Cybersecurity, Part 11; GOP Fundraising Record; Ukraine Plea; Thoreau's Way

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Good morning, it’s Thursday, July 12, 2018. At the NATO summit in Europe, Donald Trump has treated Europeans to a rhetorical formulation already known to many Americans. “I’m very consistent,” the 45th U.S. president told a reporter from Croatia. “I’m a very stable genius.”

That got me to wondering this morning. Not about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation about “foolish consistency” being the “hobgoblin of little minds.” But about whether stability and genius are even compatible. Today, you see, is the birthday of Emerson’s great friend and protégé, Henry David Thoreau, an American original I’ve always considered a genius.

But was Thoreau “stable”? Even his best friends wondered about that sometimes. As for being “consistent,” I’m not convinced that Henry David Thoreau would consider this trait a virtue.

I’ll have more on him 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:

* * *
The Perils of Confusing Nuclear and Cyber Strategy. Our cybersecurity series continues with Andrew Walworth exploring the innovative thinking required as strategists grapple with a new kind of warfare that requires a new paradigm.

GOP Super PAC Sets Fundraising Record. Adele Malpass has the story.

Mr. President, Don’t Abandon Ukraine. Lloyd Green urges the Trump administration to resist Russia’s destabilization efforts.

Why America Should Let Its Rivals Play the Game in Afghanistan. In RealClearDefense, Jim Kane argues that it’s time for the U.S. to end its policy of  military overreach.

Conservative Media Skew Story on “Dreamer” Arrests. In RealClearPolicy, Josh T. Smith & Jesse Baker counter a narrative about immigration and crime.

Dozens of Studies Demonstrate Failure of Medicaid. In RealClearHealth, Ross Marchand highlights research that indicate serious problems with the federal program.

The Future of Health Care Is Free-Market Tech. Also in RCH, Sarah Lee contends that "telemedicine could revolutionize health care delivery just as smartphones have transformed how we communicate."

Naïve Pundits Fall for Stagnant Wages Myth. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny responds to a columnist’s attack on corporate shareholders.

The Forgotten Success of Skylab. In RealClearHistory, Richard Brownell examines how the predecessor of the International Space Station, most remembered for its fiery return to earth, changed space travel.

* * *

“I heartily accept the motto ‘That government is best which governs least,’” Henry David Thoreau wrote in Civil Disobedience. “Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe -- ‘That government is best which governs not at all.’”

As I wrote last year in this space, Thoreau was serious about his small-government views. He hated paying taxes, on grounds both principled and practical. On the practical level, he had little money and no inclination to join the mid-19th century rat race to success in a rapidly industrializing country. Philosophically, he considered government-mandated taxes little different morally than armed robbery. “When I meet a government,” he once wrote, “which says to me, ‘Your money or your life,' why should I be in haste to give it my money?"

Yet he was an ardent liberal on race relations, a committed abolitionist who was jailed in 1846 for not paying his poll tax -- not as a tax protest, but as a remonstration against slavery. Yet at the same time, it was beginning to dawn on other New England abolitionists that if slavery were to be abolished in this country, it was going to take a strong federal government -- and a standing army -- to do it.

In some ways, Thoreau’s politics don’t translate to modern America, which is a point that liberal Democrats are at pains to make to Republicans when, well, when a Supreme Court vacancy presents itself.  We can say that Thoreau was not a big law-and-order proponent, as he often espoused progressive views on criminal justice issues. “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly,” he proclaimed, “the true place for a just man is also a prison.”

In one area, it’s pretty clear how Henry David Thoreau would fit in today. He would definitely be considered a dedicated environmentalist in the 21st century, which was true in his day, too.

“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer," Thoreau wrote. “But if he spends his whole day… shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed as an industrious and enterprising citizen.”

Would he be part of the “resistance” today? Could the Democrats (or, more likely, the Libertarian Party) persuade him to run for office? There’s no way to know that, but I feel certain that if he were a candidate, he wouldn’t heed the wishes of his party’s “base,” or its donors, and he wouldn’t be a slave to the RealClearPolitics poll average. I don’t think he’d even hire a pollster, and I have quote that backs me up.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer,” said Thoreau. “Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” 

Carl M. Cannon 
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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