Editorial Archives


A Careless Executive

Feb 15, 2016

In few cases in its long history has the Supreme Court had occasion to interpret Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, which provides that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." This year it may have another. We'll know by the end of the Court's term in June, just as the presidential race is heating up.

United States v. Texas is the case to watch. At issue is President Obama's executive action on immigration known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). Under DAPA, undocumented immigrants who satisfy certain conditions may live here for three years, a temporary reprieve from deportation, and obtain work permits.

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He's Still Alive!

Feb 15, 2016

It’s been one scary horror movie. But now, at last, the happy ending. The slasher is dead. The aliens have been defeated. The flesh-eating zombies have been disposed of once and for all. The vampires will never suck blood again. You exhale. You relax. You heave a sigh of relief.

Big mistake! As even the most casual observer of cinematic conventions knows, this is the moment of maximum peril. The moment when, suddenly, the slasher's not really dead. The aliens aren't all gone. The zombies haven't been disposed of. The vampires are stirring. They're BACK!!!!

Donald Trump lost Iowa. But he's far from politically dead and decisively defeated.

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The Party of the Constitution

Feb 08, 2016

The Weekly Standard looks forward to the 58th swearing-in of a president of the United States on January 20, 2017. The oath-taking is the heart of the occasion. It’s what makes the winner of the presidential election legally and constitutionally able to execute the office of the president. All the rest is ceremony. That's why Abraham Lincoln, for example, who thought deeply about these things, begins his second Inaugural Address with these words: "At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office .  .  . "

And where does that oath come from? The Constitution. The president is the only officer of the United States whose oath is specified in the Constitution.

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The Confidence Man

Feb 01, 2016

Depicted by masters of American literature from Herman Melville to Mark Twain to Donald Westlake, cropping up in real life in each epoch of our great hustling and bustling and grasping commercial republic, the confidence man is a primordial American type. Many accounts treat him with some affection, as an understandable (if deformed and ultimately deplorable) product of the boredom and excesses of complacent bourgeois life, a figure who livens up our often dreary and earnest landscape. Vulgarian and climber, braggart and charlatan, he tends to be portrayed as pretty harmless in the big scheme of things, someone who does limited damage to the republic as a whole—though of course he can impoverish individuals and damage

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The Nominee We Deserve?

Feb 01, 2016

Do Republicans deserve to lose? Consider the state of play as we write this in late January, just days from the first GOP nominating contests.

The Republican frontrunner is a longtime liberal whose worldview might best be described as an amalgam of pop-culture progressivism and vulgar nationalism. His campaign rallies are orgies of self-absorption, dominated by juvenile insults of those who criticize him and endless boasting about his poll numbers.

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Unabated Hostility

Jan 25, 2016

Early last Wednesday, Iran released the ten American sailors it had detained to coincide with President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. The administration understood clearly that the Iranians were both trying to ruin Obama's victory lap and sending a message—on the eve of implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—that Tehran will be calling the shots. So Obama made no mention of Iran's capturing 10 Americans during his speech: No way were the Iranians going to get a rise out of him on his day.

The administration would prefer to forget the incident entirely—along with a series of other hostile acts by Iran since the nuclear deal was signed in July.

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On the Ropes

Jan 25, 2016

Obamacare is closer than ever to being repealed. Congressional Republicans recently took one of their most assertive actions against it to date, while the centerpiece of the Obama presidency is playing out even worse than most of its opponents predicted. What’s missing is a presidential contender willing to run on an alternative to Obamacare. Whoever steps up with a replacement plan that is at once conservative and general-election-ready is likely to reap rewards from grateful Republican voters and, soon after, the wider electorate.

That's because Obamacare, always poised to be a disaster, is now becoming one. Obamacare supporter Charles Gaba calculates that premiums in the Obamacare exchanges have risen some 12 percent

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Neither Trump Nor Hillary

Jan 25, 2016

I’ve spent much of this week in Jerusalem discussing with young Israelis the subject of America—both the classics of our political thought and the history of modern American conservatism. I've found the seminars interesting and the conversations stimulating, not so very different from similar discussions with young Americans. I've noticed, though, one difference—not in my interlocutors but in my own attitude. At home, one is wary of seeming too solemn or earnest even in discussing weighty matters. The ponderous self-regard of so many in public life inclines one towards the opposite stance.

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The Oregon Standoff

Jan 18, 2016

East of the Cascade Mountains, Oregon is largely bitterbrush and high desert. Virtually no one lives there, and compared with the populous and rainy Willamette Valley to the west, agriculture is difficult. Unless you’re from the area—I was raised there—it's hard to appreciate the sense of space, let alone understand the hotly contested land dispute between the federal government and ranchers-turned-militiamen who have occupied a federal building in Burns, Oregon.

Most people on the East Coast have no idea how much land the federal government controls out west. Over half of Oregon is under federal control, and that proportion is much higher in eastern Oregon. (Although it could be worse: The federal government

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Incendiary Correctness

Jan 18, 2016

"Suddenly there was a hand on my bottom .  .  ." was the rather atypical headline that ran in Germany's ordinarily conservative daily newspaper Die Welt on January 4. It described a riot-like series of sexual assaults and robberies carried out on New Year's Eve in the center of Cologne on the Domplatz, the plaza between the city's train station and its world-famous cathedral. The assailants were mostly described as Arab-looking. Thus far 120 victims have filed criminal complaints, two of them for rape. Descriptions of the assaults have appeared in newspapers across Germany. The stories are varied and shocking. ("They made a kind of wall around us," one of two high-school girls surrounded by a gang of youths

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Thank You, Donald

Jan 18, 2016

Writing in mid-June, a couple of days after Donald Trump announced his candidacy, we offered the judgment that he should not be our next president: “We're not Trump enthusiasts. We're not even Trump fellow travelers. We're closer to Trump deriders."

And so we unapologetically remain. It would be ungracious not to acknowledge Trump's remarkable standing in the polls six months later. But we see no reason to alter our conclusion that Donald Trump shouldn't be president of the United States. Indeed, Trump's behavior over this period has confirmed our judgment. If back in June we wrote that the rest of the presidential field could use "A Little Touch of Trump," it's fair to say that we've gotten more Trump than we bargained

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The Obama Doctrine

Feb 13, 2012

Since President Obama arrived in the Oval Office three years ago there have been many efforts to explain his foreign and defense policy succinctly. Is there an Obama Doctrine? While many theories have been propounded, the recent State of the Union speech settles the matter.

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Slow and Infuriating

Feb 13, 2012

Last Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder was called to testify before Congress. His attitude toward  his questioners was by any measure unbecoming of his office. At one point he actually demanded he be “given some credit” for his performance as attorney general. Though, bad as that outburst was, it was slightly less petulant than the earlier insinuation that his critics are racist. 

One hopes Holder isn’t expecting kudos for his handling of the Fast and Furious scandal—the reason for

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Happy New Year?

Jan 11, 2016

Well, we’ve endured 2015, the next to last year of the Obama administration. It's not been without damage to the country—both to its constitutional fabric and its standing in the world. But endured we have. One more year to go.

The point, though, per William Faulkner, is not just to endure but to prevail. America can prevail if today's conservatism prevails—by which we mean a conservatism that incorporates most that is good about yesteryear's liberalism and today's conservatism, and that is also willing to think and act anew, as our case is new. And conservatism can most easily prevail if the political party that is the home of conservatism prevails—the Republican party.

In fact, the prospects

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Five Words? Next Year Will Be Worse

Jan 11, 2016

It was a great year for the Obama administration’s foreign policy .  .  . says the Obama administration. The State Department even created a new hashtag to celebrate the White House's annus mirabilis—#2015in5Words. "Protecting Arctic Climate and Communities" and "Protecting Health of Our Ocean" are among two of the administration's big wins.

A few of the claims are of course questionable, like "Winning Fight Against Violent Extremists." Okay, congratulations to the White House for hosting a conference on countering violent extremism in February.

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Lying About Gitmo

Dec 28, 2015

Let's begin with the conclusion: Barack Obama is releasing dangerous terrorists against the recommendations of military and intelligence professionals, he's doing so at a time when the threat level from radical Islamists is elevated, and he is lying about it. He is lying about how many jihadists he has released and lying about their backgrounds, all part of his effort to empty the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.

We write this knowing the accusation is a strong one and that the word lying will offend the sensibilities of the establishment media. There is an unwritten rule that requires euphemizing lies with gentler descriptions, especially when talking about the president of the United States.

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Giving Iran a Pass

Dec 28, 2015

Throughout the debate over the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Obama administration insisted that its approach to brokering a deal with the mullahs is guided by a simple principle: "verification, not trust." Of course, by the time a deal was struck the Obama administration had given away the store, so there was precious little left to verify. Recall that prior to the negotiations, the White House position was that Iran's entire nuclear weapons program should be dismantled, centrifuges and all. Well, that didn't happen. Then the administration promised Iran would have to submit to "anytime, anywhere" inspections of their nuclear facilities. Somehow that evolved into letting Iran

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The Kids Are Alright

Dec 28, 2015

As college campuses shut down for winter break, the Maoist insanity that gripped American higher education this fall hit a new high-water mark. At Harvard, little laminated posters began appearing in the student dining halls with instructions on how students should discuss sensitive political topics with the rubes back home over the holidays. For example, what if, over Kwanzaa-eve dinner, a family member says, "We shouldn't let anyone in the U.S. from Syria. We can't guarantee that terrorists won't infiltrate the ranks of the refugees." Well, the poster instructed students to respond, "Racial justice includes welcoming Syrian refugees.

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Our Opera Buffa

Dec 21, 2015

On January 15, 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote proudly from Prague to his friend Baron Gottfried von Jacquin: "Here nothing is talked about except Figaro; nothing is played, blown, sung, and whistled except Figaro; no opera draws the crowds like Figaro. It's always Figaro. Certainly it's a great honor for me."

Now, after more than two centuries of human progress, in great cities supposedly more advanced and more enlightened than the Prague of 1787, we have come to this: Here nothing is talked about except Trump; nothing is reported, analyzed, praised, and denounced except Trump; no candidate draws the crowds like Trump. It's always Trump.

Certainly this is not a great honor to America.

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Union No

Dec 21, 2015

On December 7, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a federal investigation of the Chicago police department. Recent history shows that the Obama Department of Justice cannot be counted on to perform a competent investigation, but at least this particular inquiry is not without cause. The city has earned the nickname "Chiraq," because by international standards, certain Chicago neighborhoods have some of the highest murder rates anywhere in the world. Even as the city has become an abattoir, police have been routinely abusive—a series of troubling investigations suggests the police were operating a "black site" out of an off-the-books warehouse where cops were holding and interrogating suspects without due process.

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Obama’s Intel Scandal

Dec 07, 2015

Barack Obama says he wants the truth. On November 21, the New York Times reported allegations that military intelligence officials provided the president with skewed assessments that minimized the threat from ISIS and overstated the success of U.S. efforts against the group. The Times story was an update of reporting from the Daily Beast earlier this fall.

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Who Gets In, Who Doesn’t?

Dec 07, 2015

Next month the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, one of the most important cases this term. In 2008 Fisher, a white high school senior in Texas, applied for admission to the university and was turned down.

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Not to Worry

Dec 14, 2015

You're worried. Okay, you're alarmed. Actually, you're panicked. Donald Trump will be the nominee and destroy the party. It's embarrassing for the GOP that Ben Carson has so much support. Marco Rubio will be judged by voters too young and inexperienced for the Oval Office. Ted Cruz would be a certain loser to Hillary Clinton. And it's too late for someone else to come from behind and win the nomination. All scenarios lead to disaster.

Not to worry. All will be well .  .  . probably.

First and foremost, we will likely be spared a Trump nomination. In the latest national poll, taken at the end of November by Quinnipiac, Trump leads the GOP field with 27 percent, 10 points ahead of Rubio at 17

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The Downward Spiral

Dec 14, 2015

Obamacare has an incurable preexisting condition: It eats away at the private insurance market on which it relies. That market cannot survive Obamacare's hubristic mandates, and Obamacare cannot survive the collapse of that market. On their present course, both are doomed.

The challenge for conservatives is to figure out how, upon Obamacare's repeal, to rescue private insurance. If conservatives don't save that market, liberals will—only it will no longer be a market for private insurance, and there will no longer be millions of purchasers, but just one.

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Unspeakable Kerry

Nov 30, 2015

Speaking in Paris on November 17, Secretary of State John Kerry made what are already infamous comments about the fight against terrorists and terrorism. He spoke to the staff and families of the U.S. embassy in Paris, and his remarks deserve quoting at some length—because they display a deep misunderstanding of what we are up against and how it must be fought. In State Department lingo his remarks would be called “deeply troubling.” In normal English usage, they are astonishing and unforgivable. Here are two paragraphs.

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The Deal and the War

Nov 30, 2015

In July the Obama administration and its European and Russian partners met with Iran in Vienna to sign the so-called nuclear deal. The general idea was to at least delay nuclear proliferation in an already volatile part of the world. No doubt the White House was hoping for much more—that the Islamic Republic of Iran could be welcomed back into the community of nations, bringing stability to a violent Middle East. But it is now clear that Obama’s great diplomatic endeavor has had the opposite effect: Sectarian war is engulfing the Middle East.

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Liberal Sanctimony

Nov 30, 2015

It would be an interesting exercise to trace the history of the word sanctimony. In its original derivation from the Latin sanctimonia, it seems to have had the straightforward sense of sanctity or sacredness. But centuries ago, it took on its current meaning—of pretended or affected or hypocritical holiness. Already in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure Lucio remarks on “the sanctimonious pirate, that went to sea with the Ten Commandments, but scraped one out of the table”—i.e., that thou shalt not steal.

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The Self-Destruction of the American University

Nov 23, 2015

“To give oneself the law is the highest freedom. The much-lauded ‘academic freedom’ will be expelled from the German university; for this freedom was not genuine because it was only negative. It primarily meant lack of concern, arbitrariness of intentions and inclinations, lack of restraint in what was done and left undone. The concept of the freedom of the German student is now brought back to its truth. Henceforth, the bond and service of German students will unfold from this truth.”

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‘I Need Some Muscle’

Nov 23, 2015

For decades, the American university system has been creeping towards both moral and intellectual bankruptcy. But the events last week at Yale and the University of Missouri suggest we are reaching a tipping point, and that campus culture is transitioning from painfully idiotic to wantonly destructive. Even at the height of the Vietnam war protests, administrators endeavored, with varying degrees of success, to keep the inmates from running the asylum.

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Repeal: Now More Than Ever

Nov 16, 2015

We are just a year from November 8, 2016, and the election that will largely determine the fate of Obamacare, and the news isn’t good for President Obama’s centerpiece legislation. Premiums continue to rise, doctor and hospital networks continue to shrink, Americans continue to balk at buying government-mandated insurance, the legislation continues to be historically unpopular, and Republicans are getting close to uniting behind a conservative alternative that can lead to full repeal.

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