How Washington Handed Trump
His First Defeat

Trump Oval Office

President Trump and his advisers ought to study the collapse of the American Health Care Act. It’s a case study in how Beltway institutions—the so-called Swamp Trump pledged to drain—can herd a president and his party toward unpopular legislation and political defeat.

Begin with this question: Why the rush to repeal and replace Obamacare? Yes, repealing the law has been a Republican priority since 2010. But Democrats had spent decades laying the groundwork for universal health care before finding themselves in control of the government in 2009.

The Movie Man

Robert Osborne

What is a conservative? Hard to say these days, especially when discussing politics. But the mission of a cultural conservative endures: to save the best that has been thought, said, written, composed, photographed. And made into motion pictures.

Freedom Is Eating Steak Well Done With Ketchup

Trump eats at the 21 Club in Manhattan

There really was a liberal media bubble, Nate Silver reports, and the only thing wrong with his assertion is that it’s in the past tense. The lack of diversity among journalistic ranks—even the sort of racial and sexual diversity championed every day in the pages of the Washington Post and New York Times—makes it easy for consensus to form and harden into unshakable groupthink. The media is a crowd without wisdom. There is within it hardly any diversity of opinion, independence of mind is mocked and ostracized, and reporters increasingly are twenty- and thirty-year-olds living in either New York City or Washington, D.C. They are addicted to Twitter, where they try to out-snark each other and determine who can affect the best pose of knowingness.

The ISIS Endgame

The Islamic Caliphate announced in 2014 by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, is approaching the end of its short and terrible life. Iraqi forces, supported by Americans, have reclaimed the eastern half of Mosul and are retaking the western one. Kurdish militias in Syria, also backed by the United States, are homing in on the ISIS capital of Raqqa. Word came this week that a contingent of Marines has been deployed in Syria to position heavy artillery for the fight ahead. “We expect that within a few weeks there will be a siege of the city,” a militia spokesman tells Reuters.

The New Nationalism in America

Donald Trump

Decades of intellectual and political activity preceded the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. William F. Buckley Jr. founded National Review in 1955. A little less than a decade later, National Review publisher William Rusher helped orchestrate Barry Goldwater’s presidential nomination. The following year, 1965, Buckley ran for mayor of New York City and Irving Kristol, then still a member of the anti-Communist left, founded The Public Interest. The year after that, Reagan was elected governor of California. The 1970s saw the proliferation of the single-issue interest groups that comprised the New Right. The first Conservative Political Action Conference was held in 1973. In 1977, a year after losing the Republican nomination to incumbent Gerald Ford, Reagan addressed the conference.

Who Rules the United States?

Donald Trump was elected president last November by winning 306 electoral votes. He pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., to overturn the system of politics that had left the nation’s capital and major financial and tech centers flourishing but large swaths of the country mired in stagnation and decay. “What truly matters,” he said in his Inaugural Address, “is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.”

Nobody Knows Anything

mcconnell-trump-warren

“Republicans seized her microphone,” writes the New York Times. “And gave her a megaphone.”

Who’s she? Elizabeth Warren, the overrated Democratic senator from Massachusetts. The other night Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell rebuked her for impugning colleague Jeff Sessions. Exercising a little-known rule, the Senate revoked Warren’s floor privileges for 24 hours. Now, says the Times, “Ms. Warren is considered a very early frontrunner for 2020, should she run.”

Trump Short Circuits Washington

Donald Trump

“What happened to the honeymoon?” Charles Krauthammer asked last month. The opposition has long granted presidents time to form their administrations, to announce their signature initiatives. Donald Trump’s honeymoon lasted all of 10 days—from his surprise November 8 election to the rude treatment of his vice president at a performance of Hamilton on November 18. After that, divorce.

The Democrats Retreat From Reality

dems

“Retreat” is an appropriate description of what took place in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, this week. Senate Democrats took a break from not confirming President Trump’s cabinet to visit this historic city in a state the president won by 40 points. According to Politico the assembled were scheduled to hear from associates of the Clinton family and to “hold lessons on how to talk to real people.” Oh to be a fly on the wall.