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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Woke Media Elites Took a Swing at Beto O’Rourke, and Missed: Liner Notes

My latest column is up at The Federalist, “Beto O’Rourke’s Fundraising Haul Rebukes Media Elites Hating On His Sex And Skin.” It’s about how nakedly political the establishment media became in its coverage of the failed Senate candidate turned presidential candidate. Most media bias is confined to attacking the right; here, it was directed against one of their own, descending into attacking him for being a cisgender white male.

What got left out for space? Mostly details, as my pitch for this piece was a mere sentence in an internal discussion. It was written quickly and pushed through editorial on an expedited basis, given that it’s time-sensitive.

But it’s not entirely time-sensitive. No one should be surprised if Joe Biden gets a similar hazing by the media should he enter the 2020 race. One lesson of this episode should be that Biden need not waste as much valuable time apologizing for his decades-long record as the far-left will demand. Voters will care, or not care — and most will not care. According to a recent Harvard-Harris poll, “Obama Democrat” is the most popular self-descriptor among the rank-and-file:

Biden should simply say that Obama knew about his past record and knew him — and picked him to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Woke elites want 2020 to be what 2016 was for the GOP — a break from traditional party orthodoxy. Biden ought to welcome that debate head-on.

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Obama as the Godfather of the Party of Obama: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist, “Barack Obama’s Radicalism Laid The Groundwork For Ilhan Omar’s.” Although “radicalism” strikes me as a strong term, maybe that’s why I don’t write headlines in an attention-based economy.

In any event, the column looks at the gap between Obama’s campaign rhetoric and tactics versus the way he governed — esp. his second term — and how it contributed to the rise of the Party of Omar *and the Party of Trump). It was inspired more or less by a debate on Twitter about how much of the Democratic lurch leftward exceeded thee general cultural drift leftward during the Obama era.

That lurch has been of interest to me before. Obama is not the sole cause of that lurch, a phenomenon on which there has been little research or study. Some of it may relate to Gen Z coming into colleges and the voter pool, which suggests a generation of parenting and K-12 education are implicated. Some of it may relate to the rise of social media platforms (the Black Lives Matter movement, mentioned in the column, may never have happened had the (ironically justified) police shooting of Michael Brown not gained visibility through social media). And there may be other factors eluding me at the moment, but Obama’s second-term governance seems to be one.

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Bernie the Moderate: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist today, “Bernie Sanders Is Now The Moderate Democratic Presidential Candidate.” “Moderate” is always a relative term; here it refers more to Bernie — an independent socialist — arguably being the center of gravity for the Democratic Party at the moment.

The piece generated out of an editorial discussion. David Marcus made a similar point focused on Sanders’ launch speech, but I wanted to put that speech into a broader context of Democrats moving toward him on economics while moving away from him on identity politics. And part of this involves a brief autopsy of the Obama era. If I had more space, I might have elaborated on how the losses (in terms of officeholders) sustained under Obama contributed to the Dems’ thin bench in 2008, which in turn helped ensure Hillary Clinton would be the 2016 presidential nominee. Her failure in turn boosted socialist impulses within the party.

Another wrinkle to watch is the degree to which Bernie’s 2020 rivals grasp for woke positions in an attempt to peel away Sanders votes from the left. People will view this sort of thing through the lens of the primary horserace, but people should keep an eye on the degree to which this dynamic might result in a Dem nominee from the identitarian left — and what implications that would have for the general election.

Also, I might have added more than a joke to the idea that Sanders’ appeal might itself be its own form of identity politics, given that he and Joe Biden top the early 2020 polling. It’s impossible to disentangle that from pure name identification, but the point of the joke in the kicker is that it cannot be entirely discounted.

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