Midterms and the National Mood

Reprieve?

The news this morning that the unemployment has fallen below 4 percent for the first time since the year 2000—which was itself the first time the rate had gone that low since the 1960s—brings up an interesting twist as we consider what the midterm elections might hold in November. So the general proposition is that midterm elections always favor the “out” party because its members are more fired up than the president’s party, because it’s easy to focus on the president and blame him for the country’s ills, and because the political dynamic seems to be that the electorate doesn’t want one party too dominant.

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Midterms and the National Mood

Must-Reads from Magazine

Politics, Not Paranoia

When Washington works.

It’s understandable that cynicism has become the default approach for average Americans navigating the political environment. Interpreting events as the product of a raw power contest rather than a clash between competing principles is not only simpler but often correct. Occasionally, though, a purely cynical understanding of how politicians conduct themselves can lead observers astray. Sneering pessimism alone would not have led anyone to conclude that bipartisanship would be breaking out in Washington in an election year. But, to a degree, it is.

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PODCAST: Philip Roth, RIP

The Life and Legacy of Philip Roth

On a special edition of the COMMENTARY podcast, we discuss the life and legacy of Philip Roth, whose work we both admire and find wanting. Give a listen. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

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The EU Picks Iran and Hamas

Process for its own sake.

European Union bureaucrats love to speak of “European values,” and their media allies on both sides of the Atlantic take it for granted that the EU stands for all that is good and just on the international scene. For a certain type of journalist or NGO worker, if the EU does or says something, that act or statement must be admirable by dint of the fact that it originated in Brussels. Yet too often, the EU stands for diplomacy for its own sake, process for its own sake, bureaucracy for its own sake–even when insisting on diplomacy, process, and bureaucracy for their own sake ends up empowering murderous enemies of European values.

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The Limits of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Usefulness

A transactional theology.

To understand the liberal worldview, the contrived campaign to make Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg into some kind of a folk hero is a useful object of study. She has been the subject of a variety of hagiographical portraiture, ranging from fawning magazine profiles and sycophantic treatment in film to illustrated children’s books. She inspires her followers to get her image tattooed onto their bodies, to mimic her fitness routines, to feel as she felt and to weep as she wept.

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The Russian Collusion No One Cares About

It's not scheming when we like it.

By now, those who began the Trump era convinced that the president was Vladimir Putin’s puppet are surely frustrated by the dearth of supporting evidence. Donald Trump has spent his tenure repaying the Russian Federation for its interference in the 2016 election by imposing stiff sanctions on the Kremlin and its associates, arming the regime’s opponents, and degrading the capabilities of its allies. While there are few areas where Washington and Moscow have collaborated, that is not to say that they do not exist. If there is one particularly important arena where the White House has been happy to cede turf to the Russian president, it is in Syria.

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