Best columns: The U.S.
Toug h talk, followed by surrender
For all his tough talk, President Trump is “a sheep in wolf’s clothing,” said Steve Chapman. After a federal court blocked his Muslim travel ban on constitutional grounds, Trump attacked the “so-called” judges and vowed to take his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, “he caved in” and issued a revised, scaled-back ban “designed to appease the judiciary.” Remember when Trump took that call from the president of Taiwan, defying a decades-old U.S. policy of recognizing one China? “Conservatives applauded his manly bravado.” But then Chinese President Xi Jinping refused to speak to Trump until he displayed “the ancient Chinese art of kowtowing,” and Mr. Tough Guy announced he supported the one-China policy after all. After promising supporters he’d “build a border wall at Mexico’s expense,” Trump is now proposing to raid the Coast Guard and other U.S. agencies’ budgets for the funds. Remember when more than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual assault? He vowed: “These liars will be sued.” When? “Maybe after he wins that fraud suit against Trump University.” Oh, wait— Trump capitulated and paid a $25 million settlement. Like most bullies, Trump backs down when confronted by people with a backbone.
For Democrats, a revival won’t be easy
The Wall Street Journal
“President Trump’s chaotic beginning has many Democrats envisioning a big comeback,” said Roger Altman. But their hope that Trump will selfdestruct, and take the Republican Party with him, ignores “the decrepit state of the Democratic Party at all levels of government.” Republicans not only control Congress and the presidency; they are even more dominant on the state level, holding 33 governorships and more than twothirds of state legislative chambers. Yet many Democrats think the party simply has “a messaging problem,” and can return to power by moving left to a neo-socialist/Bernie Sanders platform of higher taxes, lavish benefits, and more government control of everything. That’s delusional. When Democrats move too far left, it results in Republican landslides. Remember Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis? What the party actually needs is “an overarching economic message that resonates beyond campuses and the coasts.” As Bill Clinton and Barack Obama demonstrated,Democrats win when they focus on economic growth, middleclass tax relief, and affordable health care. Until Democrats reinvent their party to appeal to a broader swath of Americans, they’ll continue to be on the outside of power, looking in.
A technology temperance movement
The New York Times
Admit it, said Ross Douthat. “You are enslaved to the internet.” If you’re like most Americans, your existence is increasingly dominated by a compulsion to check email, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram “with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.” That’s because our devices and the wondrous functions they can perform “are built to addict us”—to give us dopamine hits of outrage, ego reinforcement, arousal, and distraction. In return, we sacrifice our privacy, our attention span, our focus on our families, and our awareness of the natural world. “The smartphone is in the saddle, and it rides mankind.” To take back some control, we need a “digital temperance” movement. As with other intoxicating substances, use of the internet should be restricted by both custom and law. Restaurants and museums should require people to check their phones; corporations should prohibit employees from checking emails during meetings; elementary schools shouldn’t use computers at all. If this sounds extreme, please note that Silicon Valley’s overlords send their kids to schools that ban all tech. “Only a movement can save you from the tyrant in your pocket.” ■