Best columns: The U.S.
Trump is hardly a dictator
The Wall Street Journal
“So much for Donald Mussolini,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. In the early days of the Trump presidency, the apocalyptic Left was using “Mussolini and Hitler analogies” in warning that the new president was destroying “democratic norms” and assuming neardictatorial power. But nine weeks in, “the normal checks and balances of the American system are working almost to a fault.” The courts have blocked his immigration-ban order; Congress rejected the health-care bill he supported; and the FBI and congressional intelligence committees are investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Meanwhile, the federal government “is leaking like a tent in a monsoon,” and Trump “is getting the worst press of any president since the final days of Richard Nixon.” Rather than being too strong, the rookie politician might turn out to be “too weak and ineffective,” with no solid party base behind him to overcome the resistance of Democrats and a fractured GOP. In coming months, “perhaps Trump will find his bearings” and learn how to work the levers of government to push his reform agenda. But we can all now safely ignore the liberal academics and pundits “who sold American institutions short while predicting fascist doom.”
Killing civilians in Iraq and Syria
In recent weeks, “we’ve started to get a good look at the Trump strategy to fight ISIS,” said Joshua Keating. Though the media consensus is that it’s almost identical to President Obama’s ISIS strategy, that’s not true in a very important way. Trump has swept away Obama’s bombing oversight rules, which were designed to minimize the civilian casualties that often cause hatred of the West and further radicalization. He’s essentially given the military free rein to do whatever it wants. The results have been a series of mass casualty attacks, with hundreds of civilian deaths. Locals say a strike on a mosque in Aleppo killed 50 civilians, while the U.S. admits that bombings of a neighborhood in Mosul killed more than 100 men, women, and children—perhaps as many as 200. The monitoring group Airwars says 1,058 civilians were killed by U.S. coalition airstrikes in March—double the number in December. During the campaign, Trump claimed to have “a secret plan” to defeat ISIS, which we now know is not true. But he also promised to “bomb the s--- out of them” and stop the “politically correct” effort to protect civilians. About that, he wasn’t kidding.
Term limits for the Supreme Court
“It’s time to end the Supreme Court Lotto,” said James Tisch. Dumb luck dictates currently whether presidents, who serve eight years at the most, have “the power to shape the court and therefore the country for 30 years or more.” With rising life expectancy, appointees like 49-yearold Neil Gorsuch could serve on the Supreme Court until 2050. That’s bizarre. Lifetime appointments are “distorting our democracy in troubling ways,” with Democrats and Republicans treating each high court opening “as a titanic, life-or-death struggle.” Last year Senate Republicans wouldn’t even grant a hearing to Obama nominee Merrick Garland for 10 months. Now Gorsuch heads “toward a contentious and polarizing” Democratic filibuster that could poison the Senate even further, making compromise impossible on a host of crucial issues. There’s a simple solution: Limit justices to a single 18-year term, and stagger the appointments so that two new justices are nominated in each presidential term. After 18 years, the court would turn over entirely. This plan would reduce partisan infighting and give presidents “an incentive to appoint the very best justices in the prime of their careers,” while constantly reinvigorating the court and our democracy. “No one in America should have a guaranteed job for life.”