Patterico's Pontifications


Is Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration Illegal? Signs Point to “Yes”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

There is good reason to cheer the policy behind the executive order on immigration signed yesterday by President Trump. One need only consider the continual problems European countries are having assimilating refugees — and the likelihood that ISIS is sending sleeper terrorists among them — to be skeptical of a policy that would admit tens of thousands of these folks within our borders. One suspects that the Obama administration did not do enough to ensure that they would be properly vetted.

But is the order legal?

That’s another question entirely, and this op-ed makes a good argument that it is not:

President Trump signed an executive order on Friday that purports to bar for at least 90 days almost all permanent immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Syria and Iraq, and asserts the power to extend the ban indefinitely.

But the order is illegal. More than 50 years ago, Congress outlawed such discrimination against immigrants based on national origin. . . . The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin, replacing the old prejudicial system and giving each country an equal shot at the quotas. In signing the new law, President Lyndon B. Johnson said that “the harsh injustice” of the national-origins quota system had been “abolished.”

Trump would likely point to a law that says he can determine certain aliens are detrimental to the country, but the writer says that doesn’t wash:

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump asserts that he still has the power to discriminate, pointing to a 1952 law that allows the president the ability to “suspend the entry” of “any class of aliens” that he finds are detrimental to the interest of the United States.

But the president ignores the fact that Congress then restricted this power in 1965, stating plainly that no person could be “discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.” The only exceptions are those provided for by Congress (such as the preference for Cuban asylum seekers).

. . . .

Mr. Trump may want to revive discrimination based on national origin by asserting a distinction between “the issuance of a visa” and the “entry” of the immigrant. But this is nonsense. Immigrants cannot legally be issued a visa if they are barred from entry. Thus, all orders under the 1952 law apply equally to entry and visa issuance, as his executive order acknowledges.

I’d be open to reading a contrary argument, but this one looks pretty convincing.

If no convincing counterargument can be mounted, this order will still perform a service: identifying hypocrisy. A lot of Republicans complained about Obama’s executive overreach. This is where we find out which of those critics were sincerely concerned about the separation of powers and the rule of law . . . and which ones were just cheap partisan hacks who didn’t like Obama.

I suspect a distressingly large number will fall into the latter category, unfortunately.

Me, I’m with Charles C.W. Cooke:

If the order is illegal — and I stress that one cannot reach a firm conclusion about that from one op-ed — it should be condemned by anyone in Congress who still cares about limiting executive overreach. That group includes Senator Mike Lee, Representative Justin Amash, and — for the next four years — Democrats.

Then they should craft their own legislative measure, which should look a lot like the one signed by Trump yesterday . . . with this exception: its legality will be beyond debate.

UPDATE: Here is Andrew McCarthy arguing against the op-ed. I’m not totally convinced by McCarthy’s argument, but it will take a new post to explain why.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back]


John Hurt, RIP

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 pm

John Hurt has long been among my favorite actors. The last movie I watched was actually a movie I re-watched: V for Vendetta (I even blogged about it here, barely over a week ago.) I enjoyed Hurt in The Elephant Man, Alien, Midnight Express, and the Harry Potter movies. But one performance I doubt many will remember, but which sticks out in my head, is his performance in the three-part TV mini-series Crime and Punishment. I remember watching that with my family as an 11-year-old child in Fort Worth, sitting in front of the TV with my back against the ugly round bright orange footrest that sat in the middle of our family room floor, and watching Hurt as Raskolnikov. It was transfixing and it made me want to watch other movies with Hurt. (Old-timers will recall that it wasn’t so easy to do that in 1979 with a snap of your fingers.)

Rest in peace.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Remembering Apollo 1, 50 Years Later

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:01 pm

[guest post by JVW]

I want to draw everyone’s attention to a terrific comment from our fellow commenter DCSCA, who earlier today reminded us that we are observing the 50th anniversary of the tragic launchpad fire which killed the Apollo 1 crew: Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. Here is DCSCA’s comment in full:

If I may, some words this Friday, January 27th about another Friday, January 27th.

The Fire.

That’s all you have to say to anybody familiar with America’s space program. They know the rest. And if alive at the time, likely remember where they were and what they were doing when they got the word. The date, January 27, 1967. The place, Cape Canaveral’s launch complex 34. The time, 6:31 PM, EST. The astronauts lost: Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee– the crew of Apollo 1.

Today marks half a century since they were killed in that flash fire inside their command module, testing systems to be used only weeks later in what was planned to be the first flight of America’s three-man Apollo spacecraft. The nation was stunned and the accident brought America’s $24 billion moon program to a dead stop. And the chances of reaching the moon by 1970 appeared bleak that cold, winter evening.

Space enthusiasts still wince recalling it. I was eating dinner with my family when the phone rang; a classmate called to pass the word. He choked up. I did as well. Sounds a little hokey today. But the space race was very much a part of the lives of America’s youngsters back then and loomed large in the schools, the pop-culture and the hobbies we pursued in that era.

The initial TV bulletins were curt and cryptic. By late evening, the network news specials aired, some of which can be found on YouTube today. It still stings to view them; the discomfort evident in the faces of the reporters. In the immediate aftermath, the crew was memorialized across the country. Grissom, one of the ‘Original Seven’ Mercury astronauts, and Air Force space rookie Chaffee, were interred at Arlington. White, America’s first spacewalker, was buried at West Point. A board of inquiry was established and the scorched spacecraft itself was carted off and dismantled, bolt by bolt.

Months of Congressional testimony followed as investigators sought to determine what happened and why. A massive report was written uncovering design flaws and shoddy workmanship. The crew had suffered burns but died of asphyxiation. The hatch was complicated, opened inward and pressure made it impossible to open fast. The fire itself was likely caused by a spark from frayed wiring and fueled by the pure oxygen of the single gas system used in the spacecraft to breathe and flammable items in the cabin. It was ‘go fever’ — a disaster waiting to happen.

The rest is history. A redesigned hatch that opened outward was installed; a safer, two gas system using oxygen and nitrogen to breathe was added and wiring bundles, along with other components, were enhanced and fireproofed. So by October, 1968, Apollo 7 orbited Earth; at Christmas, Apollo 8 reached lunar orbit and by July, 1969, Apollo 11 placed Americans on the moon. But ask any of the technicians, engineers and managers at NASA and their contractors at the time, and they will tell you that without the Apollo 1 fire, the United States would likely have not succeeded in reaching the moon before the end of the 1960’s.

Over the decades since, thousands of pages have been written and hours of film have been aired about an accident which began and ended in about 12 seconds. Most of the eyewitness descriptions have been brief, terse and as it turns out, accurate. In recent years the audio of the accident has become available on wikipedia and YouTube. Google ‘Apollo 1 audio’ to find it. It still grits the teeth to hear and elicits a feeling I’ve only experienced twice since that day- when Challenger and Columbia were lost.

Today the Apollo 1 spacecraft remains disassembled, locked in a government warehouse in Langley, Virginia. It is rarely seen by the public. Only this month, NASA announced plans to display Apollo 1’s ill-fated hatch alongside Challenger and Columbia artifacts. What remains of the Florida launch pad pedestal is now a cement memorial, with the words ‘Abandon In Place’ stenciled across it.

But the crew is remembered. And among the mementos left by Armstrong and Aldrin at Tranquility Base, is an Apollo 1 flight patch. For they knew they’d never have gotten there without the sacrifice of their colleagues, Grissom, White and Chaffee, fifty years ago this day.

Ad Astra, guys.

Thanks, DCSCA, for that poingant reminder of American heroes.

[Cross-posted at the Jury Talks Back.]


Are Republicans Changing Their Policy Views to Fall Behind Trump?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 am

The New York Times claims they are. In an article titled Republicans Now Marching With Trump on Ideas They Had Opposed, the Gray Lady paints a picture of a compliant GOP, abandoning core principles willy-nilly to conform to Trump’s policy views:

Republican lawmakers appear more than ready to open up the coffers for a $12 billion to $15 billion border wall, perhaps without the commensurate spending cuts that they demanded when it came to disaster aid, money to fight the Zika virus or funds for the tainted water system in Flint, Mich. They also seem to back a swelling of the federal payroll that Mr. Trump has called for in the form of a larger military and 5,000 more border patrol agents.

They have stayed oddly silent as Mr. Trump and Senate Democrats push a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, larger than one they rejected from President Barack Obama. Once fierce promoters of the separation of powers, Republicans are now embracing Mr. Trump’s early governing by executive order, something they loudly decried during Mr. Obama’s second term.

I’ve worried since May 3 that the Republican party would fall in line behind Trump’s policies, even when they contradicted their own past positions. But the reality is not quite the way the Times portrays it. Let me take a couple of examples from the above two paragraphs. Here’s Mitch McConnell on December 12, being somewhat less than “oddly silent” on the infrastructure plan:

“I think the details are really important, but I hope what we clearly avoid — and I’m confident that we will — is a trillion dollar stimulus that will take you back to 2009,” McConnell said, arguing that the projects the 2009 stimulus produced few tangible results to sustain a long-term recovery.

“So we need to do this carefully and correctly and the issue of how to pay for it needs to be dealt with responsibly,” he added.

That doesn’t seem like odd silence to me. Then we have the claim that Republicans are “embracing Mr. Trump’s early governing by executive order.” The claim has a hyperlink to this New York Times article, which portrays Republicans as divided, not “embracing” Trump’s policies in toto. Here’s a quote from that previous article. Remember, the article containing this quote was linked by today’s to prove that Republicans are embracing Trump’s executive overreach:

But some Republicans are wary too. Even as they welcome the opportunities opened up by having an ally in the White House, some worry that the continued emphasis on executive actions is just another step in the dilution of legislative power.

“We need to go back to being the legislative branch,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican opposed to a potential executive order by Mr. Trump that would end a special program allowing younger illegal immigrants to remain in the United States. “We didn’t like this when Obama was doing it, so why should we accept it now?”

Other Republicans were hoping the start of a new administration would allow a reset between the executive branch and a legislative branch that has seen its influence steadily erode as lawmakers surrender power and responsibility to the administrative side. Mr. Trump’s broad assertion of executive power could make any rebalancing difficult to achieve, though lawmakers say they intend to keep pushing.

“The imperial presidency was not created overnight and it will not be undone overnight,” said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, who is leading an effort called the Article I Project to try to recapture some lost authority for the House and Senate.

Even the claims in the previous article that some Republicans were caving on executive power were unconvincing:

The health care executive order issued by Mr. Trump last week directed federal officials to find ways to minimize the financial burden of the health care law on governments, health care providers and others. Many saw the move as a backdoor attempt by the new White House to undermine the current law of the land while Republicans try to figure out a way to repeal it.

It was the reverse of the type of action Republicans criticized President Obama for — using his executive powers to prop up the health care law without sufficient authority. But there were no loud complaints from Republicans this time, a fact not lost on Democrats.

Nothing about Trump’s executive order was the “reverse” of Obama’s orders, but the reporter did not seem to understand this. To the extent the order could be interpreted as constitutionally objectionable, it would be because it could be read as providing authority to delay certain parts of the law — the very same thing Obama did, not the “reverse.” I have urged a “wait and see” attitude regarding those executive orders, because we don’t know exactly what they would do . . . and nobody is accusing me of being a Trumpkin.

I guess the author of today’s hit piece didn’t expect us to follow the link. She also doesn’t seem to understand that reversing unconstitutional executive orders is not an abuse of power:

Also notable is the Republicans’ acceptance of something they have despised: the use of the executive pen to make policy. Several House Republicans dismissed the notion that Mr. Trump would abuse his power to issue executive orders in the way they complained that Mr. Obama did during his second term.

“What you do by the pen can be dismantled by the pen,” said Representative Tom Reed of New York.

That’s a Republican rejecting something he despised, not accepting it. He’s saying that if Obama signed illegal executive orders with his pen, they can be undone by Trump’s pen. Is this really so hard to understand?

It’s not all garbage, of course. This shot hits the mark:

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, whose own website this week still praised the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, now applauds Mr. Trump for putting the final shovel of dirt over the accord, with the president saying he is interested in bilateral agreements instead.

There are other points, too, about attitudes towards Russia and torture, that have some basis in reality. But overall, the reality does not match the portrayal by the Times.

The notion that Republicans will twist themselves into pretzels to line up with Trump’s agenda is a real concern. But this article doesn’t prove it has happened to any significant degree.

Vigilance is good. Let’s make sure we are honest as we remain vigilant. This article does not meet that standard.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Will Media Give Same Amount Of Positive Coverage To The Annual March For Life Tomorrow That They Did For Women’s March Last Weekend?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:20 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Not if history is any indicator…

The annual March for Life will take place in Washington D.C. tomorrow. Typically the event is downplayed, or altogether ignored by the MSM. This in spite of the numbers historically being similar to those of last weekend’s Women’s March in D.C. But if it is reported on, expect attendance numbers to be given the short-shrift, the negative “anti-abortion” descriptor to be used repeatedly instead of the positive “pro-life” term, and on top of that, it’s guaranteed that none of the reporting will come with a media-expressed optimism and hopefulness about the pro-life movement at large. Yet whether reporters cover the march or not, for the marchers themselves, this year brings reason to cheer: President Trump just reinstated the Mexico City policy, effectively defunding the International Planned Parenthood Federation and cutting off $100 million they receive annually from the U.S. taxpayers.

With that,President Trump was interviewed by David Muir of ABC News yesterday, and in a portion of the interview, Muir, obviously hoping to put the president on the defensive, asked him about the Women’s March last weekend. In response, President Trump brought up the the March for Life. Now, while while I firmly believe the president needs to develop some discernment and self-control with regard to spouting off about the size of, well, anything, kudos to him for bringing up the issue when confronting Muir about the lopsided media coverage between previous March for Life events and last weekend’s Women’s March:

DAVID MUIR: Let me just ask you while we’re standing outside, could you hear the voices from the Women’s March here in Washington? We know more than a million people turned out, and you are their president too.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I couldn’t hear them. The crowds were large, but you will have a large crowd on Friday, too, which is mostly pro-life people.

You’re going to have a lot of people coming on Friday. And I will say this, and I didn’t realize this. But I was told. You will have a very large crowd of people. I don’t know as large or larger. Some people said it will be larger. Pro-life people and they say the press doesn’t cover them.

DAVID MUIR: I don’t want to compare crowd sizes again. I – I—I…

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, no, you should.

Was President Trump correctly informed about the lack of coverage for the previous March for Life events? Absolutely:

During their morning and evening news shows, the three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) covered the women’s march 129 times more than they did the 2016 March for Life last year.

ABC, CBS and NBC spent at least one hour, 15 minutes and 18 seconds on the women’s march. But for the 2016 March for Life, they devoted an embarrassing 35 seconds (22 seconds following the march, 13 before).

And note the excitement from the Big Three networks when reporting about the Women’s March:

By Jan. 19, all three networks had covered the women’s march, with NBC correspondent Stephanie Gosk predicting a “sea of pink” (a reference to women marchers planning to wear pink “pussy hats” to protest President Donald Trump) at the march during Nightly News.

Even up until Tuesday morning, CBS covered the march by playing clips of late-night hosts talking about the protest during This Morning’s “eye openers.”

On Jan. 23, following the march, CBS This Morning still touted the event, with co-anchor Norah O’Donnell commenting that “Organizers of the women’s marches are taking steps to transform the energy from the weekend protest into action.” Her colleague, Charlie Rose added, “Could it take – begin there and become something larger in terms of the empowerment of women in terms of the whole range of issues that are crucial for women and their place and their opportunity to participate in the world that we live in?”

That same day, during Evening News, CBS anchor Scott Pelley called the marches “extraordinary” and wanted to know, “So, what happens next?”

Echoing CBS, ABC anchor David Muir asked about the march during World News Tonight “Can they sustain the momentum turning those marches into a movement?”

Here is a breakdown of the coverage for previous March for Life rallies:

In 2015, only CBS mentioned the march, allotting just 15 seconds. That was only one second for every 13,000 people who put work, school and other obligations aside to travel from as far away as the West Coast. That was only one second for every 3.8 million babies aborted in the last four decades.

In 2014, the networks devoted 46 seconds to the hundreds of thousands marching in Washington, D.C. Yet, ABC, NBC and CBS spent six times that on the National Zoo’s new panda cub and four-and-a-half times that on the Climate March.

Since 2013, the networks have devoted just 100 seconds to the March for Life in following news shows – slightly more than they might have spent broadcasting a couple of burger ads.

Brutally killing a defenseless baby in the womb? Who cares. MY BODY, MYSELF!!

But, THE EARTH IS BURNING!? Now that’s a Big. Fucking. Deal.

As one young woman who is planning to march tomorrow, eloquently said:

I don’t think it’s fair that there is an option to kill somebody before they even have a chance to live.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back)


Trump STILL Obsessed with Inauguration Numbers in ABC News Interview

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:30 am

Good Lord. Is this guy never going to let this go? Obama’s is bigger, Trump. Get over it.

This is from Trump’s interview with David Muir of ABC News:

MUIR: And just before we leave, the President tells us he wants to show us just one more image.

TRUMP: One thing this shows is how far they go over here. Look. Look how far this is. This goes all the way down here. All the way down. Nobody sees that. You don’t see that in the pictures. But when you look at this tremendous sea of love — I call it a sea of love. It’s really something special, that all these people traveled here from all parts of the country, maybe the world, but all parts of the country. Hard for them to get here. Many of these people were the forgotten men and women, many of them. And they loved what I had to say. More importantly, they’re going to love the result.

You can see the order of how he thinks: first his ego, and then the people. First the crowd size, which is about how great he is, and then the observation about the people who traveled to see it. First the fact that people loved what he had to say, and then the assertion that the policies will benefit the people.

This is the same picture, by the way, that he has chosen to hang in the White House press hall, and that he tweeted out two days ago.

As Susan Wright observed, the date on the picture is from the day after the inauguration, but the picture is probably from the inauguration, because (as Susan noted) the banners are still hanging. The perspective of the picture is pleasing to Trump because it does not show the empty areas between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

The transcript of the ABC News interview is here. It’s chock-full of obsession about how many people voted for him and other pointless nonsense.

Ah, well. Every president is an egomaniac. It’s just that they usually hide it better.

He seems to be doing OK on the policy front. If that continues, the clown show is the price of admission, I guess.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Bad Lip Reading: Inauguration Day

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:49 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Absolutely hilarious!


President Trump Takes Steps To “Enforce Strongly” The Laws Of The United States

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:26 pm

[guest post by Dana]

As we all know, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign drew huge numbers of voters who were elated by his promise to reform immigration in our country and to “Build that Wall!” Today he took steps to move on that promise:

President Trump signed a pair of executive actions Wednesday to begin ramping up immigration enforcement, including a new border wall with Mexico, vowing that construction on his chief campaign pledge would begin in months.

The presidential directives signed Wednesday aim to create more detention centers, add more federal border control agents and withhold federal funds to cities that do not comply with federal immigration laws. One order calls for the “immediate construction of a physical wall.”

“I’m asking all of you to enforce the laws of the United States. They will be enforced and enforced strongly.”

“We’re going to restore the rule of law in the United States…A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders. You guys are about to be very, very busy doing your job [as] you want to.”


According to President Trump, the planning is starting immediately, and construction will begin as soon as it is feasible.

Significant provisions in the order include, but are not limited to: broadening enforcement policies, allow States to “perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States,” enable the hiring of 10,000 law enforcement officers with current allocations and make declared sanctuary cities ineligible to receive federal grants. Further, “the initial work of planning construction will be covered by $100 million in appropriations left over in a DHS account.”

While a whole lot of Americans will no doubt support these steps to enforce our immigration laws and protect our boundaries, there are those who are flipping out – embarrassingly so:


Oh, really????

As a result of today’s actions by President Trump, President Nieto of Mexico, who was scheduled to make a visit to the U.S. next week, is reconsidering whether he will grace our nation with his presence.

And, in a bit of irony, in related news concerning national security, immigrants entering the U.S., and protecting Americans, there was this report today :

Federal agents are reinvestigating the backgrounds of dozens of Syrian refugees already in the United States after discovering a lapse in vetting that allowed some who had potentially negative information in their files to enter the country, two U.S. law enforcement officials said.

Agents have not concluded that any of the refugees should have been rejected for entry, but the apparent glitch — which was discovered in late 2015 and corrected last year — prevented U.S. officials who conducted background checks on the refugees from learning about possible “derogatory” information about them, the two officials said. At a minimum, the intelligence would have triggered further investigation that could have led some asylum applications to be rejected.

The refugees whose cases are under review include one who failed a polygraph test when he applied to work at a U.S. military installation overseas and another who may have been in communication with an Islamic State leader, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Amusingly, this is how the LAT spins reports the numbers because they assume you couldn’t figure out the counter of them:

The vast majority pose no threat, officials say. Nearly half of the Syrians admitted since 2011 were under the age of 14, and more than half are female.


Deadspin Editor Melts Down After Cruz Owns Him

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

Today, I leave discussion about Trump’s obsession with the popular vote, his threatening to “send in the Feds” to Chicago, or the upcoming week of “Celebrity Apprentice: The Supreme Court” in the capable hands of others. This post is going to be about making fun of a snarky lefty.

You have likely heard about the little Twitter interchange between Deadspin and Ted Cruz. If you missed it, you can see the embeds at Mickey White’s post. The executive summary is: Deadspin’s Ashley Feinberg tweeted out a request for pictures of Ted Cruz playing basketball (after Politico reported that Cruz is playing basketball as part of a new collegiality campaign). Cruz tweeted out a picture of Grayson Allen, a Duke basketball player who looks so much like Cruz it’s a meme. Deadspin responded with humorless profanity, and Cruz responded humorously with the Ron Burgundy “that escalated quickly” meme. All good, fun stuff.

Then it got even better. (This post is about to go all Twitchy on your backside, with a lot of Twitter embeds — but hey, this is a Twitter-centric mockfest.) Deadspin editor Tim Marchman got busy:

But don’t email him. Tweet him. Trust me. It upsets him a lot more.


I’m not sure if the reference to the “UFC octagon” was a reference to an actual physical fight, or just the hardscrabble manly testosterone-infused brawling that is an email exchange with Tim Marchman.

Anyway, it’s not a real big surprise that the ridicule kicked into high gear right about then. Here’s one example:

Sounds like the email thing isn’t working out for old Tim though.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Exit Bubba

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:50 am

[guest post by JVW]

No matter how you feel about the new President, one thing we all (well, most of us anyway) can agree upon is that the marginalization of the Clinton Family is a most welcome development. The restoration of the House of Clinton, which came ever so close to being realized, is now permanently on hold, and despite the fondest wishes of their last remaining sycophants (Hello Sid Blumenthal! Hello David Brock!) it seems to be inconceivable that Hillary! will upset the Big Applecart (I promise I don’t have too many of these bad puns in me) and take on incumbent mayor Bill de Blasio, no matter how wretched his management of the city may be. Meanwhile, daughter Chelsea shows no inclination to give up the posh life as an independently-wealthy part-time college administrator to enter the grubby political scene, especially the sewer of Democrat politics in New York. Thus, the Clintons appear to be for all practical purposes over and done with.

I had been meaning to put up a post on an interesting development from last week, namely the announcement of the imminent shuttering of the Clinton Global Initiative. I guess it turns out that once you have no more influence to trade, donations from foreign sources have a way of drying up. Oh sure, the Clintons can plausibly claim that they had stopped raising money from overseas sources last summer when confidence of Hillary!’s certain election victory was at its peak, so this development was in the works all along. But given that neither she nor Bubba really have anything to do these days it is kind of hard to imagine why they wouldn’t throw themselves into — ahem, ahem — all the valuable work that the Clinton Global Initiative does unless this is a case where no one any longer wants to buy what they have to sell.

And that of course brings us to Bill, our forty-second President and almost our first First Gentleman (yeah, I involuntarily shudder too). It’s hard not to imagine the mixed emotions that must be swirling through the ol’ lyin’ horndog’s mind, at once lamenting his blown opportunity to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue while at the same time no doubt being relieved that he is free to return to his usual trashy ways. Geoffrey Norman has a terrific essay at The American Spectator on Bubba’s descent into irrelevancy:

It can’t be easy for any ex-president, the exile from the stage. The world of politics and celebrity has been to Bill Clinton as the oceans are to a great shark. If he stops swimming, the shark dies. But there will be another big fish swimming the same waters, and Barack Obama is now a far brighter and newer star than Clinton, with minimal ethical baggage and no lost elections on his résumé. He will be in much hotter demand than a man who has been out of the White House for 16 years.

Quite right. Bill’s brand of whatever-55%-of-the-country-is-for-is-exactly-what-I-am-for politics which served him so well in an era of post-Cold War peace and dot-com-boom prosperity has been eclipsed by Barack Obama’s dammit-we’re-on-the-right-side-of-history brand of ideological purity filtered through he noxious dual-valve carburetor of grievance politics and faculty-lounge groupthink. Obama, who expressed a backhanded contempt for Clinton’s largely risk-adverse agenda after the Democrats’ inglorious defeat in the 1994 midterm elections, may not have had much success in imposing his will on the country after the GOP ended Nancy Pelosi’s speakership in the 2010 midterms, but he leaves office with the party pretty much coalesced around his basic notions of a large and powerful bureaucracy emboldened by copious intrusive legislation managing virtually aspect of a citizen’s day-to-day life. The idea of a white male from the South ever rising to the upper echelon of the Democrat machine seems so farfetched these days that even after Hillary’s tough loss there is pretty much no one who expects Tim Kaine to be a serious candidate for the party’s Presidential nomination in 2020.

So goodbye, Bubba. You were crass, crude, craven, and corrupt, but you always made it interesting. Once upon a time you were even considered to be the first black President, but in the end your inauthenticity and artifice not to mention your insistence on feeding your own inflated ego before deigning to serve others, will probably render you just another footnote to history.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


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