How to Win a Political Debate

By 8.6.15

Thursday evening, the eyes of the political world will be on a stage in Cleveland, Ohio, where the top candidates for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination will face off in the first in a series of debates to be held over the next several months. A few of the candidates will have had significant debate experience — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for instance, is actually in the Princeton University Debate Team Hall of Fame — but many (e.g., Donald Trump, as he’s been reminding us) will have not. Cruz may actually be handicapped by his previous debate experience — a political debate is a totally different animal than a college debate. Consequently, the Rules for Winning Political Debates are also totally different — and the smarter candidates will be the ones who know that, and act accordingly.

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset: “Victory” in a political debate has nothing to do with being the candidate who offers the most compelling and logical arguments for his or her position.


New York Cardinal Owes Donald Trump an Apology

By 8.4.15

Wow. The other day in the New York Daily News New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan wrote an astounding piece that was headlined this way:

Nativism rears its big-haired head: Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is a sad return to a terrible American tradition

Among other things, the Cardinal said this:

During those happy days decades ago when I taught American religious history to university students, I spent a chunk of time in class on the ugly phenomenon called nativism, defined by the scholar and author Ray Allen Billington as, “organized, white, Protestant antagonism toward the Catholic immigrant.”

It flourished in our country during the 1840s and 1850s — actually becoming a popular political party, the Know-Nothings — and appeared again, in the 1870s, as the American Protective Association; in the 1920s, as the KKK; and during post-World War II America, as Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


Jeb Bush Pushes the Poison of Identity Politics

By 7.16.15

“This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.… [R]ace has no place in American life or law.”
John F. Kennedy, 1963

“America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said, ‘You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won’t become a German or a Turk.’ But then he added, ‘Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American.’”
Ronald Reagan, 1988


Moderate and Ultra Liberals

By 5.29.15

Why is it that so many politicians in recent decades (beginning, I suppose, with Ronald Reagan) have said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left me”? I am one of those. I used to be a rather prominent Democratic politician in Rhode Island: I was once the majority leader of the state Senate (1998-2000) and in 1992 the (alas, unsuccessful) Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. But over the years I have become thoroughly disillusioned with the Democratic Party.


Fidel’s Millions and Streisand’s Lawn

By 5.12.15

A more vivid, quite literal illustration of how socialism and the liberal-mindset works would be hard to find. 

Illustration one: the California drought. As reported here in the New York Post, California is “withering” in a drought. Reports the paper: 

Experts predict California reservoirs have less than a year’s worth of drinking water left. An emergency law passed last week forces local cities to conserve water immediately. The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which supplies many of these elite enclaves north of Los Angeles, will have four weeks starting next month to cut water use by a staggering 36 percent.


The Smear of Congressman Bill Shuster

By 4.21.15

It was a smear. A political hit job. 

The headlines were everywhere, particularly here in the home state of Pennsylvania’s Congressman Bill Shuster. Shuster, who represents the state’s 9th District, serves as the chairman of the powerful U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headlined the story this way:

Legislation tainted by Rep. Bill Shuster’s relationship with airline lobbyist, critics say

The Allentown Morning Call gasped

PA Congressman Bill Shuster admits to ‘personal relationship’ with airlines lobbyist


Exclusive: Trump Says Obama Shows ‘Total Desperation’ on Iran

By 4.16.15

Donald Trump wrote the book on deal making. Literally.

Back there in 1987 Trump’s The Art of the Deal was, as Trump books tend to be, a number one bestseller. It was a primer on — what else? — how to do a deal. The man who built a global empire and gained a reputation almost thirty years ago for “an unprecedented education in the practice of deal-making” gave readers a “streetwise” look at how to do a serious deal. To do it well, to make it good — to get what you want.

Now, in an exclusive conversation with The American Spectator The Donald talks about President Obama’s negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons — and makes plain Obama has violated several of what his long ago classic on deal-making called “Trump Cards: The Elements of the Deal.” 

Where did Obama go wrong? The President violated the basic Trump rule that to get a good deal “use your leverage.” Wrote Trump:


GOP Consultants Become Campaign Issue

By 3.26.15

So Liz Mair is gone. The GOP consultant thrown under the bus that is the Scott Walker campaign. But before we get to the Mair story?

Once upon a time the people who worked for a presidential candidate were, believe it or not, longtime loyalists. Think JFK’s brother and campaign manager Bobby Kennedy. Ronald Reagan’s Ed Meese or Lyn Nofziger, Jimmy Carter’s Hamilton Jordan and Jody Powell, George W. Bush’s Karl Rove or, to go back even further in time, FDR’s Louie Howe.

The world changed. Long ago. Somewhere along the line the people working to elect candidates became “operatives.” In the vernacular “hired guns.” Racing around America and indeed the democracies of the world with a set of skills — good skills without question — with loyalty to no one except their own career and gaining professional reputations that in turn earned them a pretty penny. There was nothing necessarily wrong about this — the world turns.


Trump Makes a Move

By 3.19.15

He fired himself. And he’s looking for a new job.

Donald Trump has announced he is departing from NBC’s The Apprentice — the show that entered “You’re fired” into the American popular lexicon — and he’s headed for New Hampshire. His goal: to fire the Obama agenda…with an eye to becoming the Republican nominee himself.

The announcement of “The Donald J. Trump Presidential Exploratory Committee” came yesterday. Said Mr. Trump: 


Profiles in Cowardice, Alinsky-Style

By 3.2.15

For all the accusations that House Speaker John Boehner has been engaging in partisanship by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it is the Obama administration and congressional Democrats who are making a partisan issue of Netanyahu’s speech.

The Obama White House has gone in full Alinsky mode on Netanyahu — whether it’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki questioning Netanyahu’s honesty, National Security Adviser Susan Rice claiming the speech would be “destructive” to U.S.-Israeli relations, or Secretary of State John Kerry admonishing Bibi for supporting the War in Iraq. Kerry’s admonition is precious considering that he too once supported the same war. But no matter. Netanyahu is the target and he has been frozen, personalized, and polarized.