Knocking Cantor Off His Tightrope

By 6.12.14

Let’s play a parlor game. Quick: What words come to mind when you think of the House political leadership?

For John Boehner, you’d probably say “country club” or “insider.” Paul Ryan would conjure up “wonk” or “budget.” “Motherhood” or “pro-life” would suffice for Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

What about Eric Cantor? He’s the second-most powerful Republican congressman and, before Tuesday, was likely the next speaker of the House of Representatives. Yet adjectives and nouns don’t exactly plummet from the clouds when his name is mentioned. And while you might dislike Boehner’s or Ryan’s personas, they at least have public identities that they’ve owned and embraced.

With Cantor you can rack your brain for hours, and chances are you'll come up with only one felicitous descriptor: ambitious. Whatever mysteries swirled around Cantor, we know that he had boundless ambition, to the point of possibly challenging Boehner for the speaker’s gavel. And that was his biggest problem. Eric Cantor desperately wanted to lead the people's house, but he never gave the people any reason to support him.


Who’s Chris McDaniel? Who Cares?

By 6.3.14

Much has been made of the battle between the Republican “establishment” and the Tea Party in the 2014 primary election cycle, particularly the GOP primary campaigns for the Senate races in North Carolina and Nebraska.

That battle may be coming to a climax this week in Mississippi, where attorney and two-term state senator Chris McDaniel is riding endorsements from Tea Party groups like the Club For Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, Citizens United, and Tea Party Express into a primary showdown with Thad Cochran, that state’s senior — he’s been in office forty-one years — U.S. senator.


UKIP’s Populism, and Ours

By 5.30.14

Last week, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) won Britain’s elections for the European Parliament and surged in the vote for its local councils. Since then, British politics has become a lurid frenzy.

Prime Minister David Cameron is wondering how on earth his Conservative Party is going to court its disenchanted base after years of attempted modernization, and perhaps considering a second coat of makeup. Labour leader Ed Miliband is trying to synthesize the disparate factions in his own party, several of which are annoyed with him after Labour lost seats to UKIP. The Liberal Democrats, annihilated at the polls now that there’s another protest party in town, are engaging in the sort of cloak-and-dagger maneuvers against party leader Nick Clegg usually found in John Le Carré novels. And Scottish Nationalist Party head Alex Salmond, fresh off a campaign to paint his country as a neo-socialist Norway West, is irritated that the right-wing UKIP picked up a seat right under his nose.


Defunding the 
Democratic Party

By From the June 2014 issue

The Republican and Democratic parties are not mirror images of each other. They are built on radically different foundations. The Republican Party raises money and volunteers from the real economy. It cannot take anyone’s time or money by force. It has to ask. The Democratic Party lives off government spending and laws that force Americans to fund it. Much taxpayer money gets cycled through the organizations of the Left. Labor unions demand dues from workers as a condition of employment because Democrats have written laws to require it. Trial lawyers reap millions of dollars thanks to rulings from Democratic judges.

The political structures that inform, control, and fund the American Left—labor unions, trial lawyers, big city political machines, and beneficiaries of government spending, contracts, welfare payments, and grants—all depend on government. Without state power, their political muscle would atrophy. Now that Republicans have control of twenty-four state governments—the governorship and both houses of the legislature—they should repeal laws that fund and perpetuate the Democrats’ political machine.


Five Movies Rick Santorum Should Make Tomorrow

By 5.28.14

I argued last week that Rick Santorum ought to drop any pretense of a long-shot 2016 presidential bid to focus on turning EchoLight Studios, the filmmaking outfit he runs, into the next blockbuster factory. That generated a bit of a discussion with Quin Hillyer, one of Santorum’s more well-known supporters (a summation of which can be found here)—but it’s worth exploring further how Santorum could make an impact upstream from politics.

The primary reason conservatives are struggling at the ballot box, particularly in presidential elections that attract many low-information and less-engaged voters, is that liberals dominate the cultural media. Hollywood’s impact on how Americans see themselves and the world is almost incalculable, and for two generations that vision has been exceedingly leftist—and even anti-American.


Holder Speaks at Segregated School

By 5.20.14

On Saturday last, the attorney general of the United States spoke at a segregated school. He spoke, without a trace of irony, as the nation celebrated the 60th anniversary of Brown v. The Board of Education, which, to quote the Washington Post, “ended — legally at least — racial segregation in public education.”

Meanwhile, out in Topeka, Kansas — whence the Brown case originated — First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a Brown celebration by lamenting exactly the kind of school at which Holder was speaking. “Many young people in America,” said the first lady, “are going to school with kids who look just like them.” Certainly that was true where Holder spoke: The student body, according to a report in Forbes magazine, being 87 percent black. Just 1.8 percent of the student body is white, with the remainder divided among Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans.

And what was it the attorney general said? Again according to the Post: 


Common Core: ObamaCare for Education

By 5.15.14

Common Core. Rutgers and Condi Rice. Brandeis and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Smith College and Christine LaGarde. Glenn Beck, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie.

Amid all the swirling controversies over campus commencement speakers, seemingly in a separate corner of the political universe another controversy swirls over Common Core. In fact? They are the same controversy. Not to mention the battle for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. You could, in fact, call Common Core Obamacare for Education. 

Let’s start with an appearance on the O’Reilly show the other night by Glenn Beck. Holding up an exercise on “Possessive Nouns” Beck read the problems a third grade grammar school student had to solve as a homework assignment. The exercise involved making “each sentence less wordy by replacing words with a possessive noun phrase.”


Trey Gowdy and the Real Lesson of Watergate

By 5.8.14

It is the real lesson of Watergate.

As South Carolina’s Congressman Trey Gowdy, the new chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, begins his task, it is worth recalling a lesson from Watergate. Specifically a lesson about the creation of what became known as the Senate Watergate Committee — and how the Senate Republicans of 1973 lost a fight that literally changed the course of American history.

The date is November 17, 1972. The Democrats in the United States Senate are not happy with the results of the just concluded presidential election in which their nominee and Senate colleague, South Dakota’s Senator George McGovern, had lost 49 states — all but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia — to President Richard Nixon.


Benghazi: What Was Tom Donilon Doing?

By 5.6.14

John Dean.
Oliver North.
John Poindexter.
John Sununu
Monica Lewinsky.

Now: Tom Donilon?

The list of names of White House staffers who were not known beyond the perimeters of their office space or those who shared their area of expertise in various White House positions and, um, sex are in fact the stuff of White House political scandals. The kind of scandal that can politically cripple or depose a president of the United States.

While Dean, North, Poindexter, Sununu, and Lewinsky have been on the stage since 1973 — some 41 years — and departed in a cloud of controversy of one kind or another, they have predecessors. LBJ’s Walter Jenkins, forced to resign after caught having sex with a man in the YMCA (huge problem in 1964 America). Dwight Eisenhower’s Sherman Adams, the chief of staff hounded for having accepted a vicuna coat from Bernard Goldfine, a Boston textile manufacturer who had business in front of the federal government. Harry Vaughan, the Truman Missouri aide/crony who in fact was an army general with an honorable military record. There are more, of course, salted through one presidential scandal after another.      


Sterling, Sharpton, and Jay Z

By 4.29.14

Donald Sterling. Al Sharpton. One famous mostly in the precincts of Los Angeles, real estate, and sports. The other a household name.

Here’s the first man, quoted talking to a potential Clippers coach in 1983, as reported over at Deadspin, which has published what it calls “Your Complete Guide to Decades of Donald Sterling’s Racism”: “I wanna know why you think you can coach these ni--ers.”

And here’s Al Sharpton talking about then-New York Mayor David Dinkins, as was reported in this space: “David Dinkins.… You wanna be the only ni--er on television, the only ni--er in the newspaper, the only ni--er to talk.…Don’t cover them, don’t talk to them, cause you got the only ni--er problem….”