The Atlantic »

Progressives Have Short Memories

December 4, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

A bitter irony underlies Kamala Harris’s exit from the presidential campaign. She lost, in part, because she couldn’t forthrightly defend her record as a prosecutor. She couldn’t forthrightly defend that record because party activists deemed it insufficiently progressive. They portrayed her as complicit in the unjust incarceration and killing of black and Latino men.

Yet had Harris—especially as a black woman—been the crusading criminal-justice reformer that Democrats now want to see, she would likely never have been in a position to run for president in the first place. What doomed Harris wasn’t just the Democratic Party’s leftward shift on racial and criminal-justice issues. It was the party’s lack of sympathy for the very different political environment Harris faced just a few years ago, when women and black candidates faced intense pressure to show that they were tough on crime.

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The Atlantic »

Cory Booker Blew It

November 27, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Near the end of the latest Democratic debate, Cory Booker did something unusual for a presidential candidate: He admitted that his campaign was in trouble. “I have not yet qualified for the December stage,” the senator from New Jersey confessed, “If you believe in my voice and that I should be up here, please go to CoryBooker.com. Please help.”

The plea worked. A surge of contributions pushed Booker past the donor threshold needed to quality for the next debate, which is scheduled for December 19. But that might not be enough. To take the stage, Booker also needs at least 4 percent in four national or state polls or at least 6 percent in two polls from early states. As of November 24, according to The New York Times, he doesn’t have a single one. If that doesn’t change between now and the cutoff date of December 12, Booker’s campaign will be left for dead.

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The Forward »

The Problem With Settlements Is Not That They Are Illegal. It’s That They Are Immoral

November 19, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Yesterday the Trump administration said Israeli settlements in the West Bank don’t violate international law. That’s absurd. Among international lawyers, the consensus that settlements are illegal rivals the consensus among international scientists that humans contribute to climate change. As UCLA’s Dov Waxman has pointed out, the legal advisor to Israel’s own foreign ministry admitted that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention” after Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967.

But critics who condemn the Trump administration for disregarding international law are missing the deeper point. So are critics who condemn it for undermining the two-state solution.

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The Atlantic »

The GOP Won’t Disavow Trump, but Nikki Haley Has Another Strategy

November 15, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Nikki Haley has a theory about the post–Donald Trump GOP. It’s that Republicans will want to move on from Trump without repudiating him. They’ll want a candidate who promises healing without accountability. Haley auditions for that role in her new memoir, With All Due Respect. A former South Carolina governor who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Haley is a bellwether for her party. She’s done a better job than almost anyone of remaining popular with both Trumpists and the pre-Trump establishment alike, and at 47, she’s a likely presidential candidate in the years ahead. It’s figures like her who will decide whether Trump was a fluke—or the Republican future.

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The Atlantic »

When the Staff Can’t Tell the Candidate What’s Wrong

November 13, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

What the Ukraine scandal reveals about Donald Trump is by now well known: He elevated his political interest above the national interest and demanded foreign interference in an American election. What’s received less attention is what the scandal reveals about Joe Biden: He showed poor judgment because his staff shielded him from hard truths. If that sounds faintly familiar, it’s because that same tendency underlay Hillary Clinton’s email woes in 2016. Clinton and Biden differ in many ways. But beneath each candidate’s marquee scandal lies the same core defect: insularity.

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The Atlantic »

Elizabeth Warren Couldn’t Be Luckier

November 8, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Imagine you’re Pete Buttigieg. You had the best October of any candidate in the Democratic presidential race. On September 15, you trailed Joe Biden in Iowa by more than 20 points and both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders by at least 10. Kamala Harris was beating you, too. Now, by some measures, you’re in second place, a few points below Warren. You’re effectively pounding her on health care, because most Democrats prefer your comparatively modest reforms to her more radical ones. And you’re finding creative ways to imply that she’s unelectable—an attack that’s been buttressed in recent days by alarming high-profile polls about her weakness against Trump in battleground states.

Things are looking up. Until Michael Bloomberg comes along.

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The Atlantic »

The Utter Emptiness of Trump’s Populism

November 5, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

President Donald Trump is a big fan of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, which, like him, demonizes immigrants and the press. Trump traveled to Warsaw to meet the party’s leaders less than six months after taking office, before he visited Britain, Germany, or France. In September 2018, one day after the European Commission sued Andrzej Duda’s government for undermining the Polish judiciary, Trump praised the Polish people for “standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.” And when Duda visited the White House this June, Trump offered what The New York Times called “an elaborate show of support,” including “a rare and showy F-35 jet flyover.” What Duda’s government has done “over the last five years,” Trump effused, “has been something that the world has watched and the world has marveled at.”

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The Forward »

Democratic Party Split Over Military Aid To Israel

October 30, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

This week at the J Street Conference, Bernie Sanders said he’d tell the Israeli government that, “if you want military aid you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza.” Pete Buttigieg promised to ensure that American “funding is going to things that are compatible with U.S. objectives and U.S. law” rather than “promoting this settlement construction.” And Elizabeth Warren, in a videotaped message, said that America must find “ways to apply pressure and create consequences for problematic behavior.”

Using American aid as a lever to change Israeli policy has become a mainstream Democratic position almost overnight. To understand how dramatic that is, it’s worth revisiting recent history.

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The Forward »

What The AJC Poll Gets Wrong About American Jews And Zionism

October 24, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

On Wednesday, the American Jewish Committee released a survey of American Jews’ opinions about anti-Semitism. It’s a case study in how to obfuscate what American Jews actually believe.

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The Atlantic »

Democrats Are Hypocrites for Condemning Trump Over Syria

October 18, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

On Tuesday night, the Democratic presidential candidates vied with one another to offer the harshest condemnation of President Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria. Joe Biden called it “the most shameful thing that any president has done in modern history … in terms of foreign policy.” Elizabeth Warren said Trump “has cut and run on our allies,” and “created a bigger-than-ever humanitarian crisis.” Kamala Harris announced, “Yet again Donald Trump [is] selling folks out.”

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