Best columns: The U.S.
The midterms will decide Trump’s fate
Niall Ferguson and Joshua Zoffer
President Trump is reportedly obsessed with special counsel Robert Mueller, said Niall Ferguson and Joshua Zoffer. But the biggest threat to his presidency is not Mueller, but the possibility that Democrats will gain control of the House in 2018. In the past, independent prosecutors charged with investigating the Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton administrations have taken at least 14 months to produce findings. Given what’s at stake, Mueller may take at least that long. And unless he finds a Watergate- like smoking gun implicating Trump himself in Russia’s election interference, congressional Republicans are unlikely to risk angering Trump’s base by impeaching the president. But that political calculus changes if Democrats gain 24 or more House seats in the midterm elections. Democrats would turn committee inquiries about Russia’s election interference into a sensational spectacle to damage Trump “in the court of public opinion,” and they would almost certainly impeach him. If Trump wants to avoid that fate, he’ll need to cut back on attacking critics and “fake news” and focus on “the difficult work of governing.” So far, Republicans have little to show for their control of Washington. If that doesn’t change before 2018, Democrats will deliver Trump’s favorite line to the former reality-TV star: “You’re fired.”
Normalizing violent protests
No serious violence broke out when conservative journalist Ben Shapiro gave a speech at the University of California, Berkeley, last week, said Megan McArdle. But the bad news is that Berkeley had to spend $600,000 to lock down much of the campus, fill it with police armed with pepper spray, and erect concrete barriers to keep the leftist “antifa” away from the event. Is this what it now takes “to maintain order in the face of...a speech?” Liberals who loathe President Trump fear that he will be “normalized,” but the deep rage and contempt this president has inspired has led to the normalization of lots of other bad things, including riots and the suppression of the right to speak and peacefully assemble. The radical Left believes that some people—ranging from white supremacists to ordinary Trump supporters to even mild, anti-Trump conservatives like Shapiro—“are too dangerous to have rights” and should be prevented from exercising their First Amendment rights, with fists and clubs and thrown bottles if necessary. So now we have to spend $600,000 to keep a rather ordinary speech from turning into a bloody riot. We cannot “become inured to how outrageous this is.” This is not normal, and it’s not American.
Fraudulent ‘evidence’ of fraud
The Washington Post
We now know what to expect from the Trump administration’s voter fraud commission: Orwellian lies, said E.J. Dionne. Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the president’s Commission on Election Integrity, recently made the bombshell allegation that rampant fraud changed New Hampshire’s 2016 election results. His proof: 6,540 voters used out-of-state driver’s licenses to register on the day of the election, but 10 months later, only 1,227 had obtained New Hampshire driver’s licenses. Kobach claims most of those voters “never were bona fide residents of the state” and were part of a plot to tip the state to Hillary Clinton. What he failed to mention is that New Hampshire state law allows anyone who spends most of his or her time in the state to vote there, including college students, many of whom have out-of-state licenses. Subsequent reporting showed that most of the late registrants were, in fact, living in college towns. Kobach still insists, however, that “we will never know” if those votes were legitimate. Obviously, his commission will use any means to arrive at its predetermined conclusion: We need restrictive new laws that will block “a large number of voters who oppose the president from casting ballots in 2018 and 2020.” ■