The Great Awakening

Something has changed over the course of the last five weeks. Barack Obama, who seemed politically invincible to his supporters and many media commentators, now seems vulnerable. His approval ratings are dropping, public concern is rising, the debt is exploding, and the economy is, in many respects, worsening. This may simply be a bit of a rough patch he can ride through and overcome; or it may be the beginning of a longer slide. Time will tell. But Obama seems less politically formidable than he did. The main reason for this shift is that Obama’s signature initiative to date, his $787 billion stimulus package — the first major legislation of his presidency, quickly passed in order to both avert a catastrophe and jump-start the economy — has been a bust. “I think my initial measure of success is creating or saving four million jobs,” Obama said in February, when speaking about the goals of the stimulus package. Yet unemployment is significantly higher today than when Obama took office (9.5 percent v. 7.6 percent) and significantly higher than Obama and his Administration predicted (we were told to expect a high of 8 percent this year).

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The Great Awakening

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The Conservative Crack-Up, 2017 Edition

Podcast: Conservatism in shackles while O.J. goes free?

On the second of this week’s podcasts, I ask Abe Greenwald and Noah Rothman whether the health-care debacle this week is simply a reflection of the same pressures on the conservative coalition Donald Trump saw and conquered by running for president last year—and what it will mean for him and them that he has provided no rallying point for Republican politicians. And then we discuss OJ Simpson. Give a listen.

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Macron’s Terrorism Idiocy

Hyperbole yields cynicism, not the other way around.

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron surprised almost everyone when he invited President Donald Trump to celebrate Bastille Day with him in Paris, especially after the two leaders’ awkward first meeting in Brussels in May. After all, between now and then, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and Macron has become perhaps the most vocal critic of Trump among European leaders.

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Trump Quietly Gives Putin What He Wants

Quid pro quo?

Until now, the notion that Donald Trump was providing Russia and Vladimir Putin with concessions at the expense of U.S. interests was poorly supported. That all changed on Wednesday afternoon when the Washington Post revealed that Donald Trump ordered his national security advisor and CIA director to scrap a program that provided covert aid to anti-Assad rebels in Syria.

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Voters in the Age of Affect

Is it Trump's posture, or is it simpler than that?

Though it enjoys a level of political dominance unseen since the 1920s, the Republican Party’s agenda is stalled. Yet, despite their failure to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Republicans are damned like Sisyphus to keep trying. Republican office holders must now administer health care’s taxes and subsidies, and the rest of the GOP agenda cannot advance without freeing up the revenue dedicated to the administration of ObamaCare. A dysfunctional, one-party Congress led by an unpopular neophyte in the Oval Office should precipitate a backlash among voters. But that outcome is far from certain. Ubiquitous surveys and studies dedicated to uncovering the mystery that is the curious and contradictory Trump voter suggests that this may indeed be a new political epoch.

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Iran’s Newest Hostage is Different

An escalation.

On July 16, 2017, Iranian Judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi announced that Iran had sentenced an American to ten years in prison for alleged espionage. An Iranian judiciary website subsequently identified the American as 37-year-old, China-born Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University Ph.D. student in history.

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