Category Archives: Henninger

America’s New Nihilism – WSJ

America has deployed almost all of the progressive’s solutions to “social ills”.  Yes, as Mr. Henninger says, what has changed? Not much.  Could it be that the progressive solutions are no solutions at all?  Leadership would be pointing this out all day long.   mrossol


WSJ 6/3/2020. by Daniel Henninger

This is not 1968. It’s worse.

The late 1960s were the heyday of modern American liberalism, which was then an ideology of hope. A bipartisan Congress passed landmark civil-rights legislation in 1964 and 1965. The precipitating event of the urban riots in 1968 was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. New York, Trenton, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Washington were on fire. Arguably back then, despite passage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, not enough time had passed for liberal policies to ameliorate conditions in the inner cities.

Last week, George Floyd died after rough treatment from arresting Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, who was arrested and charged with murder. Since then, there have been daily protests accompanied by riot and pillage in multiple U.S cities. A primary claim made repeatedly this week is that the U.S., which means the American people, are guilty of perpetual “systemic racism.”

It is evident from the coverage that most of the demonstrators were born after 1990. By then, the Great Society programs had been in place for 25 years, and now it is 55 years. Annual budget appropriations totaling multiple trillions of dollars on Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, public housing, rent subsidies and federal aid to public schools have produced . . . what?

Since the 1960s, essentially little has changed in the neighborhoods at the center of those long-ago urban riots. By current telling, they are about as poor, as crime-ridden, as under-educated and in poor health as they were when LBJ said he would change them. That means five decades of stasis and stagnation in America’s most marginalized places, virtually all of it under Democratic—now “progressive”—political control.

The failure of the liberal model is by now so embarrassing that the current owners of that model have created an alternative universe of explanations, such as blaming it on American settlers in the early 17th century or the nonexistence of “justice.”

It must be working because marchers in Paris and Berlin, of all places, are lecturing the U.S. on systemic racism. Thanks for the memories.

This is worse than 1968, because the political system is now engaged in a systemic act of forgetting. Let’s forget that this policy failure has happened or why. Let’s forget, for instance, that the people living in New York’s public housing are overrun with rats, unlit hallways and no heat in the winter. Let’s forget that many blacks have indeed been left behind—by a well-documented migration since 1990 of black Americans out of northern cities and Los Angeles into the South, where they have gone in search of economic opportunity. Let’s forget, despite a massive per annum outlay on Medicaid—some $593 billion in 2018—that black Americans still have a higher incidence of chronic disease.

Simply performing a cut-and-paste on 50 years of U.S. political history is an act of nihilism. Pummeled by activists and the media with constant accusations of “systemic racism,” as this week, and despite what many thought were 50 years of good-faith efforts on racial conciliation, people go numb, concluding that the solution being offered now is, literally, no solution.

This new progressive nihilism says the answer to inner-city crime is decriminalization. Because of New York’s new “bail reform” law, most of the looters arrested are being released, even as murders and burglaries were increasing in the city’s poorest neighborhoods before these events.

The new nihilism minimizes this week’s ideologically driven assaults on private property because it is “replaceable.” In fact, it is well-established that many of 1968’s burned-down neighborhoods have struggled to revive ever since.

The new nihilism says no matter how many reform police commissioners are appointed or black mayors elected, “nothing has changed.” That is the definition of hopelessness.

It is not hopeless.

One could, for example, give people a better chance at home ownership and home equity, as HUD Secretary Ben Carson has proposed, through reforms of the mortgage-lending market and reducing regulatory hurdles to urban housing construction. Get rid of those godawful public-housing prisons. But no, the public housing authorities are patronage mills, so it can’t happen.

Black parents love charter schools and voucher-supported private schools because they teach values, self-respect and hope. But no, this option for poor and lower-income parents has more Democratic Party opposition than ever. When will we see white college students marching in the streets over this moral abomination? Never.

One could argue that the job creation and rising incomes of recent years for young black Americans are more in step with the U.S.’s 244-year history of opportunity. But why bother? The nihilism of permanent guilt is easier because it substitutes sentiment for substance and absolves anyone of responsibility for past public-policy errors.

It remains to be learned how the American people, of any race, are processing the events of the past week. Media minimalism says the choice is between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. It’s a lot bigger than that.



Anti-trump project

Daniel Henninger – WSJ 11/14/2019

Nancy Pelosi was right the first time. The Democrats shouldn’t have done this. They should not have tried to make the already over-w helmed American public believe that Donald Trump’s umpteenth “norms” violation was a constitutional crisis. But no, the party’s leftmost elements insisted, and the Beltway press insisted. Mr. Trump had to be impeached.

Once he had survived the Republican primaries in 2016 and then beaten Hillary Clinton by tapping into a slice of overlooked voters, most serious people got on with the business of coming to grips, if not terms, with this unconventional, pugnacious presidency.

But not these people. The political and media left convinced themselves it was somehow possible to make the Trump presidency end before its November 2020 sell-by date. So here we are, three long years later, with Adam Schiff ending his opening impeachment statement by quoting Benjamin Franklin about “a republic, if you can keep it.” That bad, huh?

The testimony by the two U.S. ambassadors was fascinating, especially the account given by Bill Taylor, who like many others had the misfortune of finding himself in the center of one of Mr. Trump’s impetuous foreign-policy decisions.

In what he admitted was a “lengthy” statement, Mr. Taylor described how the U.S.’s single-channel policy of helping Ukraine defend itself from Vladimir Putin’s Russia suddenly became “two channels” after Rudy Giuliani introduced Mr. Trump’s monomania over an earlier Ukrainian government’s possible collusion with Democrats to defeat him in 2016.

Ambassador Taylor was correct that what the U.S. had been doing in Ukraine comported with the Trump National Security Strategy of resisting persistent aggressions by Russia and China. In early 2019, that included helping Ukraine’s newly elected government and its young president, Volodymyr Zelensky, stand up to Mr. Putin’s murderous little green men in eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Taylor’s substantive point was that the Trump-Giuliani channel undercut a sound U.S. policy course when suddenly military assistance to Ukraine got caught up in Mr. Trump’s desire, or need, to have the Ukrainians investigate the Bidens.

So what else is new? Internal policy battles of this intensity are a constant of government life. Other than dragging in the Bidens, this is hardly different from a host of similar Trumpian foreign-policy interventions: his decision after the first summit with Kim Jong Un to reduce military exercises with South Korea; the 2018 decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which caused Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign; his decision in 2017 to impose tariffs on virtually all the major U.S. trading partners, no matter the effect on domestic farmers and businesses; his decision last month to pull U.S. forces in northern Syria away from the Kurds, who he said “didn’t help us with Normandy.”

My own favorite of stillborn Trump foreign-policy ideas was his tweet, days before the anniversary of 9/11 this year: “Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday.” The Taliban at Camp David—now that would have been impeachable.

All these decisions, and not least the events with Ukraine, are absolutely valid voting issues for the next election. If you’re disgusted by the Trump-Giuliani Ukraine back-channel, don’t vote for him. If you think Mr. Trump’s protectionism and isolationism are bad for America’s future, don’t vote for him.

It would have been valid as well if the Democrats had chosen to conduct normal oversight hearings into the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint— with witnesses called and questioned by both sides and the public allowed to watch and decide. But why are Americans being forced to endure the elevation of the Ukraine saga into the current impeachment melodrama?

Presumably the Democratic left and its allies believe the faux gravity of “impeachment” will grind down Mr. Trump’s support at the margin and jack up anti-Trump turnout. One wonders.

Once past the inevitable vote in the House to impeach, and then assuming Mitch McConnell bothers to hold a Senate trial, this will be over by the end of January. With impeachment, the Democrats finally will have dropped their nuclear device on Donald Trump. After that, what’s left?

No doubt many voters are sitting on the Trump bubble, uncertain whether to sign up for another spin with him or whatever the Democrats are supposed to represent now. Medicare for All? Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner’s wheel-spinning term looks like a legislative golden age compared to what Mrs. Pelosi has done with her majority.

What the speaker may have recognized this summer is that the activists’ take down Trump project was turning into three wasted years, and that voters might go looking for someone to blame for that. Once the Adam Schiff show closes, undecided voters will have about 10 months to decide if his politics of pursuit and retribution has been worth the trouble.



By Daniel Henninger


Pelosi’s Impeachment Blunder

Each move appears more desperate than the one before.

Daniel Henninger –  WSJ  10/23/2019

Nancy Pelosi had the Democrats’ impeachment strategy right the first time: Don’t do it. But apparently even a lifetime in the mud-filled trenches of politics wasn’t enough to toughen the House speaker against the Democratic left’s compulsion to impeach Donald Trump.

Anyone of any political stripe knows that the most psychologically distressed Democrats have wanted to impeach this guy, somehow just get rid of him, from day one.


Before Democrats regained control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections, the Trump takedown was supposed to result from the Russian-collusion narrative, which got up to speed in January 2017 and then steamrolled across the country for two years of media leaks and the Mueller investigation, ultimately and fantastically going nowhere.

Within a day of the Mueller report’s release, dismissing the Russian-collusion story lines, the opposition pivoted to the obstruction-of-justice narrative. Somehow, the pivoters must have assumed that the American people, after enduring the Mueller odyssey, would not notice that this extraordinarily disruptive investigation had come to nothing. And that people would saddle up to join the next get-Trump posse. That didn’t work.


We’ll pause in our own narrative to posit a de minimis level of legitimacy to what they’ve done. If the opposition party and, in our unique times, the opposition press want to spend what capital and credibility they have in a round-the-clock effort to take down a sitting president, that’s their prerogative. Nothing in the Constitution says elected officials are obliged to do anything productive.

But translating the public’s votes into a permanent presidential takedown had better work, because if they don’t pull off impeachment and drive Donald Trump out of public life next year, the losses for the Democrats and the media will be devastating. It’s the familiar do-or-die stakes of trying to take out the king.

Because Donald Trump loves living dangerously, he and the increasingly mysterious Rudy Giuliani handed his opponents the unexpected excitement of the Ukraine-Biden narrative—and at last an opening for impeachment. The New York Times, delirious at the prospect, has even created an ominous little logo for its coverage, typically several pages a day—“The 45th President: Impeachment.”

Maybe it really will be the third time’s the charm for the Trump-elimination forces, but the impeachment project looks like it’s starting to go wobbly.

For starters, it’s still just sort-of an impeachment. There’s been no vote in the House and no sign the Judiciary Committee is drawing up articles of impeachment, as in the past. Instead, Adam Schiff’s intelligence committee is interviewing Ukraine-related State Department officials—in secret hearings. It resembles a show trial, with the “public” parts emerging as selective leaks to the impeachment press.

But the most telling impeachment development this week wasn’t any paraphrased testimony from Mr. Schiff’s private hearings. It was the news that Speaker Pelosi’s impeachment timetable has been delayed “to sharpen their case” for doing it.

It is now evident that a vote to impeach President Trump isn’t likely to occur before Thanksgiving, as many assumed, but will slip to December. Then, of course, the trial phase will pass to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Mr. McConnell reportedly wanted it all over by the end of the year, but what’s the rush? The Trump trial could run through January—31 priceless campaign days before the Democratic Party’s intensely competitive primaries. The Iowa caucus vote is Feb. 3, then comes New Hampshire’s primary on Feb. 11; Nevada’s caucuses are Feb. 22; and the crucially important South Carolina primary arrives Feb. 29.


Instead of competing for their party’s nomination, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Michael Bennet will spend invaluable campaign time planted on Capitol Hill during the days that the Pelosi-Schiff Trump trial drones on. Sens. Sanders and Harris can’t call Mr. Trump the “most corrupt president” in the history of the country and then skip out on the trial of public enemy No. 1 to campaign in a downstate Iowa diner.

Joe Biden, Mayor Pete, and Hillary’s new friend Rep. Tulsi Gabbard get to romp daily through the primary states, but who’s going to notice with the Trump impeachment trial siphoning away the nation’s media’s attention?

Surely Nancy Pelosi knew when she stood firm against opening the impeachment dam that the interests of her party’s anti-Trump compulsives—nearly all from safe seats—and her party’s broader election interests were not aligned.

The left has always believed that some deus ex machina, such as Robert Mueller or a nonstop storm of negative press stories, would magically make the Trump presidency just go away—rather than the more plausible likelihood that the relentlessly combustible Mr. Trump would eventually discredit himself in the eyes of most voters.

The American left throughout its existence has had a deep mistrust of the U.S. system, so rather than wait until November 2020 for voters to sort all this out, we get this crypto-impeachment. Like the sure-thing election of 2016, it too could backfire.


Democrats Lost in Ukrainia

WSJ 10/3/2019  Daniel Henninger

As the Trump impeachment narrative descends into the familiar bog of incomprehensibility, some guidance: Do not confuse Ukraine with Ukrainia.

Ukraine is a real country. Ukrainia is an imaginary place created by the national Democratic Party and the Washington press corps.

It was probably inevitable that after 2½ years of the Trump presidency, the Democrats and the press would end up in Ukrainia. For years, they have accused Mr. Trump, with some justification, of creating his own reality. Last week, they decided to create their own.

This story began two weeks ago, on a Thursday, with reports of a whistleblower filing a complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general about Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, the real president of the real Ukraine. For about 48 hours, the issue was simple: Had Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter?

That Sunday, Mr. Trump said he did bring up Mr. Biden during a conversation about corruption. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she had approved a formal inquiry into Mr. Trump’s impeachment. Then, in what became the working headline for everything else last week, “the dam broke.”

If you live in Peoria, most likely you can’t fully understand the meaning of “the dam broke.” It’s not that people in Peoria don’t know what’s going on. But like virtually everyone today, they get most of their news from screens—on cellphones, PCs or television. That isn’t how Washington gets the news.

Besides the inevitable screens, people working in Washington still get their news as they did during the Watergate scandal—from the front pages of the print editions of national newspapers.

Those front pages were once the political world’s official dam, releasing information into the world at a rate appropriate to the news of the day. Last week, that dam collapsed in an indiscriminate torrent.

The day after the White House released the text of Mr. Trump’s conversation with Mr. Zelensky, the New York Times, under a banner headline—“Trump Asked for ‘Favor’ in Call, Memo Shows”—spread a reproduction of the transcript across the top half of the page, with six sections highlighted portentously in yellow marker. That day’s Washington Post filled its first section with an astounding 19 separate “impeachment inquiry” stories, each more or less pegged to this single transcript.

On Friday, the Times returned with another banner headline: “Complaint Asserts a White House Cover-Up.” Below that, again filling the top half of the page, is text from the unnamed whistleblower’s semi-hearsay complaint and the inspector general’s letter.

This is Ukrainia, the impeachment world inhabited by Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler and the rest of Washington—a world of newspaper melodrama, nonstop talking heads and hysterical social-media posts.

It’s hard to recall the paint-by-numbers story line that presumably caused Nancy Pelosi to pull the trigger on impeachment—the notion that Mr. Trump’s raising the investigation of a political opponent in a national-security conversation with a foreign leader was an abuse of presidential power and an impeachable offense.

At long last, the Democrats believed, they had a violative Trump act the public could understand, as opposed to what the New York Times described—with an utter absence of irony—as “months of murky messaging around a confusing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.”

It is barely a fortnight since this “understandable” impeachment charge emerged and already the story line is descending, again, into deep insider minutiae and ultimately something incomprehensible to the general public.

Adam Schiff—who admitted Wednesday that the sainted whistleblower touched base with the House Intelligence Committee days before unloading the complaint against Mr. Trump—is as always carpet-bombing the administration with subpoenas. He wants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify. He wants to depose a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and various others in the U.S. diplomatic corps no one’s ever heard of. George Papadopoulos must be in there somewhere.

Meanwhile, the real Ukrainians look like they don’t want to pursue the matter further, and that includes Mr. Trump’s predictable exhortation to investigate Joe Biden.

The Democrats will fall back on the media to keep the impeachment game going, which it will. For much of the media, its primary activity has become feeding a voracious internet, which means the most minimally relevant anti-Trump stories are reported in microscopic detail whose purpose is to hold on to eyeballs with a permanent and presumably addictive sense of dread.

Politicians like Nancy Pelosi used to be better at assessing the political importance of events, but their judgment is now being overwhelmed by the ideological frenzies of modern media, culminating in the past two wild weeks.

For more than two years, the Democrats have asked the American people to buy into a succession of Trump takedowns—Russian collusion, Mueller obstruction, tax abuse and Stormy Daniels. Now they expect voters to spend the next year living with them in Ukrainia. There has to be a limit, and this may be it.


via Democrats Lost in Ukrainia – WSJ.