Words Matter

Roger Simon of Politico observes:

You know a candidate is really feeling the heat when he starts complaining about the kitchen. You know a candidate is having problems when he starts complaining about the process. Wednesday night, in a debate here, Barack Obama complained a number of times about the presidential campaign process and how some people spend way too much time “obsessing” about some of the things that he and others have actually said.

Sure enough, Obama’s campaign manager came out right after the debate with a defensive-sounding statement:

Tonight we saw a real choice between the old politics of point-scoring and distraction and a politics that focuses on bringing us together to actually solve the challenges we talk about every single election.

So we have now come full circle. The candidate who cribbed the line “Words matter” and bragged that his rhetoric lifts all comers has been reduced to complaining that words–his words–don’t matter. The man who was to lead a movement, whose judgment and virtue were cause (finally) for pride in America, now says that the particulars of his past and his associations with friends and mentors are a “distraction.”

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Words Matter

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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