Best columns: The U.S.
Why Trump remains unpopular
Donald Trump may be about to move into the Oval Office, said Jennifer Rubin, but he still can’t get most Americans to like him. The president-elect’s average approval rating is just 43 percent, while 49 percent of Americans view him unfavorably. Only 46 percent of Americans are confident the president-elect can handle an international crisis, and just 44 percent think he will avoid major scandals. These are historically low ratings for an incoming president, who usually enjoys a major postelection glow. At least 70 percent were confident in Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton in these areas as they took office. In coming months, Trump’s popularity may decline further because of his refusal to truly separate from his businesses here and abroad and avoid conflicts of interest. During the campaign, Trump got away with playing the outsider, but his “contempt for ethical norms” makes him vulnerable to the very same charges he leveled at Hillary Clinton: “He thinks he’s above the rules” and is “jaw-droppingly greedy.” That kind of arrogance leads to scandal. And the more criticism Trump receives, the more venomously he’ll lash out. He’ll even turn on Republican allies if they don’t bend to his will. This is going to be a wild ride.
A family man’s inspiring example
The New York Times
I disagree with President Obama on many vital issues, said J.D. Vance, but I deeply admire him for the personal example he set as a husband, father, and public figure. Like the president—and Bill Clinton before him—I grew up in an unstable home, raised by a single mother. I feared the demons that haunted my working-class family for generations, and desperately hoped for a happy marriage, thriving children, a loving family. “But I thought that those things belonged to people unlike me, to those who came from money and intact nuclear families.” Then along came President Obama. Though he and Michelle grew up without much money, they clearly loved and respected each other, and were intensely devoted to their children. In our intractably polarized environment, it’s sad that Republicans have failed “to disconnect legitimate political disagreements from the fact that the president himself is an admirable man.” I’ll never forget that “at a pivotal time in my life, Barack Obama gave me hope that a boy who grew up like me could still achieve the most important of my dreams.” He proved to all Americans that “we need not be defeated by the domestic hardships of youth.”
The Clintons’ self-destructive choices
If Democrats want to blame anyone for Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, said Steven Strauss, they should start with Hillary and Bill Clinton. The Clintons obviously knew the intense scrutiny presidential candidates receive, yet in the years leading up to the election, “they still did an amazing number of stupid things.” Republicans and FBI Director James Comey could not have used her private email server against her had Hillary and her aides not ignored warnings from her own State Department and put all her emails on a private address and server. She compounded that mistake by destroying 33,000 of the emails before handing over the rest. If she wanted to maintain her privacy, “she shouldn’t have run for president.” Accepting millions in Clinton Foundation donations from “the world’s leading kleptocrats and autocrats” while Hillary served as secretary of state was just as foolish and shortsighted. So was the Clintons’ pocketing of more than $150 million in speaking and consulting fees from corporations and foreign governments seeking influence. Is it any wonder that so many struggling Americans didn’t see her as a trustworthy champion and took a chance on a political outsider? So please, Hillary and Bill: “Keep your money and stay out of politics. You’ve done enough damage.”
“The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now. I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good.”
Anthony Bourdain in Reason.com