Special Bulletin. The Cubs Win and the Election Looms

Well, they finally did it!

As every reader must know by now, The Chicago Cubs ended 108 years of frustration by winning the World Series on Wednesday night. They defeated the Cleveland Indians in a 10-inning struggle that has been called epic but could also be described as a bit goofy. The game and the Series have been widely covered, so I will add only a few personal comments. […]

Blog No. 107. Trump in August: Notes From the Traveling Asylum

An article in the Washington Post on Thursday summed up the current mood in the Republican Party:

Turmoil in the Republican Party escalated Wednesday as party leaders, strategists and donors voiced increased alarm about the flailing state of Donald Trump’s candidacy and fears that the presidential nominee was damaging the party with an extraordinary week of self-inflicted mistakes, gratuitous attacks and missed opportunities.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was described as “very frustrated” with and deeply disturbed by Trump’s behavior over the past week, having run out of excuses to make on the nominee’s behalf to donors and other party leaders, according to multiple people familiar with the events.


Blog No. 106. The End of the Beginning: Historic Conventions and the Candidates They Gave Us

Pic - Hillary smile Trump fistThe Republican and Democratic conventions each produced historic results: the Democrats were the first major party ever to nominate a woman for President and the Republicans produced the most stunningly unfit candidate ever to be nominated by a major party. Now that the conventions have come and gone, we are left with a momentary sense of relief, but also foreboding as to the the next three months of charges and counter-charges and, ultimately, the election in November. […]

Blog No. 101. Trump: The Endorser, The Pretenders and The Opponent.

The Endorser.

Last week, Paul Ryan dropped the other shoe by issuing his expected endorsement of Donald Trump. It had been clear since Ryan and Trump met on Capitol Hill last month that an endorsement of some sort would be forthcoming, and the only real questions were how long it would take and how tepid it would be. As it turned out, the endorsement arrived in the form of a tweet and an Op-ed column in Ryan’s hometown newspaper. Short of writing the endorsement on the back of an envelope, stuffing it in a bottle, and casting the bottle into the Potomac, it could hardly have been more low key.

PIC Message in a bottle to the sea.


Blog No. 98. Is Free Trade a Lame Duck or a Dead One?

History may record various casualties of the 2016 presidential campaign and, indeed, the very existence of the Republican Party may prove to be the most important. A lesser but still highly significant casualty may be our policy favoring free trade agreements in general and, specifically, approval of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. […]

Special Bulletin. After the Fat Lady Sang: What Now For Responsible Republicans?

With apologies for invoking that rather shopworn cliche, the fat lady sang this week and the curtain came down on the tragi-comic opera of the Republican presidential primaries. The fat lady’s aria was a sad one indeed. To Donald Trump it doubtless sounded triumphal, but to many of us it conveyed the mournful tones of a funeral dirge. The dirge reflected not merely the prospect of a Republican defeat in November, but the painful fact that such a loss, distasteful as it might be, would be preferable to a victory for Trump.  If Trump suffers the devastating defeat in November that he deserves, the vital task of cleaning up and rebuilding the Republican Party can begin immediately. If he should somehow win, however, that task will be deferred indefinitely, perhaps forever.Pic Donald Trump as Fat Lady PIC […]

Blog No. 87. The President, the Contenders and ISIS

The President’s recent address from the Oval Office was clearly intended to reassure the nation. Whether anyone in fact felt reassured is highly questionable. As many observers noted, he offered nothing new to a strategy that has shown little sign of success thus far and gives little reason to believe that it will be more successful going forward. In fairness to the President, however, none of the current candidates for the presidency have offered a particularly persuasive path to a successful outcome for our struggle with ISIS and related elements of radical Islam.

The most detailed and comprehensive proposal for combating ISIS was provided by Hillary Clinton in a speech on November 14. Clinton’s proposal was similar to Obama’s existing policy, notably in prescribing a highly restricted role for American ground troops and hopeful reliance on the “65 country coalition.” It differed principally in a tone of greater urgency and a recognition, even before the San Bernardino shooting, that the past and present levels of effort were insufficient: […]

Blog No. 83. Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton and Benghazi: The Dance of the Pinocchios

2 pinnochiosAfter Hillary Clinton testified before the Benghazi Committee, the consensus was that she had clearly had the better of it. In general, we are inclined to agree with that consensus. In our view, the committee demonstrated once again that such bodies seldom do a good job of interrogating witnesses. Simply as a matter of structure, it is next to impossible to conduct a coherent examination by dividing it into five minute sound bites distributed among questioners with varying skills and levels of preparation and beset by conflicting political motives. […]

Blog No. 73. Jeb’s Announcement and Hillary’s Speech

On Monday, Jeb Bush made the long-awaited announcement that he is a candidate for President. As a matter of style, we thought it deserved an “A.” Bush spoke from a Miami college gymnasium before a crowd described by The Washington Post as a “diverse tableau at a boisterous rally.” He appeared relaxed, energetic and optimistic, the sort of joyful campaigner that he had promised to be but that had not been clearly in evidence in recent months. Toward the end of his speech, Bush turned for several moments to fluent Spanish, demonstrating that he has both the determination and the capacity to seek the increasingly important Hispanic vote. […]

Blog No 69. Surprise: Republicans May Know How to Govern After All

It is still early days, but there are some encouraging signs that Republican leaders in the Senate and House have found the ability to get things done—actually legislate—despite Democratic opposition and the Oozlums of the right gnawing at their ankles.

The first major milestone came two months ago when Republicans abandoned the quixotic attempt to block the President’s executive actions with respect to immigration. While we had disapproved of those actions, the response of holding up funding for Homeland Security seemed to us to make as much sense as treating a toothache by hitting yourself on the head with a hammer. […]