PowerLine – Reporters Tell Trump: It’s a Mistake to Attack Us!
- 10 Years Ago on Power Line: Have Liberals Learned Anything?
- Today’s Silly Regulatory Diktat from Obama
- This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Part 3
- Reporters Tell Trump: It’s a Mistake to Attack Us!
- Washington Post unhappy that Trump criticized the press
|10 Years Ago on Power Line: Have Liberals Learned Anything?
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 03:34 PM PDT
Borrowing an inspiration from Glenn Reynolds looking back at old dispatches from Instapundit, I think it might be worth revisiting some old posts on this site. Ten years ago this month Paul took note of Peter Beinart’s argument that liberals—and only liberals—could win the war on terror. He wrote a book about the idea shortly thereafter, and then after Bush and the Iraq war become more unpopular, he recanted the whole thing in a 2010 book The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, which I reviewed in the Claremont Review of Books. I think Beinart needed to do this to keep his liberal street cred in the Age of Obama. Not sure it worked. Where is Beinart these days? He seems to have vanished more thoroughly than someone in the witness protection program.
Anyway, here’s Paul’s original post from June 28, 2006, CAN IMAGINARY LIBERALS, AND ONLY IMAGINARY LIBERALS, WIN THE WAR ON TERROR?
I admire pro-defense liberals like Peter Beinart who support shaking off liberalism’s post-Vietnam syndrome, waging a vigorous worldwide war against Islamic jihadists, and (within the constraints we face) promoting democracy throughout the world. I regard these liberals more as allies than as adversaries, whatever their position may be on tax cuts, health care, and gay marriage. Although in my view Beinart has very little chance of winning his struggle for the hearts and minds of contemporary liberals, it is pleasing to fantasize that our politics might return to the situation that prevailed for a time during the Cold War — bipartisan commitment to aggressively combating those who were trying to destroy us. In that environment elections would be contested primarily on the basis of domestic policy issues and (in presidential elections) also on the basis of which candidate can provide the best leadership within a generally agreed up policy framework.
However, one should not overstate the extent to which, even if Beinart’s thinking were to prevail, we would return to that happy state. For thing, Beinart is a gentleman warrior, which gives rise to serious disputes about how to deal with terrorism. He frets, for example, about the treatment of, and lack of process granted to, the Guantanamo detainees. Try to imagine Beinart’s heroes Harry Truman (who dropped the big one on Japan twice) and JFK worrying about this. I’m unable to conjure up that image.
Moreover, Beinart doesn’t envisage Democrats asking for votes primarily on the theory that their domestic policies are better for our domestic welfare. His theme is that voters should prefer Democrats because, by virtue of their domestic, civil libertarian and internationalist positions, they are best able to lead the global war on terrorism. In fact, Beinart goes one unconscionable step further and argues that because of these positions only liberals are fit to lead that war. I don’t recall the Cold War Democrats making such imperial claims (my memory doesn’t extend back to Truman though). JFK, the best Democratic Cold Warrior in my memory, never claimed that Republican domestic policy disqualified that party from leading the Cold War. Kennedy didn’t even like to be bothered by issues like the minimum wage (and indeed civil rights). He wanted to focus like a lazar on protecting our national security.
None of this would be fatal to Beinart’s argument if he could offer compelling evidence to support it. However, as I noted here, Beinart’s heavy reliance of the role of the civil rights movement in the Cold War seems misplaced. Similarly, the arguments made by his fellow pro-defense liberal Martin Frost are unpersuasive. Frost argues that our efforts to promote democracy abroad are being undermined by the alleged mistreatment of detainees and supposed civil liberties abuses in the U.S. Frost offers no evidence for this proposition, and a moment’s reflection is enough to conclude that it is entirely implausible. Surely Frost does not believe that the terrorists in Iraq are trying to bring down the democratically elected government because of the interrogation techniques at Gitmo. Or that the Saudi government is resisting democratic reforms due to the NSA electronic intercept program. People in other countries favor or disfavor democracy based on their perception of their own interests, not their perception of the U.S.
Frost also peddles the notion that “the Bush administration’s moral certainty that America is perfect and can never make mistakes rings hollow with much of the rest of the world” and is undermining our anti-terror efforts. But the Bush administration doesn’t take the position that America is perfect and can never make mistakes. President Bush does hold our country and its institutions in high regard and is not apologetic about this. But neither were the great Cold War leaders. Indeed, our success in prosecuting the Cold War tended to be at its peak under nationalistic leaders like President Reagan and at its nadir under President Carter, who was much more ambivalent about the extent to which America is virtuous. There’s no reason to believe that the reverse dynamic applies now.
I suppose that a certain amount of Bush-bashing is required of Beinart in order effectively to battle the anti-war portion of the Democratic party. But truth should not be the first casualty of Beinart’s war.
I think after eight years of Obama we can see that the idea of any kind of hard-headed liberal foreign policy reminiscent of Truman is a complete fantasy. Score one for Paul here.
|Today’s Silly Regulatory Diktat from Obama
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 12:30 PM PDT
News out today is that the Obama FDA is issuing new guidelines on salt in food, hoping to pressure the food industry. Okay, maybe we eat too much salt (says me, who is currently about to braise porks ribs for dinner after letting them set all night in my fridge in a yummy salt-based rub), but does the Obama Administration have to make everything so ripe for parody? FDA commissioner Robert Cadiff actually said “Our great hope is that this will initiate a very serious national dialogue,” he said.
Serious national dialogue? Can academic symposia on “sodium and critical race theory” be far behind? Maybe the FDA should just re-run the old MST3K episode on the classic film Horror at Beach Party, where sodium saved the world!
Maybe Mike Nelson can be persuaded to be President Trump’s FDA commissioner.
|This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Part 3
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 10:54 AM PDT
In this 2:37 long video from two years ago, Patrick McLaughlin of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University does a terrific job of dramatizing just how immense federal regulation has grown over the last two generations. Actually, this visualization understates the number of regulatory programs, as it only identifies major regulatory agencies, not individual regulatory initiatives per se. Still, this is a highly useful piece of work:
|Reporters Tell Trump: It’s a Mistake to Attack Us!
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 09:10 AM PDT
Following Donald Trump’s criticisms of the political press yesterday, various reporters have hurried to tell us that he is making a mistake. See, for example, what happened on CNN:
On Tuesday’s Legal View, CNN’s Mark Preston asserted that Donald Trump’s latest attack on the media was “an absolute mistake because he doesn’t want to necessarily do that.” Preston soon added that “Trump deciding to take on the media at this point because he doesn’t feel like they are treating him well is actually not a very good strategy — to the point the question was asked to him…do you have a thick enough skin to run for president?
It is safe to say that no Republican candidate will take tactical or strategic advice from CNN. In this case, the assertion that Trump’s push-back against the press is a mistake is ludicrous. On the contrary, Trump’s willingness to take on biased reporters is one of the key qualities that have endeared him to Republican voters.
And distaste for the press is not limited to Republicans. Gallup has repeatedly found that the press is one of America’s most despised institutions, ranking almost as low as Congress. Has anyone at CNN ever suggested that attacking Congress is misguided? Further, last year 70% of Americans polled said that they believe the press is biased and does not even try to report the news fairly.
In the early stages of the primary season, I was often frustrated by over-the-top attacks on Donald Trump by liberal reporters at newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times. This was because I wasn’t a Trump fan, and every time liberal reporters attacked him, his approval ratings went up. This is a lesson that Trump apparently has absorbed better than his opponents in the press, and I don’t think there is any risk that he will stop pushing back now.
|Washington Post unhappy that Trump criticized the press
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 07:48 AM PDT
The headline in the paper edition of today’s Washington Post reads: “Charity scrutiny riles up Trump” (the story is here) This is not the most biased headline ever to appear in the Post, but it clearly is designed to cast Trump in a bad light. As such, it corroborates Trump’s claim that the media is out to “make me look very bad.”
The Post follows up with a lead editorial denouncing Trump for attacking reporters he considers dishonest. “Mr. Trump is unapologetic about his intention to bully the press,” the Post’s editors complain.
The Post, naturally, is operating under the assumption that it, and other mainstream media outlets, are eminently fair. But at Power Line, we have spent 14 years trying to show that this isn’t true — that, in fact, the Post and other such organs are biased against and unfair towards Republicans and, above all, conservatives.
What if we are right? How should a Republican president behave towards reporters who are biased against him and the party he represents?
Aesthetically, I liked George W. Bush’s approach. He was “presidential.” I don’t recall him ever lashing out, or even criticizing, his media critics publicly (though, when he was running for president a live microphone picked up an unflattering exchange with Dick Cheney about a New York Times reporter).
But the aesthetically pleasing approach isn’t necessarily the best approach. And the abuse the media intends to hurl at Trump will exceed even that experienced by President Bush.
I see no reason why Trump shouldn’t call out reporters he thinks are treating him unfairly; nor do I see any reason why he shouldn’t criticize the media in general. The First Amendment offers broad protection of the ability of reporters to write what they wish. However, it does not protect them from sharp criticism about what they write.
The Post’s editors equate criticism with “bullying.” They would. The two are not equivalent, however.
It’s quite possible that, as president, Trump will bully the press. President Obama has. Jennifer Rubin cited several instances of bullying by the Team Obama. The victims included Bob Woodward and Ron Fournier.
I doubt that, if elected president, Trump will be more restrained than Obama — or less restrained than Hillary Clinton.
If and when Trump bullies the press, he should be criticized for it. But if all he does is push back publicly against stories he considers unfair — which is what he did yesterday regarding coverage of the charities — he should not be accused of bullying. He should only be criticized if his charge of unfairness is itself unfair.
The Post complains that Trump sometimes calls press stories “libelous.” It notes that he’s said he would “loosen” (Trump’s word) libel laws so that journalists could be “attacked” (the Post’s word; the right word is “sued”) more easily.
Trump cannot loosen the libel laws. That’s up to legislatures and to courts reviewing any “loosening” legislation in light of the First Amendment.
I happen to like the libel laws the way they are, but they aren’t set in stone. Great Britain has a different concept and is no less of a democracy for it.
Peter Wehner has written, shrewdly:
What Trump is doing is exactly what Rush Limbaugh and others have been begging Republican presidential candidates to do — to run a brutal, scorched-earth, anything-goes campaign. They now have their man.
I don’t advocate a brutal, scorched-earth, anything-goes campaign, and at times, I have criticized the campaign Trump is running. But I confess to being happy that the Republican nominee will push back against attacks by the liberal, anti-Republican mainstream media, and I’m looking forward to the negotiations over debate moderators.