2018年4月30日 星期一

RCP Morning Note, 04/30/2018: Indiana Senate Race; DACA and Restaurants; Red Carpet Report; George, Tom & the Press


Carl Cannon's Morning Note

Indiana Senate Race; DACA and Restaurants; Red Carpet Report; George, Tom & the Press

By Carl M. Cannon on Apr 30, 2018 09:04 am

Good morning, it's Monday, April 30, 2018. Another White House Correspondents' Association dinner has come and gone, this one more controversial than most. President Trump did not attend, as readers of this daily missive are probably aware, explaining to a crowd at a campaign-like event in Michigan that he'd rather be with the hoi polloi on a Saturday night than stuck at a black-tie dinner "with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me."

Although this year's entertainer was appalling, I've always defended the correspondents' dinner, and will continue to do so, for reasons that have nothing to do with the current occupant of the Oval Office (and which I'll explain another time.) This morning, I'll point out that today's date in U.S. history serves as a useful reminder of some core truths about interactive democracy. Here are three:

First, the American presidency is an enduring institution that was essentially created on the fly by the first man to hold the office. It was on this date in 1789 that George Washington delivered America's first inaugural address. Although the Constitution didn't require it, Washington thought it fitting. Every succeeding president has delivered one, too. Writing as someone who covered the White House for 15 years, I can say that this is not an isolated example: A remarkable number of the precedents still being followed in the office of the presidency were set by the first man to hold it.

Second, although Washington was the most popular American ever to assume the office, the practice of politics necessarily creates dissent and discord. Third, it is still possible, as it was in GW's time, and important to the functioning of the republic, for critics to separate the idea of respect for the presidency from respect for the policies -- and persona -- of the current president.

This subtlety, not easily conveyed on Twitter (and rarely even contemplated on cable TV) goes to the heart of the original purpose of the White House correspondents' dinner, which is recognizing the mutual humanity in adversarial camps -- in this case the Fourth Estate and the executive branch. It is not a new tension. Here, too, George Washington's tenure serves as a precedent, as I'll explain in a moment.

First, I'd first point you to RealClearPolitics' front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Bitter GOP Primary May Benefit Donnelly in Indiana. James Arkin and Caitlin Huey-Burns examine the dynamics in the Senate race that Republicans have seen as a pickup opportunity.

America's Restaurants Need a Permanent DACA Solution. Cicely Simpson argues that the unresolved issue harms a growth industry most Americans rely on.

Red Carpet Report From the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Rebecca Gibian has the story in RealClearLife.

Sugar Subsidies Are Killing Small Businesses. In RealClearPolicy, Karen Kerrigan makes a case for reforming the federal program.
Secrets of the Monte Con. Investigative Classics revisits a 1989 article for New York magazine revealing the secrets of a three-card monte gang, the result of three months of reporting by J. Peder Zane, an editor for RealClearInvestigations.

The State of the World's Sandy Beaches. RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy spotlights a study of high-resolution satellite imagery taken from 1984 to 2016 showing mixed news on the coastal erosion front.

Fires Forced Library of Congress to Evolve, Expand. In RealClearHistory, Richard Brownell traces the effects of two major fires on the growth of the Library of Congress, which was founded in April 1800.

* * *

In George Washington's time, the term "the Fourth Estate" had not yet been coined and "the press" -- as in the First Amendment's commitment to "freedom of the press" -- essentially referred to newspapers. Today, in the wake of superior technologies, newspapers all over this country are folding or retrenching. This was not the case in the late 18th century. Quite the opposite: Newspapers in the new country were sprouting like mushrooms.

At the time the Declaration of Independence was written, some 50 newspapers were published in the Colonies. Bolstered by laws that gave newspapers a break on postal rates, this number had burgeoned to 250 by 1800. Another factor feeding this growth was partisanship: As early as 1792, George Washington's administration found itself assailed in print by an opposition press. The critics, it must be said, were aided and abetted by an emerging, though still unnamed, opposition political party.

One reason it was unspecified was that its fomenter was slyly circumspect. He had to be discreet because he was in George Washington's Cabinet. I'm referring, of course, to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Although the differences between George Washington and this nascent political movement could partly be explained by the strong personalities and political ambitions of men such as Jefferson, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton, they mainly involved starkly divergent attitudes on international relations.

Mainly, these Founders were split on America's policy about how to regard a specific foreign power. Friend or foe? The country roiling U.S. politics then wasn't Russia, as it is today, but France. Jefferson and his comrades felt strongly that, under George Washington, America was tilting toward Britain, American's former colonizer, and away from France, the nation that had helped Americans win their independence.

The debate was framed in terms of whether the United States would embrace monarchy or democracy -- or, as it was then framed, "aristocracy" vs. "republicanism." The two most influential newspaper publishers loyal to Jefferson's worldview were Philip Freneau (National Gazette) and Benjamin Bache (Philadelphia Aurora). Like Jefferson, they looked upon the French Revolution as the natural extension of the American Revolution and were deeply suspicious, even hostile, to anyone who disagreed. These skeptics included George Washington, whom they didn't dare attack directly, so they went after Hamilton instead.

Although the Jeffersonian argument about France had emotional resonance with Americans who still revered Lafayette, there was one small problem with it. By September 1792, The French Revolution was already morphing into the Reign of Terror. In time, the pro-Jefferson side, including Thomas Paine, would lose perspective and overplay its hand, attacking George Washington in starkly personal terms. This gambit backfired and made Washington even more popular, although Hamilton didn't live long enough to benefit. Whether there is any parallel to how today's progressives characterize a president they detest, I'll let others to decide. I'll leave you instead with two quotations about the press, one each from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Ultimately, these two erstwhile friends didn't agree on much, but they rarely wavered on this point.

"Where the press is free," Jefferson told a friend in 1816, "and every man able to read, all is safe."

Thirty-three years earlier, addressing the officers of the U.S. Army, George Washington put it this way: If freedom of expression is ever taken away, he said, "dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter."

This quote was reprised on Twitter precisely 230 years later by a famed media figure who had not yet entered U.S. politics. I harbor no partisan intent when I implore my fellow Americans to hold Donald J. Trump, as well as his legions of critics, to this noble sentiment.

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

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