(Jan. 17, 2024)  Once there was a presidency in which spending was through the roof, breaking all non-World War II records and setting conditions for massive inflation; when illegal border crossings grew in number; when the president abjectly failed to deliver his most prominent campaign promise; when manufacturing was down; when the president had to arrange for taxpayer money to be sent to farmers to make up for the losses farmers suffered because of the taxes the president raised; when the president tried to strong-arm a foreign government into prosecuting his own domestic political opponent; when the president so extravagantly mishandled a world crisis that the U.S., despite all its wealth, had the world’s third-highest per capita death rate; and when the president backed a failed coup in Latin America, abandoned an air base to Russia, and freed 5,000 terrorist-sympathizing criminals.

Yet when that failed president ran for the Oval Office again, not a single one of his primary opponents tried a sustained critique against these policy embarrassments, except for some anodyne words against the spending binge.

Welcome to this year’s Republican presidential contest.

This column’s first paragraph is entirely about Donald Trump. He was by far the biggest spending president in non-war history; he built less border wall than Democrats themselves originally agreed to; he sustained more border crossings than his predecessor Barack Obama; and so on through the whole litany. And despite all his promises to get “better deals” to improve the nation’s trade deficit, that deficit actually grew each year under Trump. Trump also torpedoed his own allies’ attempt to repeal Obamacare, issued sleazy pardons to political cronies, and said he “fell in love” with the world’s most brutal but lunatic dictator, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — without gaining any significant concessions.

Yet none of Trump’s opponents have made a case against Trump on policy grounds. None of them have made fun of his manifold idiocies. (Yes, he really did suggest killing the coronavirus with injections of bleach or with “ultraviolet light … inside the body.” And he did urge schools to close despite significant signs from the very beginning that indicated closures might be counterproductive.)… [The full column is here.]


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