Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. A grim sense of déjà vu -- a rolling nightmare, really -- is sweeping the country as a mutated form of the coronavirus that shut down America last year rages across the land. In response, the Biden administration extended an anti-eviction order yesterday in counties with “substantial and high levels of community transmission” of the virus, an order we are told covers 90% of the country. This may be a humanitarian move, and even prudent public health policy, but where a U.S. president derives such sweeping authority -- the order threatens to jail landlords who don’t comply -- seems a mystery to Joe Biden himself.
Speaking of chief executives, Democratic governors in California and New York find themselves under fire today. Andrew Cuomo, the subject of some of the most fawning news coverage in American history in the early months of the pandemic, is now being urged by Biden and other leading Democrats to resign from office. A report commissioned by New York’s attorney general accuses Cuomo of sexually harassing 11 women. Impeachment efforts are underway, along with a possible criminal investigation in Albany.
Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom is in the rhetorical firing line as Republicans seeking to oust him in a recall vote square off tonight in a televised debate. California is a Democratic state, and Newsom is not being seriously challenged by any Democrats, but under the state’s idiosyncratic approach to direct democracy, he could lose the recall by a single vote and then be replaced by a candidate who racked up less than 20% of the popular vote.
In other timely news, it seems like only yesterday that a youthful and slender Barack Obama strode onto the national political stage. Yet the 44th U.S. president turns 60 today. He’s still slim and photogenic, but like most men his age the hair began to turn gray a decade ago. (The presidency tends to enhance that effect.)
Obama celebrated turning 50 in a way consistent with the exigencies (some would say tackiness) of modern politics: He was feted at a Chicago gala that raised money for his own political party. The plans for his 60th were less partisan: a Hollywood-style bash on Martha’s Vineyard for nearly 500 friends and swells. This time, the partisanship was on the other side: Republicans got wind of it and sniped that the Obamas were perhaps hosting a “super-spreader” event that wouldn’t have gone down real well if it were hosted by a certain Republican ex-president.
These critics had a point, although I must say that if I had the opportunity (and the means) to spend my birthday with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney I’d certainly enjoy it.
We don’t live in a world where we want people who disagree with us to have a good time, however, and this was a case where the “Republicans pounced” meme lived up to its name.
“Democrats are imposing unscientific mask mandates while contemplating more lockdowns. Meanwhile, President Obama is hosting over 500 elites at his Martha’s Vineyard mansion,” said the Republican congresswoman who replaced Liz Cheney in the GOP House leadership. “Typical liberal ‘do as I say, not as I do,’” she added. “This is what socialism looks like.”
I don’t know what socialism has to do with it, but the Obamas did scale down the party to “close friends and family.” And though I interviewed Barack Obama a couple of times, I fit neither of those categories. Nonetheless, I hope he has a good day. Happy birthday, Mr. President.
With that, I’d direct you to our front page, which aggregates, as it does each day, an array of columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors, including the following:
* * *
Will Calif. GOP Avoid “Circular Firing Squad” in Recall Debate? Susan Crabtree has this preview of tonight’s event.
Why Democrats Must Retain Control of Congress in 2022. Mort Kondracke asserts that Republicans have shown they simply can’t be trusted to safeguard democracy.
When Confidence in Our Institutions Collapses. Charles Lipson considers the erosion of beliefs that are foundational to our constitutional democracy.
1619 Project Ignores Democrats’ History of Racism. The N.Y. Times’ effort to reframe U.S. history in terms of race virtually ignores the party’s role in advancing and sustaining slavery and racism in this nation, Mark Hemingway reports for RealClearInvestigations.
America’s Re-education Camps. At RealClearPolicy, William Choslovsky spotlights the implementation of new curriculum in Evanston, Ill. schools that teaches “white identity is inherently racist.”
DOE Loan Program Enriches Crony Capitalists. At RealClearEnergy, Ross Marchand warns of misguided allocations through the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program.
Don’t Break Up Big Tech. At RealClearMarkets, Ken Fisher argues that capitalism’s “invisible hand” will eventually keep today’s titans in check while creating innovation.
* * *
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics