Thursday, August 01, 2019


David French is appalled:
As a conservative watching the Democratic debates, I found that one of the most astonishing aspects of the multicandidate assault on Joe Biden was that the case against him seems to be based in large measure on his role in two generations of Democratic victories. His “crimes” consist partly in playing crucial roles in the political successes of two previous Democratic presidents — men who were personally so popular that it’s entirely likely that they would have won a theoretical third term.
The "political successes," as French defines them, include the 1994 crime bill:
Yes, it was tough on crime....

[But] the Clinton administration presided over a truly historic decrease in the crime rate. Yes, that decrease has many causes, but it is still true that violent crime fell, property crimes fell and tens of thousands of men and women are alive today because their towns and cities are far, far safer than they were when Mr. Clinton took office.... America’s war on crime worked.
We don't actually know what worked. Some people think it was getting rid of lead paint in gasoline. But French thinks correlation implies causation.

French is also upset because some Democratic candidates have criticized the high rate of deportations in the Obama years, and because many Democrats want to move beyond Obamacare to single payer.
From the crime bill to immigration to health care, Mr. Biden is facing attacks for his role in policies that Democrats can argue in good faith worked. Crime rates went down; Mr. Obama staved off a crisis on the southern border while protecting hundreds of thousands of Dreamers from deportation; and after Obamacare was put in place, the number of Americans without health insurance fell to an all-time low.
How do I explain this to David French? The Democratic Party isn't a cult. We frequently have trouble rowing in the same direction, but the upside of this is that our admiration doesn't turn into deification. We still admire Obama -- we just reserve the right to question some of what happened on his watch, or ask ourselves whether we can advance his legacy by making bold moves beyond the limits he reached. Remember that we also admire FDR while condemning the internment camps and the inadequate response to the plight of European Jews.

Beyond that, it's amusing to be attacked by a Republican for criticizing our front-runner's record when the GOP effectively forced its last pre-Trump nominee, Mitt Romney, to repudiate his entire record as an elected official so that he could run for office nationwide. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney had been a pro-choice moderate who signed a bill intended to guarantee health coverage to all state residents; Republicans in 2012 were having none of that. The man who gave his name to Romneycare had to become the loudest possible critic of Obamacare in order to pass his national party's litmus test.

Four years earlier, John McCain abased himself by saying he wouldn't even vote for the immigration reform bill he'd previously sponsored. That was a necessary humiliation, without which McCain couldn't have won the nomination.

And in the 1980s, George H.W. Bush repudiated so many centrist positions in order to serve as Ronald Reagan's vice president that a series of Doonesbury comic strips portrayed Bush as having having put his "manhood in a blind trust."

French is a critic of pro-Trump cultism, but I don't recall him ever expressing horror about any of these Republican purity tests of the past. I guess purity tests are okay if they come from French's type of Republican.

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