arrested on Jersey Shore drug charges in 1988 and had his record expunged at a time when his father was pushing for the incarceration of drug offenders drawn disproportionately from minority groups.
Congressional records reveal that Hunter Biden, now 49, was arrested in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, where the Biden family has often holidayed over the years, in June 1988. Hunter Biden, then 18, had just graduated from the prestigious Archmere Academy prep school, which his father had also attended.
A year after the arrest, Joe Biden gave a speech in which he said the federal government needed to “hold every drug user accountable” because, “If there were no drug users, there would be no appetite for drugs, there would be no market for them.” He neglected to mention the drug use in his own family.
You notice Biden’s old positions on the War on Drugs hadn’t really done much damage to him so far. Voters, particularly those who are old enough to remember the 1980s and the height of the drug war, understand that back then, almost everybody in the political world was eager to demonstrate that they could be the toughest. High crime rates scared people. Back then, very few voters wanted to hear about how they could forgive criminals involved in the drug trade, or how addiction was a disease. We view the issues of drug addiction, crime, and anti-recidivism differently now, and probably for the better.
Nor have you seen many voters recoil from Joe Biden simply because his son has fought a battle against drug addiction and failed many times. Lots of Americans have seen someone in their family battle addiction of one form or another.
But put these two factors together, in a politician who wants to lock up drug users but who makes sure his son is spared the consequences he demands for others? That could be fatal for the campaign. Biden’s family is a huge part of his story, and Hunter Biden’s mixing of business with family connections was already a liability. Now throw in the sense that Biden ensured his son got special treatment? At prep school, no less? (By the way, Archmere Academy tuition for next year is $28,800. Let’s knock it off the talk about “Middle Class Joe.”) In this light, Joe Biden starts to look like every other shamelessly hypocritical politician who thinks the rules and laws apply to everyone else, but not to his family.
Wait, Who ‘Focuses Their Energy on People as Emblematic of Perceived Ills’ Again?
By the way, over in Politico’s newsletter, they offer this assessment:
THE MODERN-DAY CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICAN PARTY has tended to focus its energy on people as emblematic of perceived ills — HILLARY CLINTON and ERIC HOLDER, for example. And, at the moment, they have their eyes transfixed on BIDEN.
That may be accurate, but it’s not like the modern-day Congressional Republican party invented this. Good heavens, go back to the way Congressional Democrats focused upon Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and now Donald Trump. Think about how Congressional Democrats “focused their energy” on Ed Meese, Dan Quayle, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzalez, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh . . . Democratic members of the House introduced two articles of impeachment against Reagan, two against George H.W. Bush, two against George W. Bush, and eight against Trump. Clinton was impeached by the House, but Republicans did not introduce articles of impeachment against Barack Obama.
ADDENDUM: Tell us again how historic, solemn and important impeachment is, Democrats. Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana was caught watching golf on his laptop during the markup.