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. 78. The CNN Debate and the GOP Outsiders

A CNN poll taken after last week’s debate on CNN showed the three top spots held by candidates who have never held elective office: Donald Trump (24% ), Carly Fiorina (15%), and Ben Carson (14%). An NBC poll had similar results with Trump (29%) leading Carson (14%) and Fiorina (11%). Although that development may have come as a surprise to some, it was consistent with a Washington Post/ABC poll taken earlier this month that found 58 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of conservative Republicans want the next president to be an Outsider, “someone from outside the existing political establishment.” For our own part, we are hopeful that the romantic attraction with Outsiders will pass and that cooler heads will prevail. As a general proposition, we believe that a true conservative should regard significant experience in elective office as a qualification—and not a disqualification—for presidential candidates. More specifically, Ms Fiorina might make an effective candidate for Vice President but, in our view, does not belong at the head of the ticket. We are doubtful that Dr. Carson should have any place on the ticket and certain that Donald Trump does not. […]

Blog No. 71. The Annals of Leading From Behind, Part I

Part I. The Islamic State and the Search for a Strategy

In fairness, it should be acknowledged that President Obama has never, at least publicly, described his policy as “leading from behind.” The phrase originated in a 2011 article by Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker and was attributed to an unidentified “adviser” to Obama, later said to be a (still unidentified) “White House official.” The phrase was initially used with respect to American strategy in Libya, but so many found it an apt description of Obama’s approach in the Middle East generally and, indeed, throughout the world that it took hold. (That etymology will remind some of Jimmy Carter’s 1979 address, which came to be widely known as his “malaise speech” although Carter never used that word, speaking rather of a “crisis of confidence.”)

In any case, it does seem to us that the President has been attempting to lead from behind both in confronting the Islamic State and in dealing with Russia’s adventurism in Europe. The essence of the strategy appears to be to limit America’s commitment, militarily and otherwise, while encouraging others to make greater commitments. This approach worked well for Tom Sawyer in getting his friends to whitewash a fence, but its application in foreign policy is far more difficult. This Part I will discuss the Islamic State and Part II will take up the situation in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. […]

Blog No. 9 Why Iowa?

A talk show last Sunday included a fairly lengthy interview with…Donald Trump, speaking from the Iowa State Fair. Trump had just given a speech in which he had asserted that passing immigration reform would be a “death wish” for the Republican Party and indicated that he might run for President in 2016. ABC’s Jonathan Karl prefaced the interview with the mildly snarky observation that the possibility of a Trump candidacy caused some to raise their eyebrows and others just to roll their eyes. Warming to the subject, Karl asked Trump what he would say to persons who would term his candidacy a joke. For his part,Trump made it clear that he was not at the State Fair just to sample its celebrated deep-fried butter: he, at least, takes his possible candidacy quite seriously, describing his qualification as being “smart” and assuring Karl that if he became a candidate, he would be prepared to spend any portion of his (self) estimated fortune of $ ten billion might that be needed in the effort.


Illustration by DonkeyHotey/


Blog No. 8 Another Government Shutdown? The Oozlums Are Circling.

For several months, we have been spared the drama of a manufactured fiscal crisis. That period of relative calm has allowed the stock market to reach new highs and the broader economy to show signs of improvement. So favorable an environment, however, may soon be coming to an end: there are two fiscal deadlines this fall that could precipitate a crisis brought on by an imminent or actual government shutdown. Those deadlines arise from the need for a continuing resolution to continue funding the government after September 30, and the need to raise the debt ceiling. If either deadline should in fact precipitate a crisis, the precise consequences are impossible to predict, but it is certain they will not be pleasant—for the country or for Republicans.

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Drawing by PixelMecha


Blog No. 7 Immigration Reform: Opportunity or Trap?

Immigration reform is one of the more conspicuously divisive issues with which the Republican Party must grapple. It divides the party internally and it threatens to divide the party from a majority of all voters – and not merely those of Hispanic origin.

The immigration reform bill that passed the Senate did so with bipartisan support. It was drafted and negotiated by the “Gang of Eight,” which included Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio, and 14 Republican Senators voted for it. In the House of Representatives, however, support for the bill among Republicans appears lukewarm while the opposition is fierce. After a well-publicized caucus, Republicans indicated that while they would introduce individual bills on the subject of immigration, they would refuse to pass anything that would draw them into consideration of the Senate bill, even in conference. While circumstances may change, it seems clear at the moment that prospects of passing a final bill, acceptable to both House and Senate, are exceedingly dim. […]

Special Bulletins: Abortion Bill Update and Welcome to RINOs Marco Rubio and Reagan

Parts II and III of Blog No. 5. “Whither the War on Terror?” will soon be forthcoming. There were, however, two events this week deserving of   immediate brief comment.  Both events involve difficult issues, immigration and abortion, that will each be the subject of full blogs, but, in the meantime, RINOs should be aware of them.


A Salute to the Sensible Six. Whatever one’s views on abortion, the bill passed by the House this week makes little sense. The bill, a severe anti-abortion  measure sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks passed by a margin of 228-196. salutes the six Republican members of the House of Representatives who were sensible enough, and courageous enough, to vote against it. They are: Reps. Paul Broun (Ga.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (N.J.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Jon Runyan (N.J.) and Rob Woodall (Ga.). The Franks bill, would, with limited exceptions, ban the abortion of a fetus older than 20 weeks old (or at 22 weeks of pregnancy under a different measuring system). The bill stands no chance of being enacted into law, and if it were, would be clearly unconstitutional. […]