The Atlantic »

Regular Democrats Just Aren’t Worried About Bernie

February 19, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Judging by media coverage and the comments of party luminaries, you might think Democrats are bitterly polarized over Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid. Last month, Hillary Clinton declared that “nobody likes” the Vermont senator. Last week, James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, said he was “scared to death” of the Sanders campaign, which he likened to “a cult.” Since the beginning of the year, news organization after news organization has speculated that Sanders’s success may set off a Democraticcivil war.”   

But polls of Democratic voters show nothing of the sort. Among ordinary Democrats, Sanders is strikingly popular, even with voters who favor his rivals. He sparks less opposition—in some cases far less—than his major competitors. On paper, he appears well positioned to unify the party should he win its presidential nomination.

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Jewish Currents »

“The One Issue That Matters”

February 13, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

THE CRITICS who think Bernie Sanders isn’t Jewish enough—or isn’t Jewish in the right way—now have a clear alternative in the Democratic presidential race: Michael Bloomberg. Not only is the former New York mayor rising in the polls; he’s also contrasting his Jewish identity with that of the senator from Vermont. Late last month, Bloomberg sprinkled a speech at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in South Florida with the kind of religious references (the Ten Plagues, Moses descending from Mount Sinai) and cultural schmaltz (the pickles at Wolfie’s Deli) that Sanders generally eschews. “I’m not the only Jewish candidate running for president,” Bloomberg added. “But I am the only one who doesn’t want to turn America into a kibbutz.”

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The Atlantic »

Impeachment Hurt Somebody. It Wasn’t Trump.

February 6, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

The impeachment struggle is now over. Historians may one day vindicate Democrats for exposing Donald Trump’s abuse of power. But as of now, they have lost. Not only will Trump remain president, and not only does he appear stronger politically than before the impeachment battle began, but he has succeeded in doing precisely what he wanted in the first place: He tarred Joe Biden, who last year looked like Trump’s most formidable Democratic rival, with the kind of vague suspicion of wrongdoing that presidential candidates can’t easily shake.

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The Atlantic »

John Bolton Spoke Up When Other Republicans Didn’t

January 30, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Give John Bolton his due. By writing a book that apparently corroborates the core argument of those seeking to impeach and remove President Donald Trump, the former national security adviser has shown genuine moral courage. The literature on moral courage helps explain why: It’s because Bolton is an ideological fanatic. His fervent belief in supporting America’s allies and confronting its adversaries led him to speak up against Trump, who violated that principle by delaying aid to Ukraine in order to pressure it into investigating a political rival.

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Jewish Currents »

What’s In It For Trump

January 29, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

DONALD TRUMP may, as some speculate, have unveiled his Israeli–Palestinian “peace plan” to distract from his ongoing impeachment trial. But the two are connected by more than mere circumstance. In fact, they tell the same story about the way the Trump administration functions. Trump isn’t making foreign policy to benefit the United States. He’s making it to benefit himself.

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Jewish Currents »

Joe Biden’s Alarming Record on Israel

January 27, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

IN EARLY DECEMBER, in a small town in northeastern Iowa, Joe Biden addressed a subject that hasn’t come up much in the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign: the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The former vice president derided Bernie Sanders’s call to condition military aid to the Jewish state as “bizarre.” To explain, he offered an analogy: “It’s like saying to France, ‘Because you don’t agree with us, we’re going to kick you out of NATO.’” Before anyone could query the comparison—is requiring that Israel not use its almost $4 billion per year in US taxpayers’ money to, for instance, detain Palestinian children, really like undoing the Western alliance?—Biden had moved on to the Palestinians. Yes, he acknowledged, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deserves criticism for proposing to annex parts of the West Bank. But he was “tired of everybody giving the Palestinian Authority a pass.” 

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The Atlantic »

Trump Targets a New Group of Immigrants

January 27, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Last week, Politico reported that the Trump administration was considering adding seven new countries to its travel ban. A majority of them—Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, and Nigeria, which is by far the most populous of the seven—are in Africa. The rationalization appears to involve terrorism. In the “counterterrorism” section of a January 17 speech, Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, declared, “We’re establishing criteria that all foreign governments must satisfy to assist DHS in vetting foreign nationals seeking to enter our country … For a small number of countries that lack either the will or the capability to adhere to these criteria, travel restrictions may become necessary to mitigate threats.”

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The Atlantic »

Defending Trump Is a Has-Been’s Best Hope

January 22, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Trace the careers of Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, both of whom joined Donald Trump’s impeachment team last week, and you notice a similar arc. As young men, each rapidly ascended to the upper echelons of the legal profession. At age 28, Dershowitz became the youngest tenured professor in the history of Harvard Law School. At age 37, Starr was appointed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, often called the second-most-powerful court in America. In middle age, each reached the pinnacle of his fame. When Dershowitz was 52, Hollywood turned his most famous case—the acquittal of the socialite Claus von Bülow—into a blockbuster movie. Five years later, he helped defend O. J. Simpson. Starr, at age 51, wrote the report that congressional Republicans used to impeach Bill Clinton. In 1998, Time magazine gave Starr equal billing with the president in anointing the two as Men of the Year.

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The Atlantic »

The Nationalism That Trump Can’t See

January 8, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Iran’s missile attack last night on bases where American forces in Iraq are stationed offered the latest evidence that the Trump administration has done something extraordinary. By killing Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful military leader, at a Baghdad airport, it has turned both Iranian and Iraqi nationalism against the United States.

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The Atlantic »

The Embassy Attack Revealed Trump’s Weakness

January 1, 2020 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Over the past 18 months, Donald Trump has picked a fight with Iran that he won’t end and can’t win. That fight has had horrifying consequences for the Iranian people, led Tehran to restart its nuclear program, and now left parts of the American embassy compound in Baghdad in flames. In the days and weeks to come, Trump’s policy will likely lead either to war or to additional American humiliation, or both.

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