In conservative circles, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts used to be a respected figure, held in high regard. Roberts enjoyed a lengthy record as a center-right jurist, and when then-President George W. Bush nominated him to the high court, Republicans everywhere were delighted.
Roberts did not, however, stay in the right’s good graces. After the chief justice voted to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – twice – quite a few conservatives, and even some Republican presidential candidates, turned on Roberts, questioning his judgment, intellect, and integrity.
Right about now, I suspect FBI Director James Comey can relate to how Roberts must feel about his former admirers abruptly changing their opinions.
Comey, in case anyone’s forgotten, is a lifelong Republican who served as a top official in the Bush/Cheney Justice Department. He cut his teeth as a public-sector attorney in the 1990s, when Comey signed on “as deputy special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee,” where he went after, of all people, Hillary Clinton.
I’m not aware of anyone on the right questioning Comey’s abilities or professionalism ahead of yesterday’s announcement in the email matter. On the contrary, Republicans gave Comey a vote of confidence as recently as June. Politico published this report one month ago today:
Should the FBI not recommend an indictment of Hillary Clinton following its investigation of the setup of her private email server, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Monday said he and his Republican colleagues would “probably” accept the outcome.
“Oh, probably, because we do believe in [FBI Director] James Comey,” the Utah Republican said during an appearance on Fox News’ “Outnumbered.” “I do think that in all of the government, he is a man of integrity and honesty.”
Yesterday, however, Chaffetz said the exact opposite, and accused Comey of failing to carry out his duties. Other GOP members of Congress made related arguments, while some Republican pundits adopted an even harsher posture.
The pattern matters. John Roberts was an excellent justice, Republicans said, right up until he strayed from the partisan script. Trey Gowdy was the perfect person to lead the GOP’s Benghazi Committee, they said, right up until he failed to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton.
And Jim Comey was a fine FBI director, right up until he left his party dejected by exercising independent judgment.
In reality, Roberts, Gowdy, and Comey aren’t guilty of corruption or partisan betrayals – their “failures” exist solely in the minds of lazy ideologues. What their Republican critics don’t seem to appreciate is that their ostensible allies asked them to go too far, ignore their responsibilities, abuse an otherwise legitimate process, and look out for the “team,” whether the facts warranted it or not.
Comey didn’t play along with a partisan game, and his reward is a round of condemnations from the same people who, up until 24 hours ago, sang their praises.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 6, 2016
Bernie Sanders is clearly winding down his campaign for the Democratic nomination. In speeches and interviews over the weekend, he started turning his lance away from Hillary Clinton and toward Donald Trump.
Though most of his supporters say they will make the transition to Clinton, a sizable minority — 28 percent, according to a recent poll — insist they will not. Some vow to cast ballots for Trump. The dedicated liberals among them (as opposed to those just along for a populist ride) are being called “dead-enders.”
I feel some of their pain, for I was once considered a dead-ender. The year was 2008. Barack Obama had clinched the Democratic nomination after a grueling contest.
Some Obama bros had subjected Clinton and her female supporters to vile sexist attacks. And it wasn’t just the knuckle draggers. The late Christopher Hitchens called her an “aging and resentful female.”
The caucus and primary results, meanwhile, were a lot closer then than those between Clinton and Sanders.
It all seemed so unfair. Hillary the workhorse had labored at putting together a coherent health reform plan. The glamorous Obama floated by. Political expedience prompted him to oppose an individual mandate — unpopular because it forced everyone to obtain coverage but absolutely essential for universal health care.
I was sore. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I spent much time interviewing women still fuming over Clinton’s treatment and unable to support Obama. “Dead-enders,” these Clinton die-hards were called.
A poll in April 2008 had 35 percent of Clinton voters saying they would vote for Republican John McCain if Obama were to be the Democratic nominee. I, too, briefly toyed with the idea. After all, McCain at that time had retained a reputation for moderation. (He would have made a more plausible president than Trump ever will.)
McCain’s choice of the abominable Sarah Palin as his running mate quickly cured the so-called dead-enders of that notion.
And boy, were we wrong about Obama. Obama pulled America from the brink of another Great Depression. He championed the Dodd-Frank finance reforms and oversaw the passage of the Affordable Care Act (individual mandate included). He did it with virtually no Republican support and not a whiff of personal scandal. Obama will go down as one of the greatest presidents of our lifetime.
Has Sanders been treated unfairly as the Bernie camp asserts? There may be a valid grievance here and there, such as the scheduling of the debates in a way that benefited Clinton.
But no, the system wasn’t rigged against Sanders. It was in place before his candidacy. And Sanders gained extraordinary access to the infrastructure of a party he never joined.
As the apparent (if unannounced) truce between Clinton and Sanders sinks in, some of his dead-enders will cool down. Sanders surely knows that his movement will have far more influence docked in the Democratic Party than sailing off into third-party oblivion.
One last but important point: Participating in a party primary or caucus in no way obligates one to vote for that party’s eventual nominee. Anyone who genuinely wants a vulgar and unstable authoritarian to lead the nation has every right to vote for Trump.
But those who don’t want Trump — but rather wish to punish Clinton for prevailing over their hero — have things to think about. The country, for starters.
In politics, there’s no building your ideal car. We end up choosing the preferable of two models. Doing something else with one’s vote also affects the outcome.
Frustration can hurt, but it helps to not over-identify with a candidate. To the dead-enders of 2016, peace.
By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, May 31, 2016
“Please Don’t Mainstream Trump”: The Risks Of Declaring Trump A Morally Acceptable Leader For Our Country Are High
Donald Trump’s Republican primary triumph means that this cannot be a normal election. Americans who see our country as a model of tolerance, inclusion, rationality and liberty must come together across party lines to defeat him decisively.
Many forces will be at work in the coming weeks to normalize Trump — and, yes, the media will play a big role in this. On both the right and the left, there will be strong temptations to go along.
Refusing to fall in line behind Trump will ask more of conservatives. Beating Trump means electing Hillary Clinton, the last thing most conservatives want to do. It would likely lead to a liberal majority on the Supreme Court and the ratification of the achievements of President Obama’s administration, including the Affordable Care Act. Conservative opposition could deepen a popular revulsion against Trump that in turn could help Democrats take over the Senate and gain House seats.
But the risks of declaring Trump a morally acceptable leader for our country are higher still, and shrewd Trump opponents on the right are already trying to disentangle the presidential race from contests lower on the ballot.
Three streams of Republicans are likely to oppose Trump: those to his right on trade and government spending; neoconservatives who oppose his “America First” noninterventionist foreign policy; and the remaining moderates and others in the party alarmed over his outbursts on, among other things, torture, immigration, race, women, Latinos, Muslims, Vladimir Putin and, lest we forget, Obama’s birthplace, Ted Cruz’s father and John McCain’s military service. These honorable and brave conservatives should not lose their nerve under pressure from conventional politicians or the very lobbyists and big donors Trump likes to denounce.
The fact that Trump draws opposition from the most ideological parts of the Republican Party heightens the temptation on the left to cheer his apparent victory. As someone who has argued that the right has long been on the wrong path, I understand this urge.
It’s certainly true that his feat vindicates much of what progressives have said about the conservative movement. Republican leaders have a lot to answer for, and not only the incompetence and timidity of their stop-Trump efforts.
They have spent years stoking the resentment and anger on the right end of their party that fueled Trump’s movement. They ignored the material interests of their struggling white working-class base and also popular exhaustion with foreign commitments fed by interventionist misadventures. Along with many Democrats, they underestimated the anger over trade agreements that accelerated the economic dislocation of the less well-off.
After this election, the GOP will need an extended period of self-examination. But no one on the left should applaud the rise of Trump as representing a friendly form of “populism” — let alone view him as the leader of a mass movement of the working class. He is no such thing. He is channeling the European far right, mixing intolerance, resentment and nationalism.
There will be much commentary on Trump’s political brilliance. But this should not blind us to the degree that Trumpism is very much a minority movement in our country. He has won some 10.6 million votes, but this amounts to less than a quarter of the votes cast in the primaries this year. It’s fewer than Clinton’s 12.4 million votes and not many more than the 9.3 million Bernie Sanders has received.
But never again will I underestimate Trump, having done this a month ago, rashly predicting he would lose the Republican nomination. I clearly had an excess of confidence that Cruz could rally anti-Trump voters and thought a series of wildly outrageous Trump statements would do more harm to his candidacy than they did.
I was dead wrong as a pundit, allowing myself to get carried away by my confidence that, at the end of it all, Americans would see through Trump. I still devoutly believe they will do so, once the campaign moves out of the Republican primaries, but I now know how urgent it is to resist capitulation to every attempt to move Trump into the political mainstream.
My friend, the writer Leon Wieseltier, suggested a slogan that embodies the appropriate response to Trump’s ascent: “Preserve the Shock.”
“The only proper response to his success is shame, anger and resistance,” Wieseltier said. “We must not accustom ourselves to this. . . . Trump is not a ‘new normal.’ No amount of economic injustice, no grievance, justifies the resort to his ugliness.”
Staying shocked for six months is hard. It is also absolutely necessary.
By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, May 4, 2016