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  1. Opinion

Here’s what to read from the left and the right this week

Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.

We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.


From “In the Ukraine Scandal, Trump Won’t Be Taking the Fall Alone,” by Joan Walsh in The Nation.

The context, from the author: It’s not just President Trump. Administration stalwarts Mike Pence, Mick Mulvaney, William Barr, and Mike Pompeo are all implicated, too.

The excerpt: Which brings us to Pence. Mother save us. He could have been the GOP’s modern-day Gerald Ford — who, as Richard Nixon’s second vice president, stepped in to save the party when its corrupt leader had to resign — but Pence is now in the running to become the 21st century Spiro Agnew. To be fair, we have no evidence of Pence’s personal corruption, which is what brought down Nixon’s first VP. But Pence has let himself get so close to Trump that he gives the president impeachment insurance.

From “Joe Biden’s Case for the Presidency Is Collapsing,” by Osita Nwanevu in the New Republic.

The context, from the author: The former vice president believes he can restore comity between the parties, but Trump’s impeachment is proving him wrong.

The excerpt: Biden’s rhetoric rhymes oddly with the message of hope that animated Obama’s 2008 campaign, which also promised a turn towards a transcendent kind of politics and the bridging of our political divides. But while Obama seemed to herald the possibility of a new political future, Biden has promised a return to our political past, or at least the version of that past he remembers. The American past was, at most, a nebulous source of inspiration for Obama. Biden is of it. What Obama insisted — and still insists — is on our collective horizon, Biden sees in his rear-view mirror. It is the same destination; for one just ahead, the other just behind.

From “We Support Socialists — Even the Boring White Male Ones,” by Liza Featherstone in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar’s inspiring victories and brave advocacy helped create a narrative about “fresh-faced insurgents.” But beware: young neoliberals will use the same rhetoric to oust veteran progressives and call them the “establishment.”

The excerpt: Socialism — or any progressive project — needs young people in order to succeed. And a lot of incumbents do need to go if we are to get the serious change our world needs. But let’s not let our own feel-good stories elect more neoliberals — or throw out the old white men we might need.


From “Will Senate Republicans Take A Chance on President Pence?" by Curt Mills in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: The base still loves Trump but the hawks are circling.

The excerpt: Compared to Trump, the Republican heir apparent, Vice President Mike Pence, is a company man. Pence is generally portrayed as laughably obsequious to the current president. But there is something the veep is even more deferential to: his party’s orthodoxy. For adherents to the old religion, a President Pence would be manna from heaven, a resuscitation of the conservative three-legged stool. Pence is everything Trump is not. In addition his less assuming, midwestern looks, Pence is authentically devout, an unquestioning free marketeer and an unapologetic hawk.

From “Elizabeth Warren’s Threat to the Constitution,” by Rich Lowry in the National Review.

The context, from the author: Elizabeth Warren offers a carefully thought-out agenda of open contempt for legal and constitutional boundaries. It’s not that she, a former Harvard Law professor, doesn’t know that they exist; it’s that she doesn’t care.

The excerpt: Her broad approach is if she doesn’t like something about America, she’ll act as president to ban it or curtail it, whether she has the legal or constitutional authority or not. This isn’t a trait personal to her. Instead, it is inherent to progressive government, which from its beginnings in the early 20th century strained against constitutional limits it considered antiquated and unnecessary.

From “You Don’t Need To Be A Scientist To Be Legitimately Skeptical Of Climate Alarmism,” by David Breitenbeck in the Federalist.

The context, from the author: An ambiguous, unverifiable crisis that only the state has the means or authority to combat is a blank check to power.

The excerpt: While I may not be able to say what the climate is doing, I can say what climate activists are doing, and from that, I can judge that they should be kept as far away from positions of power as humanly possible. We haven’t seen what happens when the ice caps melt, but we have seen what happens when demagogues claiming to protect against an endless and ambiguous crisis get into positions of power, and it never ends well.