Best columns: The U.S.
Who cares if Trump golfs?
“For the good of the country,” let President Trump golf, said Liz Mair. Our president’s frequent golfing has enraged liberals, who see it as a symbol of Trump’s laziness and hypocrisy—he famously criticized President Obama’s fondness for golf. “But fair as those charges may be, the massive pile-on over presidential golfing remains as stupid as ever.” Everyone needs leisure time to be at their best, “whether it’s a Starbucks barista, an assembly-line worker at a Ford factory, or an American president.” Golf enables busy people to get out from behind their desks, get some fresh air, and clear their minds. “No wonder, then, that it has been a favorite pastime of multiple presidents.” At 71, Trump especially may benefit from a few hours on the links, since he’s obviously overweight and does no other exercise. Besides, if you really don’t like Trump, wouldn’t you rather have him on the links than in the Oval Office, starting trade wars or threatening to nuke North Korea? So “quit the sniping,” and let Trump whack a golf ball around as much as he likes. And “let his successor golf,” too. It hurts no one, and even presidents deserve a bit of fun.
The GOP’s health-care mistake
Republicans may have just made universal health care a political inevitability, said Paul Waldman. The party’s tax bill eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a move President Trump claims will essentially “repeal” Obamacare. In reality, however, the elimination of the mandate will only chase away healthy, middle-class customers from the insurance exchanges—meaning the vast majority of those covered by Obamacare will either qualify for Medicaid or receive “sizable subsidies” from the government. Neither liberals nor conservatives will be happy—increasing the political pressure to produce a fairer, more coherent system. It is already clear that “every Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 will present some kind of universal plan,” whether it’s “Medicare for all” or a “hybrid system” that keeps private insurers. Republicans will cry “Socialism!” but the party’s abject failure to provide any credible alternative to Obamacare has destroyed its last remaining “shred of credibility” on health care. Had Republicans made modest tweaks to the ACA, they might have dampened enthusiasm for major reform and a move to universal coverage. By repealing the individual mandate instead, they have done “just enough damage” to Obamacare “to give Democrats the opening to go much further.”
Stop and frisk really was unnecessary
“Like many conservatives,” said Kyle Smith, I thought New York City made a grave mistake in halting the stop-and-frisk policing program in 2013—and that crime would soar as a result. “We were wrong.” Over the past four years of the liberal Bill De Blasio administration, crime has continued “a breathtaking decline.” In 2017, the total number of major crimes fell another 6 percent off the previous year’s record low, and homicides in the city of more than 8.5 million residents fell 12.5 percent, to 290 deaths—the lowest homicide rate of any major U.S. city. Indeed, its homicide rate per 100,000 residents is just one-eighth of Chicago’s. These astonishing figures come amid a 98 percent decline in police stop-and-frisk encounters with citizens, which peaked in 2011 at 686,000 under Mayor Mike Bloomberg. In court cases, the New York Police Department admitted that 80 percent of those stopped were “completely innocent” of any offense; that means “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were unjustly subjected to harassment and even humiliation.” Today, police attribute the decline in crime to a policy of targeting repeat offenders and to a “community policing” program designed to build trust and two-way communication with the public. On stop and frisk, liberals are “entitled to an I-told-you-so moment.”