Matthew Continetti

There’s No Reason for Biden to Reward Iran

Column: Sanctions relief didn't bring stability in 2015. And it won't now

President-Elect Joe Biden Campaigns For Georgia Senate Candidates Ossoff And WarnockBack in September, Joe Biden described his Iran policy in an op-ed for CNN. After several paragraphs criticizing President Trump, Biden made an "unshakable commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon." Then he offered "Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy." The terms were simple. "If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal," Biden wrote, "the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations." And Biden is sticking with his plan. Recently Tom Friedman asked him if the offer stands. "It's going to be hard," Biden replied, "but yeah."

Obama III

Column: Biden courts disaster with retreads, culture warriors, and scandal

Barack Obama Campaigns With Joe Biden In Michigan 3 Days Ahead Of ElectionThis is not a third Obama term. —Joe Biden, November 24, 2020 He sure has a funny way of showing it. Biden's recent moves provide little comfort for Americans looking for a way out of the polarization, acrimony, catastrophism, and hysteria that have characterized politics lo these many years.

Natan Sharansky and the Meaning of Freedom

Column: Life lessons from the dissident, politician, and activist

Natan SharanskyNatan Sharansky has been a computer scientist, a chess player, a refusenik, a dissident, a political prisoner, a party leader, a government minister, a nonprofit executive, and a bestselling author. He never expected to be a school counselor.

Return of the Propeller Heads

Column: Heavy-handed bureaucracy is set for a comeback under Biden

propeller headsBarack Obama had a nickname for the highly credentialed economists who surrounded him during his first term. He called them "propeller heads." It was his way of joshing—and asserting superiority over—figures such as Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, Austan Goolsbee, Jason Furman, and other wonks with impeccable CVs and intimidating confidence in their own opinions. The label reduced these résumé gods to propeller-beanie geeks. Like most Obama statements, it was also a self-flattering way for the president to demonstrate the value he places on intellection, data, and expert knowledge. He and his fellow progressives love the idea that reason, logic, and science legitimize the power they wield through law and bureaucratic diktat.

Stalemate 2020

Column: America's polarized and divided politics aren't going anywhere.

voting boothThe polls were wrong. The blue wave fizzled out. The Democratic majority did not emerge. Parts of the "coalition of the ascendant" drifted to the right. For a generation, American politics has been closely and bitterly divided between the parties. There has been high turnover in office, and frequent shifts in power. Majorities are unstable. No victory is permanent, no realignment durable. The stalemate goes on.

The Next Populist Revolt

Column: The combustible politics of a coronavirus ‘dark winter’

Italian police officers clash with protesters during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of COVID-19For the past half decade, Europe has acted as a preview of coming attractions in American politics. The reaction to the confluence of immigration and terrorism on the continent foreshadowed the direction the Republican Party would take under Donald Trump. The surprise victory of “Leave” in the Brexit referendum hinted at Trump’s unexpected elevation to the presidency. The terrible images from coronavirus-stricken Italy last March offered a glimpse into New York City’s future. This week, when Italian authorities reimposed curfews, restrictions on business, and bans on communal gatherings, violent protests broke out in Turin, Milan, and Naples. Consider it a taste of the next populist revolt.

Twelve Days That Will Shake the World

Column: What Trump's debate win means for the 2020 campaign

Donald Trump And Joe Biden Participate In Final Debate Before Presidential ElectionPresident Trump needed a strong debate performance to have any hope of slowing Joe Biden's momentum in the closing days of the 2020 campaign. And a strong debate performance is what he delivered. Trump didn't interrupt Biden or moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News. There was considerably less shouting than at the first debate. You could actually understand what was going on. And Trump was on message. He contrasted his record, policies, and outsider persona with Biden's. He argued for coping with the pandemic while re-opening the economy and resuming in-person schooling. Perhaps most important, he defined Biden as a typical politician who is all talk and no action. And he seized on Biden's unforced error toward the end of the debate, when the former vice president admitted that he wants to "transition" from an economy fueled by oil and gas.

The Scalia Family

Column: The lasting influence of the legendary Supreme Court justice

scalia acb“Enough to field a baseball team.” That was the late justice Antonin Scalia’s response when asked how many children he had. And he and his wife Maureen’s nine children have themselves parented, as of this week, 40 grandchildren. How big is the Scalia family? So big that, at the moment, it would not be allowed to hold an in-person gathering in the justice’s home state of New Jersey.

Whatever Happened to Immigration?

Column: The issue driving the populist revolt has disappeared in 2020

Mike Pence And Kamala Harris Take Part In Vice Presidential DebateIt is a sign of the times that immigration has not been mentioned in three hours of debate between the presidential tickets. A review of the transcripts of both the presidential and vice-presidential encounters finds no questions asked nor answers proffered about an issue that until only recently defined much of our politics and distinguished our two parties. Needless to say, both moderators wanted to know where the candidates stand on climate change, which routinely drifts toward the bottom of any list of public priorities.

Who Wins an Unwatchable Debate?

Not the audience.

Donald Trump And Joe Biden Participate In First Presidential DebateOver coffee this morning I read a fascinating interview with Martin Gurri, the former CIA analyst who first noticed the seismic impact of social media on world politics. The author of The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, Gurri studies the fracturing of discourse and the frantic attempts of elites to reassert control over public life. "We are in the first stages of a gigantic transformation from the industrial mode of information and communication to something that doesn't even have a name yet," Gurri said. "It's an extinction event for the narratives. The ideal of representative democracy is in trouble, for example, and the institutions around that ideal will have to be reformed if they wish to retain any sort of legitimacy."