Trump Needed It, but What About the GOP?

The AHCA has helped two people so far.

The passage of the House version of the American Health Care Act was a vital necessity for Trump and his White House. Without it, the president’s first six months would have been written off as a meandering farce in which the paralysis that had characterized Washington over the past six years would have been extended ludicrously to a Washington in which Republicans hold both chambers of Congress and the White House. If we learned anything from the Jimmy Carter years, or from the Bush presidency from the fall of 2005 through the election of 2006, it is that the nation comes to feel contempt for a president who appears incompetent. And perhaps that would have been the case with Donald Trump most of all, since his entire candidacy was premised upon his ability to cut through the crap and get things done in a billionaire-businessman kind of way. So what happened yesterday was a big deal, even if the bill is only a third of the way through passage. It must now go to the Senate, which will amend it before it can pass there—and if it does, the House and Senate versions will have to be reconciled and then voted on again by both bodies before going to the president for signature.

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Trump Needed It, but What About the GOP?

Must-Reads from Magazine

Mr. Ellison Goes to Dinner

Collusion of a different color.

My former colleagues at The Wall Street Journal recently unearthed what should be a major political scandal. It involves an anti-American government, a prominent member of Congress, and a far-right group that traffics in anti-Semitism, homophobia, and conspiracy theories. In the current climate of anxiety about “collusion” and the alt-right, you might think the liberal media would give this story top billing.

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Trump Can Do No Right: Human Rights Edition

Damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.

In a New York Times op-ed, Princeton University Professor Gary Bass recently contended that Donald Trump’s record on human rights is a disaster. In the effort to craft a comprehensive denunciation, Bass claimed that Trump is a menace not only when he “ignores” the issue of human rights but also “when he speaks up” about it. That surely covers all the bases.

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Music From Another World

Jóhann Jóhannsson, 1969-2018.

Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was found dead at his apartment in Berlin over the weekend, and police are still investigating the cause. He was 48. Jóhannsson’s richly textured soundscapes and his tremendous contributions to film will long endure.

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Fawning Over North Korea’s ‘Ivanka’ Isn’t Harmless

Yasss, Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers' Party of Korea!

It’s become a familiar pattern. In the manic pursuit of traffic, accolades, or any number of perverse incentives that have little to do with good journalism, the mainstream political press stumbles into a controversy. The controversy prompts a backlash mostly among, but not limited to, conservatives and is summarily disregarded as bad faith posturing. Pretty soon, we’ve all forgotten what the subject of the controversy was in the first place as we ease into familiar forms of partisan warfare like a warm bath. This was the trajectory of the scandalous coverage of North Korea’s diplomatic presence in South Korea for the Olympics, but the tribal animosities between media creator and consumer must be put aside here. The North Koreans’ are playing a 70-year-old game, and the press would do well to avoid unwittingly advancing North Korean objectives.

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Another Bad Olympic Moment

Podcast: Instability at home and abroad.

The bizarre celebration of North Korea’s regime—through its representative, Kim Jong Yo, and its cheerleading squad—leads the COMMENTARY podcast crew to wonder at the degradation of the U.S. media and the continuing foolishness of the very idea of the “Olympic spirit.” We also consider the White House domestic-abuse mess and the dangers of conflict between Israel and Iran. Give a listen.

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