The Atlantic »

Has the Presidency Skipped Gen X?

September 13, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

For almost 60 years, two generations have held the American presidency. The Greatest Generation—born in the early 20th century—first won the White House in 1960, when John F. Kennedy was 43. Baby Boomers—born after World War II—took over in 1992, when Bill Clinton was 46. By this precedent, Generation X was ripe for a president in 2016. Three of the early Republican front-runners—Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Scott Walker—would have entered the Oval Office in their 40s. But each faltered, and America replaced Barack Obama, a young Boomer, with Donald Trump, an older Boomer. Rather than choose a generational successor, America elected a candidate 15 years older than the president he replaced, the largest such jump in American history.

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The Atlantic »

Trump Wants Another Term, So Bolton Had to Go

September 11, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

To understand why John Bolton is no longer Donald Trump’s national security adviser, it’s worth looking back 37 years, to the departure of another hawkish appointee from another Republican administration. The adviser was Secretary of State Alexander Haig, and the president was Ronald Reagan.

When Bolton entered the Trump administration, he was determined to reverse what he saw as Iranian gains in the Middle East. When Haig entered the Reagan administration, he was determined to reverse what he saw as Soviet gains in Central America. And like Bolton, who has called for bombing Iran, Haig suggested that turning the communist tide in America’s hemisphere might require attacking Cuba. “Give me the word and I’ll make that island a fucking parking lot,” Haig told White House Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, according to Lou Cannon’s book President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. “You get a band of brothers from CIA, Defense, and the White House and you put together a strategy for toppling Castro,” he urged Deputy National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane.

If Haig believed his swagger would endear him to his boss, he was wrong. According to Deaver, Haig’s belligerence “scared the shit out of Ronald Reagan.” After Haig’s Cuba comments, Deaver worked to ensure that he never met Reagan alone. Haig lasted only 17 months in the job.

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The Forward »

Netanyahu Just Promised To Annex The Jordan Valley. Good.

September 10, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

On Tuesday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that if reelected, he would annex the Jordan Valley and perhaps “other areas” of the West Bank.

Good.

Critics will say that by calling for annexation, Netanyahu is killing the two-state solution. But he’s been doing that for a decade.

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The Atlantic »

It Worked for Barack Obama

September 9, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

What Elizabeth Warren said Saturday at the New Hampshire Democratic state convention might have sounded faintly familiar. “I am not afraid,” she declared. “And for Democrats to win, you can’t be afraid either.”

Consciously or not, Warren was echoing one of the most important lines of Barack Obama’s primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. “If we are really serious about winning this election, Democrats,” Obama declared at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on November 10, 2007, “we can’t live in fear of losing it.” That line became part of the message that won Obama the Iowa caucuses, and the Democratic nomination. And in the current primary campaign, it just might propel Warren to victory as well. Like Obama more than a decade ago, Warren is framing her insurgency against an establishment front-runner—in this case, Joe Biden—as a choice between conviction and caution. And in Democratic presidential primaries, conviction candidates with strong grassroots organizations often win.

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The Atlantic »

Greenland’s Wishes Don’t Matter to Trump

August 27, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Tom Cotton has carved out a niche in Washington. From his bill slashing legal immigration to his defense of tariffs against China to his calls for attacking Iran and preparing for war with North Korea, the senator from Arkansas—who holds two Harvard degrees and won a Bronze Star in Iraq—has become Trumpism’s respectable face.

So it’s little surprise that his byline appeared in The New York Times yesterday above an op-ed defending Donald Trump’s latest widely mocked gambit. The op-ed’s title: “We Should Buy Greenland.” Its argument: Make colonialism great again.

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The Atlantic »

Disloyal to What?

August 21, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Donald Trump isn’t only venomous; he’s also vague. So when he said yesterday that “any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” it wasn’t entirely obvious whom he was accusing Jewish Democrats of being disloyal to. But the most plausible explanation is that he was accusing them of being disloyal to Israel.

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The Forward »

Bipartisan Support For Israel Is Dead. That’s A Good Thing

August 19, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

It’s become a ritual. Every time Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu do something that outrages Democrats, centrist commentators warn that they are committing a grave offense: They’re making Israel a partisan issue.

The accusation has been nearly ubiquitous since the two leaders last week conspired to deny Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s request to visit the West Bank.

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The Atlantic »

Only Biden Can Challenge Trump on Trade

August 18, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Joe Biden needs to win Iowa. If Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders beats him in the Democratic caucuses there, they’re also likely to beat him in New Hampshire, which borders their home states, and where Biden has a smaller lead in the polls. If Kamala Harris wins Iowa, many of Biden’s African American supporters could defect to her, as Hillary Clinton’s did after Barack Obama won the state in 2008. That would spell trouble for Biden in South Carolina.

How can Biden win the Hawkeye State? He can start by doing something Democratic presidential candidates haven’t done in many years: forcefully defend free trade.

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The Forward »

Netanyahu Banned Omar And Tlaib Because The Occupation Must Be Hidden To Survive

August 15, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Most establishment American Jewish leaders think Israel’s decision to bar Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting the West Bank was, in the words of The Democratic Majority for Israel, “unwise.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, the American Jewish Committee argued, should have realized that “visiting Israel is essential to gaining a better understanding of this… open, democratic society.”

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The Atlantic »

White Nationalists Discover the Environment

August 5, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

On Saturday, a gunman killed 21 people at a Walmart in the border city of El Paso, Texas. Minutes before the shooting, a four-page rant seeming to justify the attack appeared online. It includes white-nationalist diatribes about “cultural and ethnic replacement” and an immigrant “invasion.” Horrific and familiar.

But the so-called manifesto includes another theme, which fits less obviously into the white-nationalist script: environmentalism. The American lifestyle is destroying the environment, the author declares. But the answer is not to ask native-born white Americans to change their ways. It is to rid the country of Latinos.

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