Friday, January 4, 2019

Character Counts

From Daniel McCarthy at the Spectator USA:
American presidents have never been saints, and sometimes a man with worse character makes a better president. Jimmy Carter is commonly considered to be a decent human being; Bill Clinton is a cad or worse. Yet most people deem Clinton’s presidency a success and Carter’s a failure — voters rendered just such a verdict in 1980 and 1996, when each man was up for re-election. Ronald Reagan was divorced; the two George Bushes were each married only once. No conservative thinks that makes the Bushes better than Reagan as presidents. Look further back into American history and you continue to find that personal morality and public performance are two different things. Alexander Hamilton’s unfaithfulness to his wife did not, in fact, make him unfaithful to the Treasury, whatever his enemies may have wanted to believe. George Washington was a model gentleman as well as the father of his country; he also owned slaves, as of course did Thomas Jefferson. That grave moral evil did not preclude them from being great statesmen. 
The difficulty of reconciling what it means to be a truly good human being with what it means to be a good citizen or statesman is one of the oldest problems in political philosophy — surely an even older problem in practice. Ideally, impeccable personal qualities will coincide with suitability for the needs of the moment; but where there’s a disjunction, the citizen must choose what is best for the country, not what is the best human type. (Read more.)

From Townhall:
Although it has gotten by far the most attention, the FIRST STEP Act is only the most recent of several bipartisan laws signed this year by President Trump, who has already unified lawmakers to pass major laws dealing with healthcare, infrastructure, and education.

In July, for instance, the President signed legislation to renew a federal workforce development program that allows states to provide technical education and training so students can develop skills for good-paying jobs. 
A few months later, in September, President Trump again brought Democrats and Republicans together to draft the Protecting Patients From Surprise Medical Bills Act, which guards patients from unexpected out-of-network bills and prohibits providers from charging patients for the difference if their insurance does not pay the full price of a given service or procedure. (Read more.

Meanwhile, Romney stabs Trump in the back. From Breitbart:
February 2012: Romney seeks, and receives, Trump’s endorsement in the Republican presidential primary, beating several other contenders who wanted the billionaire’s backing. The Romney campaign proudly touted Trump’s nod. CBS News reported at the time, “Romney’s campaign formally unveiled the endorsement at an event in Las Vegas.”
March 2016: Romney delivers a speech in Utah devoted entirely to trashing Trump: “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.” However, with the primary still undecided, Romney declined to support any of Trump’s rivals, meaning the speech amounted to little more than abuse. (Some of those present at the time speculated Romney was laying the foundation for a political comeback.) 
November 2016: Romney, humbled by Trump’s victory, offers to join President-elect Trump’s cabinet, and seeks the job of Secretary of State. After meetings at Trump Tower, Romney fails to win the job — but issues a statementpraising Trump and thanking him for the opportunity: “It was an honor to have been considered for Secretary of State of our great country. My discussions with President-elect Trump have been both enjoyable and enlightening. I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace.” 
February 2018: Romney receives Trump’s endorsement in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Utah and accepts it — despite having declared in 2016 he would not have accepted Trump’s endorsement if given the choice again. (Read more.)

More on the Steele dossier from The Federalist:
A trove of recently released documents sheds further light on the scope and logistics of the information operation designed to sabotage an American election. Players include the press, political operatives from both parties, and law enforcement and intelligence officials. Their instrument was the Steele dossier, first introduced to the American public two years ago. 
A collection of reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, the dossier is now engraved in contemporary U.S. history. First marketed as bedrock evidence that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, the dossier’s legitimacy took a hit after reports showed the Hillary Clinton campaign paid for the work. 
The revelation that the dossier was used to secure a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page compromised the integrity of the investigation the FBI had opened on Page and three other Trump associates by the end of July 2016. Nonetheless, that same probe continues today as the special counsel investigation. 
The dossier plays a central role in Robert Mueller’s probe. In the unredacted portions of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s memo outlining Mueller’s scope are allegations that Trump adviser Paul Manafort colluded with Russian government officials interfering in the 2016 race. That claim is found in no other known document but the dossier. It is unclear whether further dossier allegations are in the redacted portions of the scope memo. 
Further, with Mueller in charge, the dossier-won warrant on Page was renewed a third, and final, time in June 2017. It expired in September, when confidential human source Stefan Halper reportedly broke off regular communications with Page. (Read more.) 

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