The American political system—for all its shabbiness, over-lubrication of money, and tendency toward really appalling histrionics—has been magnificently vindicated this week in its overall results, and in most of the details as well.
In 2016, there was a danger that the Republicans could fall into the hands of the far-right (does anyone still use the portentous phrase “alt-right”?), with some candidates pitching to the gun-happy corn-cobbers. Meanwhile, the avowed Marxist Sen. Bernie Sanders got about 45 percent of the primary votes while campaigning on a platform of authoritarian leftist regimentation, although certainly within a framework of free elections.
Sanders was like Salvador Allende until the Chilean leader started unilaterally amending the Latin American nation’s constitution (1972-3).
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton kept the battle between the 30-yard lines, and Trump, contrary to the immense psycho-terror campaign conducted by his enemies, has governed slightly to the right of center and well within sensible policy traditions.
He also has become the first important government leader in the world to make free-market inroads on the burgeoning crisis of the income-disparity gap. By incentivizing employment and the repatriation of jobs and capital, and drastically reducing illegal immigration of unskilled people, he has generated sharp reductions in poverty, the elimination of unemployment, and a greater percentage rise in the income of low than of high, income-earners.
The annual per capita GDP growth was 4.5 percent under Reagan, 3.9 percent under Clinton, 2 percent under George W. Bush, and 1 percent under Obama; the implications of this trend, as the conventional wisdom wallowed in a flat-lined “new normal” of low economic growth, was very ominous.
Crime has declined with poverty and Trump is the first president to make a serious contribution to penal reform at least since Lyndon Johnson. The First Step Act was the first step in reducing America’s obscenely high incarceration rates (six to 12 times as many incarcerated people per capita as the most comparable prosperous democracies: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom).
Despite the acidulous histrionics, the nomination processes of 2016 and 2020 have been victories for moderation. Trump has taken complete control of the Republican Party, squeezing out Democratic look-alikes such as former Sens. Jeff Flake (Arizona) and Bob Corker (Tennessee), but also yielding nothing to the far right.
The current contest for the Democratic nomination, which a week ago appeared to be in a state of potentially acute disorder with an apparently high possibility of success for the Sanders Marxist option, was reduced to a three-man race on Super Tuesday. Then, Michael Bloomberg’s withdrawal on March 4, in Joe Biden’s favor, was essentially an elevation of Biden to the nomination.
Sanders will go on raving about his “movement” (an unfortunate choice of words for both medical and historic reasons—dictators usually speak of “the movement,” i.e. Hitler), but mainstream Democrats, woolly and manipulable though many of them are, won’t touch Sanders’ socialist confection, and he’ll settle down to being a Democratic faction-head, as with Henry Wallace, George Wallace, and Jesse Jackson. The Democrats are managing this without a heavy-handed intrusion of superdelegates, as was feared and, to some extent, occurred in 2016.
There can’t be much suspense about the outcome of the next election. Biden has made common cause with the firearm confiscators (the regrettable reemergence of Beto O’Rourke in Texas), open borders advocates, late-term abortion enthusiasts (up to and including infanticide in some cases), and has bobbled the whole question of tax increases.
The country won’t have it, and will not reward Trump’s numerous successes with rejection. But no one really thinks Biden is an extremist, unlike Sanders, who raves out unutterable “revolutionary” nonsense to the adherents of his “movement.”
So, ineluctably, but faithfully, the system works; an effective and successful, if idiosyncratic and sometimes infelicitous president is rewarded, and the opposition remains loyal and sensible and rejects nasty political viruses and prepares for renovation.
The Democrats, even before they lose with honor in November, should be looking for attractive and alert younger leaders, as Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton, and Obama were in their time. Biden is performing an important caretaker’s service and receiving the recognition as a nominee for a long career as a party journeyman, as Bob Dole and John McCain did for the Republicans (although they were more distinguished than Biden).
He’s holding the fort against barbarians, not lighting his party’s way forward.
Biden Rejects Comey
Next to the sudden arrival of the Democratic nominating kaleidoscope at a plausible configuration, the most important political developments of the past week were James Comey’s attempt to endorse Biden, and John Bolton’s assertion that his autobiography contains nothing that would lead anyone to find the president guilty of an impeachable offense.
Comey triumphantly tweeted his support of Biden, proclaiming the former vice president’s credentials as someone who would lead America out of the moral wilderness supposedly created by Trump. The Biden camp immediately disavowed the endorsement. How immense is the delusional height that Comey achieved in his corrupt abuse of his office and his purported location of a “higher loyalty” than to the Constitution he had sworn to protect?
It’s clear, and has been recorded by the inspector general of the Department of Justice, that Comey’s conduct was profoundly improper and almost certainly seriously unlawful, as he usurped the decision of whether to proceed against Hillary Clinton for her treatment of confidential emails and untruthful responses to Justice Department questions. He also foisted an investigation on the incoming president that he knew to be based on fraudulent allegations cooked up by a source paid by Trump’s opponents (the Clinton campaign).
He and his equally sanctimonious and unscrupulous counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, must know he is likely to be indicted and that it will be heavy going. [Fitzgerald prosecuted the author for a rich variety of fantastic offenses, ultimately unsuccessfully] Comey’s pious hypocrisy and presumption incites real concern about how so unsuitable a person was elevated to the potentially dangerous positions of deputy attorney general and later as director of the FBI. Biden’s prompt rejection of his support is encouraging—several years ago, he might not have acted so unambiguously.
Bolton was always hawkish, but has always been a man of integrity, and it’s heartening that despite his acrimonious departure from the White House, he remains so. Recall the absurd histrionics of the Democratic congressional leaders and of the infamous House impeachment managers, Adam Schiff (California) and Jerrold Nadler (New York), that issuing a subpoena to Bolton would bring down the president and that refusing it was just a Republican cover-up.
The president was charged with acts that aren’t impeachable and no probative evidence was adduced that he committed them anyway, but the Democrats in Congress and the media clung to the malicious fiction that a refusal to summon Bolton (after the Democratic House had failed to do so), spared the president severe embarrassment. It was all piffle and there was never a word of truth to any of it, but it is good to have Bolton’s confirmation of that.
It’s been a good week for the Republic (and for both parties).
Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.