President Donald Trump’s penchant for entwining reckless utterances and sound pronouncements was on vivid display at his joint White House press conference last month with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is still too early to determine which will predominate in administration policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Over the summer, Trump administration officials Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to renew efforts to resolve the conflict over the West Bank—as the international community and the Israeli left refer to the land Israel seized in fending off Jordan’s attack in the Six Day War.
Donald Trump’s disruptive presidency has exacerbated a long-festering intra-conservative controversy about American conservatism’s core principles and purposes. So big and diffuse has the conservative world become since the 1960s -- when William F. Buckley’s National Review set the agenda -- that thoughtful right-wingers themselves doubt that anything so discrete and organized as a movement exists today. They suspect, moreover, that the ambition to revive one represents a distracting exercise in nostalgia.
A sense of impending doom is in the air. The left’s best and brightest proclaim that President Trump is racist, mentally ill, lawless, and should be removed from office at the first opportunity. Many in the rank-and-file right believe that the media elites, entrenched government bureaucrats, and political establishments of both parties -- whom they elected Trump to rein in -- are demonstrating their determination to overturn the 2016 presidential election.
On Sunday evening, ABC preempted its regularly scheduled programming to broadcast an exclusive interview conducted by “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos with former FBI Director James Comey. The star treatment is part of an all-out publicity campaign that Comey, fired by President Trump less than one year ago, has launched to promote his new book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”
Former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey isn't quite the book bonanza he's been touted as. His book opening shows it. And, well, look at the book he's selling: with little more than florid descriptions to speak for his otherwise content-free book, and no big revelations, what we get from it is that he has a high opinion of himself, he's mad about getting fired, and he wants revenge.
“I explained that he could count on me to always tell him the truth. I said I don’t do sneaky things, I don’t leak, I don’t do weasel moves.” So said then-FBI Director James Comey, according to his own memo, to a recently inaugurated President Donald Trump on Jan. 27, 2017, at a private White House dinner.
James Comey is a legend in his own mind. He expressed part of the legend to Donald Trump when, according to one his memos, he told the president on January 27, 2017: He could count on me to always tell him the truth. I said I don’t do sneaky things, I don’t leak, I don’t do weasel moves.
In “Why Liberalism Failed,” Patrick Deneen makes an eye-opening contribution to the critique of liberalism. Equating liberalism with the modern tradition of freedom, he distills abuses of state power, nature, culture, technology, and education that are undertaken in freedom’s name yet leave citizens less self-sufficient, less disposed to cooperate, and less capable of looking beyond material goods and social status to the cultivation of character and to the claims of duty.
In his 1955 mission statement that launched National Review, William F. Buckley made plain that while it’s the job of centralized government to “protect its citizens’ lives, liberty and property,” all “other activities of government tend to diminish freedom and hamper progress.” Buckley added that the “profound crisis of our era is, in essence, the conflict between the Social Engineers, who seek to adjust mankind to conform with scientific utopias, and the disciples of Truth, who defend the moral organic order.”
Is there an answer to the problem of identity politics in America? For some, the “solution” is direct. “We need to take on the oppression narrative,” conservative commentator Heather Mac Donald said at a Heritage Foundation gathering on Capitol Hill. Americans need to “rebut” the idea “that every difference in American society today is the result by definition of discrimination,” Mac Donald said during the event Monday, called “Identity Politics Is a Threat to Society. Is There Anything We Can Do About It at This Point?”
The swearing in of the 116th Congress next month returns divided government to Washington. A Democratic-controlled House coupled with a fortified Republican Senate majority is likely to exacerbate the rancor and vitriol that have suffused national politics since long before Donald Trump’s theatrical announcement in the summer of 2015 that he was running for president.
The term “liberalism” ranks among the most contested in our political lexicon. It should also be regarded as among the most vital. In the large sense, liberalism names the modern tradition of freedom. Liberalism so understood was the dominant strand in our nation’s founding. Appreciating the standard accusations against it and why it is worthy of defense is crucial to conserving the best of the American constitutional tradition.
Patrick Deneen’s disdainful review last month in the Washington Post of George Will’s splendid new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” reasserts fashionable misconceptions about liberalism, conservatism, and America. The review — and, more importantly, the book — provide an occasion to clarify the character of the conservatism that takes its bearings from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and from the ideas about human nature and freedom that undergird them.
We continue our preview of the new (Summer) issue of the Claremont Review of Books hot off the press. It went into the mail on Monday and is accessible online to subscribers now. Buy an annual subscription including immediate online access here for the modest price of $19.95. If you love trustworthy essays on, and reviews of books about, politics, history, literature and culture, the CRB may be for you.
In early July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the Commission on Unalienable Rights. “The commission’s mission,” he explained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “isn’t to discover new principles but to ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” The announcement of the panel’s existence and mandate immediately triggered a barrage of skepticism, indignation, and anger. The misunderstandings that the criticisms embody underscore the urgency of the commission’s work.
As the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, the American experiment in free and democratic self-government confronts two decisive challenges. One stems from an illiberal and anti-democratic great power abroad. The other arises from an obdurate attack on America’s commitment to freedom and democracy at home. Despite disparate sources, they are interconnected: To meet the challenge from without, the United States must prevail over the challenge from within.
For several decades, the number of students attending college in the United States has been growing rapidly: Over the last 20 years or so, enrollments have risen by about 50 percent, and over the last 50 years they have more than quadrupled. During this time, especially the last two decades, the polarization of our politics has markedly intensified.
On May 8, the Duke University student newspaper published a stirring letter addressed to the school community that was co-signed by 101 students and former students. The letter protested the decision of the university’s Sanford School of Public Policy to decline to renew the contract of Evan Charney, associate professor of the practice of public policy and political science, and called on the provost to reverse the decision.
The presidential race has started extremely early this year. That may or may not be a good thing; Americans may get sick of politics before next November...