Our Best Stuff From a Week That Felt Like Three

As of last Sunday night, about 2,800 Americans had died from COVID-19, and there were 142,000 overall cases. By the time this newsletter reaches your inbox, we’ll have about double the total cases and close to triple the number of deaths. The numbers are staggering and heartbreaking, and they’re only going to get worse for the next two or three weeks. 

The week was full of frustrating news on the political front. A U.S. intelligence report concluded (to the surprise of very few people) that China had lied about the number of COVID-19 deaths and other matters, and France acknowledged that it hadn’t been counting nursing home deaths. Georgia’s governor said Thursday he’d learned only in the “last 24 hours” that asymptomatic people could transmit the virus. And as much as it had seemed that President Trump had come to grasp the reality of the situation—he extended the CDC guidance for social distancing and other precautions to April 30 and in Tuesday’s task force press briefing appeared more somber than at any point in his presidency—on Thursday Americans were treated to a press conference appearance by Jared Kushner where he criticized states for wanting to access the federal stockpile of equipment to aid in the handling of a pandemic. His statement contradicted information on the Health and Human Services website about the mission of the federal stockpile, and by Friday the website had been changed.

Kushner praised his father-in-law’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and criticized state officials, saying, “what a lot of the voters are seeing now is that when you elect somebody ... think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis.” 

Fortunately, it’s also easy to be heartened by the various efforts being made by companies and others in the private sector to respond more successfully. In my home state of Ohio a research and development company, Battelle, figured out how to sanitize used masks, up to 160,000 per day. After a little scuffle with the FDA, it’s happening. Medtronic publicly shared its plans for ventilators to allow more companies—including its competitors—to make the devices more quickly and more cheaply. Uber has pledged to deliver 10 million free meals and rides to health care workers and others in need. Bill Gates said his foundation would fund seven new factories for the production of coronavirus vaccines. Those are just a few examples. 

That’s not to say all government is bad and all business good. State and local leaders are making tough decisions, and there is concern that many essential businesses are doing too little to protect their employees. But it’s heartening to see American ingenuity helping to carry us through these tough times.

Now, on to the best of what we published this week.

The Other Epidemic

There are long, dark days ahead of us. Americans are dying, the economy is shut down, and we’re without so many of the things—sports, entertainment, church, family and social gatherings—that weave together the fabric of our society. We’ll get through this, but normalcy feels like it’s a long ways away. While there has been much focus and debate on the economic cost of the pandemic, less attention has been paid to another cost: our mental health. Declan Garvey tackled this tough topic: “There’s fear of being unable to pay rent or put food on the table for your children,” he writes. “Mandatory loneliness has plunged those crawling out of the depths of depression back into the pit. And it’s an impossible situation.”

Let’s Stop Believing China’s Numbers, OK?

If you follow any sites that are tracking the the number of coronavirus cases worldwide, you’ll notice that while the U.S. has the highest number of reported cases in the world, other countries like Italy and Spain have rocketed past China, where the virus started in late 2019 but has seemingly—just like magic—stopped. Jeryl Bier isn’t buying it, even if the World Health Organization, media outlets, and others are. And his skepticism is based on a hard look at the numbers. “If the past is any indication, the Chinese government will continue to hide the true consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak in that country as best it can. But the media and international health authorities would do well to view any data coming out of China with a more skeptical eye.”

The Importance of State and Local Governments Right Now

We’ve been hitting home the importance of state and local governments throughout the pandemic, and not just because of the failings of the federal government at multiple points. It’s because the Founders realized that such decentralization lends itself both to more individual liberty and more willing participation by citizens when decisions are made locally. Andy Smarick has a great essay on how this is benefiting us now and will continue to do so through the recovery. “So far, perhaps unsurprisingly, America’s governors have generally shown the kind of leadership we need. Because they are aware of the risks of COVID-19 and knowledgeable about the conditions of their cities, towns, schools, industries, and hospitals, they are positioned to balance competing priorities. It is why many of them moved quickly to require social distancing and close workplaces—and now avoid setting arbitrary timelines for changes while holding the line on their tough policies despite the president’s oscillation.” 

Here Come the Religious Authoritarians. Again.

The Atlantic published an essay by Harvard law professor Adrian Vermeule arguing, basically, that the originalist view of the Constitution long favored by conservatives has outlived its usefulness. It was the latest salvo in the intra-conservative battle between classical liberalism (or “French-ism” after our own David French) and a new traditionalist authoritarian movement. Jonah addressed the matter in his midweek (members only) G-File,  arguing that “a system whereby people are free to make their own choices, own the fruits of their labors to the greatest extent possible, and live how they want to live so long as they do not harm others is as close to an ideal as we can get,”  and pointing out that that is exactly what Vermeule and his ilk are fighting. And naturally David had thoughts (members only): “But to the new authoritarians, liberty is only useful when it yields outcomes they like. That’s the genesis of Sohrab Ahmari’s willingness to throw out decades worth of constitutional case law that protects the rights of millions people of faith to access public facilities on a viewpoint-neutral basis just so the state can prevent a tiny number of drag queens from accessing those same facilities and enjoying those same rights.”

The best of the rest of our stuff:

  • The Morning Dispatch (members only) had a great item looking back at news stories from the 1918 Spanish flu crisis. There were mask shortages, people worried that quarantining would hurt the economy, and even debates over what to call the virus.

  • Jonah used his Friday G-File to send a shout out not only to the doctors and nurses taking care of the sick, but the retail workers, restaurant employees and truck drivers that are still out there getting us what we need.

  • In Vital Interests (members only), Tom Joscelyn looks at where ISIS is now, a year of its fall. “There’s no question that the one-time caliphate is well-removed from the zenith of its power. … But ISIS hasn’t been entirely vanquished either.”

  • On the pods: The gang talked about China, our governors, and the presidential briefings on The Dispatch Podcast. David and Sarah talked about—what else—coronavirus (and also the Vermuele essay) on Advisory Opinions. And Jonah talked to Cass Sunstein about dogs and bonobos and engaged in some “rank nudgery” on The Remnant.

Our Best Stuff From a Week That Math Got a Little Scary

It’s probably not good for your mental health to spend too much time looking at the Johns’ Hopkins coronavirus map that tracks ongoing cases on a country-by-country basis, but it’s also hard to avoid. And watching the U.S. count tick ever higher—on Friday alone it felt like we were adding a few thousand cases at a time, rushing right past the 100,000 mark—helps put into perspective some of the other big numbers we had to deal with this week.

First, unemployment: Jobless claims were at an off-the-charts 3.28 million. The previous record? In 1982, 695,000 people made claims in one week.The other big number came out of Congress, which managed—after overcoming a few hurdles—to pass a $2 trillion economic relief package (we’re trying not to call it a “stimulus” package; I’ll let Jonah explain why) that provides expanded unemployment benefits, loans for businesses large and small, and cash for most Americans.

These times are testing America in a way that few of us have been tested. It’s easy to be angry about the way the federal government’s various failures have gotten us where we are. But there is something else I keep coming back to, and that is the way that most Americans have taken all of this in stride and with good spirits.

Think about it: Imagine a fortune teller told you in January that kids would be home from school for months, that there would be no March Madness, no Opening Day, and no Olympics this summer. That our movements would be limited such that we couldn’t go out to dinner with our spouses, meet a friend for a drink, or take the kids to a movie or even the playground. That governors would be issuing orders closing businesses. Would you envision riots? Streets filled with police?

Sure, our cable news networks are oversupplied with hotheads who want to argue that this is overblown, or that we should let Grandma and Grandpa die to protect the kids’ college funds. But away from the cameras, we’ve settled into the new normal almost as quickly as it was thrust upon us. With some notable exceptions, we’re staying home. We muddle through school time, and we see our co-workers and our friends on Zoom instead of in person. At the same time that neighbors and people in our communities have lost jobs, people are coordinating food drives and raising money for those affected. 

I’m not one to paint too rosy of a picture. But it’s something I’m holding on to when the bad news starts to overwhelm. Here at The Dispatch, the pandemic pretty much took over our coverage this week, but we took it on from various angles. We know these are difficult times for many, and we know that if you are anticipating that check from the government that it might help pay the rent, or maybe you’re fortunate enough that you’ve earmarked it for your favorite charity. We don’t want to inundate you with appeals. But the support of our members makes it possible for us to do the work we’re doing, and if you’re not a member yet, we’d be grateful to have you.

How the Intel Community Saw This Coming

Every four years the National Intelligence Council puts together a Global Trends report, a sort-of roadmap for potential international crises to help prepare incoming presidential administrations. Back in 2004, the NIC decided to include pandemics, and looked at what could happen … in the year 2020. A pandemic could “put a halt to global travel and trade during an extended period, prompting governments to expend enormous resources on overwhelmed health sectors.” Contributor Paul Miller digs deeper into subsequent editions of the report and finds this nugget from 2012: “The NIC included a fictional memo drafted in the year 2030 by a future analyst. The analyst looks back at the outbreak of the global pandemic—along with rising nationalism, unrest in the Middle East, and a Taliban coup in Kabul—as among the drivers for the reversal of globalization.” No, that doesn’t sound worrying at all. 

Donald Trump Cannot Open Up America

Our own David French has written extensively on the different roles of the state and federal governments in battling coronavirus. He took up the topic again this week in a members-only French Press in response to President Trump’s wish to end social distancing measures by April 12. While Trump doesn’t have the actual authority to allow businesses to reopen, David is worried that the belief that he can will cause tension between blue states and red states, where governors will be pressured by their constituents to get the economy moving again. “With some notable exceptions, red-state governors—especially those in states with few COVID-19 cases—would find themselves under immense political pressure to lift restrictions. … Blue-state governors—especially those who govern states with large urban populations where the virus is hitting far harder than in rural America—by contrast would likely defy the president. They may impose their own travel restrictions from red states, claiming that red states’ increased openness increased the chance of viral spread.” In his Thursday newsletter, which we made available to the public on Friday, he gets a little angry about the idea circulating among some on the right that we should risk the health and safety of our elders for the sake of the economy. 

Trying to Flatten the Curve on Coronavirus Disinformation

Fact checker Alec Dent has had a busy week. In a town hall with Fox News, President Trump claimed that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rejected an opportunity to buy 16,000 ventilators to help his state prepare for a pandemic. That wasn’t exactly right. Alec also looked into claims that a prominent British scientist retracted his projection that 500,000 U.K. citizens could die from coronavirus, revising that down to 20,000. That … is also not true. 

Watch These Movies While You’re Sheltering in Place

One bright spot in this crisis is that as we’re being asked to stay at home and sit on the couch, our nation’s bandwidth has not sagged under the pressure of all the streaming. If you’ve stormed through Tiger King (it’s crazy; you’ll love it) and have rewatched The Office (or in our house, Brooklyn 99) so many times that you’re saying the lines before the characters do, have we got something for you. Jonah asked his favorite critics for a list of movies you have to watch to be politically literate, and they delivered. Yes, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is on there. But also Casablanca, Taxi Driver, and many more.

Other highlights from The Dispatch this week:

  • As coronavirus has hit more countries around the world, it’s easy to forget that Iran was one of the early hotspots. We had two pieces on Iran this week: Danielle Pletka argues that this is not the time to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic, and in Vital Interests (members only), Tom Joscelyn looks at how the mullahs are getting away with blaming the U.S. for their own mistakes.

  • President Trump sent off a heated tweet or two on Friday, demanding that GM start manufacturing ventilators. It sounds like he didn’t see Scott Ganz’s article looking back at how long it took Ford to ramp up B-24 production during World War II.

  • Many small businesses will benefit from the loans available in the relief package. But what about those that still go out of business? Arpana Mathur looks at how we can make it easier to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy claims.

  • And finally, on the pods: The gang talked about the worst day of the crisis so far on the Dispatch Podcast. David and Sarah talked coronavirus but also confirmation battles on Advisory Opinions. And on The Remnant, Jonah actually had a pandemic-free conversation with R Street’s Shoshana Weissmann (best known on Twitter as Senator Shoshana, Sloth Committee chair).

Our Best Stuff From the Week We Started Staying Home

Not everyone stayed home, of course. Our medical professionals are risking their health every day trying to keep us safe. And truck drivers are working furiously to keep our supply chains functioning so that we don’t have to fight over toilet paper at the grocery store. (For an illuminating and slightly harrowing look at what their lives are like, check out this Twitter thread.) And many small businesses and restaurants are trying to stay afloat in our new reality.

But this was the week that social distancing went into full effect for many people around the country. Office workers everywhere started commuting from their couches, people spent a lot of time on Zoom and in Google Hangouts, and a lot of us are newly licensed homeschool teachers. (Shout out to all the real teachers who are becoming online instructors on the fly. May parents never take you for granted again.)

The next few weeks will demonstrate whether we acted in time. Overall cases are in an exponential growth pattern, though a lot of that has to do with increased testing capability. This is not a sign that our efforts at social distancing and shutting down are not working. But COVID-19 fatalities are growing rapidly, too—a result, among other things, of the stealth spread of the disease before more testing was available.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are out of work, at least temporarily. State governments are taking steps to help those affected access unemployment benefits more quickly, and Congress is working on a stimulus package.  

Here at The Dispatch, we didn’t move to covering the pandemic exclusively—while the Democratic primary might be all over but for the shouting, there is still plenty of shouting. But it is our primary focus. We look forward to bringing you more reporting and analysis you can trust on the issue, but we’re also yearning for the days we can be a little more lighthearted. Now, here is the best of what we did this week.

The Definitive Timeline of how the U.S. Bungled Testing at the Start

There has been invaluable reporting on the bureaucratic breakdowns that have led the United States to limit its testing regimen, including investigative work from sources as varied as Reuters, GQ, and The New Yorker. Building on that work with his own analysis as a tech policy expert, Alec Stapp laid out a precise timeline of where things started going south. It starts with the Food and Drug Administration: “In a declared emergency, the FDA has broad discretion about which laboratory-developed tests will be permitted to be used. By o nly issuing a single [emergency use authorization] to the CDC, the FDA put all its eggs in one basket.”

Can COVID-19 Help Us Overcome Our Polarization?

Are people in your community coming together in any way? Are they helping elderly and vulnerable people get their shopping done? Is everyone getting takeout and tipping heavily to help local businesses and workers? As much as we bemoan the polarized state of our national political discourse, trying times help break down divisions. Sam Abrams argues that the pandemic that is testing us so much right now might actually upend that polarization. “Americans are turning away from national politics and supporting local mayors and municipalities regardless of partisanship; they are pragmatic.”

We Need to Talk About China

Tom Joscelyn, the author of our Vital Interests newsletter, might be best known for his reporting on terrorism and U.S. counterterror efforts. Lucky for us, he’s something of a China expert as well. He had two newsletters (members only) on the topic this week: In the first, he wrote about the dangers of China’s disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the spread of coronavirus. And in an edition that just went out today, he worries about the implications of Xi teaming up with Vladimir Putin to try to discredit the United States. 

The Moral Heroism of our Coronavirus Response

In the G-File, Jonah weighs both the idea that we are doing what’s necessary to fight coronavirus and the concern that we are risking too much economically. Landing on “I agree basically with what the government is doing,” he points out that our “course of action defies so much of the glib rhetoric about America.” How so? “If we were some Capitalist Sparta, we’d be putting old people on figurative ice floes to fend for themselves or pushing them off cliffs, like Paul Ryan in that heinous ad. People older than 80 are not, as a rule, vital cogs in the capitalist machine. If one were to apply the butcher knife of Peter Singer’s ethical pragmatism, we might even be setting up death panels.”

Other highlights from The Dispatch this week:

  • Bernie Sanders will be a mere footnote in the history of presidential politics before too long, but it’s fair to start considering his legacy. Daniel Vaughan argues that he gave rise to a modern socialism, but ultimately his own movement passed him by in place of “Woke Marxism.”

  • The Morning Dispatch (members only) tried to hone in on one big coronavirus topic each day. On Tuesday, we looked at hospital capacity and ways it can be stretched. On Wednesday, we were on the hospital beat again, looking at what happens when hospitals run out of not only rooms but protective equipment. And on Friday, it was grocery stores and the supply chain and how we don’t need to be hoarding. Oh, and also the coronavirus-adjacent insider trading accusations against Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler (again, we tried to stick to one topic).

  • In an article for the website (free to all) David French offers a very useful explainer of the division of powers that answers why it’s up to the governors, and not the federal government to close schools and limit businesses.

  • Finally, on the pods: On Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah talk to a bankruptcy judge about how the courts are handling coronavirus-related filings. On The Remnant, Jonah takes a break from the pandemic to talk to a psychologist about the differences between cultures. And finally, the gang (from separate remote, undisclosed locations) takes on a bunch of coronavirus topics, including how everyone is talking to their kids about it.

All of Our Best Stuff From a Truly Unsettling Week

The Dispatch Weekly comes to you every Saturday from Ohio, where things got very real, very quickly this week. Gov. Mike DeWine has been upfront and decisive in announcing closures and other precautionary measures to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. Schools are closed for at least three weeks, and districts that scheduled their spring breaks for the week preceding Easter will be off for four. With some exceptions, large public gatherings are prohibited, and we’ve depleted most of the grocery stores of toilet paper. (But not booze for some reason. Give us time.)

Tears were shed, in my house and others, as long-anticipated, important sporting events were canceled left and right. But given the rapidly changing nature of the story, the kind of cancellations that were unfathomable and heartbreaking on Wednesday morning were met with shrugs by Thursday afternoon. In between, of course, the NBA and other leagues suspended their seasons, President Trump announced a travel ban and other policies to combat the virus, and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they had COVID-19. How we wish we could pass this time of social distancing with March Madness.

Is Ohio ahead of the game or at least doing all the right things that it can? Time will tell. It is worth noting that state and local governments, colleges, and private-sector organizations have often demonstrated more acumen for dealing with this crisis than the federal government. 

Our goal at The Dispatch for the duration of this crisis is to provide reporting and analysis that is accurate, measured, and responsible. And we hope that we’ll be able to offer up some counter-programming when we are able, as there are still big-deal things going on overseas, in our courts, and in life in general.

This newsletter will always be free, but if you like what we’re doing and think it’s important and you haven’t joined yet, please consider doing so now. We thank you for reading. Now, onto the best of what we did this week.

Competence Is a Character Trait

Donald Trump’s Wednesday evening address from the Oval Office inspired differing reactions, even among our small staff. Andrew Egger sounded an optimistic note, pointing out that, despite his bungling, the president still has a chance to unite the nation on the issue. But at The Morning Dispatch (members only), we focused a little more on the many misstatements the president made. In his Thursday newsletter (for members only) David French took a deeper dive and looked at something that’s been an issue for the duration of the president’s term: competence. “Competence (much less excellence) requires a degree of self-discipline, commitment to personal improvement, and openness to critical information that are the hallmarks of developing true expertise. There is a difference between ‘brilliant but flawed’ and simply ‘flawed.’” 

How Bernie’s 2020 Struggles Can Be Explained by 2016

Unless something really crazy happens (and, honestly, after the last week, we shouldn’t rule out anything), Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee for the 2020 election. In a span of about two weeks, Bernie Sanders went from frontrunner to likely runner up, just like 2016. What happened? Didn’t he inspire a youth movement? Isn’t the Democratic party clamoring for change? Maybe, maybe not. As Sarah Isgur notes, maybe Bernie’s disappointing run this time has less to do with Bernie and more about what we failed to learn from 2016. (Stage whisper: Hillary Clinton was a terribly flawed candidate.) But that’s a lesson for more people than Bernie: “And that means, like Sanders, President Trump’s surprise election may have been more of a reflection of Clinton's unpopularity too—meaning the movement that the GOP has embraced for the last three years may not be as strong as it appeared in 2016 either.” Sarah had one more piece on the Bernie beat, pointing out that the Democrats’ willingness to hold a debate this weekend plays into Sanders’ hands and risks hurting Biden.

Trying to Stay on Top of All the Coronavirus Misinformation

Any crisis on the level of coronavirus is going to cause confusion and misinformation. The reality is always changing, for one, so even accurate information becomes outdated. But it doesn’t help when we live in such a polarized time and have a president who not only struggles with the truth but inspires his opponents to exaggerate in their reactions. Fortuitously, we’ve been ramping up our fact-checking operation in recent weeks. On Friday, Alec Dent addressed the president’s claim that “If an American is coming back or anybody’s coming back [from overseas], we’re testing. We have a tremendous testing setup.” As much as efforts are being made to increase screening and other efforts at U.S. airports, Trump’s statement is false. Earlier in the week, Alec looked into claims by Democrats that Trump had cut the CDC budget (no, but not for lack of trying) and picked apart statements by Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, that were full of misinformation.

Other highlights from The Dispatch this week:

  • In a stark reminder that other challenges are growing even while the U.S. deals with coronavirus, Tom Joscelyn’s latest Vital Interests (members only), looks at Iran’s effort to build nuclear weapons and the various ways that China is helping the Iranian regime.

  • Danielle Pletka explains that dictatorships make us sick—literally. Just look at how China and Iran have handled coronavirus.

  • In his Wednesday members-only G-file (or as we call it, the Hump Day Epistle), Jonah surveyed the remaining presidential candidates—Trump, Biden, and Sanders—and warns that we need to worry about COHID-20—Codger Hypocrisy Disease 2020.

  • On the pods: Jonah had a great interview with Ross Douthat on The Remnant. And in what was perhaps the liveliest (and funniest) episode yet, the gang talked about the Democratic primary and had a robust discussion about feminism on the flagship Dispatch Podcast. And on Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah talked about Harvey Weinstein and discussed the Hillary Clinton documentary.

Photograph of Mike DeWine by Justin Merriman/Getty Images.

Our Best Stuff on Afghanistan, Super Tuesday, and More

It was a very good week for Joe Biden. On the other hand, it was a very bad week for the United States in regards to Afghanistan. We witnessed two historic events that could shape our future in ways we can’t yet comprehend, and both are worth examining. 

First, Joe Biden—whose campaign seemed all but over a few weeks ago when he scurried out of New Hampshire before the results were in—staged a sudden and overwhelming comeback that flipped the Democratic primary on its head. After he won South Carolina, his main “moderate” opponents dropped out and endorsed him in quick succession, setting the stage for him to win 10 contests on Super Tuesday. Is Biden the man Democrats want to face Donald Trump? Did we just avoid the prospect of a race between two candidates (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) whose bases of support foretell an angry and even-more-polarizing general election? We’ll find out soon enough.

The other historic event is nothing if not ignominious. Last Saturday—the same day that Biden won South Carolina—Mike Pompeo went to Doha, Qatar, for the signing of a deal with the Taliban to bring American troops home from Afghanistan. It’s inaccurate to call it a “peace” deal, and is better described as an exit deal. Why? The U.S. will bring home all its remaining troops despite the fact the Taliban concedes almost nothing and the document includes nothing that guarantees a much-ballyhooed actual break between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Are we leaving Afghanistan more vulnerable to a complete takeover by the Taliban? Are we inviting an attack by al-Qaeda? Again, there is no way of knowing, but if history is our guide then the consequences of this flawed deal will be unwelcome.

Here is a roundup of our best work from the last week.

No Deal Is Better Than a Bad Deal

Just how bad was the agreement that the U.S. signed with the Taliban? Allow Thomas Joscelyn to count the ways. For starters, it allows the organization to call itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and while the U.S. insists that we don’t recognize such a state, the mere inclusion of the title in the document gives the Taliban legitimacy it does not deserve. The agreement also calls for the elected government Afghanistan, which was not even party to the talks, to release 5,000 Taliban operatives. But the real kicker is that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed—repeatedly—that the Taliban would make a public break with al-Qaeda. Joscelyn points to four ways the agreement could have covered that. But … nothing. “In sum, the deal strengthens the Taliban and weakens America’s hand in the region.” he writes. “It legitimizes the Taliban in the eyes of jihadists worldwide and among the Afghan people and it amounts to a betrayal of the many brave Afghans who have fought alongside U.S. troops over the last 19 years.”

Autopsy of an Impeachment

Enough time has passed since impeachment to allow us to look back on it with some remove. And that’s just what Daniel Vaughan did for us this week, looking at the political pressures faced by both Democrats and Republicans. Those pressures had as much to do with electoral considerations as the merits of the case. In the end, he notes, “the primary calendar incentivized Democrats to move fast. It incentivized the Trump administration to cover everything in executive privilege to slow the process. Let that be a lesson to future impeachments. If you want to succeed, you have to build political momentum behind it and change the political dynamics of the political calendar.”

One Weekend, Two Reporters, Three Conservative Conferences

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) used to be a wonky little event where movement conservatives would meet to debate policy and network. But it’s been sliding towards nationalist populism for years. Lately, it’s become notable for inviting Milo Yiannopolous (later uninvited) and disinviting Mitt Romney. Instead of Tom Coburn and George Will discussing the dangerous overuse of executive orders, you have Diamond and Silk inveighing against Bernie Sanders and Charlie Kirk encouraging the crowd to boo Romney. And yet, there are people who think CPAC isn’t Trumpy enough. Andrew Egger went to CPAC for a few days before tuning into the livestream of the “America First PAC,” headlined by white nationalist Nick Fuentes and featuring anti-immigration activist Michelle Malkin. “Malkin, a onetime fixture at CPAC, spent the days leading up to the gathering denouncing its “ConInc gatekeepers” and trumpeting AFPAC as the true thinking patriot’s alternative.” Meanwhile, we sent Declan Garvey to the comparatively tame Summit on Principled Conservatism, where a few hundred anti-Trump conservatives met for a day to discuss policy and, well, Donald Trump. 

Other highlights from the Dispatch this week:

  • There is a burgeoning conversation on the right as to whether one can be a conservative and vote for, say, Joe Biden. Jonah tackled the topic in his midweek G-File (sorry, we mean Hump Day Epistle) and David took his turn in his Thursday French Press (both available to members).

  • New Dispatch staffer Alec Dent filed his first Dispatch Fact Check this week, looking at whether activist Shaun King was correct in tweeting that MSNBC reported that Democratic leaders were “interfering” in the Democratic primary. Rachel Maddow responded with a quick denial  in the moment, but Alec points out that it’s not quite that simple.

  • David had a piece for the website parsing the oral arguments in June Medical Services v. Russo, the first important abortion case before the Supreme Court since Justice Kennedy retired. David, alas, did not find much for pro-lifers to be optimistic about.

  • On the pods: The gang talked about Super Tuesday on the flagship Dispatch podcast. Jonah talked to author Michael Strain about his new book The American Dream Is Not Dead on the first episode of The Remnant and for the second, he talked to Reason managing editor Stephanie Slade about how she balances her libertarian philosophy and Catholic religion. And on Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah talked about Don McGahn, CFPB, and Katie Hill in one episode and FISA reform, qualified immunity, and arresting 6-year-olds in the second.

Loading more posts…