RealClearPolitics Articles

Beto O’Rourke Boasts About $6.1M in Campaign’s 1st 24 Hours

Dino Hazell - March 19, 2019

CENTER LINE, Mich. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke boasted Monday that the more than $6 million he raised online within a day of announcing his White House bid, the most reported by any 2020 candidate, was helping to create “the largest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen.”

The “record-breaking” $6.1 million collected last week came “without a dime” from political action committees, corporations or special interests, O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans tweeted. The figure is just above what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reported for his first day as a 2020 candidate.

O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, jumped into the presidential race on Thursday after months of speculation, shaking up the already packed Democratic field and pledging to win over voters from across the political spectrum.

“Thank you to everyone who’s helping to build the largest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen, funded completely by people — not PACs, not lobbyists, not corporations and not special interests,” O’Rourke told reporters in Center Line, a Detroit suburb. “It’s one of the best ways to bring the country together to make sure that we are listening to one another and not that entrenchment of wealth and power and privilege that defines so much of our politics from before.”

Fox News Hires Donna Brazile as Political Contributor

David Bauder - March 19, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Democratic National Committee chief Donna Brazile, who was fired by CNN for tipping off the Hillary Clinton campaign about debate topics in 2016, has joined Fox News Channel as a political commentator.

Brazile said Monday she knows fellow liberals will criticize her for joining Fox, but that it’s important for people not to retreat to “safe spaces” where they just talk to people who agree with them.

“There’s an audience on Fox News that doesn’t hear enough from Democrats,” Brazile said in a statement.

Her conduct at CNN was revealed as part of emails exposed by Wikileaks. She had contacted the Clinton campaign about topics that would be covered in a March 2016 town hall when the competition was Bernie Sanders.

Brazil’s New President Signals Better Relations With the U.S.

Ben Fox - March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — The president of Brazil made an unusual visit to CIA headquarters and later spoke of his admiration for the United States on the second day of a trip that reflected his country’s shift to a more pro-American stance.

President Jair Bolsonaro , a far-right politician who succeeded a leftist who at times had a frosty relationship with the United States, arrived in the country with a half-dozen ministers and a goal of expanding trade and diplomatic cooperation between the two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere.

He was expected to meet on Tuesday with President Donald Trump to discuss a range of issues, including ways to increase U.S. private-sector investment in Brazil and ways to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela .

“Nowadays, you have a president who is a friend of the United States who admires this beautiful country,” Bolsonaro told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

California GOP; Anti-Semitism Coverage; C-SPAN's Unblinking Eye

Carl M. Cannon - March 19, 2019

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, March 19, 2019. On this date 40 years ago, future vice president Albert Gore Jr. stood in the well of the House of Representatives to discuss an innovative development in television programming. There was nothing remarkable about that in itself: At the time, Gore was a Tennessee congressman with a knack for getting himself on TV and someone who possessed genuine interest in new technology and mass communication.

Yet on this day, there was something momentous about Gore’s speech on the House floor. It was the first ever to be televised from that hallowed place, courtesy of a new venture called C-SPAN. Addressing an audience that C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb later joked “was in the dozens,” Gore said, “The marriage of this medium and of our open debate have the potential, Mr. Speaker, to revitalize representative democracy.”

He wasn’t wrong about that, and exactly four decades later, C-SPAN is still going strong, as I’ll explain more fully in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

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Your Kid Goes to Yale? So What?

Dennis Prager - March 19, 2019

I have told the following to numerous audiences:

I'm hardly a Hollywood celebrity, but almost no day goes by that I am not stopped by a few strangers who want to shake my hand and say something. Needless to say, I rarely know the religious identity of the individual, but if the person tells me what college their child goes to, I assume the individual is a Jew.

When I relate this to Jewish audiences, it invariably evokes a great deal of laughter. Jewish audiences know how true, albeit slightly exaggerated, it is. As I always add, to more laughter, non-Jews don't tend to tell strangers what college their child attends (which is why non-Jewish audiences don't find the story nearly as funny).

The story is humorous, but it conveys a serious and troubling fact: Many American Jews define their worth by the college their child attends. In American Jewish life, there are no bragging rights equal to being able to say one's child attends a prestigious college.

Beleaguered California GOP Sees Path to 2020 Rebound

Susan Crabtree - March 19, 2019

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- In the days and weeks after California Republicans suffered staggering losses up and down the ticket last November, the party’s outlook for the future was anything but sunny.

Voter turnout across the state in 2018 set a record for a midterm election, which was not a good sign for the GOP. High voter participation traditionally benefits Democrats, and turnout across the state is all but certain to increase even more in the coming presidential campaign year.

Running as a Republican, especially now in President Trump’s long, overbearing shadow, has never been tougher in California, where two out of three voters either disapprove or downright despise the president.

Combined with the GOP’s anemic voter registration here, which last week slipped to a reported 23.5 percent -- five points behind “no-party preference” -- many state Republicans are preparing for another major blow in 2020.

Green New Deal Would Spark Yellow Vest-Style Protests

Mike Huckabee - March 19, 2019

Democrats are predicting a climate-change-fueled apocalypse 12 years from now, but 3,800 miles away in Paris, we’re seeing a preview of the real doomsday scenario that would result from radical policies such as the Green New Deal.

For the 18th weekend in a row, violent protests broke out in the streets of one of Europe’s oldest cities as French citizens protested their government’s efforts to make them bear the costs of transitioning to clean energy. The mouvement des gilets jaunes, or Yellow Vests Movement, started in response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24 cents per gallon for diesel, prompting the working-class protesters to complain that “the government talks about the end of the world. We are worried about the end of the month.”

With gas prices at nearly $6 per gallon, driving in France is already very expensive, and while public transportation is available in urban centers, most people in rural areas have no realistic alternative to driving.

It’s understandable that French workers would recoil from Macron’s effort to make them bear the costs of his environmentalist agenda, but his brand of elitist authoritarianism actually pales in comparison to the “green dream” being pushed by liberal elites here in America.

Anti-Semitism Coverage Surges, With Fox Taking the Lead

Kalev Leetaru - March 19, 2019

The historic diversity of Congress’ freshman class has upended decades of tradition regarding the body’s historically unwavering support of Israel. Rep. Ilhan Omar in particular has garnered attention for tweets widely viewed by the Jewish community as trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The result has been the most media coverage of anti-Semitism in a decade, with Fox News taking over from CNN in devoting the most attention to the subject.

Looking back over the past decade, the timeline below shows the percentage of airtime by month on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News that mentioned “anti-Semitism” or “anti-Semitic” or “antisemitism” or “antisemitic,” using data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive.

From June 2009 (the start of the data) through March 18, 2019, anti-Semitism received little coverage on the three channels. In February 2017, President Trump’s condemnation of growing anti-Semitism led to a small burst of coverage on CNN and MSNBC, while the October 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting led to a flurry of attention on all three, though CNN once again devoted slightly more airtime to the subject.

Since the start of this year, however, Fox News has taken the lead in coverage of this subject. In all, Fox has spent 0.57 percent of its airtime mentioning it, compared with 0.26 percent of CNN’s airtime and 0.16 percent of MSNBC’s.

The Democrats' $100 Trillion Agenda Could Easily Tilt the Nation

Stephen Moore - March 19, 2019

Remember when Democrats complained that $5.7 billion for a border wall was too expensive? Well, that's chump change compared to what many of the congressional Democrats and nearly all of those 15 declared Democrats in the presidential race are now rallying behind.

The price tag isn't in the billions but in the tens of trillions. President Trump was attacked earlier this month by Democrats for a budget blueprint that would run fiscal deficits of 5 percent of GDP. That's too high, for sure, but count up the spending plans of Democrats and deficits could easily hit 20 to 30 percent of GDP and tilt the nation toward Greek and Puerto Rican-style bankruptcy.

Let's start to add it all up.

Start with "Medicare for All," the new health care anthem of the left. It is touted as a way to make medical services "free" for everyone. The cost to taxpayers? By some estimates, $32 trillion over the next decade, according to a study by the Mercatus Center. Medicare, just for the seniors it was designed to cover, is already projected to run deficits in the tens of trillions of dollars over the next four decades, according to the program's own Trustees.

Who Spawned the Christchurch Killer?

Patrick Buchanan - March 19, 2019

Last Friday, in Christchurch, New Zealand, one of the more civilized places on earth, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, an Australian, turned on his cellphone camera and set out to livestream his massacre of as many innocent Muslim worshippers as he could kill.

Using a semi-automatic rifle, he murdered more than 40 men, women and children at one mosque, drove three miles to another, and there killed seven more. Dozens are still wounded, suffering and dying.

An atrocity and act of pure evil by a man with a dead soul.

Yet, predictably, within 48 hours, the president of the United States was being publicly indicted as a moral accomplice.

Democrats Look Forward by Looking Inland

Froma Harrop - March 19, 2019

In Texas, most politicians used to worry only about the primaries. Once they won their party's endorsement, candidates would coast to victory in November. Journalists still refer to Texas as "ruby red," meaning Republicans rule the roost. That is no longer reality. Texas is barely red, and some argue it's already purple. For statewide office, general elections now matter greatly.

Small wonder Nancy Pelosi has called Texas "ground zero" for Democratic focus in 2020. Had the Democrats not chosen Milwaukee for their 2020 national convention, they probably would have picked Houston.

And Milwaukee was no accident, either. Wisconsin was a state Democrats took for granted in presidential elections -- until 2016. Donald Trump won the state, albeit by less than 1 percentage point. Rest assured, no Democratic candidate will skip campaigning in Wisconsin as Hillary Clinton did.

Democrats looking inland are finding heartland voices that can connect culturally with not only Americans in the middle of the country but blue-collar and rural voters elsewhere. They lack the harsh, berating tone often heard in candidates from the coasts.

Biden and Sanders Are Too Old to Be President

Richard Cohen - March 19, 2019

The joke among people my age is that every dinner party starts with an organ recital: Who's lost a gall bladder, got a new kidney, or maybe just replaced a knee? What's the pain of the day and who sleeps through the night? Charles de Gaulle said old age is a shipwreck, so the question for America is whether it should consider the age of likely presidential candidates who, statistics and experience tell us, stand a pretty good chance of foundering on the rocks of old age. I'm talking Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Sanders and Biden are about the same age. Sanders is 77 and Biden 76, and since the next president will be inaugurated in 2021, I can say without fear of persnickety fact-checkers that both men will be almost two years older by then. It is not unlikely, therefore, that the next president of the United States will be well into his 80s before his first term is up. That's a shocking figure.

Both men are now at about the age when the indomitable Winston Churchill started to hit the wall. He was a mere 77 when King George thought of approaching him to suggest he step down. Churchill did not -- until a stroke forced him to. The argument here, of course, is that neither Biden nor Sanders lives a Churchillian life -- no cigars, no whiskey for breakfast. On the other hand, they are not nearly as articulate.

Government statistics tell us that a man Biden's age will live an average of 11 more years. He won't, however, outlive Sanders, who is scheduled to kick five months later. These, though, are statistical averages and neither Sanders nor Biden is anything of the sort. They are both white, middle class by birth, not likely to overdose on drugs, drive drunk or get into a bar fight with someone wearing a MAGA hat, the dunce cap of our times. I am not sure if Sanders works out, but Biden sure does. I have been to the gym with him.

The Cultivation of Desperation

Michael Gerson - March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON -- As politics has become a religion in so many lives, political discourse has taken on theological overtones. I am not referring to President Trump's accusation of a "witch hunt," which places the FBI in the role of Puritan divines. This is merely an absurd metaphor.

What I am talking about is the appropriation -- really the profanation -- of religious ideas to serve ideological purposes. In the 20th century, this was often the preserve of the left. Marxism provided a soteriology -- a theory of salvation -- that caused people to die and kill in service to a redemptive ideal. It is what made communism so appealing -- and so dangerous. It gave oppression the veneer of idealism.

The right's response in the latter half of the 20th century was to reject the whole idea of politics as salvation. Conservatism sought to lower the sights of the political enterprise to serve humbler conceptions of individual liberty and the common good. The proper work of politics was seen as reform rather than redemption -- working with the existing fabric of society rather than ripping it up and starting over.

More recently, however, the populist right has taken on a distinctively religious tone. Rather than offering a vision of salvation, it has embraced a certain eschatology -- a theory of the end times. The threat of liberalism, in this view, has become so dire that the wrong outcome of a presidential race could mean the end of American civilization. One appalling defense of Trump dubbed 2016 the "Flight 93 election," on the theory that conservatives have but two choices: "charge the cockpit" or "die."

From the Rubble of a Church Rises a Spirit of Love

Salena Zito - March 19, 2019

COLUMBUS, Miss. -- At the First Pentecostal Church on Tuscaloosa Road, the last Saturday of February was a day filled with supposed-to-be's.

Little Jereson McCool was supposed to be at the church hall surrounded by 60 members of his family and community to celebrate his fifth birthday, but his grandma's train from South Carolina was running five hours late. His mom, Misty, made the call from the train station to the church's Pastor Steve Blaylock to see whether they could move it to the next day.

Tom and Betty Lindsay, an elderly couple who live by the river, were supposed to hole up in a residence located in the church because of pending flooding, but Betty's sister insisted instead that they stay at her home 20 miles away.

The mother-daughter cleaning crew that was supposed to be cleaning the sanctuary of the church for the big baptismal service that was planned for the next day decided at the last minute to just go do it early in the morning.

The Fate of Brexit?

Robert Samuelson - March 18, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Those of us who have always thought that Brexit -- Britain's withdrawal from the European Union -- was a bad idea should be feeling self-satisfied and vindicated now. Well, we're not; at least this observer isn't. The reason is obvious. Many of the things that we feared would happen have happened, or might still. Worse, the consequences aren't confined to the United Kingdom.

If you take a crude and unscientific survey of some of Washington's major think tanks, you discover (no surprise) that they're generally agreed that the economic outlook for Britain is grim. Here's a commentary by economist Desmond Lachman of the right-of-center American Enterprise Institute:

"Since the Brexit referendum, the U.K.'s economic performance has deteriorated. It has done so as the U.K.'s future access to the European single market, which buys around 50 percent of the U.K.'s exports, has come into serious question. … At a time that the European economy is already stuttering, with Italy in recession and the German economy on the cusp of recession, the last thing that Europe now needs is a sclerotic UK economy."

A new study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics reviewed the forecasts of 12 economic models and found that only two of them predicted gains from Brexit. Other studies forecast losses up to 8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The study also warns that "a no-deal 'crash out'" -- a reversion to higher tariffs rather than a "soft Brexit" of continuing the present no-tariff situation -- "would have serious negative short-run impacts on the U.K., which are essentially impossible to model."

Green New Deal? Slay the Socialist Monster Now

Frank Miele - March 18, 2019

I’ve avoided writing about the Green New Deal for the same reason that you stick your head under the covers when the boogeyman comes out at night — you hope, with any luck, it will just go away.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go away; it has replaced “health care for all” as the most dangerous arrow in the quiver of the progressive agenda, and it is aimed straight at the heart of American society.

Although Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is most closely associated with the Green New Deal, she is little more than a paid advertising spokeswoman for the revolutionary legislation, which aims to completely overthrow the American economic order within 10 years.

The most offensive element of the initial rollout of the plan was the guarantee of “Economic security to all who are unable or unwilling to work” (emphasis mine). Since shelling out trillions of dollars to lazy people is an idea offensive to millions of hard-working Americans, that proposal was rapidly “disappeared” from Ocasio-Cortez’s website, but even without that insulting nonsense, the entire package is a socialist nightmare waiting to happen.

Wisconsin GOP Gears Up for Massive 2020 Battle

Philip Wegmann - March 18, 2019

Scott Walker made multiple calls when the Democratic National Committee decided on Milwaukee. He also called his sons. The former Wisconsin governor, himself a onetime presidential contender, suggested the boys check their lease. They live downtown. Maybe they – and their neighbors too -- could Airbnb their apartments. Make some extra cash next July.   

“I’m thrilled from an economic standpoint,” Walker told RealClearPolitics of the Democratic Party’s decision to bring its national convention  to the Badger State. “The money being spent in Milwaukee won’t be red money or blue money. It will be green money. That’s a good thing.”

Every flack and hack, politico and politician who spoke to RCP about the decision said something similar. Eminently practical, these midwestern Republicans are bright-eyed about the pluses and the minuses of Wisconsin as a battleground in 2020. They are excited about the economic stimulus. They are also preparing for the political fight of their lives.

“Oh, absolutely,” Walker said when asked if Democrats could win Wisconsin on their way back to the White House. “We have been a blue state for years. We had a temporary reprieve from that in recent years.”

The Autocratic Trump and 'Constitutional Conservatives'

E.J. Dionne - March 18, 2019

WASHINGTON -- President Trump's opponents typically treat him as a clown, a fool and a garden-variety bigot. They only occasionally pay enough attention -- usually when he praises some foreign dictator -- to the side of him that relishes autocracy and undercurrents of violence.

He really doesn't seem to believe in democracy very much. For him, politics is always a clash between power on one side and power on the other. The institutions we have created to mediate conflicts matter not a whit.

There should be no more minimizing this side of Trump after the interview the president gave to Breitbart last week in which he suggested a willingness on the part of his enthusiasts to resort to force against his enemies on "the left."

"I can tell you, I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump -- I have the tough people, but they don't play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad," Trump said. "But the left plays it cuter and tougher."

College Admissions -- How to Jump to the Head of the Line

Charles Lipson - March 18, 2019

To understand how this whole college admissions scam worked, I asked a friend who knew about it first-hand. Here is what Dee Seaver told me:

Sure, I wanted to go to Southern Cal. But would USC be impressed by climbing Mount Everest barefooted or herding unicorns with Peruvian peasants? Those items on my application might not be enough. That’s why Dad turned to Rick Singer as a “college adviser.” What a guy! He suggested I highlight my summer charity work building carbon-neutral air conditioning for every Nigerian. Dad’s friends in the hedge fund industry also put in the good word for me. Even better, they donated funds for the school’s new Pilates Studio and Sauna. I got in!

I knew there was zero chance of flunking out. That’s a secret most folks don’t know about elite colleges. All I had to do was pick the right major, regurgitate the teacher’s crazed ideology, and avoid any courses in math and science. My plan: stick to writing papers about gender fluidity in Jane Austen. If you show up occasionally for class and take the exams, then B-minus is the closest you’ll come to a failing grade. Just don’t major in astrophysics, my friend, and you’ll sail through.

With this sweet setup, I can focus on my primary interests: social inequality and the evils of capitalism. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time for drinking, partying, and getting horizontal. People who say “College is just not worth it” are completely clueless. I f*#kin’ love it.

Wisconsin 2020; Green 'Monster'; Jimi Hendrix

Carl M. Cannon - March 18, 2019

Good morning, it’s Monday, March 18, 2019. Fifty years ago today, Jimi Hendrix went to the Record Plant studio in New York City where he recorded two songs. One was “Gypsy Boy.” The other was a psychedelic version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which Hendrix had performed live since the previous August and would showcase in the summer of ’69 at the Woodstock Music Festival.

Hendrix’s guitar playing on the national anthem is dazzling, but some Americans found his version of the song off-putting. It wasn’t only the musical interpretation, either, which he skillfully turned into an anti-war song. Hendrix also sometimes ad-libbed irreverent comments will playing it, once muttering “Yeah, big deal!” after the section of the song mentioning that the U.S. flag still flies.

Three weeks after Woodstock, Hendrix appeared on ABC’s highly rated Dick Cavett talk show. Cavett couldn’t ignore the controversy swirling in the press, and he asked Hendrix about it. The host made a point of informing his audience that as a teenager, Jimi had answered the call: He was U.S. Army veteran, Cavett pointed out, a former paratrooper.

This was true, even if the details of Hendrix’s military record made Cavett’s larger point a bit of a stretch. I’ll have more on this in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: