Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
On Sept. 1, 1864, Union forces under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, victorious at Jonesborough, burned Atlanta and began the March to the Sea where Sherman’s troops looted and pillaged farms and towns all along the 300-mile road to Savannah.
Captured in the Confederate defeat at Jonesborough was William Martin Buchanan of Okolona, Mississippi, who was transferred by rail to the Union POW stockade at Camp Douglas, Illinois.
By the standards of modernity, my great-grandfather, fighting to prevent the torching of Georgia’s capital, was engaged in a criminal and immoral cause. And “Uncle Billy” Sherman was a liberator.
Under President Grant, Sherman took command of the Union army and ordered Gen. Philip Sheridan, who had burned the Shenandoah Valley to starve Virginia into submission, to corral the Plains Indians on reservations.
It is in dispute as to whether Sheridan said, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” There is no dispute as to the contempt Sheridan had for the Indians, killing their buffalo to deprive them of food.
Today, great statues stand in the nation’s capital, along with a Sherman and a Sheridan circle, to honor these most ruthless of generals in that bloodiest of wars that cost 620,000 American lives.
Yet, across the South and even in border states like Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, one may find statues of Confederate soldiers in town squares to honor the valor and sacrifices of the Southern men and boys who fought and fell in the Lost Cause.
When the Spanish-American War broke out, President McKinley, who as a teenage soldier had fought against “Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah and been at Antietam, bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War, removed his hat and stood for the singing of “Dixie,” as Southern volunteers and former Confederate soldiers paraded through Atlanta to fight for their united country. My grandfather was in that army.
For a century, Americans lived comfortably with the honoring, North and South, of the men who fought on both sides.
But today’s America is not the magnanimous country we grew up in.
Since the ’60s, there has arisen an ideology that holds that the Confederacy was the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany and those who fought under its battle flag should be regarded as traitors or worse.
Thus, in New Orleans, statues of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, and General Robert E. Lee were just pulled down. And a drive is underway to take down the statue of Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and president of the United States, which stands in Jackson Square.
Why? Old Hickory was a slave owner and Indian fighter who used his presidential power to transfer the Indians of Georgia out to the Oklahoma Territory in a tragedy known as the Trail of Tears.
But if Jackson, and James K. Polk, who added the Southwest and California to the United States after the Mexican-American War, were slave owners, so, too, were four of our first five presidents.
The list includes the father of our country, George Washington, the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, and the author of our Constitution, James Madison.
Not only are the likenesses of Washington and Jefferson carved on Mount Rushmore, the two Virginians are honored with two of the most magnificent monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C.
Behind this remorseless drive to blast the greatest names from America’s past off public buildings, and to tear down their statues and monuments, is an egalitarian extremism rooted in envy and hate.
Among its core convictions is that spreading Christianity was a cover story for rapacious Europeans who, after discovering America, came in masses to dispossess and exterminate native peoples. “The white race,” wrote Susan Sontag, “is the cancer of human history.”
Today, the men we were taught to revere as the great captains, explorers, missionaries and nation-builders are seen by many as part of a racist, imperialist, genocidal enterprise, wicked men who betrayed and eradicated the peace-loving natives who had welcomed them.
What they blindly refuse to see is that while its sins are scarlet, as are those of all civilizations, it is the achievements of the West that are unrivaled. The West ended slavery. Christianity and the West gave birth to the idea of inalienable human rights.
As scholar Charles Murray has written, 97 percent of the world’s most significant figures and 97 percent of the world’s greatest achievements in the arts, architecture, literature, astronomy, biology, earth sciences, physics, medicine, mathematics and technology came from the West.
What is disheartening is not that there are haters of our civilization out there, but that there seem to be fewer defenders.
Of these icon-smashers it may be said: Like ISIS and Boko Haram, they can tear down statues, but these people could never build a country.
What happens, one wonders, when these Philistines discover that the seated figure in the statue, right in front of D.C.’s Union Station, is the High Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Christopher Columbus?
Happy Memorial Day!
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.
Who is the real threat to the national security?
Is it President Trump who shared with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the intelligence that ISIS was developing laptop bombs to put aboard airliners?
Or is it The Washington Post that ferreted out and published this code-word intelligence, and splashed the details on its front page, alerting the world, and ISIS, to what we knew.
President Trump has the authority to declassify security secrets. And in sharing that intel with the Russians, who have had airliners taken down by bombs, he was trying to restore a relationship.
On fighting Islamist terror, we and the Russians agree.
Five years ago, Russia alerted us that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become a violent radical Islamist. That was a year and a half before Tsarnaev carried out the Boston Marathon bombing.
But upon what authority did The Washington Post reveal code-word intelligence secrets? Where in the Constitution or U.S. law did the Post get the right to reveal state secrets every U.S. citizen is duty bound to protect?
The source of this top secret laptop-bomb leak that the Post published had to be someone in the intel community who was violating an oath that he had sworn to protect U.S. secrets, and committing a felony by leaking that secret.
Those who leaked this to hurt Trump, and those who published this in the belief it would hurt Trump, sees themselves as the “Resistance”—like the French Resistance to Vichy in World War II.
And they seemingly see themselves as above the laws that bind the rest of us.
“Can Donald Trump Be Trusted With State Secrets?” asked the headline on the editorial in The New York Times.
One wonders: Are these people oblivious to their own past?
In 1971, The New York Times published a hoard of secret documents from the Kennedy-Johnson years on Vietnam. Editors spent months arranging them to convince the public it had been lied into a war that the Times itself had supported, but had turned against.
Purpose of publication: Damage and discredit the war effort, now that Richard Nixon was commander in chief. This was tantamount to treason in wartime.
When Nixon went to the Supreme Court to halt publication of the Pentagon Papers until we could review them to ensure that sources and methods were not being compromised, the White House was castigated for failing to understand the First Amendment.
And for colluding with the thieves that stole them, and for publishing the secret documents, the Times won a Pulitzer.
Forty years ago, the Post also won a Pulitzer — for Watergate.
The indispensable source of its stories was FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt, who repeatedly violated his oath and broke the law by leaking the contents of confidential FBI interviews and grand jury testimony.
Felt, “Deep Throat,” was a serial felon. He could have spent 10 years in a federal penitentiary had his identity been revealed. But to protect him from being prosecuted and sent to prison, and to protect themselves from the public knowing their scoops were handed to them by a corrupt FBI agent, the Post kept Felt’s identity secret for 30 years. Yet, their motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
Which brings us to the point.
The adversary press asserts in its actions a right to collude with and shelter disloyal and dishonorable officials who violate our laws by leaking secrets that they are sworn to protect.
Why do these officials become criminals, and why do the mainstream media protect them?
Because this seedy bargain is the best way to advance their common interests.
The media get the stolen goods to damage Trump. Anti-Trump officials get their egos massaged, their agendas advanced and their identities protected.
This is the corrupt bargain the Beltway press has on offer.
For the media, bringing down Trump is also good for business. TV ratings of anti-Trump media are soaring. The “failing New York Times” has seen a surge in circulation. The Pulitzers are beckoning.
And bringing down a president is exhilarating. As Ben Bradlee reportedly said during the Iran-Contra scandal that was wounding President Reagan, “We haven’t had this much fun since Watergate.”
When Nixon was brought down, North Vietnam launched a spring offensive that overran the South, and led to concentration camps and mass executions of our allies, South Vietnamese boat people perishing by the thousands in the South China Sea, and a holocaust in Cambodia.
When Trump gets home from his trip, he should direct Justice to establish an office inside the FBI to investigate all illegal leaks since his election and all security leaks that are de facto felonies, and name a special prosecutor to head up the investigation.
Then he should order that prosecutor to determine if any Trump associates, picked up by normal security surveillance, were unmasked, and had their names and conversations spread through the intel community, on the orders of Susan Rice and Barack Obama, to seed the bureaucracy to sabotage the Trump presidency before it began.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”
“With the stroke of a pen, Rod Rosenstein redeemed his reputation,” writes Dana Milbank of The Washington Post.
What had Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein done to be welcomed home by the Post like the prodigal son?
Without consulting the White House, he sandbagged President Trump, naming a special counsel to take over the investigation of the Russia connection that could prove ruinous to this presidency.
Rod has reinvigorated a tired 10-month investigation that failed to find any collusion between Trump and Russian hacking of the DNC. Not a single indictment had come out of the FBI investigation.
Yet, now a new special counsel, Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI, will slow-walk his way through this same terrain again, searching for clues leading to potentially impeachable offenses. What seemed to be winding down for Trump is now only just beginning to gear up.
Also to be investigated is whether the president tried to curtail the FBI investigation with his phone calls and Oval Office meetings with FBI Director James Comey, before abruptly firing Comey last week.
Regarded as able and honest, Mueller will be under media pressure to come up with charges. Great and famous prosecutors are measured by whom they convict and how many scalps they take.
Moreover, a burgeoning special counsel’s office dredging up dirt on Trump and associates will find itself the beneficiary of an indulgent press.
Why did Rosenstein capitulate to a Democrat-media clamor for a special counsel that could prove disastrous for the president who elevated and honored him?
Surely in part, as Milbank writes, to salvage his damaged reputation.
After being approved 94-6 by a Senate that hailed him as a principled and independent U.S. attorney for both George Bush and Barack Obama, Rosenstein found himself being pilloried for preparing the document White House aides called crucial to Trump’s decision to fire Comey.
Rosenstein had gone over to the dark side. He had, it was said, on Trump’s orders, put the hit on Comey. Now, by siccing a special counsel on the president himself, Rosenstein is restored to the good graces of this city. Rosenstein just turned in his black hat for a white hat.
Democrats are hailing both his decision to name a special counsel and the man he chose. Yet it is difficult to exaggerate the damage he has done.
As did almost all of its predecessors, including those which led to the resignation of President Nixon and impeachment of Bill Clinton, Mueller’s investigation seems certain to drag on for years.
All that time, there will be a cloud over Trump’s presidency that will drain his political authority. Trump’s enemies will become less fearful and more vocal. Republican Congressmen and Senators in swing states and marginal districts, looking to 2018, will have less incentive to follow Trump’s lead, rather than their own instincts and interests. Party unity will fade away.
And without a united and energized Republican Party on the Hill, how do you get repeal and replacement of Obamacare, tax reform or a border wall? Trump’s agenda suddenly seems comatose. And was it a coincidence that the day Mueller was appointed, the markets tanked, with the Dow falling 372 points?
Markets had soared with Trump’s election on the expectation that his pro-business agenda would be enacted. If those expectations suddenly seem illusory, will the boom born of hope become a bust?
A White House staff, said to be in disarray, and a president reportedly enraged over endless press reports of his problems and falling polls, are not going to become one big happy family again with a growing office of prosecutors and FBI agents poking into issues in which they were involved.
Nor is the jurisdiction of the special counsel restricted to alleged Russia interference in the campaign. Allegations about Trump’s taxes, investments, and associates, and those of his family, could be drawn into the maw of the special counsel’s office by political and business enemies enthusiastic about seeing him brought down.
More folks in Trump’s entourage will soon be lawyering up.
While it’s absurd today to talk of impeachment, that will not deter Democrats and the media from speculating, given what happened to Nixon and Clinton when special prosecutors were put on their trail.
Another consequence of the naming of a special counsel, given what such investigations have produced, will be that Vice President Pence will soon find himself with new friends and admirers, and will begin to attract more press as the man of the future in the GOP.
A rising profile for Pence is unlikely to strengthen his relationship with a besieged president.
In the United Kingdom, the odds are growing that Trump may not finish his term.
So how does he regain the enthusiasm and energy he exhibited in previous crises, with such talk in the air?
A debilitating and potentially dangerous time for President Trump has now begun, courtesy of his deputy attorney general.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, said Marx.
On publication day of my memoir of Richard Nixon’s White House, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Instantly, the media cried “Nixonian,” comparing it to the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre.
Yet, the differences are stark.
The resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Bill Ruckelshaus and the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox came in the middle of an East-West crisis.
On Oct. 6, 1973, the high holy day of Yom Kippur, in a surprise attack, Egyptian troops crossed the Suez Canal and breached Israel’s Bar Lev Line. Syria attacked on the Golan Heights.
Within days, 1,000 Israeli soldiers were dead, hundreds of tanks destroyed, dozens of planes downed by Soviet surface-to-air missiles. As Egypt’s army broke through in the Sinai, there came reports that Moshe Dayan was arming Israeli F-4s with nuclear weapons.
“This is the end of the Third Temple,” Dayan was quoted.
Nixon ordered every U.S. transport that could fly to deliver tanks and planes to Israel. Gen. Ariel Sharon crossed the Canal to the west and rolled north to cut off and kill the Egyptian 3rd army in Sinai.
The Gulf Arabs declared an oil embargo of the United States.
We got reports that nuclear-capable Russian ships were moving through the Dardanelles and Soviet airborne divisions were moving to airfields. U.S. nuclear forces were put on heightened alert.
On Oct. 10, another blow had befallen Nixon’s White House. Vice President Agnew pleaded nolo contendere to tax evasion and resigned.
Nixon immediately named Gerald Ford to replace him.
It was in this environment, with Henry Kissinger in Moscow trying to negotiate a ceasefire in the Mideast, that Cox refused to accept a compromise deal that would give him verified summaries of Nixon’s tapes, but not actual tapes. Democrat Senators Sam Ervin and John Stennis had accepted this compromise, as had Richardson, or so we believed.
Nixon had no choice. As he told me, he could not, in this Cold War crisis, have Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev see him back down in the face of defiance by one of his own Cabinet appointees.
If he had to, Nixon told me, he would reach down to a GS-7 at Justice to fire Cox: “We can’t have that viper sleeping in the bed with us.”
That Saturday night, I told friends, next week will bring resolutions of impeachment in the House. And so it did.
How do Nixon and Trump’s actions differ?
Where Nixon decapitated his Justice Department and shut down the special prosecutor’s office, Trump simply fired an FBI director who agreed that Trump had every right to do so.
By October 1973, with two dozen Nixon White House, Cabinet and campaign officers convicted or facing indictment and trial, we were steeped in the worst political scandal in U.S. history.
Nothing comparable exists today.
But if President Trump is enraged, he has every right to be.
Since July, the FBI has been investigating alleged Trump campaign collusion with Putin’s Russia to hack the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts — and produced zilch. As of January, ex-CIA Director Mike Morell and ex-DNI James Clapper said no collusion had been found.
Yet every day we hear Democrats and the media bray about a Putin-Trump connection and Russian “control” of the president.
In the early 1950s, they had a term for this. It was called McCarthyism, and its greatest practitioners invariably turned out to be those who had invented the term.
“Justice delayed is justice denied!” applies to presidents, too.
Trump has been under a cloud of a “Russian connection” to him and his campaign for nearly a year. Yet no hard evidence of Trump-Russia collusion in the election has been produced.
Is not the endless airing of unproven allegations inherently un-American?
In 1973, NBC’s John Chancellor suggested the ouster of Richardson, Ruckelshaus and Cox was the “most serious constitutional crisis” in U.S. history, passing over the secession of 11 Southern states and a Civil War that cost 620,000 lives. One London reporter said that “the whiff of the Gestapo was in the clear October air.”
We see a similar hysteria rising today.
Yet that was not a constitutional crisis then, and the mandated early retirement of Jim Comey is not a constitutional crisis now.
And that the mainstream media are equating “Russia-gate” and Watergate tells you what is afoot.
Trump is hated by this city, which gave him 4 percent of its votes, as much as Nixon was. And the deep-state determination to bring him down is as great as it was with Nixon.
By 1968, the liberal establishment had lost the mandate it had held since 1933, but not lost its ability to wound and kill presidents.
Though Nixon won 49 states, that establishment took him down. Though Ronald Reagan won 49 states, that establishment almost took him down in the Iran-Contra affair.
And that is the end they have in mind for President Trump.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.
For the World War II generation there was clarity.
The attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, united the nation as it had never been before—in the conviction that Japan must be smashed, no matter how long it took or how many lives it cost.
After the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945, however, Americans divided.
Only with the Berlin Blockade of 1948, the fall of China to Mao and Russia’s explosion of an atom bomb in 1949, and North Korea’s invasion of the South in 1950, did we unite around the proposition that, for our own security, we had to go back to Europe and Asia.
What was called the Cold War consensus—that only America could “contain” Stalin’s empire—led to NATO and new U.S. alliances from the Elbe to the East China Sea.
Vietnam, however, shattered that Cold War consensus.
The far left of the Democratic Party that had taken us into Vietnam had repudiated the war by 1968, and switched sides to sympathize with such Third World communists as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, and the Sandinistas.
Center-right presidents—JFK, Nixon, Reagan—accepted the need to cooperate with dictators who would side with us in fighting Communism.
And we did. Park Chung-Hee in Korea. The Shah in Iran. President Diem in Saigon. General Franco in Spain. Somoza in Nicaragua. General Mobuto in the Congo. General Pinochet in Chile. Ferdinand Marcos in Manila. The list goes on.
Under Reagan, the Soviet Empire finally fell apart and the USSR then disintegrated in one of the epochal events of history.
The American Century had ended in America’s triumph.
Yet, after 1989, no new national consensus emerged over what ought to be our role in the World. What should we stand for? What should we fight for?
What Dean Acheson had said of our cousins in 1962: “Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role,” was true of us.
What was our role in the world, now that the Cold War was history?
George H.W. Bush took us to war to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Soaring to 90 percent approval, he declared America’s new role was to construct a New World Order.
Those who opposed him, Bush acidly dismissed in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1991, the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor:
“We stand here today on the site of a tragedy spawned by isolationism. … And it is here we must learn—and this time avoid—the dangers of today’s isolationism and its … accomplice, protectionism.”
Neither Bush nor his New World Order survived the next November.
Then came payback for our sanctions that had brought death to thousands of Iraqis, and for the U.S. bases we had foolishly planted on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia—Sept. 11, 2001.
George W. Bush reacted by launching the two longest wars in our history, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and announced that our new role was to “end tyranny in our world.”
The Bush II crusade for global democracy also fizzled out.
Barack Obama tried to extricate us from Afghanistan and Iraq. But he, too, failed, and got us into wars in Yemen and Syria, and then started his own war in Libya, producing yet another failed state.
What does the balance sheet of post-Cold War interventions look like?
Since 1991, we have lost our global preeminence, quadrupled our national debt, and gotten ourselves mired in five Mideast wars, with the neocons clamoring for a sixth, with Iran.
With the New World Order and global democracy having been abandoned as America’s great goals, what is the new goal of U.S. foreign policy? What is the strategy to achieve it? Does anyone know?
Globalists say we should stand for a “rules-based world order.” Not exactly “Remember the Alamo!” or “Remember Pearl Harbor!”
A quarter-century after the Cold War, we remain committed to 60-year-old Cold War alliances to defend scores of nations on the other side of the world. Consider some of the places where America collides today with nuclear powers: the DMZ, the Senkakus, Scarborough Shoal, Crimea, the Donbass.
What is vital to us in any of these venues to justify sending an American army to fight, or risking a nuclear war?
We have lost control of our destiny. We have lost the freedom our Founding Fathers implored us to maintain—the freedom to stay out of wars of foreign counties on faraway continents.
Like the British and French empires, the American imperium is not sustainable. We have issued so many war guarantees it is almost assured that we will be dragged into every future great crisis and conflict on the planet.
If we do not review and discard some of these war guarantees, we shall never know peace. Donald Trump once seemed to understand this. Does he still?
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.
For two years, this writer has been consumed by two subjects.
First, the presidency of Richard Nixon, in whose White House I served from its first day to its last, covered in my new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.
The second has been the astonishing campaign of Donald Trump and his first 100-plus days as president.
In many ways, the two men could not have been more different.
Trump is a showman, a performer, a real-estate deal-maker, born to wealth, who revels in the material blessings his success has brought. Nixon, born to poverty, was studious, reserved, steeped in history, consumed with politics and policy, and among the most prepared men ever to assume the presidency.
Yet the “mess” Trump inherited bears striking similarities to Nixon’s world in 1969.
Both took office in a nation deeply divided.
Nixon was elected in a year marked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, race riots in 100 cities, and street battles between cops and radicals at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
By the fall of 1969, Nixon had buses surrounding his White House and U.S. Airborne troops in the basement of his Executive Office Building.
Trump’s campaign and presidency have also been marked by huge and hostile demonstrations.
Both men had their elections challenged by the toxic charge that they colluded with foreign powers to influence the outcome.
Nixon’s aides were accused of conspiring with Saigon to torpedo Lyndon Johnson’s Paris peace talks. Trump aides were charged with collusion with Vladimir Putin’s Russia to disseminate stolen emails of the Democratic National Committee. The U.S. establishment, no stranger to the big lie, could not and cannot accept that the nation preferred these outsiders.
Nixon took office with 525,000 troops tied down in Vietnam. Trump inherited Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history, and wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
Nixon pledged to end the Vietnam War with honor and begin an era of negotiations—and did. Trump promised to keep us out of new Mideast wars and to reach an accommodation with Russia.
Nixon and Trump both committed to remake the Supreme Court. Having pledged to select a Southerner, Nixon saw two of them, Judges Clement Haynsworth and Harrold Carswell, savaged by the Senate.
While Nixon was the first president since Zachary Taylor to take office without his party’s having won either house of Congress, Trump took office with his party in control of both. Thus, Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, made it.
Probably no two presidents have ever faced such hostility and hatred from the media. After his 1969 “Silent Majority” speech on Vietnam was trashed, Nixon declared war, authorizing an attack on the three networks by Vice President Spiro Agnew.
Trump has not stopped bashing the media since he came down the escalator at Trump Tower to declare his candidacy.
In Trump’s first major victory on Capitol Hill, the House voted narrowly to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. Only with a tiebreaking vote by Agnew in August 1969 did Nixon win his first big victory—Senate approval of a strategic missile defense.
Though Nixon had backed every civil rights law of the 1950s and ’60s, he was charged with pursuing a racist “Southern strategy” to capture the South from Dixiecrats, whose ilk had ruled it for a century.
Trump was also slandered for running a “racist” campaign.
Trump and Nixon were supported by the same loyalists—”forgotten Americans,” “Middle Americans,” “blue-collar Democrats”—and opposed and detested by the same enemy, a political-media-intellectual-cultural establishment. And this establishment is as determined to break and bring down Trump as it was to break and bring down Nixon.
Yet though Trump and Nixon ran up similar Electoral College victories, Nixon at the end of 1969 was at 68 percent approval and only 19 percent disapproval. Trump, a third of the way through his first year, is underwater in Gallup.
Nixon’s achievements in his first term were extraordinary.
He went to Beijing and opened up Mao Zedong’s China to the world, negotiated with Moscow the greatest arms limitation agreement since the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, and withdrew all U.S. forces from South Vietnam.
He desegregated the South, ended the draft, gave the vote to all 18-year-olds, indexed Social Security against inflation, created the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, named four justices to the Supreme Court, presided over six moon landings, declared a “war on cancer,” proposed a guaranteed annual income, created revenue sharing with the states, took America off the gold standard, and let the dollar float.
He then won a 49-state landslide in 1972, creating a “New Majority,” and setting the stage for Republican control of the presidency for 16 of the next 20 years.
But in June 1972, a bungled bugging at the DNC, which Nixon briefly sought to contain and then discussed as the White House tapes were rolling, gave his enemies the sword they needed to run him through.
The same deep state enemies await a similar opening to do to Trump what they did to Nixon. Rely upon it.
In December 1964, a Silver Age of American liberalism, to rival the Golden Age of FDR and the New Deal, seemed to be upon us.
Barry Goldwater had been crushed in a 44-state landslide and the GOP reduced to half the size of the Democratic Party, with but 140 seats in the House and 32 in the Senate.
The Supreme Court of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the most liberal in history, was on a roll, and LBJ was virtually unopposed as he went about ramming his Great Society through Congress.
The left had it all. But then they blew it, beginning at Berkeley.
Protests, sit-ins, the holding of cops hostage in patrol cars—went on for weeks to force the University of California, Berkeley, to grant “free speech,” and then “filthy speech” rights everywhere on campus.
Students postured as revolutionaries at the barricades, and the Academic Senate, consisting of all tenured faculty, voted 824–115 to support all Free Speech Movement demands, while cravenly declining to vote to condemn the tactics used.
Middle America saw the students differently—as overprivileged children engaged in a tantrum at the most prestigious school in the finest university system in the freest nation on earth.
Here is how their leader Mario Savio described the prison-like conditions his fellow students had to endure on the Berkeley campus in 1964:
There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
To borrow from Oscar Wilde, it takes a heart of stone to read Mario’s wailing—without laughing.
As I wondered in an editorial in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat that week, “If there is so much restriction of speech on the campus, how it is that a few yards from Sproul Hall there is a Young Socialist League poster complaining of ‘American Aggression in the Congo’ and calling on students to support ‘the Congolese rebels.'”
Yet Berkeley proved a godsend to a dispirited right.
In 1966, Ronald Reagan would beat Berkeley like a drum in his run for governor, calling the campus “a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters and sex deviants.”
Reagan relished entertaining his populist following by mocking San Francisco Democrats. “A hippie,” said the Gipper, “looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.”
More seriously, the radicalism, intolerance, arrogance and fanaticism of the far left in the ’60s and ’70s helped to revive the Republican Party and bring it victories in five of the next six presidential elections.
In 1964, neither Nixon nor Reagan appeared to have a bright future. But after Berkeley, both captured the presidency twice. And both benefited mightily from denouncing rioting students, even as liberalism suffered from its perceived association with them.
Which brings us to Berkeley today.
Last week, columnist and best-selling author Ann Coulter was forced to cancel her speech at Berkeley. Her security could not be guaranteed by the university.
In February, a speech of Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos also was canceled out of safety concerns after campus protesters hurled smoke bombs, broke windows, and started a bonfire. The decision was made two hours before the event, as a crowd of 1,500 had gathered outside the venue.
The recent attacks on Charles Murray at Middlebury College and Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna call to mind an event from three decades before Berkeley ’64.
On Dec. 5, 1930, German moviegoers flocked to Berlin’s Mozart Hall to see the Hollywood film All Quiet on the Western Front. Some 150 Brownshirts, led by Joseph Goebbels, entered the theater, tossed stink bombs from the balcony, threw sneezing powder in the air, and released mice. Theaters pulled that classic anti-war movie.
That same sense of moral certitude that cannot abide dissent to its dogmatic truths is on display in America today, as it was in Germany in the early 1930s. We are on a familiar slippery slope.
First come the marches and demonstrations. Then the assertion of the right to civil disobedience, to break the law for a higher cause by blocking streets and highways. Then comes the confronting of cops, the smashing of windows, the fistfights, the throwing of stones—as in Portland on May Day.
And, now, the shouting down of campus speakers.
The rage and resentment of the left at its rejection in 2016 are palpable. Sometimes this fever passes peacefully, as in the “Cooling of America” in the 1970s. And sometimes it doesn’t.
But to have crowds of left and right coming out to confront one another violently, in a country whose citizens possess 300 million guns, is probably not a good idea.
Saturday’s White House Correspondents Association dinner exposed anew how far from Middle America our elite media reside.
At the dinner, the electricity was gone, the glamour and glitz were gone. Neither the president nor his White House staff came. Even Press Secretary Sean Spicer begged off.
The idea of a convivial evening together of our media and political establishments is probably dead for the duration of the Trump presidency.
Until Jan. 20, 2021, it appears, we are an us-vs.-them country.
As for the Washington Hilton’s version of Hollywood’s red carpet, C-SPAN elected to cover instead Trump’s rollicking rally in a distant and different capital, Harrisburg, Pa.
Before thousands of those Middle Pennsylvanians Barack Obama dismissed as clinging to their Bibles, bigotries, and guns, Donald Trump, to cheers, hoots, and happy howls, mocked the media he had stiffed:
“A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom. … I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington’s swamp … with a much, much larger crowd and much better people.”
Back at the Hilton, all pretense at press neutrality was gone. Said WHCA president Jeff Mason in scripted remarks: “We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations. We are not the enemy of the American people.”
A standing ovation followed. The First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press was repeatedly invoked and defiantly applauded, as though the president were a clear and present danger to it.
For behaving like a Bernie Sanders rally, the national press confirmed Steve Bannon’s insight—they are the real “opposition party.”
And so the war between an adversary press and a president it despises and is determined to take down is re-engaged.
As related in my book Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever, out May 9, that war first broke out in November of 1969.
With the media establishment of that day cheering on the anti-war protests designed to break his presidency, President Nixon sought to rally the nation behind him with his “Silent Majority” speech.
His prime-time address was a smashing success—70 percent of the country backed Nixon. But the post-speech TV analysis trashed him.
Nixon was livid. Two-thirds of the nation depended on the three networks as their primary source of national and world news. ABC, CBS, and NBC not only controlled Nixon’s access to the American people but were the filter, the lens, through which the country would see him and his presidency for four years. And all three were full of Nixon-haters.
Nixon approved a counterattack on the networks by Vice President Spiro Agnew. And as he finished his edits of the Agnew speech, Nixon muttered, “This’ll tear the scab off those bastards!”
It certainly did.
Amazingly, the networks had rushed to carry the speech live, giving Agnew an audience of scores of millions for his blistering indictment of the networks’ anti-Nixon bias and abuse of their power over U.S. public opinion.
By December 1969, Nixon, the president most reviled by the press before Trump, was at 68 percent approval, and Agnew was the third-most admired man in America, after Nixon and Billy Graham.
Nixon went on to roll up a 49-state landslide three years later.
Before Watergate brought him down, he had shown that the vaunted “adversary press” was not only isolated from Middle America, it could be routed by a resolute White House in the battle for public opinion.
So where is this Trump-media war headed?
As of today, it looks as though it could end like the European wars of the last century, where victorious Brits and French were bled as badly and brought as low as defeated Germans.
Whatever happens to Trump, the respect and regard the mainstream media once enjoyed are gone. Public opinion of the national press puts them down beside the politicians they cover—and for good reason.
The people have concluded that the media really belong to the political class and merely masquerade as objective and conscientious observers. Like everyone else, they, too, have ideologies and agendas.
Moreover, unlike in the Nixon era, the adversary press today has its own adversary press: Fox News, talk radio, and media-monitoring websites to challenge their character, veracity, competence, and honor, even as they challenge the truthfulness of politicians.
Trump is being hammered as no other president before him, except perhaps Nixon during Watergate. It is hard to reach any other conclusion than that the mainstream media loathe him and intend to oust him, as they relished in helping to oust Nixon.
If this war ends well for Trump, it ends badly for his enemies in the press. If Trump goes down, the media will feel for a long time the hostility and hatred of those tens of millions who put their faith and placed their hopes in Trump.
For the mainstream media, seeking to recover the lost confidence of its countrymen, this war looks like a lose-lose.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
Has President Donald Trump outsourced foreign policy to the generals?
So it would seem. Candidate Trump held out his hand to Vladimir Putin. He rejected further U.S. intervention in Syria other than to smash ISIS.
He spoke of getting out and staying out of the misbegotten Middle East wars into which Presidents Bush II and Obama had plunged the country.
President Trump’s seeming renunciation of an anti-interventionist foreign policy is the great surprise of the first 100 days, and the most ominous. For any new war could vitiate the Trump mandate and consume his presidency.
Trump no longer calls NATO “obsolete,” but moves U.S. troops toward Russia in the Baltic and eastern Balkans. Rex Tillerson, holder of Russia’s Order of Friendship, now warns that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Russia until she gets out of Ukraine.
If Tillerson is not bluffing, that would rule out any rapprochement in the Trump presidency. For neither Putin, nor any successor, could surrender Crimea and survive.
What happened to the Trump of 2016?
When did Kiev’s claim to Crimea become more crucial to us than a cooperative relationship with a nuclear-armed Russia? In 1991, Bush I and Secretary of State James Baker thought the very idea of Ukraine’s independence was the product of a “suicidal nationalism.”
Where do we think this demonization of Putin and ostracism of Russia is going to lead?
To get Xi Jinping to help with our Pyongyang problem, Trump has dropped all talk of befriending Taiwan, backed off Tillerson’s warning to Beijing to vacate its fortified reefs in the South China Sea, and held out promises of major concessions to Beijing in future trade deals.
“I like [Xi Jinping] and I believe he likes me a lot,” Trump said this week. One recalls FDR admonishing Churchill, “I think I can personally handle Stalin better than … your Foreign Office … Stalin hates the guts of all your people. He thinks he likes me better.”
FDR did not live to see what a fool Stalin had made of him.
Among the achievements celebrated in Trump’s first 100 days are the 59 cruise missiles launched at the Syrian airfield from which the gas attack on civilians allegedly came, and the dropping of the 22,000-pound MOAB bomb in Afghanistan.
But what did these bombings accomplish?
The War Party seems again ascendant. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are happy campers. In Afghanistan, the U.S. commander is calling for thousands more U.S. troops to assist the 8,500 still there, to stabilize an Afghan regime and army that is steadily losing ground to the Taliban.
Iran is back on the front burner. While Tillerson concedes that Tehran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, Trump says it is violating “the spirit of the agreement.”
How so? Says Tillerson, Iran is “destabilizing” the region, and threatening U.S. interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon.
But Iran is an ally of Syria and was invited in to help the UN-recognized government put down an insurrection that contains elements of al-Qaeda and ISIS. It is we, the Turks, Saudis, and Gulf Arabs who have been backing the rebels seeking to overthrow the regime.
In Yemen, Houthi rebels overthrew and expelled a Saudi satrap. The bombing, blockading, and intervention with troops is being done by Saudi and Sunni Arabs, assisted by the U.S. Navy and Air Force.
It is we and the Saudis who are talking of closing the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which could bring on widespread starvation.
It was not Iran, but the U.S. that invaded Iraq, overthrew the Baghdad regime and occupied the country. It was not Iran that overthrew Colonel Gadhafi and created the current disaster in Libya.
Monday, the USS Mahan fired a flare to warn off an Iranian patrol boat, 1,000 meters away. Supposedly, this was a provocation. But Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif had a point when he tweeted:
“Breaking: Our Navy operates in—yes, correct—the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. Question is what US Navy doing 7,500 miles from home.”
Who is behind the seeming conversion of Trump to hawk?
The generals, Bibi Netanyahu and the neocons, congressional hawks with Cold War mindsets, the Saudi royal family and the Gulf Arabs—they are winning the battle for the president’s mind.
And their agenda for America?
We are to recognize that our true enemy in the Mideast is not al-Qaeda or ISIS, but Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, Assad’s Syria and his patron, Putin. And until Hezbollah is eviscerated, Assad is gone, and Iran is smashed the way we did Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, the flowering of Middle East democracy that we all seek cannot truly begin.
But before President Trump proceeds along the path laid out for him by his generals, brave and patriotic men that they are, he should discover if any of them opposed any of the idiotic wars of the last 15 years, beginning with that greatest of strategic blunders—George Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
For the French establishment, Sunday’s presidential election came close to a near-death experience. As the Duke of Wellington said of Waterloo, it was a “damn near-run thing.”
Neither candidate of the two major parties that have ruled France since Charles De Gaulle even made it into the runoff, an astonishing repudiation of France’s national elite.
Marine Le Pen of the National Front ran second with 21.5 percent of the vote. Emmanuel Macron of the new party En Marche! won 23.8 percent.
Macron is a heavy favorite on May 7. The Republicans’ Francois Fillon, who got 20 percent, and the Socialists’ Benoit Hamon, who got less than 7 percent, both have urged their supporters to save France by backing Macron.
Ominously for U.S. ties, 61 percent of French voters chose Le Pen, Fillon, or radical Socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon. All favor looser ties to America and repairing relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Le Pen has a mountain to climb to win, but she is clearly the favorite of the president of Russia, and perhaps of the president of the United States. Last week, Donald Trump volunteered:
“She’s the strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France. … Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election.”
As an indicator of historic trends in France, Le Pen seems likely to win twice the 18 percent her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, won in 2002, when he lost in the runoff to Jacques Chirac.
The campaign between now and May 7, however, could make the Trump-Clinton race look like an altarpiece of democratic decorum.
Not only are the differences between the candidates stark, Le Pen has every incentive to attack to solidify her base and lay down a predicate for the future failure of a Macron government.
And Macron is vulnerable. He won because he is fresh, young, 39, and appealed to French youth as the anti-Le Pen. A personification of Robert Redford in The Candidate.
But he has no established party behind him to take over the government, and he is an ex-Rothschild banker in a populist environment where bankers are as welcome as hedge-fund managers at a Bernie Sanders rally.
He is a pro-EU, open-borders transnationalist who welcomes new immigrants and suggests that acts of Islamist terrorism may be the price France must pay for a multiethnic and multicultural society.
Macron was for a year economic minister to President Francois Hollande who has presided over a 10 percent unemployment rate and a growth rate that is among the most anemic in the entire European Union.
He is offering corporate tax cuts and a reduction in the size of a government that consumes 56 percent of GDP, and presents himself as the “president of patriots to face the threat of nationalists.”
His campaign is as much “us vs. them” as Le Pen’s.
And elite enthusiasm for Macron seems less rooted in any anticipation of future greatness than in the desperate hope he can save the French establishment from the dreaded prospect of Marine.
But if Macron is the present, who owns the future?
Across Europe, as in France, center-left and center-right parties that have been on the scene since World War II appear to be emptying out like dying churches. The enthusiasm and energy seem to be in the new parties of left and right, of secessionism and nationalism.
The problem for those who believe the populist movements of Europe have passed their apogee, with losses in Holland, Austria, and, soon, France, that the fever has broken, is that the causes of the discontent that spawned these parties are growing stronger.
What are those causes?
A growing desire by peoples everywhere to reclaim their national sovereignty and identity, and remain who they are. And the threats to ethnic and national identity are not receding, but growing.
The tide of refugees from the Middle East and Africa has not abated. Weekly, we read of hundreds drowning in sunken boats that tried to reach Europe. Thousands make it. But the assimilation of Third World peoples in Europe is not proceeding. It seems to have halted.
Second-generation Muslims who have lived all their lives in Europe are turning up among the suicide bombers and terrorists.
Fifteen years ago, al-Qaeda seemed confined to Afghanistan. Now it is all over the Middle East, as is ISIS, and calls for Islamists in Europe to murder Europeans inundate social media.
As the numbers of native-born Europeans begin to fall, with their anemic fertility rates, will the aging Europeans become more magnanimous toward destitute newcomers who do not speak the national language or assimilate into the national culture, but consume its benefits?
If a referendum were held across Europe today, asking whether the mass migrations from the former colonies of Africa and the Middle East have on balance made Europe a happier and better place to live in in recent decades, what would that secret ballot reveal?
Does Macron really represent the future of France, or is he perhaps one of the last men of yesterday?
“You all start with the premise that democracy is some good. I don’t think it’s worth a damn. Churchill is right. The only thing to be said for democracy is that there is nothing else that’s any better. …
“People say, ‘If the Congress were more representative of the people it would be better.’ I say Congress is too damn representative. It’s just as stupid as the people are, just as uneducated, just as dumb, just as selfish.”
This dismissal of democracy, cited by historian H.W. Brands in “The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War,” is attributed to that great populist Secretary of State Dean Acheson.
Few would air such views today, as democracy has been divinized.
Indeed, for allegedly hacking the Clinton campaign and attacking “our democracy,” Vladimir Putin has been condemned to the ninth circle of hell. Dick Cheney and John McCain have equated Moscow’s mucking around in our sacred democratic rituals to an “act of war.”
Yet democracy seems everywhere to be losing its luster.
Among its idealized features is the New England town meeting. There, citizens argued, debated, decided questions of common concern.
Town-hall meetings today recall a time when folks came out to mock miscreants locked in stocks in the village square. Congressmen returning to their districts in Holy Week were shouted down as a spectator sport. A Trump rally in Berkeley was busted up by a mob. The university there has now canceled an appearance by Ann Coulter.
Charles Murray, whose books challenge conventional wisdom about the equality of civilizations, and Heather Mac Donald, who has documented the case that hostility to cops is rooted in statistical ignorance, have both had their speeches violently disrupted on elite campuses.
In Washington, our two-party system is in gridlock. Comity and collegiality are vanishing. Across Europe, centrist parties shrink as splinter parties arise and “illiberal democracies” take power.
Russia and China, which have embraced autocratic capitalism, have attracted admirers and emulators by the seeming success of their strongman rule.
President Trump, seeing the way the world is going, welcomes to the White House Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, whose army dumped over the elected government and jailed thousands.
Following a disputed referendum that granted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan near-dictatorial powers, Trump phoned his congratulations to the Turkish autocrat. It was Erdogan who described democracy as a bus you get off when it reaches your stop.
Why is liberal democracy, once hailed as the future of mankind, in a deepening bear market? First, Acheson was not all wrong.
When George W. Bush declared that the peoples of the Middle East should decide their future in democratic elections, Lebanon chose Hezbollah, the Palestinians chose Hamas, the Egyptians the Muslim Brotherhood. The first two are U.S.-designated terrorist groups, as members of Congress wish to designate the third. Not an auspicious beginning for Arab democracy.
In Sunday’s election in France, a communist-backed admirer of Hugo Chavez, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen could emerge as the finalists on May 7.
Democracy is increasingly seen as a means to an end, not an end in itself. If democracy doesn’t deliver, dispense with it.
Democracy’s reputation also suffers from the corruption and incompetence of some of its celebrated champions.
The South African regime of Jacob Zuma, of Nelson Mandela’s ANC, faces a clamor for his resignation. Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff was impeached in August. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been removed and jailed for corruption. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez was elected president four times.
In Federalist No. 2, John Jay called us a “band of brethren” and “one united people” who shared the same ancestors, language, religion, principles, manners, customs.
Seventy years later, the brethren went to war with one another, though they seem to have had more in common in 1861 than we do today.
Forty percent of Americans now trace their ancestral roots to Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The Christian component of the nation shrinks, as the numbers of Muslims, Hindu, atheists, agnostics grow. We have two major languages now. Scores of other languages are taught in schools.
Not only do we disagree on God, gays, and guns, but on politics and ideology, morality and faith, right and wrong. One-half of America sees the other as “a basket of deplorables. … racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic … bigots.”
How, outside an external attack that unites us, like 9/11, do we find unity among people who dislike each other so much and regard each other’s ideas and ideals as hateful and repellent?
Democracy requires common ground on which all can stand, but that ground is sinking beneath our feet, and democracy may be going down the sinkhole with it.
Where liberals see as an ever-more splendid diversity of colors, creeds, ethnicities, ideologies, beliefs and lifestyles, the right sees the disintegration of a country, a nation, a people, and its replacement with a Tower of Babel.
Visions in conflict that democracy cannot reconcile.
“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?” tweeted President Donald Trump on Easter Sunday.
Earlier, after discovering “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping over “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake” at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had confided, “I explained … that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”
“America First” thus takes a back seat to big-power diplomacy with Beijing. One wonders: How much will Xi end up bilking us for his squeezing of Kim Jong-un?
Trump once seemed to understand how America had been taken to the cleaners during and after the Cold War. While allies supported us diplomatically, they piled up huge trade surpluses at our expense and became virtual free-riders off the U.S. defense effort.
No nations were more successful at this than South Korea and Japan. Now Xi is playing the game—and perhaps playing Trump.
What is the “North Korean problem” Beijing will help solve in return for more indulgent consideration on future U.S.-China trade deals?
North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. As 80 percent of Pyongyang’s trade comes through China, Trump believes that Beijing can force Kim to stop testing missiles and atomic bombs before he produces an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S.
But what is to prevent Xi from pocketing Trump’s concessions and continuing on the strategic course China has long pursued?
For in many ways, Pyongyang’s goals parallel China’s.
Neither could want an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula. For Kim, this would devastate his country, bring down his regime, and cost him his life. For China, war could mean millions of Koreans crossing the Yalu into Manchuria and a disruption of Beijing’s march to Asian hegemony.
A continuing crisis on the peninsula, however, with Trump and the U.S. relying on Beijing’s help, could leave Xi in the catbird seat.
And now that North Korea has declared its goal to be building missiles with nuclear warheads that could hit all U.S. bases in Asia—and even California—the clock is running for the White House.
“It won’t happen,” Trump has said of North Korea’s developing an ICBM that could hit the United States. “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
“The threat is upon us,” says outgoing deputy national-security advisor K.T. McFarland. “This is something President Trump is going to deal with in the first year.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence have declared that our policy of “strategic patience” with Pyonyang is at an end.
National-security advisor H.R. McMaster said Sunday the U.S. has “to take action, short of armed conflict, so we can avoid the worst” in dealing with “this unpredictable regime.”
With a stunning parade of missiles in Pyongyang on Saturday, the North’s failed firing of a solid-fueled missile that same day, and the promise of new missile tests weekly, Kim is forcing our hand.
Either he backs away from building atomic bombs and long-range missiles or Trump and his generals must make good on their warnings.
How did we get to this point?
Why, 64 years after the Korean War, a quarter-century after the Cold War, are we still obliged to go to war to defend South Korea from a North with one-half the South’s population and 3 percent of its Gross Domestic Product?
Why are we, on the far side of the Pacific, still responsible for containing North Korea when two of its neighbors—Russia and China—are nuclear powers and South Korea and Japan could field nuclear and conventional forces far superior to Kim’s?
How long into the future will containing militarist dictators in Pyongyang with nuclear missiles be America’s primary responsibility?
Another issue arises. Before the U.S. launches any pre-emptive strike on North Korea, Congress should be called back into session to authorize any act of war against the North.
Perhaps this time, Congress would follow the Constitution.
Though Korea is the crisis of the moment, it is not the only one.
Not since 9/11 have the Afghan Taliban been stronger or controlled more territory. The United States’ commanding general there is calling for thousands more U.S. troops. Russia and Iran are reportedly negotiating with the Taliban. Pakistan is said to be aiding them.
To counter Vladimir Putin’s Russia, we have moved U.S. and NATO troops into Poland, the Baltic States, Romania, and Bulgaria. We have fired missiles into Syria. We are reportedly preparing to back the Saudis in the latest escalation of their war on the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Twenty-four years after “Black Hawk Down,” the weekend brought reports of U.S. troops returning to Somalia.
The promise of a Trump presidency—that we would start looking out for our own country and own national interests first and let the rest of the world solve, or fail to solve, its own problems—appears, not 100 days in, to have been a mirage.
Will more wars make America great again?
“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)” Those are among Jesus’ last words on the Cross that first Good Friday.
It was a cry of agony, but not despair. The dying Christ, to rise again in three days, was repeating the first words of the 22nd Psalm.
And today, in lands where Christ lived and taught and beyond where the Christian faith was born and nourished, the words echo. For it is in the birthplace of Christianity that Christians face the greatest of persecutions and martyrdoms since the time of Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin.
President Donald Trump, outraged by pictures of infants and children who had perished in the nerve-gas attack in Syria, ordered missile strikes on the air base from which the war crime came.
Two days later, Palm Sunday, 44 Coptic Christians celebrating Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem were martyred in terrorist attacks in Egypt. The first bombing was at St. George’s Church in Tanta, the second at St. Mark’s in Alexandria, where the Coptic Pope Tawadros II was at Mass.
The pope was unhurt, but 100 Christians were injured in the attacks. At St. George’s, one witness described the scene after the bomb exploded near the altar: “I saw pieces of body parts. … There was so much blood everywhere. Some people had half of their bodies missing.”
The Islamic State group claims credit for the murders, and the pictures of dead children from those churches were surely as horrific as the pictures the president saw after the gas attack.
Copts are among the earliest Christians, dating to the first century AD, when St. Mark, one of the Twelve Apostles, established the first church outside the Holy Land and became bishop of Alexandria.
The Copts make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population. They have been especially targeted for terrorist attacks since the 2013 overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, who had been elected president after the ouster of longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak.
In the subsequent struggle between Egypt’s Islamists, whose base is in Sinai, and the Cairo regime of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who was welcomed to the White House in March, the Copts are seen as soft-target allies of General el-Sissi’s and hated for their faith.
Whatever they did for democracy, the U.S. interventions in the Middle East and the vaunted Arab Spring have proved to be pure hell for Arab Christians.
In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Christians were left alone if they did not interfere in politics. Indeed, they prospered as doctors, lawyers, journalists, academics, engineers, businessmen. A Christian, Tariq Aziz, was Saddam’s foreign minister who negotiated with Secretary of State James Baker to try to prevent what became the Gulf War.
Before 2003, there were still 800,000 Christians in Iraq. But after a decade of church bombings and murders of priests, their numbers have plummeted. When the Islamic State seized a third of Iraq, Christians under the group’s rule had to convert to Islam and pay a tax or face beheading.
On December 26, St. Stephen’s Day, which honors the first martyr, Pope Francis hailed the Iraqi Christians lately liberated from Islamic State rule, noting, “They are our martyrs of today, and there are so many we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries.”
In 2016, an estimated 90,000 more Christians worldwide died for their faith.
Under Syria’s dictator Hafez al-Assad and son Bashar, Christians have been 10 percent of the population and protected by the regime. They thus have sided with Assad against the terrorists of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, whose victory would mean their expulsion or death.
Of the 10 nations deemed by Christianity Today to be the most hateful and hostile toward Christianity, eight are majority-Muslim nations, with the Middle East being the site of the worst of today’s persecutions.
Afghanistan, which we “liberated” in 2001, is listed as the third-most hostile nation toward Christians. The punishment for baptism there is death. A decade ago, a Christian convert had to flee his country to avoid beheading.
Consider. Christianity, whose greatest feast day we celebrate Sunday, is the cradle faith of the culture and the civilization of the West. And in our secularized world, Christianity remains the predominant faith.
A millennium ago, Christendom mounted crusades to ensure that its pilgrims would not lose the right to visit the Holy Land in peace.
Now, a decade and a half after we launched invasions and occupations of the Muslim world in Afghanistan and then Iraq to bring the blessings of democracy, the people there who profess that Christian faith are being persecuted as horribly as they were under the Romans in Nero’s time.
Where are the gains for religious freedom and human rights to justify all the bombings, invasions and wars we have conducted in the lands from Libya to Pakistan—to justify the losses we have endured and the death and suffering we have inflicted?
Truth be told, it is in part because of us that Christianity is on its way to being exterminated in its cradle.
By firing off five dozen Tomahawk missiles at a military airfield, our “America First” president may have plunged us into another Middle East war that his countrymen do not want to fight.
Thus far Bashar Assad seems unintimidated. Brushing off the strikes, he has defiantly gone back to bombing the rebels from the same Shayrat air base that the U.S. missiles hit.
Trump “will not stop here,” warned UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday. “If he needs to do more, he will.”
If Trump fails to back up Haley’s threat, the hawks now cheering him on will begin deriding him as “Donald Obama.”
But if he throbs to the war drums of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio and orders Syria’s air force destroyed, we could be at war not only with ISIS and al-Qaeda, but with Syria, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah.
A Syrian war would consume Trump’s presidency.
Are we ready for that? How would we win such a war without raising a large army and sending it back into the Middle East?
Another problem: Trump’s missile attack was unconstitutional. Assad had not attacked or threatened us, and Congress, which alone has the power to authorize war on Syria, has never done so.
Indeed, Congress denied President Obama that specific authority in 2013.
What was Trump thinking? Here was his strategic rational:
“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies—babies, little babies—with a chemical gas … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. … And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me. … My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”
Two days later, Trump was still emoting: “Beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
Now, that gas attack was an atrocity, a war crime, and pictures of its tiny victims are heart-rending. But 400,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war, among them thousands of children and infants.
Have they been killed by Assad’s forces? Surely, but also by U.S., Russian, Israeli, and Turkish planes and drones—and by Kurds, Iranians, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, ISIS, U.S.-backed rebels, and Shiite militia.
Assad is battling insurgents and jihadists who would slaughter his Alawite brethren and the Christians in Syria just as those Copts were massacred in Egypt on Palm Sunday. Why is Assad more responsible for all the deaths in Syria than those fighting to overthrow and kill him?
Are we certain Assad personally ordered a gas attack on civilians?
For it makes no sense. Why would Assad, who is winning the war and had been told America was no longer demanding his removal, order a nerve-gas attack on children, certain to ignite America’s rage, for no military gain?
Like the gas attack in 2013, this has the marks of a false-flag operation to stampede America into Syria’s civil war.
And as in most wars, the first shots fired receive the loudest cheers. But if the president has thrown in with the neocons and War Party, and we are plunging back into the Mideast maelstrom, Trump should know that many of those who helped to nominate and elect him—to keep us out of unnecessary wars—may not be standing by him.
We have no vital national interest in Syria’s civil war. It is those doing the fighting who have causes they deem worth dying for.
For ISIS, it is the dream of a caliphate. For al-Qaeda, it is about driving the Crusaders out of the Dar al Islam. For the Turks, it is, as always, about the Kurds.
For Assad, this war is about his survival and that of his regime. For Putin, it is about Russia remaining a great power and not losing its last naval base in the Med. For Iran, this is about preserving a land bridge to its Shiite ally Hezbollah. For Hezbollah it is about not being cut off from the Shiite world and isolated in Lebanon.
Because all have vital interests in Syria, all have invested more blood in this conflict than have we. And they are not going to give up their gains or goals in Syria and yield to the Americans without a fight.
And if we go to war in Syria, what would we be fighting for?
A New World Order? Democracy? Separation of mosque and state? Diversity? Free speech for Muslim heretics? LGBT rights?
In 2013, a great national coalition came together to compel Congress to deny Barack Obama authority to take us to war in Syria.
We are back at that barricade. An after-Easter battle is shaping up in Congress on the same issue: Is the president authorized to take us into war against Assad and his allies inside Syria?
If, after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, we do not want America in yet another Mideast war, the time to stop it is before the War Party has us already in it. That time is now.
The Democrats’ drive to defeat Neil Gorsuch is the latest battle in a 50-year war for control of the Supreme Court—a war that began with a conspiracy against Richard Nixon by Chief Justice Earl Warren, Justice Abe Fortas, and Lyndon Johnson.
By June 1968, Nixon, having swept his primaries, was cruising to the nomination and probable victory in November.
The establishment was aghast.
Warren’s bitterness toward Nixon dated to their California days. Senator Nixon had worked behind the scenes for Ike’s nomination in 1952, though Governor Warren was California’s favorite son. Warren had been crushed and humiliated—but Nixon was rewarded with the vice presidency.
Now, 16 years later, the chief justice was ready to step down, but desperately did not want his nemesis Nixon choosing his successor.
So, Warren and LBJ colluded in a plot. Warren announced his resignation from the court contingent on Senate confirmation of his successor. LBJ then named Warren’s ally and his own longtime crony, Fortas, to succeed Warren.
The fix was in. Nixon was boxed, and adopted a posture of benign neutrality on Fortas’s elevation, having been warned by future Secretary of State Bill Rogers that he would be accused of anti-Semitism if he blocked the first Jewish chief justice.
With Nixon’s knowledge, some of us on his staff ignored his neutrality posture and urged Senate conservatives to block Fortas.
Foremost among these was Strom Thurmond, who needed little prodding, and who was provided with Flaming Creatures, a graphic film of transvestite sex that Fortas, alone among the nine justices, had deemed acceptable for public viewing.
Senators were invited to a closed room for a screening. Some walked out wobbly. And as I told friend Sim Fentress of Time, the “Fortas Film Festival” was going to do in our new chief justice.
And so it did. Fortas was rejected in early October. In May 1969, President Nixon named Judge Warren Burger to succeed Earl Warren.
By that May also, Attorney General John Mitchell had learned that Fortas was on a $20,000-a-year secret retainer from swindler Louis Wolfson. Mitchell went to see Warren to suggest that his friend Abe resign, rather than be impeached. Fortas got the message.
Now, with a second vacancy, Nixon, to honor his promise to select a Southerner, chose Harvard Law grad and Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit Clement Haynsworth, the youngest chief judge in the nation.
Joe Rauh, counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, instantly branded Haynsworth a “hard-core segregationist” and liberal Democrats painted him as a grifter steeped in petty corruption, whose court decisions were steered by his stock portfolio.
This was all trash talk. Haynsworth had released black militant H. Rap Brown from jail, without requiring him to post bail, and ruled that lawyers for black defendants had a right to discover whether jurors belonged to any organizations known for bias against blacks.
No matter. Haynsworth was depicted as a corrupt and racist judge and liberal Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans united to vote him down. But while painful to the judge, his vilification by the left had split the nation along a new fault line.
Nixon’s defiant response: he sent another Southern judge up to the Senate, G. Harrold Carswell. Less distinguished than Haynsworth, Carswell got the same treatment. In a statement he had me write, Nixon tore into the Senate for an “act of regional discrimination” against the South.
While losing Beltway battles, we were winning the bigger war.
Nixon then, fatefully, sent up a third nominee, Judge Harry Blackmun of Minnesota, who was approved 94–0.
Suddenly, in 1971, there were two more openings, as Justices Hugo Black, FDR man and former Klansman, and John Harlan resigned.
Nixon called to tell me he was sending up the first woman, a state judge from California, along with an Arkansas bond lawyer.
The heart sank. But Divine Providence intervened.
The American Bar Association voted 11–1 that Mildred Lillie was “not-qualified” and Herschel Friday got a split decision—six “not-qualified” votes and six “barely qualified.”
Panic ensued. Nixon swiftly pivoted to Lewis Powell, ex-head of the ABA, and William Rehnquist, a brilliant young conservative and legal scholar, whom Reagan would elevate to chief justice when Burger retired.
Three days after Nixon’s second inaugural, in Roe v. Wade, written by Blackmun, the Court declared the right to an abortion had been hidden in the Constitution, though it had been a crime in every state when Earl Warren was appointed by Ike.
All doubt was now removed. The Supreme Court was using its right to declare what the law says and what the Constitution means—to reshape America in the image of Earl Warren and his judicial clones.
Realization that these were now the stakes, and power the issue, is the reason why Reagan nominee Robert Bork was savaged, and Bush I nominee Clarence Thomas was brutalized.
Behind the hostility to the mild-mannered and decent Neil Gorsuch lies the same malevolence that lynched Clement Haynsworth.
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
So President Donald Trump warns, amid reports North Korea, in its zeal to build an intercontinental ballistic missile to hit our West Coast, may test another atom bomb.
China shares a border with North Korea. We do not.
Why then is this our problem to “solve”? And why is North Korea building a rocket that can cross the Pacific and strike Seattle or Los Angeles?
Is Kim Jong-un mad?
No. He is targeting us because we have 28,500 troops on his border. If U.S. air, naval, missile, and ground forces were not in and around Korea, and if we were not treaty-bound to fight alongside South Korea, there would be no reason for Kim to build rockets to threaten a distant superpower that could reduce his hermit kingdom to ashes.
While immensely beneficial to Seoul, is this U.S. guarantee to fight Korean War II, 64 years after the first, wise? Russia, China, and Japan retain the freedom to decide whether and how to react, should war break out. Why do we not?
Would it not be better for us if we, too, retained full freedom of action to decide how to respond, should the North attack?
During the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, despite John McCain’s channeling Patrick Henry—“We are all Georgians now!”—George W. Bush decided to take a pass on war. When a mob in Kiev overthrew the pro-Russian government, Vladimir Putin secured his Sebastopol naval base by annexing Crimea.
Had Georgia and Ukraine been in NATO, we would have been, in both cases, eyeball-to-eyeball with a nuclear-armed Russia.
Which brings us to the point:
The United States is in rising danger of being dragged into wars in half a dozen places, because we have committed ourselves to fight for scores of nations with little or no link to vital U.S. interests.
While our first president said in his Farewell Address that we might “trust to temporary alliances” in extraordinary emergencies, he added, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”
Alliances, Washington believed, were transmission belts of war. Yet no nation in history has handed out so many war guarantees to so many “allies” on so many continents, as has the United States.
To honor commitments to the Baltic States, we have moved U.S. troops to the Russian border. To prevent China from annexing disputed rocks and reefs in the South and East China Seas, our Navy is prepared to go to war—to back the territorial claims of Tokyo and Manila.
Yet, our richest allies all spend less on defense than we, and all run trade surpluses at America’s expense.
Consider Germany. Last year, Berlin ran a $270 billion trade surplus and spent 1.2 percent of GDP on defense. The United States ran a $700 billion merchandise trade deficit and spent 3.6 percent of GDP on defense.
Angela Merkel puts Germany first. Let the Americans finance our defense, face down the Russians, and fight faraway wars, she is saying; Germany will capture the world’s markets, and America’s as well.
Japan and South Korea are of like mind. Neither spends nearly as much of GDP on defense as the USA. Yet, we defend both, and both run endless trade surpluses at our expense.
President Trump may hector and threaten our allies that we will not forever put up with this. But we will, because America’s elites live for the great game of global empire.
What would a true “America First” foreign policy look like?
It would restore to the United States the freedom it enjoyed for the 150 years before NATO, to decide when, where, and whether we go to war. U.S. allies would be put on notice that, while we are not walking away from the world, we are dissolving all treaty commitments that require us to go to war as soon as the shooting starts.
This would concentrate the minds of our allies wonderfully. We could cease badgering them about paying more for their defense. They could decide for themselves—and live with their decisions.
In the Carter era, we dissolved our defense pact with Taiwan. Taiwan has survived and done wonderfully well. If Germany, Japan, and South Korea are no longer assured we will go to war on their behalf, all three would take a long hard look at their defenses. The result would likely be a strengthening of those defenses.
But if we do not begin to rescind these war guarantees we have handed out since the 1940s, the odds are high that one of them will one day drag us into a great war, after which, if we survive, all these alliances will be dissolved in disillusionment.
What John Foster Dulles called for, over half a century ago, an “agonizing reappraisal” of America’s alliances, is long, long overdue.
“If we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the preeminent statesman of our time.
“On the world stage, who could vie with him?”
So asks Chris Caldwell of The Weekly Standard in a remarkable essay in Hillsdale College’s March issue of its magazine, Imprimis.
What elevates Putin above all other 21st-century leaders?
“When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that.
“In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Ataturk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he resurrected a nation-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.”
Putin’s approval rating, after 17 years in power, exceeds that of any rival Western leader. But while his impressive strides toward making Russia great again explain why he is revered at home and in the Russian diaspora, what explains Putin’s appeal in the West, despite a press that is every bit as savage as President Trump’s?
Answer: Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists, and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization.
What they abhorred, Putin abhorred. He is a God-and-country Russian patriot. He rejects the New World Order established at the Cold War’s end by the United States. Putin puts Russia first.
And in defying the Americans he speaks for those millions of Europeans who wish to restore their national identities and recapture their lost sovereignty from the supranational European Union. Putin also stands against the progressive moral relativism of a Western elite that has cut its Christian roots to embrace secularism and hedonism.
The U.S. establishment loathes Putin because, they say, he is an aggressor, a tyrant, a “killer.” He invaded and occupies Ukraine. His old KGB comrades assassinate journalists, defectors, and dissidents.
Yet while politics under both czars and commissars has often been a blood sport in Russia, what has Putin done to his domestic enemies to rival what our Arab ally Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has done to the Muslim Brotherhood he overthrew in a military coup in Egypt?
What has Putin done to rival what our NATO ally President Erdogan has done in Turkey, jailing 40,000 people since last July’s coup—or our Philippine ally Rodrigo Duterte, who has presided over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers?
Does anyone think President Xi Jinping would have handled mass demonstrations against his regime in Tiananmen Square more gingerly than did President Putin this last week in Moscow?
Much of the hostility toward Putin stems from the fact that he not only defies the West, when standing up for Russia’s interests, he often succeeds in his defiance and goes unpunished and unrepentant.
He not only remains popular in his own country, but has admirers in nations whose political establishments are implacably hostile to him.
In December, one poll found 37 percent of all Republicans had a favorable view of the Russian leader, but only 17 percent were positive on President Barack Obama.
There is another reason Putin is viewed favorably. Millions of ethnonationalists who wish to see their nations secede from the EU see him as an ally. While Putin has openly welcomed many of these movements, America’s elite do not take even a neutral stance.
Putin has read the new century better than his rivals. While the 20th century saw the world divided between a communist East and a free and democratic West, new and different struggles define the 21st.
The new dividing lines are between social conservatism and self-indulgent secularism, between tribalism and transnationalism, between the nation-state and the New World Order.
On the new dividing lines, Putin is on the side of the insurgents. Those who envision de Gaulle’s Europe of Nations replacing the vision of One Europe, toward which the EU is heading, see Putin as an ally.
So the old question arises: who owns the future?
In the new struggles of the new century, it is not impossible that Russia—as was America in the Cold War—may be on the winning side. Secessionist parties across Europe already look to Moscow rather than across the Atlantic.
“Putin has become a symbol of national sovereignty in its battle with globalism,” writes Caldwell. “That turns out to be the big battle of our times. As our last election shows, that’s true even here.”
Did the Freedom Caucus just pull the Republican Party back off the ledge, before it jumped to its death? A case can be made for that.
Before the American Health Care Act, aka “Ryancare,” was pulled off the House floor Friday, it enjoyed the support—of 17 percent of Americans. Had it passed, it faced an Antietam in the GOP Senate, and probable defeat.
Had it survived there, to be signed by President Trump, it would have meant 14 million Americans losing their health insurance in 2018.
First among the losers would have been white working-class folks who delivered the Rust Belt states to President Trump.
“Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan,” said JFK.
So, who are the losers here?
First and foremost, Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans who, having voted 50 times over seven years to repeal Obamacare, we learned, had no consensus plan ready to replace it.
Moreover, they put a bill on the floor many had not read, and for which they did not have the votes.
More than a defeat, this was a humiliation. For the foreseeable future, a Republican Congress and president will coexist with a health-care regime that both loathe but cannot together repeal and replace.
Moreover, this defeat suggests that, given the ideological divide in the GOP, and the unanimous opposition of congressional Democrats, the most impressive GOP majorities since the 1920s may be impotent to enact any major complicated or complex legislation.
Friday’s failure appears to be another milestone in the decline and fall of Congress, which the Constitution, in Article I, fairly anoints as our first branch of government.
Through the last century, Congress has steadily surrendered its powers, with feeble resistance, to presidents, the Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve, the regulatory agencies, even the bureaucracy.
The long retreat goes on.
Another truth was reconfirmed Friday. Once an entitlement program has been created with millions of beneficiaries, it becomes almost impossible to repeal. As Ronald Reagan said, “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”
Nor did President Trump escape unscathed.
Among the reasons he was elected was the popular belief, which carried him through scrapes that would have sunk other candidates, that, whatever his faults or failings, he was a doer, a man of action—“He gets things done!”
To have failed on his first big presidential project has thus been an occasion of merriment for the boo-birds in the Beltway bleachers.
Yet, still, Trump’s Saturday tweet—“Obamacare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan … Do not worry!”—may prove prophetic.
Now that “Trumpcare” or “Ryancare” is gone, the nation must live with Obamacare. A Democratic program from birth, it is visibly failing. And Democrats now own it again, as not one Democrat was there to help reform it. In the off-year election of 2018, they may be begging for Republican help in reforming the health-care system.
After what he sees as a wonderful win, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer now intends to block a Senate vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, and thus force Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to muster 60 votes to halt a Democratic filibuster.
Should Schumer persist, Senate Republicans will exercise the “nuclear option,” i.e., change the rules to allow debate to be cut off with 51 votes, and then elevate Gorsuch with their own slim majority.
Why would Schumer squander his political capital by denying a quality candidate like Judge Gorsuch a vote? Does he also think that a collapsing Obamacare—even its backers believe is in need of corrective surgery—will be an asset for his imperiled colleagues in 2018? The last time Democrats headed down that Radical Road and nominated George McGovern, they lost 49 states.
While the Republicans have sustained a defeat, this is not the end of the world. And there was an implied warning in the president’s Sunday tweet:
“Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare.”
What Trump is explaining here is that, if Republican majorities in the House and Senate cannot or will not unite with his White House behind solutions on health care, taxes, infrastructure, border security, he will seek out moderate Democrats to get the work done.
This humiliation of Obamacare reform may prove a watershed for the Trump presidency. What he is saying is simple and direct:
I am a Republican president who wants to work with Republicans. But if they cannot or will not work with me, I will find another partner with whom to form coalitions to write the laws and enact the reforms America needs, because, in the last analysis, while party unity is desirable, the agenda I was elected to enact is critical.
The health-care defeat yet may prove to be another example of winning by losing.
Devin Nunes just set the cat down among the pigeons.
Two days after FBI Director James Comey assured us there was no truth to President Trump’s tweet about being wiretapped by Barack Obama, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Trump may have had more than just a small point.
The U.S. intelligence community, says Nunes, during surveillance of legitimate targets, picked up the names of Trump transition officials during surveillance of targets, “unmasked” their identity, and spread their names around, virtually assuring they would be leaked.
If true, this has the look and smell of a conspiracy to sabotage the Trump presidency, before it began.
Comey readily confirmed there was no evidence to back up the Trump tweet. But when it came to electronic surveillance of Trump and his campaign, Comey, somehow, could not comment on that.
Which raises the question: what is the real scandal here?
Is it that Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails and handed them off to WikiLeaks? We have heard that since June.
Is it that Trump officials may have colluded with the Russians?
But former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and ex-CIA Director Mike Morrell have both said they saw no evidence of this.
This March, Sen. Chris Coons walked back his stunning declaration about transcripts showing a Russia-Trump collusion, confessing, “I have no hard evidence of collusion.”
But if Clapper and Morrell saw no Russia-Trump collusion, what were they looking at during all those months to make them so conclude?
Was it “FBI transcripts,” as Senator Coons blurted out?
If so, who intercepted and transcribed the conversations? If it was intel agencies engaged in surveillance, who authorized that? How extensive was it? Against whom? Is it still going on?
And if today, after eight months, the intel agencies cannot tell us whether or not any member of the Trump team colluded with the Russians, what does that say of their competence?
The real scandal, which the media regard as a diversion from the primary target, Trump, is that a Deep State conspiracy to bring down his presidency seems to have been put in place by Obamaites, and perhaps approved by Obama himself.
Consider. On January 12, David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote,
“According to a senior U.S. government official, (Gen. Michael) Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials … What did Flynn say?”
Now, on December 29, Flynn, national security adviser-designate, was not only doing his job calling the ambassador, he was a private citizen.
Why was he unmasked by U.S. intelligence?
Who is this “senior official” who dropped the dime on him? Could this official have known how many times Flynn spoke to Kislyak, yet not known what was said on the calls?
That is hard to believe. This looks like a contract hit by an anti-Trump agent in the intel community, using Ignatius to do the wet work.
Flynn was taken down. Did Comey turn his FBI loose to ferret out the felon who had unmasked Flynn and done him in? If not, why not?
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Dan Henninger points anew to a story in the New York Times of March 1 that began:
“In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Trump and Russians — across the government.”
“This is what they did,” wrote Henninger, quoting the Times:
“At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies.”
For what benign purpose would U.S. intelligence agents spread secrets damaging to their own president—to foreign regimes? Is this not disloyalty? Is this not sedition?
On January 12, writes Henninger, the Times “reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed rules that let the National Security Agency disseminate ‘raw signals intelligence information’ to 16 other intelligence agencies.”
Astounding. The Obamaites seeded the U.S. and allied intel communities with IEDs to be detonated on Trump’s arrival. This is the scandal, not Trump telling Vlad to go find Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails.
We need to know who colluded with the Russians, if anyone did. But more critically, we need to unearth the deep state conspiracy to sabotage a presidency.
So far, the Russia-connection investigation has proven a dry hole. But an investigation into who in the FBI, CIA, or NSA is unmasking U.S. citizens and criminally leaking information to a Trump-hating press to destroy a president they are sworn to serve could prove to be a gusher.
As for the reports of Lynch-White House involvement in this unfolding plot to damage and destroy Trump the real question is: What did Barack Obama know, and when did he know it?
The big losers of the Russian hacking scandal may yet be those who invested all their capital in a script that turned out to based on a fairy tale.
In Monday’s Intelligence Committee hearings, James Comey did confirm that his FBI has found nothing to support President Trump’s tweet that President Obama ordered him wiretapped. Not unexpected, but undeniably an embarrassment for the tweeter-in-chief.
Yet longer-term damage may have been done to the left. For Monday’s hearing showed that its rendering of the campaign of 2016 may be a product of fiction and a fevered imagination.
After eight months investigating the hacking and leaking of the emails of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta and the DNC, there is apparently no evidence yet of Trump collusion with Russia.
Former Director of National Intelligence Gen. James Clapper has said that, as of his departure day, January 20, he had seen no evidence of a Russia-Trump collusion.
Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell also made that clear this month: “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all. … There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.” Morell was a surrogate for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
But while the FBI is still searching for a Trump connection, real crimes have been unearthed—committed by anti-Trump bureaucrats colluding with mainstream media—to damage Trump’s presidency.
There is hard evidence of collusion between the intel community and the New York Times and the Washington Post, both beneficiaries of illegal leaks—felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
While the howls have been endless that Trump accused Obama of a “felony,” the one provable felony here was the leak of a transcript of an intercepted conversation between Gen. Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.
That leak ended Flynn’s career as national-security adviser. And Director Comey would neither confirm nor deny that President Obama was aware of the existence of the Flynn transcript.
So where do we stand after yesterday’s hearing and eight-month FBI investigation? The Russians did hack Podesta’s email account and the DNC, and while the FBI has found no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, it is still looking.
However, the known unknowns seem more significant.
How could DNI Director Clapper and CIA Director Morell say that no connection had been established between Trump’s campaign and the Russians, without there having been an investigation? And how could such an investigation be conclusive in exonerating Trump’s associates—without some use of electronic surveillance?
Did the FBI fly to Moscow and question Putin’s cyberwarfare team?
More questions arise. If, in its investigation of the Russian hacking and a Trump connection, the FBI did receive the fruits of some electronic surveillance of the Trump campaign, were Attorney General Loretta Lynch, White House aides, or President Obama made aware of any such surveillance? Did any give a go-ahead to surveil the Trump associates? Comey would neither confirm nor deny that they did.
So, if Obama were aware of an investigation into the Trump campaign, using intel sources and methods, Trump would not be entirely wrong in his claims, and Obama would have some ’splainin’ to do.
Is the FBI investigating the intelligence sources who committed felonies by illegally disclosing information about the Trump campaign?
Comey would not commit to investigate these leaks, though this could involve criminal misconduct within his own FBI.
Again, the only known crimes committed by Americans during and after the campaign are the leaks of security secrets by agents of the intel community, colluding with the Fourth Estate, which uses the First Amendment to provide cover for criminal sources, whom they hail as “whistleblowers.”
Indeed, if there was no surveillance of Trump of any kind, where did all these stories come from, which their reporters attributed to “intelligence sources”?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any role in the Russian hacking scandal. But the Justice Department should demand that the FBI put the highest priority on investigating the deep state and its journalistic collaborators in the sabotage of the Trump presidency.
If Comey refuses to do it, appoint a special counsel.
In the last analysis, as Glenn Greenwald, no Trumpite, writes for The Intercept, the real loser may well be the Democratic Party.
If the investigation of Russiagate turns up no link between Trump and the pilfered emails, Democrats will have egg all over their faces. And the Democratic base will have to face a painful truth.
Vladimir Putin did not steal this election. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lost it. Donald Trump won it fair and square. He is not an “illegitimate” president. There will be no impeachment. They were deceived and misled by their own leaders and media. They bought into a Big Lie.