Editorial Roundup: United States
Aug 24, 2022, 9:00 AM | Updated: 9:17 am
Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The Washington Post on the DHS watchdog
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, charged with guarding against abuse at the agency, might have engaged in wrongdoing instead. Now, Congress must probe not only how Secret Service text messages related to the Jan. 6 insurrection went missing but also whether the official responsible for getting to the bottom of this implausible mishap covered it up.
Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairs of the House Oversight Committee and House Homeland Security Committee, respectively, wrote to Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari last week demanding that he cooperate with their investigation — after, they say in their letter, he refused to produce requested documents or allow his staff to sit for transcribed interviews. The need for this withheld information is real: The Secret Service communications, including those from members of Donald Trump’s security detail, supposedly disappeared in an “IT migration,” a slip-up almost unbelievable for an arm of government immersed in cyber incident response. These texts could provide insight into the then-president’s actions and state of mind as armed rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Cuffari’s job was to figure out what happened — but he appears instead to have obscured the truth. He delayed informing Congress of the purge, as required by law, for months, even though attorneys prepared a detailed alert that his staff recommended he send. When he did finally share this essential information, he left out that then-acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf and then-acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli’s texts had also been deleted. Now, The Post reports that his office called off the attempt to extract the messages despite previous plans to do so, even instructing a top forensic expert to “stand down” on the effort.
A newly released report from the Justice Department’s inspector general reveals that Mr. Cuffari was previously accused of violating ethics regulations when he ran an Arizona field office for the agency. He also rejected a staff recommendation to review the Secret Service’s use of force at Lafayette Square during the summer 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.
Mr. Cuffari has finally launched a criminal investigation of the Secret Service’s text deletion. That investigation itself is necessary and important, but he’s the wrong person to lead it. The evidence that he obstructed the probe in the past suggests he’s unfit to pursue it in the present — and should step aside so that another inspector general can be appointed. Meanwhile, Congress, including by issuing subpoenas if necessary, must do what it can to investigate him.
The Wall Street Journal on Trump’s Senate candidates looking to Mitch McConnell to save their campaigns
The biggest campaign story last week wasn’t Mitch McConnell’s warning that Republicans might not retake the Senate in November. That’s been clear since the party nominated so many candidates whose main advantage was support from Donald Trump. The big story was that those candidates are now calling on Mr. McConnell to come to their rescue.
Exhibit A is Ohio, where the Super Pac allied with Mr. McConnell, the Senate Leadership Fund, is committing $28 million to save GOP nominee J.D. Vance. The “Hillbilly Elegy” author won the primary in a divided field after Mr. Trump endorsed him. But Mr. Vance has struggled to raise money from the GOP donor network he disdained as he courted the populist right. That worked in the primary, but it may not be enough to win in November.
Ohio should be a layup for the GOP this year. The Senate seat is currently held by Rob Portman, who is retiring after two terms. The state has been trending right and Mr. Trump carried it by eight points. But Democrat Tim Ryan, a Member of the House, is portraying himself as a moderate despite a liberal voting record and has out-raised the Republican. Thus Mr. Vance’s S.O.S. to Mr. McConnell.
There’s no little irony in this appeal since Mr. Vance criticized Senate GOP leaders as he ran in the primary. In a podcast last September, Mr. Vance said he had “no idea who should be the majority leader of the Senate.”
But he added that “I think that McConnell has clearly shown that he’s sometimes a little out of touch with where the base is. … I think that it’s time that we moved beyond the very old leadership class that’s dominated the Republican Party for a long time. And I think, it’s just, we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to bring some new blood in. We’ve got to get people that the base is actually excited about.” Apparently the “very old leadership class” has its uses when the “new blood” needs money.
Blake Masters, another Trump-backed nominee, is also counting on Mr. McConnell to save his campaign. “I think (Mr. McConnell will) come in and spend. Arizona’s gonna be competitive. It’s gonna be a close race, and I hope he does come in,” Mr. Masters told the Associated Press last week. Trailing Sen. Mark Kelly in the polls, Mr. Masters needs the Minority Leader’s help.
During the GOP primary, Mr. Masters called for Mr. McConnell to be replaced as leader. “I’ll tell Mitch this to his face,” Mr. Masters said during a GOP primary debate in June. “He’s not bad at everything. He’s good at judges. He’s good at blocking Democrats. You know what he’s not good at? Legislating.”
These better-call-Mitch appeals are happening at the same time Mr. Trump’s allies are attacking Mr. McConnell for telling the truth last week about GOP Senate prospects this year. The Minority Leader mentioned “candidate quality” as a factor in Senate campaigns, which is also true. Only the willfully blind can look at several of the Trump-endorsed nominees this year and claim they were the strongest candidates in the general election.
Arizona is a good example. Mr. Trump vowed to defeat the popular two-term GOP Gov. Doug Ducey if he ran for Senate because Mr. Ducey wouldn’t work to overturn Mr. Trump’s 2020 defeat in the state. Mr. Trump also trashed the capable Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, who ran and lost. The former President backed Mr. Masters, a political novice supported by financier Peter Thiel. But Mr. Trump’s support may hurt more than help in the general election, and he has been reluctant to share his financial campaign wealth with others.
Mr. Trump has shown he can help candidates win primaries with a plurality of the vote in a crowded field. What he hasn’t shown is that he can lift them to victory against Democrats in states that aren’t solidly Republican. He proved the opposite with his sabotage of the two GOP candidates in the January 2021 special elections in Georgia that cost Republicans control of the Senate.
That’s why the candidates he favors are now desperately seeking the help of Mr. McConnell, the leader Mr. Trump wants to replace.
China Daily says the Inflation Reduction Act shows political divide is entrenched
President Joe Biden signed a sweeping $750 billion healthcare, tax and climate bill into law, called the Inflation Reduction Act, at the White House on Tuesday.
Notably, not a single Republican voted for the bill in either the House or the Senate, and not a single Democrat voted against it. The votes were a stark reflection of the political divide in the United States. The results are only the most direct and starkest reflection of the current congressional representation of both parties, if not the division of U.S. politics.
Such is the reality that neither the president nor the Democrats even bothered to seek to win over at least some congressional Republicans before the voting, as they normally do.
Biden tried to portray the Act as a victory for the U.S. people, saying that “with this law, the American people won and the special interests lost,” but whether that is the case or not remains to be seen.
It has certainly been a winner to some extent for the Democrats. By passing the Act, the administration seems to have checked its plummeting approval rating … which may help it avoid the landslide defeat in the midterm elections that it seemed to be on course for.
But that might only be a flash-in-the-pan boost, if the Act proves to be a booster to inflation rather than a cooler of it, as some predict. Opponents of the Act claim that it will only mean higher taxes, more inflated energy bills and more aggressive Internal Revenue Service audits. And the Congressional Budget Office said in an analysis that the Act would do nothing to address the inflation in the United States.
The political polarization in the U.S. has obviously evolved into an institutional tumor of the U.S. system. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are willing to really put the interests of the U.S. people first. U.S. democracy has become nothing more than an unabashed scramble for special interests under the name of upholding people’s interests.
The elected representatives in the U.S. are not bringing people together, instead, they are fueling the deep divisions that serve special interests. But since at least a veneer of unity is required to stop U.S. society from breaking completely apart, external threats are fabricated and hyped up to rally Americans to the flag. This has already led to war in Europe and there is growing concern that the U.S. is willing to spark another in the Asia-Pacific.
For the good of itself, and for global peace and stability, the U.S. needs to get its own house in order.
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