Something peculiar has happened. As I write, none of the Republican candidates for Senate has become a public embarrassment. On the contrary: For the first time in a decade, it is the Democratic candidates, not the Republican ones, who are fodder for late-night comics. That the Democrats are committing gaffes and causing scandals at a higher rate than Republicans not only may be decisive in the battle for the Senate. It could signal a change in our politics at large.
Two months ago, President Obama authorized bombing Islamic State (IS) forces in Iraq. One month ago, President Obama authorized bombing Islamic State forces in Syria. His plan: couple American air power with indigenous ground forces.
Deadly, irrational, and determined, the intruder snuck across a weakened perimeter. Eluding capture, the intruder was detained only after missteps and close calls. The spin began soon after the threat was isolated. Information was selectively leaked. Half-truths and untruths were uttered. Responsibility was avoided; privileges and credentials asserted; authority reasserted. Trust us. Remain calm. Don’t panic.
Foreign governments and their citizens are forbidden from contributing to U.S. elections. If a foreign government hires a lobbyist to influence the legislative or executive branches of the United States, that lobbyist must disclose his contracts and activities with the Justice Department in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. FARA is so strict that it applies not only to lobbyists, but to any American who works within the United States to influence our politics on behalf of a foreign interest. Break the law, and you go to jail.
“The constitutional amendment before us,” Harry Reid said Tuesday, describing a proposal to give federal and state governments the authority to regulate political giving, “isn’t about limiting free speech.”
Harry Reid, may I present the American Civil Liberties Union. I am sure you two have met before.
“We can fix these problems,” Paul Ryan tells me. He’s referring to the sluggish economy, the rising cost of living, broken immigration and health care systems, burdensome regulations, and stifling tax code. What would it take? The Republican Party has to win the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016.
F-16s grounded. Blackhawks covered in foam. Just two Army brigades combat ready. Half the cruiser fleet rendered inoperable. New nukes delayed—for two years. The percentage of the economy devoted to defense at pre-9/11 levels. Bipartisan experts terrified of the consequences. America’s deterrent—our ability to discourage and respond to aggression—is gone.
It was thrown away. First, President Obama cut defense massively, constraining the Pentagon and hollowing out the force. He was helped not only by Democrats in Congress but also by Republicans, who agreed to the budget sequester in 2011. Democrats want more money for social programs; Republicans want to cut the deficit. They are both guilty of short-term thinking.
The headline was brutal. “Bam’s Golf War: Prez tees off as Foley’s parents grieve,” read the cover of Thursday’s New York Daily News. Obama’s gaffe was this: He had denounced the beheading of James Foley from a vacation spot in Martha’s Vineyard, then went to the golf course. Seems like he had a great time. Such a great time that he returned to the Farm Neck Golf Club—sorry, membership is full—the next day.
Jeff Bell was a reform conservative before it was cool. He’s spent his career arguing with a risk-averse Republican establishment. He pushed Ronald Reagan to embrace the supply-side doctrine of tax cuts before deficit reduction. He spent the 1990s warning the GOP that its tax policy favored investment capital over human capital, corporate interests over working families. He designed a family-friendly flat tax that reduced payroll taxes, increased the child tax credit, taxed capital gains and regular income at the same rate, and ended business expensing. Payroll tax relief and a generous child tax credit are elements of today’s reform conservatism. Bell was there first.