George W. Bush comes out of retirement to deliver a veiled rebuke of Trump

Bush offered a blunt assessment of a political system corrupted by “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication” in which nationalism has been “distorted into nativism.”

..  “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

.. Just hours after Bush completed his speech, Obama also made a veiled critique of the Trump era, calling on Democrats at a New Jersey campaign event to “send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear.”

.. That Trump’s two most recent predecessors felt liberated, or perhaps compelled, to reenter the political arena in a manner that offered an implicit criticism of him is virtually unprecedented in modern politics, historians said.

.. George W. Bush was taking aim at Trump’s “roiling of the traditional institutions of the country and, in particular, demeaning the office of the president by a kind of crude or vulgar bashing of opponents,”

.. “I think this is Bush throwing down the gauntlet and feeling that this is a man who has gone too far,” Dallek said. The discretion former presidents traditionally afforded their successors “is now sort of fading to the past because of the belligerence of Trump.”

.. McCain’s critique prompted Trump to warn him to “be careful” because he is prepared to “fight back.”

.. The common thread among Bush’s and McCain’s words was a defense of the post-World War II liberal order

  • which supported strong security alliances,
  • a defense of human rights and an
  • open economic system of free trade

.. “The hallmark of McCain’s and Bush’s speeches was to try to re-center us on what have been, since 1945, these traditional ends,”

.. He cautioned at the time, however, that he would speak out if he saw “core values” at risk.

.. the unifying themes between Obama and Bush are “humanity and empathy towards the American public.”

.. Bush opened his remarks by speaking in both English and Spanish and noting that refugees from Afghanistan, China, North Korea and Venezuela were seated in the audience.

.. Bush also warned that “bigotry seems emboldened” in a passage that evoked the aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

.. “Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” Bush said in a line that drew the most applause.

.. “Politics are now about discrediting people by ad hominem attacks, not by argumentation,” Cohen said. Those who opposed Bush’s wars have a fair point of view, he said, but their constant “demonization does help make it easier for Trump.”

Generation Y Takes Over

But immigration is a subset of a larger global problem. The dominant economic event of our era is the Great Recession, which began in 2007 and ended for the U.S. in 2009. Its status as a “great” economic downturn is attributed to its long aftermath of unemployment and, more important, underemployment.

As the U.S. and European economies failed to achieve pre-recession growth levels, which exacerbated social anxieties, the elites produced an explanation. They called it “the new normal.”

.. The new normal” theory, which in a wink became conventional wisdom among conventional economists and pundits, exists mainly to absolve them—and Barack Obama —of responsibility for weaker growth’s dire effects on national standards of living. What the theory failed to capture is that the new normal creates angry have-nots.

.. Voters everywhere are rebelling against the new normal. They won’t concede its implicit acceptance of flattened opportunities for younger Americans or Europeans still in their prime working years, who don’t have sinecures explaining to everyone else why this is as good as it will ever get. Increasingly, they are voting into office political outliers—from Trump to Macron to Kurz.

.. Mr. Trudeau’s economic plan should be seen as a proxy for what the next Democratic presidential nominee is likely to run on. Influenced by former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers’s theories on “secular stagnation,” Mr. Trudeau is making massive outlays on infrastructure repair and modernization to revive demand inside Canada. 

.. Donald Trump is an infrastructure guy, too, but his path out of the new normal’s long-term trap runs mainly through regulatory relief and reforming the U.S. tax system.

.. U.S. firms kept 71% of their foreign-earned profits abroad, “benefiting other nations’ workers.” What would be the effect, Mr. Hassett asked, if for the next eight years, those profits were repatriated and reinvested here through a tax regime designed to promote more capital investment in the domestic economy? Incomes would rise.

George Soros Transfers $18 Billion to His Foundation, Creating an Instant Giant

The pioneer of hedge-fund investing has transferred the bulk of his wealth to Open Society Foundations

Open Society’s activism has sometimes angered nationalist governments, such as the current one in Hungary, which targeted a university Mr. Soros founded and which has run poster campaigns singling him out for his support of refugees. Mr. Soros has urged developed countries in Europe and elsewhere to share the burden of increased migration from conflict-ridden countries. Anti-Soros politicians in Macedonia, Poland and some other European countries have attacked foreign-funded groups, including Open Society, for what they see as outside interference in their affairs.

In the U.S., where Mr. Soros is a major contributor to liberal and Democratic causes, he is a lightning rod for conservatives. Open Society has supported efforts to overhaul immigration policies and the criminal-justice system, including prisons, and funded mentoring programs for black and Latino young men. It has supported activists working on issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement.

.. Mr. Trump, whose campaign cited Mr. Soros in a closing ad as part of a “global power structure” the ad said disadvantaged the working class.

.. Despite regularly telling others he was retired, Mr. Soros occasionally stepped back into active trading, such as during the financial crisis, when he helped guide his firm to big gains. Former employees say some past investment chiefs bristled at how Mr. Soros inserted himself in operations, judging them critically on what they felt was short-term performance.

.. Soros Fund Management’s annual returns have averaged around 11% in the past 10 years, according to a person familiar with the figures, well below the 30% of its early decades.

Are Politicians Responsible for Their ‘Base,’ or Is It the Other Way Around?

Political caricatures don’t come much broader than these. Strange was the establishment incarnate; Moore was the Republican electorate’s id made ruddy flesh, an avatar of the latent nativism and conspiracism that Donald Trump’s detractors inside and outside the Republican Party blamed for his rise.

.. This was a “Jurassic Park” vision of the Republican base, in which party leaders, after fecklessly creating and nurturing a monster, find themselves powerless to stop it once the electric fences go out on the island.

.. Reagan’s 1980 campaign won seven percent more of the labor-union vote than Gerald Ford did in 1976, but he won just 10 percent of the nonwhite vote, significantly less than Ford.

.. Many of the major contenders for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination ran explicitly on the idea of bringing nonwhite constituencies into the party — none more enthusiastically than Representative Jack Kemp of New York.

.. Kemp believed that his vision of racial outreach could bring the party control of Washington.

.. Kemp lost to George Bush — himself a self-identified base-broadener, but one whose candidacy was marred by the race-baiting “Willie Horton” ad

.. Lee Atwater, Bush’s campaign manager, vowed — and later apologized for vowing — that “by the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’s running mate.”

.. It was a testament to the party’s cynicism, naïveté or both that Atwater, in taking the helm of the Republican National Committee after Bush’s victory, was tasked with improving outreach to black and Hispanic voters.

.. The base had, in Gingrich’s formulation, become something new: not a coalition to be expanded but a force to be propitiated or crossed at Bush’s peril. It was not there to be molded by politicians like Jack Kemp. It was there to give orders to them, through mediums like Gingrich

.. When Bob Dole — who had campaigned for the 1988 nomination on, as his spokeswoman put it, the “need to broaden the base of the Republican Party” — said he had no “litmus test” for the abortion views of his running mate in 1996, he drew harsh words from James Dobson

..  It implies that the Republican Party is not a coalition of interests but the tribune of an essentially unified tribe.

.. Conservatives often point out, correctly, that today’s Democratic base is, if anything, more monolithic in its policy views than its Republican counterpart, with more uniform positions on issues like abortionimmigration and taxes.

.. Republican voters, meanwhile, passed over candidates with actual fiscal-conservative and evangelical bona fides, like Ted Cruz, in favor of one whose only sustained and consistent point of contact with past Republican practice was the winking subtext of the party’s white identity politics, delivered without the wink. One party’s base knew what it believed; the other’s knew who it was.