Falling From Grace

In the aftermath of Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, panic has set in among the Democrats. Different factions are reacting in different ways. The Left is arguing that Obama was not liberal or aggressive enough. Moderates are saying Obama’s agenda was too liberal and ambitious. Some are saying it’s more imperative than ever to pass health-care legislation; others are saying that would be the worst thing to do in light of the results in the Bay State. But what they all agree on is that the Obama presidency and the Democratic Party are in a heap of trouble.

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Falling From Grace

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Venezuela Targets the Catholic Church

Deliver us from communism.

Vatican diplomacy is known to move 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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Republicans Are About to Lose an Election About Values

The coming Republican depression.

Congressional Republicans passed tax-code reform into law on December 19, and the near-term effects exceeded even the most wide-eyed optimist’s imaginings. Almost every day since, some large employer has announced its intention to reinvest in capital and workers what they will save as a result of the reduction in the corporate tax rate. This means more employment opportunities and things like raises, bonuses, and 401(k) hikes. Manufacturing is repatriating into the U.S. as a result of the tax bill, and even the minimum wage is on the rise for several major employers. Events have humbled Democrats who predicted that the GOP’s tax reform initiative would only benefit the wealthiest. Republicans should enjoy this modest vindication because it’s all they’re going to get. A reckoning is coming for the GOP, and it has nothing to do with the party’s policies. Voters seem prepared to deliver a negative verdict on Donald Trump.

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