Jun 23, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 39 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
In the largest turnout in a congressional primary in the history of Virginia politics, the voters of the Commonwealth’s 7th Congressional District last Tuesday decisively chose not to renominate their seven-term representative, now serving as House majority leader, who had massively outspent his little-known challenger.
The reaction in our nation’s capital, 90 miles away? Pretend it didn’t happen. Or if you had to acknowledge it happened, pretend it was of no significance. Or if you had to acknowledge it was of some significance, pretend it was merely a product of unique and local circumstances. Above all: Don’t draw any meaningful conclusions from what happened. And truly above all: Don’t change your behavior in any important way.
So the night after Eric Cantor’s defeat, the House Republican whip, the amiable Kevin McCarthy—the apparent frontrunner to succeed Cantor as leader because intelligent conservatives don’t want to compete for the privilege of serving as No. 2 to the amiable speaker, John Boehner—was telling a group of lobbyists pulled together by the Chamber of Commerce in a private room in a D.C. steakhouse: Don’t worry, nothing much will change, it will be business as usual in the House of Representatives.
But change was in the air. McCarthy spoke at the Capital Grille. Team Cantor had run up a campaign tab of $168,637—more than the total campaign spending of his challenger Dave Brat—at competing steakhouses Bobby Van’s and BLT Steak, a mile away. Who says politicians aren’t responsive to voters?
Over in the other party, its apparently prohibitive presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton told Diane Sawyer she and her husband Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. Presumably her $8 million book advance, already signed and sealed, and her husband’s $15 million advance, shortly to come, weren’t enough as the Clintons “struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.” Undoubtedly not. Presumably after a cavalcade of $200,000 speeches and with a net worth of about $200 million, it’s gotten somewhat easier, a bit less burdensome, for the Queen of the Democrats.
Meanwhile, in real America, veterans are denied care. Other Americans are forced to buy insurance they don’t want at costs they can’t afford while their taxes bail out insurance companies in league with the Obama administration. Meanwhile, in the real world, Americans are abandoned when under attack by terrorists in Benghazi, and terrorists are released from Guantánamo in return for an American who abandoned his fellow soldiers.
And now the Obama administration stands and watches as Iraq, abandoned after a noble if difficult effort on the part of American soldiers and Marines sent to Iraq with the blessing not just of George W. Bush and John McCain but of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, falls apart under the assault of an al Qaeda army that turns out not to be “on the run.” Or at least not “on the run” in the way President Obama meant. Nor does he mean to do anything about the slaughter in Syria and Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice. If you seek Obama’s memorial, look around you.
Of course, the task of the opposition party isn’t to contemplate memorials but to change the course of the nation. The good news for Republicans is that while their D.C. leadership, such as it is, remains relatively clueless, there’s an unusual number of good Senate and House candidates who, if elected this November, might actually shake things up. Even more important than 2014 is 2016. Republicans, for a change, aren’t saddled with the prospect of an out-of-touch insider as their presidential nominee. (Is it conceivable that no populist Democrat will see Hillary Clinton’s glaring weaknesses and take her on?) The populist mantle, the reformist mantle, the Main Street and Middle America mantles, are there for the Republican taking.
The voters of the 7th District in Virginia have rendered, on behalf of their fellow Americans, a verdict of no confidence in the Republican establishment. This November, voters across America will render, we’re increasingly confident, a verdict of no confidence in the Democratic establishment. One could say that the establishments of both parties are “dead broke.”
When Arthur Greenwood rose to speak in the House of Commons on September 2, 1939, responding to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on behalf of the opposition Labour party, the redoubtable Leo Amery called out from the Conservative back benches: “Speak for England!” Will a Republican presidential candidate, in this moment of confusion and crisis, rise to speak for America?
Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
“Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop. We don’t condition that. That’s what every mom and dad who sees a son or daughter sent over into [a] war theater should expect not just from their commander in chief but the United States of America. . . . The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule.
Jun 9, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 37 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
On May 23, a young man killed 6 people and wounded 13 others near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, before turning a gun on himself. But you probably knew that, because the incident was unavoidable in the news. Despite all of the national coverage, the student-government-run newspaper at UCSB, The Bottom Line, had a unique perspective on the crime and could have provided invaluable coverage. Yet they decided not to cover the story:
Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Are Americans today war-weary? Sure. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been frustrating and tiring. Are Americans today unusually war-weary? No. They were wearier after the much larger and even more frustrating conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. And even though the two world wars of the last century had more satisfactory outcomes, their magnitude was such that they couldn’t help but induce a significant sense of war-weariness. And history shows that they did.
Mar 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 24 • By FRED BARNES
Texas attorney general Greg Abbott has a famous saying: “What I really do for fun is I go into the office [and] sue the Obama administration.” Abbott’s relentless struggle against an administration that routinely exceeds its authority and tramples on federalism made him the ringleader among the two dozen Republican state AGs. He’s now running for governor.
Feb 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 23 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On February 11, writing for the Washington Post, Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers ably summarized the latest “bad week for Obamacare.” The Congressional Budget Office concluded that Obamacare will cause “a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.” The CBO also found that Obamacare would—after all the spending and disruption and coercion—still leave about 31 million Americans uninsured a decade after implementation.
Feb 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 • By JAY COST
Last month, the House Republican leadership released its guiding principles on immigration reform. While mostly boilerplate, the document suggests that the House GOP envisions a bill similar to last year’s Senate compromise spearheaded by Marco Rubio: enhanced border security in exchange for legalization of the illegal immigrant population; more visas for the highly skilled and permits for temporary guest workers; and a rationalization of the immigration process.
Feb 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 20 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Election Day is almost nine months off. But right now Republicans seem almost certain to hold the House of Representatives and are likely to take the Senate. Which raises the inevitable question: How might the GOP seize defeat from the jaws of victory?
Jan 13, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 17 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The year 2014 marks a centennial and a bicentennial. The centennial is well known: 1914 saw the beginning of World War I, a calamity perhaps unmatched until then in the history of the West. We will be reminded many times this year in centennial commemorations of the war’s terrible destruction, but also of its devastating political and cultural effects over subsequent decades, and of its continuing deep if often indirect contribution to today’s demoralization of the West.
Jan 13, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 17 • By FRED BARNES
A White House official once noted that the problem with the national press corps is it can only keep one idea in its mind at a time. And while that’s often true, it’s not at the moment in regard to Republicans.
Today’s media line on the Republican party is it faces irreversible decline. That’s on the one hand. On the other, Republicans have a solid shot at capturing the Senate in the midterm elections in November, are all but certain to retain control of the House, and have reasonable prospects of winning the White House in 2016.
Dec 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 16 • By FRED BARNES
President Obama is more perceptive about the shortcomings of government than we thought. “We have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Wow!
Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By LEE SMITH
Two public opinion polls released last week show that the American public is skeptical of the Obama administration’s interim agreement with Iran concerning the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program. Further, the surveys show that Americans by a large majority mistrust the mullahs and, as much as they’d like a negotiated settlement, believe that it’s unlikely.
Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By FRED BARNES
In Washington, folks are celebrating a new bipartisan budget deal that saves us from another full round of reductions in federal spending mandated by the “sequester.” Far fewer are lamenting the dwindling of the sequester itself. As usual, Washington has things upside down.
Dec 2, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 12 • By ELLEN BORK
China’s Communist party leadership concluded an important agenda-setting meeting in Beijing on November 12. At this point much remains unclear about the decisions made at the Third Plenum of the 18th Communist Party Central Committee conclave, including changes to the One China policy, market reforms, and the abolition of the practice of Reeducation Through Labor. Independent media have no access to the proceedings, and even analysts able to read official party documents weren’t completely sure of what they meant.
Nov 25, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 11 • By LEE SMITH
On November 20, negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program recommence in Geneva. The last round two weeks ago ended with egg on the Obama administration’s face after Secretary of State John Kerry failed to clear “bracketed text” with his own side in the talks. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius is rightly credited with saving the day and stopping the White House from making a deal that would have given the Iranians virtually everything they wanted for nothing but empty promises.