Most Democrats Care More About Winning Than About Identity Politics: Liner Notes

That’s the title for my latest column at The Federalist, which again highlights the seeming disconnect between progressive elites and rank-and-file Democrats. I have been encouraged to keep flogging this hobby-horses and am glad to do it, particularly as more data piles up to support the thesis.

In this case, it’s a YouGov/HuffPost poll showing that Democrats not only care more about winning than issues (the same is mostly true of Republicans in other polls), but also do not care much about identity politics when it comes to selecting a 2020 nominee. Indeed, to the extent that they have a preference on identity, it leans marginally in favor of the white, the male and the young.

If you are enough of a political junkie to be subscribed to this niche blog, you are undoubtedly aware that this is not the portrait of the Democratic “base” we get in the media.

These generic preferences do not seem to be helping Beto O”Rourke or Pete
Buttigieg beat Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders at the moment, but it does help explain why the latter two continue to lead in the early polling, while the latter two remain competitive with Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Nor is it a slam dunk that a white guy will be the nominee; voters ultimately make individualized judgments about the candidates who run, rather than relying on a profile. But this is the point. Elites seem to be the ones profiling and it is far from clear that the masses care.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Bernie’s Not-So-Hidden Weakness: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist, “‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Haven’t Noticed One Of Bernie’s Biggest Weaknesses Yet.” It went through editorial so quickly that I’m playing catch-up here.

The basic idea is that Bernie’s rejection of an open borders position on immigration could be exploited by both neoliberals and woke identitarians in a pincers maneuver. (In retrospect I wonder if I should have been more explicit on this pincers aspect, though I think the idea is expressed in the column.)

The key graf:

“Viewing the 2020 campaign from this perspective, the Democrats nominating Sanders would be not unlike Republicans nominating Mitt Romney in 2012. The GOP suffered steep losses in 2008, but roared back to reclaim Congress in 2010 based on widespread opposition to Obamacare. Having championed a mandate-based health system as governor of Massachusetts, Romney was effectively neutered on this key issue, dampening partisan enthusiasm for his candidacy. Nominating Sanders would require either a Romney-esque flip on immigration, or dispiriting the Democratic base on the issue that largely defines and fuels their opposition to Trump. “

Indeed, Dems’ split attitudes on immigration strangely echo the way GOPers acted in the wake of Obamacare in a more general sense as well.

I’d been sitting on this idea for a while; the NYT piece on “Stop Sanders” Democrats (to the extent that they aren’t mostly hype) became the news peg for writing up the argument. (I find that the odds of a pitch getting published rise dramatically if there’s a solid news peg on which to hang it). And following my rule of reader interest that people > events > ideas, having Bernie as a subject also helped, I think.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

The Trivialization of 9/11: Liner Notes

I have a new piece up at the Federalist, “No, Ilhan Omar And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Are Not The Real Victims Of 9/11.” Its primary argument is that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments trivializing 9/11 are not being taken out of context and are in fact worse when heard in context (making that defense from prominent Dems even worse).

What got left out for space? Quite a bit. In hindsight, I should have emphasized that Omar pandering to a group like the Council on American-Islamic Relations was in the abstract the sort of thing politicians do as a matter of routine. That this particular case is nauseating is merely a function of the politician and group involved. But the pandering context underscores the intentional nature of Omar’s remarks.

Next, in discussing her recently resurfaced 2013 interview suggesting people should think of America and the U.S. Army no differently from al Qaeda or Hezbollah, I should have noted that host is — like Omar — a far-left radical and anti-Semite. And that she continued to accept his invitations at least as recently as 2017. Omar’s defenders constantly suggest she does not know what she’s doing and saying, when the opposite is plainly obvious.

I also should have noted in passing that the left’s claim that Omar is being targeted for criticism because she’s a progressive Muslim woman of color is horse manure. Rep. Ron Paul is none of those things and was booed by a GOP debate audience for making arguments similar to Omar’s in 2011.

Lastly, I decided to avoid addressing those on the right who still want to give Omar the benefit of the doubt. As noted previously (and just above), the idea that a 40-year-old Member of Congress does not understand what she’s been saying consistently for years is naive at best. Many good-hearted people gave Jeremy Corbyn the benefit of the doubt for years, and now the UK’s Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism. Omar’s public record is a living a rebuttal of any presumption of good faith.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

The Democrats’ Disconnect: Liner Notes

I have a new column posted at The Federalist, “Will The Democratic Party Faithful Ever Notice Their Leaders Are Crazy?

The disconnect between the Democratic Party’s elites (inside and outside media) and its rank-and-file voters has been a hobby horse of mine. I’ve written about it on several occasions in different contexts over the past few months. And as the supporting data has continued to pile up, I have not been shy about saying “I told you so” in internal discussions at The Federalist. After all, columnists are right so infrequently that you toot your horn when you can.

Fortunately, with this idea finally making its way to the front page of the New York Times, I was encouraged to ride that hobby horse for another lap, featuring those in Big Media who have caught on to the idea. Accordingly, this piece is largely a compilation of the coverage I had been sharing with others in real time and thus fairly easy to write. Sometimes I have to spend time structuring an argument to ensure maximum flow for readers. Today’s piece is more like one or two basic ideas supported by lists of examples.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the gap between the elites and regular party members proves decisive in the Dems’ 2020 primaries. But this sort of dynamic was a significant factor for the GOP in 2016, so it bears careful watching.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

The Decline and Fall of the SPLC (For Starters): Liner Notes

I have another new column posted at The Federalist today, “Why The Media Won’t Drop The SPLC Despite Its Obvious Corruption.” I believe that the corruption is perhaps not obvious, which is why it has gone unnoticed. But with the scandals now surrounding the Southern Poverty Law Center, it’s becoming obvious. And it points the way toward other groups with some of the same conflicts.

Not much got excluded entirely for space, which is why today’s piece runs a graf or three longer than usual. It’s in the bucket of pieces that springs from conversation, and in briefly outlining what my angle on the story would be, I put a bit more on my plate than a normal column would contain.

Moreover, I’d been thinking about the SPLC for some time. Editorial had approached me about the subject some time ago, but I did not think I had the sort of news peg that allowed for the sort of piece I would want to do. The eruption of scandal around the group in March put me in the mode of reviewing some of the research I had already done, while some recent stories on the ACLU in Big Media got me thinking about a larger and more depressing pattern of behavior in not only old-line civil rights groups, but also the establishment media.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Democrats’ Stale “New” Ideas: Liner Notes

My latest column, “All Democrats’ ‘New’ Ideas Are Just Repackaged Failures Baby Boomers Like,” is posted at The Federalist. It was largely inspired by a column by a writer for whom I have a great deal of regard, Philip Klein,” observing that many Dems see Joe Biden as a candidate of “old” ideas unlike Bernie Sanders, the candidate of “new” ideas. I think Klein’s observation of the perception was correct, but the perception itself was entirely wrong. There is nothing remotely new about the Sanders agenda or method.

What got left out for space? The pitch for this column emerged from an online discussion, which usually means “not much.” In this case, however, there are examples I had to skip.

For example, the idea of “free” college tuition follows the classic progressive-to-socialist sequence. In the 70s, Democrats were the party pushing the idea of student loans to increase access to higher education. When the easily foreseeable problems of that approach occurred, they pushed to socialize college lending. And now that those failures are manifiest, they want to eliminate loans in favor of government payouts.

The answer to imagined market failures is always government intervention, and the answer to government failures is also more government intervention. (See also: healthcare.)

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Bidenpalooza, Part 2: Liner Notes

The companion column to yesterday’s, “If He Wants To Win, Joe Biden Should Stop Apologizing,” is now online.

This piece was written shortly after the Lucy Flores accusation, but the general principle still holds up in the context of his handsyness and beyond. And while this column was in editorial, Ross Douthat wrote a column in the same general ballbark. I differ with Douthat insofar as I question whether the Democrats’ socialists and identitarians really constitute an “emerging consensus” within the rank-and-file of the party.

Indeed, one of the lessons of 2016 ought to have been how little policy, let alone policy details may matter in this political moment. Donald Trump had only one policy that could be called crystal clear — The Wall — and that’s a remarkably simple, if potent, policy. Otherwise, Trump was very much boosted by his brand, cultivated for years on reality TV — and in books, etc. for years prior to that. Otherwise, like Obama’s “blank slate” candidacy, Trump was to be taken seriously, not literally.

Outside the highly engaged voter pools in Iowa and New Hampshire, it is at least a fair bet that ordinary Democrats (those outside the Acela corridor) really just want to know about the candidates’ priorities and personalities. Many expect Biden to go the way of Jeb Bush — which could happen and validate Douthat’s column. But in my piece, I explain why that might not happen, and why a candidate willing to ignore the left’s woke elites caould survive and thrive.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Bidenpalooza: Liner Notes

I have a new column up today at the Federalist, “Progressives Try To Scare Joe Biden Out Of 2020 Campaign By Bringing Up His Creepy Touching.” Oddly, it is sort of a companion piece to another column about Joe Biden’s campaign-in-waiting which may or may not run this week.

But the claim that Biden touched and kissed the head of Lucy Flores was the weekend’s news, so it does not surprise me that editorial was looking to run this piece first.

What got left out for space? Not much, because the other column also explores the likelihood that Biden — assuming he runs — will enter the 2020 race with a target on his back from much of the media, including the establishment media.

Handsy Joe Biden is well-known, and he finds himself on the wrong side of the MeToo moment. Nevertheless, the fact that Biden’s habits were public and not rising to the level of sexual harassment probably makes the situation survivable for Biden, especially outside the bubble of cable news and social media. As the column suggests, the fact that such attacks are being dumped before he enters may make it difficult for his adversaries to sustain the outrage for a month, let alone a year.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

So What About Bill Barr’s 2018 Memo?: Liner Notes

Another new column up at The Federalist today: “Attorney General Bill Barr Will Be Targeted By House Democrats For No Particular Reason.” House Dems want to put AG Barr on the hot seat for saying there was insufficient evidence of President Trump obstructing justice, and they’ll use a 2018 memo Barr wrote to drag him over the coals. But there’s less there than meets the eye.

What got left out for space? Although it’s in the subtext, I think Barr’s expansive view of executive power, which takes up a significant portion of the memo, colors people’s views about the much narrower point of statutory interpretation that is the at the heart of the memo.

Also, while I ask whether Barr and Mueller clashed over that statutory issue (something I suspect we’ll find out in the weeks and months to come), there’s another way to read Barr’s letter summarizing the Mueller report.

The special counsel may have punted on the obstruction issue in part because of Barr’s known views, but the Daily Beast reported: “A source with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Daily Beast that it was their interpretation that ‘Mueller was making a case to Congress, who (unlike DOJ, in Mueller’s view) is empowered to weigh the lawfulness of a president’s conduct.’ ” As I note in my column, Barr’s argument is that Presidential acts that he views as outside the scope of the obstruction statute are left to the people or to the impeachment process. So the gap between Mueller and Barr may not be as large as generally thought.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Court-Packing Lessons: Liner Notes

I have a new column posted at The Federalist, “Court-Packing Is Democrats’ Most Dangerous Attack On The Republic.”

There wasn’t much left out for space in this one. In fact, this was a case where I had done a bit of research on court-packing — inspired by National Review’s Dan McLaughlin — and decided to do a brief pitch by email. But the email ended up being about the length of a column. So when it got greenlit, I was mostly editing a piece I already wrote.

I could have gone into further detail on the findings of Ohio State political scientist Gregory A. Caldeira on the ins and outs of FDR’s failed 1937 plan, but there is enough in my column to give readers the flavor — and a sense of why a court-packing effort now might go quite differently.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing ‘