Lessons to Learn

This very insightful piece on the McCain campaign makes several points. First, it was not necessarily the financial crisis per se, but John McCain’s reaction to it, that ultimately did him in. Second, the suggestion was the brainchild of Steve Schmidt. He proved to be exactly the wrong advisor for McCain, who himself is prone to erratic gestures. The combination of the two of them acting to re-enforce their worst tendencies was deadly. Third, a campaign must be about something. The account makes clear they never decided what it was. Fourth, for reasons that escape me, the McCain crew still feels compelled to slur Sarah Palin, in this case criticizing her debate prep performance. (The fact that her actual performance was winning and largely without flaw goes unremarked upon by the snipers.) Does this justify their own failures? How does slamming the person that Schmidt selected and McCain approved help restore their own image? And it escapes me why they seek to tarnish and diminish the hopes of the person who may serve the Party they claim to love — either as a future Presidential candidate or as a spokesperson for reform and rebuilding.

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Lessons to Learn

Must-Reads from Magazine

The Favor Trump Has Done for the Politically Correct

Legacy achievement.

The controversy surrounding ugly and profane remarks Donald Trump allegedly made in a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators has had a longer half-life than the average Trump-linked contretemps, perhaps because so many appear willing to throw themselves under its treads.

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Venezuela Targets the Catholic Church

Deliver us from communism.

Vatican diplomacy moves slowly and cautiously. The Pope is the spiritual leader of some 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, but he commands no armies and his statecraft runs mostly on moral authority. He and his representatives understandably prefer quiet, behind-the-scenes advocacy to public grandstanding. But from time to time, it becomes necessary for the Holy See and the Pope himself to throw down the gauntlet to worldly authorities that threaten the Church and her flock.

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But Will Democrats Overplay Their Hand?

Confrontation or competence?

Republicans are fortunate. Whenever they find themselves in positions of advantage amid a crisis or controversy that reflects poorly on Democrats, the press becomes consumed with concern for the GOP’s well-being. In these moments of Democratic misfortune, political analysts in media can often be heard fretting over the prospect of Republican “overreach.” They warn that those in the GOP should not “overplay their hand,” and observe that the scandals engulfing their opposition are subordinate to the fact that Republicans have an unattractive tendency to “pounce” on the news. Democrats don’t have the luxury of such faithful and consistent mentorship, which is unfortunate for them. They’re going to need it. With Republicans stumbling into one self-set trap after another, and their opponents enjoying the spoils, the Trump era’s newly empowered Democrats already seem tempted to mistake their good fortune for a mandate.

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The First Rule of S—holes

Podcast: The politics of profanity.

Donald Trump can’t decide which person he is on immigration—the one with love or the one who prefers Nordics to Nigerians. Meanwhile, Hawaii tells its people a ballistic missile is on its way but surprise! It isn’t. And everybody blames Trump anyway. It’s our first podcast of the week. Give a listen.

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Revenge of the Unduly Reprieved

Clemancy for Manning and Arpaio backfires.

Americans are about to have another “entertaining” election cycle at a time when the country desperately needs a return to boredom and predictability. In Arizona, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s decision to challenge conspiracy-theory enthusiast and former state Senator Kelli Ward ensures that the race to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake will become a competition to see who can do their best Roy Moore impression. Democrats should hold the schadenfreude. They have their own embarrassment to contain in Maryland, where Chelsea Manning—the former U.S. Army soldier court-martialed in 2013 for violating the Espionage Act—will challenge Senator Ben Cardin. Both candidacies represent a humiliating stain on their respective parties, not just because they are reflective of their increasingly legitimized fringes, but because they are the result of the worst ideological excesses of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

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