Today's Liberal News

David Frum

Even Bill Barr Should Prefer Joe Biden

Former Attorney General Bill Barr gave an interview to CNN on Friday to explain why he plans to vote for Donald Trump after previously denouncing him as unfit for office. Trump might be an unfit president, Barr conceded. Trump had only recently belittled Barr personally. But President Joe Biden might overregulate kitchen stoves, Barr complained, and faced with that dread possibility, Barr had to prefer Trump as the lesser evil.
Barr feels how he feels.

Trump Deflates

Ukraine won. Trump lost.
The House vote to aid Ukraine renews hope that Ukraine can still win its war. It also showed how and why Donald Trump should lose the 2024 election.
For nine years, Trump has dominated the Republican Party. Senators might have loathed him, governors might have despised him, donors might have ridiculed him, college-educated Republican voters might have turned against him—but LOL, nothing mattered. Enough of the Republican base supported him.

A Test of Strength

Israel stopped an Iranian drone and missile barrage last night, with help from the United States Navy, Britain’s Royal Air Force, and Israel’s Arab allies.
Israel’s Arab allies is a strange phrase to write in the midst of the war in Gaza, but it’s important to understand. The Jordanian air force shot down many of the Iranian drones, Reuters reported—meaning Arabs flew and fought to protect Israel.

I Wrote George W. Bush’s Cheat Sheets. Here’s What I Learned.

Axios recently reported that President Joe Biden carries cheat sheets with him into meetings with supporters and donors. Some of these supporters have expressed alarm that a president would do such a thing. Perhaps these cards—aide-mémoire, after all—are a sign of age and frailty?
From 2001 to 2002, I had the job of writing speeches for President George W. Bush. Bush was 54 years old when I started working for him—almost 10 years younger than I am now.

The Good Republicans’ Last Stand

After weeks of backroom maneuvering, the Republican split over foreign policy has burst into full view. The immediate stakes are the survival of Ukraine and the credibility of NATO. But behind the crisis of today is a larger crisis of tomorrow: U.S.-led defense of collective security, global trade, and the vitality of democracy as a force in the world.
That split in the GOP emerged over the weekend in two starkly contrasting stories, each pointing toward a very different American future.

The GOP’s Great Betrayal

On January 17, House Speaker Mike Johnson led a candlelight vigil at the Capitol to mark the recent passing of the 100th day of hostage-holding by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Members of Congress assembled shoulder to shoulder with families of hostages. The Republican speaker delivered a heartfelt speech. “We must stand together in solidarity with the Jewish people,” he said.

The Ruin That a Trump Presidency Would Mean

In 2016, Republicans could profess some uncertainty about the kind of president Donald Trump would be. Maybe the office would change the man? Maybe the party elite could bend Trump to its will?
But in 2024, there’s no uncertainty. Trump’s party is signing up for the ride, knowing exactly what the ride is. Pro-Ukraine senators are working to elect a president who will cut off Ukraine, knowing that he will cut off Ukraine.

Suddenly, Trump Is Interested in Democracy

Donald Trump won the presidency with fewer votes than his opponent?
We’re a republic, not a democracy.State Republican parties in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and other states gerrymandered themselves into supermajorities?
We’re a republic, not a democracy.Forty-one senators block laws favored by 59? A single senator blocks promotions across the Defense Department?
We’re a republic, not a democracy.

The Colorado Supreme Court Just Gave Republicans a Chance to Save Themselves

“The experience of being disastrously wrong is salutary,” John Kenneth Galbraith wrote. “No economist should be denied it, and not many are.”I’m not an economist. But I was wrong about the litigation to bar Donald Trump from the ballot as an insurrectionist. I wrote in August that the project was a “fantasy.” Now, by a 4–3 vote, the Colorado Supreme Court has converted fantasy into at least temporary reality.

The New Republican Litmus Test Is Very Dangerous

War with Mexico? It’s on the 2024 ballot, at least if you believe the campaign rhetoric of more and more Republican candidates.In January, two Republican House members introduced a bill to authorize the use of military force inside Mexico. They were not know-nothings from the fringes of the MAGA caucus. One was Dan Crenshaw of Texas, a former Navy Seal who received a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

An Exit from the GOP’s Labyrinth of Trump Lies

It’s as sincere as the grief at a Mafia funeral.Who believes that Governor Ron DeSantis—so badly trailing in the polls behind former President Donald Trump—is genuinely upset by his rival’s federal indictment? Or that Speaker Kevin McCarthy—so disgusted by Trump in private—does not inwardly rejoice to see Trump meet justice?The Fox News talkers have been trying for months to sideline Trump and promote DeSantis.

How Biden Successfully Baited Congressional Republicans

In September 2009, a Republican congressman from South Carolina named Joe Wilson inserted himself into history. He interrupted President Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress by shouting, “You lie.”The outburst shocked viewers. Wilson, not Obama, was the top trending item on Twitter in the aftermath of the speech. Wilson apologized, “I let my emotions get the best of me.

No Need to Pop This Balloon

The Chinese spy balloon observed over Montana is not a new departure. It is a provocative measure because countries claim more rights over the lower atmosphere above their territory than they do over the space beyond that. But the balloon’s presence is not exactly a step on the road to World War III. In fact, this type of surveillance is much more likely to prevent, rather than provoke, conflict.

Zelensky Recalled Us to Ourselves

“So much in the world depends on you.”Of all the many moving words in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, those eight may have been the most urgent and important.Zelensky came to Washington to speak for his nation. He came to Washington to ask for assistance. But above all, he came to Washington to recall Americans to themselves. He came to say, My embattled people believe in you.

Justice Is Coming for Donald Trump

“Many secrets, no mysteries”: That is the basic rule of all Donald Trump scandals.There has never been any mystery about what happened on January 6, 2021. As Senator Mitch McConnell said at Trump’s second impeachment trial, “There’s no question—none—that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.

A Ploy, Not a Principle

For once, Donald Trump has a point.Shortly before Thanksgiving, Trump had dinner with the artist and aspiring presidential candidate Kanye West. Among West’s entourage was a 24-year-old livestreamer named Nick Fuentes. Fuentes, as all the world now knows, traffics in Holocaust denial, among other provocations. West is an outspoken anti-Semite in his own right.

Trump’s Running and Republicans Have Only Themselves to Blame

So, Republicans, what will you do?Donald Trump is not agreeing to vanish on his own. He has declared his candidacy for president in his familiar style: boastful, untruthful, sneering—but also charismatic and telegenic. In pursuit of power, he demonstrated in his announcement a rare degree of self-discipline, despite his Mar-a-Lago address devolving into rally-style riffing from which even Fox News cut away after about half an hour.

The Midterms Message for Republicans

Liberals reacted to the election of Donald Trump in 2016 with dismay, horror—and curiosity. Reporters ventured to Trump counties to ask questions. Political scientists studied the voting effect of international trade. Hollywood made a movie out of J. D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy.Liberals didn’t like what had happened—but for exactly that reason, they wanted to understand it.

10 Things Elon Musk Should Do

Twitter is dying before our eyes, and not of natural causes. Its present owner, Elon Musk, is killing it. Ego, impulsiveness, and lack of self-discipline are the proximate causes of its decline. The company is alienating advertisers, shedding valuable users, and attracting the anonymous trolls that Musk supposedly wanted to discourage.Is it too late to change course? Here are a few steps that might help.1) Hire a proper CEO with relevant business experience.

Only the GOP Celebrates Political Violence

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET on October 29, 2022In March 2020, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives posted a video message addressed to two Democratic political candidates that issued a threatening challenge if they passed laws he did not like. Standing in his Capitol Hill office, Ken Buck of Colorado’s Fourth District gestured toward a rifle mounted on the wall.“I have a message for Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke.

How She Did It

It’s a crazy system.The symbol of the state, the theoretical supreme executive of the country, is chosen by birth order within a single family. If that system produces an extreme dud, he or she may be maneuvered off the throne, as the late Queen Elizabeth’s uncle David—who reigned as Edward VIII—was maneuvered off in 1936. But Edward was recklessly irresponsible and weak-willed. The normal rule is: Next in line gets the job.

Biden Laid the Trap. Trump Walked Into It.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton warned that Donald Trump was a fool who could be baited with a tweet. This past Thursday night, in Philadelphia, Joe Biden upped the ante by asking, in effect: What idiot thing might the former president do if baited with a whole speech? On Saturday night, the world got its answer.For the 2022 election cycle, smart Republicans had a clear and simple plan: Don’t let the election be about Trump.

Biden Laid the Trap. Trump Walked Into It.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton warned that Donald Trump was a fool who could be baited with a tweet. This past Thursday night, in Philadelphia, Joe Biden upped the ante by asking, in effect: What idiot thing might the former president do if baited with a whole speech? On Saturday night, the world got its answer.For the 2022 election cycle, smart Republicans had a clear and simple plan: Don’t let the election be about Trump.

Shinzo Abe Made the World Better

Updated at 12:54 p.m. ET on July 8, 2022The Japan That Can Say No was the title of a once-famous book by a once-rising Japanese politician.Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister who was assassinated earlier today, bequeaths a much prouder legacy: a Japan that can—and does—say yes.Abe was more than the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese democratic history.

How to Hold a Charismatic Charlatan to Account

The head of government is caught in a series of scandals. The scandals are not necessarily so important in themselves. Many of them involve purely personal misconduct. But if exposed, they would shock public opinion and threaten the leader’s hold on power. So he lies and lies and lies again. He mobilizes his cabinet and staff to lie for him. And when the truth does finally catch up with him, he tries to brazen things out. The people voted for him. He has a mandate.

Kevin McCarthy, Have You No Sense of Decency?

In the last few minutes of today’s January 6 committee hearing, Representative Liz Cheney presented evidence of possible witness intimidation. Several witnesses, she reported, had received messages from shadowy persons purportedly close to former President Donald Trump that implicitly warned of consequences to follow if those witnesses told the truth about his conduct.That is one sort of attempted cover-up.

Roe Is the New Prohibition

The culture war raged most hotly from the ’70s to the next century’s ’20s. It polarized American society, dividing men from women, rural from urban, religious from secular, Anglo-Americans from more recent immigrant groups. At length, but only after a titanic constitutional struggle, the rural and religious side of the culture imposed its will on the urban and secular side. A decisive victory had been won, or so it seemed.

Dave Chappelle’s Not Kidding

The comedian Dave Chappelle returned to his hometown of Washington, D.C., Monday night—and to a painful controversy.Chappelle is a graduate of—and generous donor to—Washington’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts. In 2017, the school completed an ambitious renovation. To express recognition and thanks to Chappelle, the school proposed to name its theater for him.

The President Who Did Everything Right and Got No Thanks

Which would you prefer? An elderly TikTok star who compares himself to Donald Trump? Or a former Marxist guerrilla who attended the funeral of Hugo Chávez? A candidate notorious for his radical flip-flops on public policy? Or a candidate notorious for his intolerance of any kind of disagreement or dissent? One who explained his praise for the Hitler dictatorship by claiming he had confused Adolf Hitler with Albert Einstein?

The One Witness at the January 6 Hearing Who Matters Most

The congressional hearing into the events of January 6 on Thursday night focused attention on a single decisive person. Not the hearing’s powerful chair or the meticulous vice chair. Not the former U.S. president who tried to overthrow the government. Not the former vice president whom the former president said deserved hanging. Not the lawless insurrectionists, not the heroic police officers, not the documentarian who caught history on a camera. The single decisive person is: you.