Best columns: The U.S.
Trump’s base is not monolithic
Kristen Soltis Anderson
The media keeps asking, “Will this be the thing that drives Donald Trump’s supporters away from him? Is this finally the time?” The assumption behind these questions, said Kristen Soltis Anderson, is that “Trump’s base” is a monolithic group of people who will abandon him en masse if he disappoints them. But a new Cato Institute polling analysis shows that, in fact, the president represents a coalition of at least five different types of voters who like him for different reasons. This is why, while his approval rating dips from week to week, it remains consistently high among Republicans. The five kinds of voters who support Trump are “staunch conservatives,” traditional Republicans favoring social and fiscal conservatism, who make up 31 percent of his base; “free marketeers,” or Wall Street types, who want deregulation (25 percent); “American preservationists,” nativists for whom immigration is the primary issue (20 percent); the “anti-elite,” who feel Washington isn’t working or looking out for people like them (19 percent); and finally “the disengaged,” who want Trump to serve as a wrecking ball. From week to week, he frustrates one wing of his coalition but delights another, so his support remains resilient.
Mueller’s team is following the money
President Trump “is obsessed with the investigation into his relationship with Russia,” said Max Boot. He regularly tweets about the probe headed by former FBI boss Robert Mueller—a “witch hunt,” he claims—and reportedly shouts at White House TVs whenever it’s mentioned on the news. That panic is justified. To find out if the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin, special counsel Mueller and his crack team of investigators will “probe just about every financial transaction in which Trump and his cronies have been involved.” That will likely include the millions of dollars that a billionaire Putin ally paid into a Cyprus bank account linked to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. The team will surely study the December meeting that Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, held with the head of a Russian bank that’s under U.S. sanctions. And Trump’s own business history will be examined, including his connections with Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman convicted of mob-linked racketeering, whose real estate firm, Bayrock Group, once partnered with the Trump Organization to build the Trump SoHo hotel. “If this were your business background, would you want Bob Mueller investigating you?”
It’s time to ban tourism to North Korea
The Washington Post
Otto Warmbier’s death “is a tragedy in more ways than one,” said Suki Kim. The University of Virginia student was arrested in North Korea last year for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel, for which he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. The 22-year-old came home in mid-June in a coma—the result of botulism, North Korean authorities said, although many suspect he was tortured—and died just days later. We’ll likely never find out what happened to Warmbier in North Korea, but what we do know is that the U.S. should have banned its citizens from visiting the dictatorship long ago. Some 1,000 American tourists head to the country each year and join government-run tours. At any moment, sightseers “could be intercepted by authorities and essentially used for ransom.” These naïve tourists might think they’re taking part in some helpful cultural exchange, but that’s not possible in “a gulag nation where 25 million citizens are held captive.” Touring North Korea is akin “to hiking at Auschwitz under the Nazis.” Warmbier was young and unaware of the danger he had stepped into. “Isn’t it the job of his country to prevent future Warmbiers?”