Out on a Limb

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on March 16, 2015

Out on a Limb

Jeb Bush

The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.

Out on a Limb
“Jeb Bush Is Not the GOP’s Ideal ‘Change’ Candidate”—headline, National Review Online, March 12

Why Do Bad Things Always Happen to Him?
“For MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, Two Officers Shot in Ferguson Is ‘Frustrating’ ’—headline, Washington Examiner, March 12

It’s a Cookbook
National Journal’s Ron Fournier weighs in with a cornpone denunciation of partisanship: “ ‘Two wrongs make it feel right’ ought to be the motto of Washington, where I work. Not a news cycle goes by without one group of partisans justifying abhorrent behavior by pointing to the bad deeds of another group of partisans.”

In other words, Fournier doesn’t like tu quoque arguments—a preference that is not without justification. But one of his examples illustrates the limits of such reasoning:

Forty-seven Republican senators seek to undercut delicate negotiations between the White House and Iran, an extraordinary insult to the office of the presidency. Do they acknowledge that their political stunt could backfire on the United States and set a precedent that future GOP presidents might regret? Some do, cautiously, but most don’t. Nancy Pelosi did it first!

Whether Pelosi did “it” first may be a matter of dispute. But if she did, it is a pertinent rejoinder to the criticism of Republicans. Fournier faults them for possibly setting “a precedent that future GOP presidents might regret.” But if Pelosi did it first, the precedent was already set.

The New York Times’s David Brooks, meanwhile, offers this “sophisticated” take:

It used to be that senators didn’t go out campaigning against one another. It used to be they didn’t filibuster except in rare circumstances. It used to be they didn’t block presidential nominations routinely.

It used to be that presidents didn’t push the limits of executive authority by redefining the residency status of millions of people without congressional approval. It used to be that presidents didn’t go out negotiating arms control treaties in a way that doesn’t require Senate ratification. It used to be that senators didn’t write letters to hostile nations while their own president was negotiating with them.

All the informal self-restraints that softened the brutality of politics are being torn away. It’s like going to a dinner party where all the little customs of politeness are gone and everything is just grab what you can when you can.

We thought that was called the “kiddie table.”

For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”