Best columns: The U.S.
The lim its of Milo’s free speech
German Lopez Vox.com
Milo Yiannopoulos “finally went too far,” said German Lopez. The gay Breitbart News editor and professional “alt-right” provocateur had become an unlikely conservative hero over the past year by attacking feminists, transsexuals, black people, immigrants, Muslims, and Jews in the most sensationalist and vulgar way possible. His disdain for “political correctness” even earned him a key speaking role at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. That invitation, however, was withdrawn when a video surfaced in which Milo defended the idea of 13-year-old boys having “consensual” sex with “older men.” But why did it take something as awful as Milo’s advocacy for child molestation to topple him as a hero of the Right? This is a guy who claims he “went gay” so he “didn’t have to deal with nutty broads,” calls feminism “a cancer,” mocks transgender people as “gay men dressing up for attention,” blames “Islam, not radical Islam” for terrorism, and insists that the white Christian “patriarchy” should run the country. Conservatives defended all this bile as “free speech,” and even wanted to give Milo a platform to spout it at CPAC—until he offended them. Now, at least, we know where the lines of political correctness are drawn.
Obamacare’s lasting impact
Eugene Robinson The Washington Post
After seven years of voting to repeal Obamacare dozens of times, why are Republicans finding it so agonizing to come up with a replacement? asked Eugene Robinson. Simple: Obamacare was a huge success. It’s not that the program wasn’t flawed; costs to some middle-class people were too high and many insurance companies lost money, largely because Republicans did everything possible “to sabotage the program.” Obamacare succeeded, however, by fundamentally changing the health-care debate in this country. Republicans had always insisted health care was just another commodity, which you could either afford to buy or could not. Thanks to Obamacare, however, “access to affordable health care is now seen as a right” for all Americans. And government is seen as the guarantor of that right. Republicans who once denounced Obamacare as “socialism” are now frantically scrambling—and failing—to find ways to preserve its highly popular provisions, such as affordable policies for people with pre-existing conditions. If the plan Republicans finally agree upon does take health care away from millions of people or forces them to spend a lot more on it, “they will pay a grievous political price.” And Barack Obama will have the last laugh.
The return of the Whig Party
Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe
“History doesn’t repeat itself,” said Jeff Jacoby. “But it has an unnerving tendency to rhyme.” As President Trump turns Washington on its head, it’s a good time to look back on another divisive chief executive from New York: Millard Fillmore. When Fillmore became our 13th president upon Zachary Taylor’s death in 1850, he immediately plunged the nation into turmoil. Fillmore was hostile toward immigrants and free trade, supported slavery, and was drawn to conspiracy theories. His first act was to fire every member of Taylor’s Cabinet, “which he resented for having ignored him when he was vice president.” Fillmore vigorously enforced the repugnant Fugitive Slave Act, allowing escaped slaves to be hunted down like animals. He also “denounced Northern communities that vowed to resist the law,” and even charged “41 Americans with treason for refusing to join a slave-catching posse.” After Fillmore lost the 1852 election in a landslide, his fractured Whig Party collapsed. In 1856 Fillmore ran for president on the nativist Know-Nothing ticket, with the slogan “Americans must rule America.” Today, Fillmore is deservedly “lost in obscurity.” But his politics have made a comeback. ■