The Jury Talks Back


John McCain Ending Treatment for His Terminal Cancer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 6:21 pm

Nobody has had more policy disagreements with John McCain than Donald Trump me. Nobody! Still, I was sad to see this news:

Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has been battling brain cancer for more than a year, will no longer be treated for his condition, his family announced on Friday, a sign that the Republican war hero is most likely entering his final days.

“Last summer, Senator John McCain shared with Americans the news our family already knew: He had been diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma, and the prognosis was serious. In the year since, John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict,” the family said in a statement. “With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment.”

Matt Welch wrote a book about McCain, and he has a thread on Twitter that is worth your time.

In that thread, he embeds this video, which he says “feels like from another planet”:

I liked this observation in particular:

I know, I know: Trump won and McCain lost. That is, I believe, more a function of Trump running against Hillary Clinton (the most unattractive candidate of our lifetime) than it is a function of one needing to be a flaming asshole in order to win an election. But many have internalized the equation “asshole behavior = victory” and we’ll be fighting that misconception for a long time.

McCain pissed me off many, many times. But he’s a far better human being than Donald Trump (I’m sorry for the absurdly faint praise, Senator) and he is owed some respect at this point in time for the good aspects of his character. Best of luck to him and his family in facing the tough times just on the horizon.

P.S. I am asking you to be civil in this thread. And I mean very civil. If you can’t be civil in this thread, that’s a good indication that you need to be tossed off this Web site for good. I have an itchy ban finger. Do you feel lucky, punk?

Hey New York Times Reader: Have a Conniption Fit Over This!

Filed under: Uncategorized — JVW @ 1:07 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Because the moon must have passed through the Sixth House of Mars during its waning gibbous phase in the Chinese Year of the Dog or something, the New York Times Op-Ed page saw fit to commission a piece from Charles Kesler, the wonderfully prolific scholar and editor of the Claremont Review of Books. In his own delightfully contrarian way, Professor Kesler took up pen and paper (OK, finger and keyboard) to shock the delicate sensibilities of the prissy NYT crowd with a defense of the idea of wreaking havoc in Washington, DC. Headlined Breaking Norms Will Renew Democracy, Not Ruin It, Professor Kesler sets about scandalizing the cosmopolitan left:

Hardly a day goes by without President Trump being accused of breaking a presidential norm or two, doing something that no president has ever done — nor, it’s implied, ever ought to do.

He tweets. He runs down the F.B.I., the intelligence community, his own attorney general. He makes fun of other politicians. He hires and fires cabinet secretaries, lawyers and communications people with abandon. He revokes a former C.I.A. director’s security clearance. He fails to disclose his tax returns. He picks his Supreme Court nominees from a list prepared by outside groups. He alternately threatens and sweet talks foreign despots.

Guilty as charged — but so what? All norms are not created equal. Hence breaking norms is neither good nor bad except as the norms themselves are good or bad. We elect presidents partly to separate the wheat from the chaff: to energize government by shedding or retiring norms that no longer serve the public good, and by adopting fresh ones that do.

Professor Kesler then leads the reader through a learned disquisition on the period after the ratification of the Constitution, as the earliest United States governments were trying to figure out how to implement Articles I, II, and III and set up norms as to how our government would operate, lacking the traditions and enforced manners of the established European governments. He points out that not all of the protocols that were established by our first President, George Washington, were continued by his successors, even though we do generally acknowledge that the Great Man established most of the parameters of the office, as much by his humility and reticence as by his boldness and vigor. In a subtle yet pointed jab, Professor Kesler points out that two 20th Century progressive Democrats — Woodrow Wilson, beloved most especially by those who long for an aristocracy of the credentialed, and Franklin Roosevelt, the hero of the modern regulatory welfare state — are the most guilty of abandoning Presidential norms to further their own agendas. But from there he suggests that perhaps many norms ought indeed to be broken:

Presidents are often called upon to adjust norms; it’s almost part of the job. The crucial question is how the norms in question stand in relation to the Constitution and the common good. Are the norms President Trump is accused of breaking vital to American democracy and constitutionalism, or are they vital rather to the way government operates in contemporary Washington, which, like the way government was operating in the 1820s, may have surprisingly little to do with either democracy or the Constitution?

Most of Mr. Trump’s alleged transgressions, measured by those standards, seem picayune. They offend against the etiquette of modern liberalism and modern liberal governance, not the Constitution. For example, choosing from a list of potential Supreme Court nominees prepared by outside experts at his request, before deliberating with his advisers and interviewing several finalists, hardly amounts to a dereliction of presidential duty. And haven’t several Democrats subsequently called for a new court-packing plan to retake control of the judiciary — a far greater norm-buster than anything Mr. Trump has done or proposed?

While acknowledging that, yes, Trump often behaves in a crass and petulant manner, Professor Kesler ends his piece by reminding the reader that Donald Trump’s successors are under no obligation to adopt his blustering and bullying style, though they too might find it liberating not to be tied to what passes for conventional thought in a stultifying capital.

Besides, future presidents will be free to ignore or repudiate Mr. Trump’s views and his blunt manner of doing business. This occupant of the White House seems to enjoy breaking norms, and he has been conspicuously more successful at breaking them than at devising and blessing new ones for our troubled times.

But if he is to make America great again, President Trump will have to cherish his legacy as a norm-builder, too.

As we always say, read the whole thing, if only to let the NYT know that publishing conservative opinions is good for pageviews.


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