En route to fight one of his many duels, French politician Georges Clemenceau bought a one-way train ticket. Was he pessimistic? "Not at all. I always use my opponent's return ticket for the trip back." Some Hillary Clinton advisers, although not that serene, think her victory is probable and can be assured.
Crucial political decisions often concern which bridges to cross and which to burn. Donald Trump's dilemma is that he burns some bridges by the way he crosses others. His campaign depends on a low-probability event, and on his ability to cause this event without provoking a more-than-equal and opposite reaction.
Political conventions are echo chambers designed to generate feelings of invincibility, sending forth the party faithful with a spring in their steps and hope in their hearts. Who would want to be a wet blanket at such moveable feasts?
Neither the unanimous decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, nor China's rejection of it, was surprising. The timing of it was, however, as serendipitous as China's rejection is ominous. Coming as Republican delegates convene on Lake Erie's shore, the tribunal's opinion about the South China Sea underscores the current frivolousness of American politics, which is fixated on a fictitious wall that will never exist but silent about realities on and above the waters that now are the world's most dangerous cockpit of national rivalries.
America's economy has now slouched into the eighth year of a recovery that demonstrates how much we have defined recovery down.
The report was so "seismic" -- Daniel Patrick Moynihan's word -- that Lyndon Johnson's administration released it on the Fourth of July weekend, 1966, hoping it would not be noticed. But the Coleman report did disturb various dogmatic slumbers and vested interests. And 50 years on, it is pertinent to today's political debates about class and social mobility. So, let us now praise an insufficiently famous man, sociologist James Coleman, author of the study "Equality of Educational Opportunity."
The progressive drive to broadly define and thoroughly eradicate political "corruption" has corrupted politics. But discord is not altogether pandemic in Washington, and last week a unanimous Supreme Court, in this term's most important decision, limited the discretion prosecutors have to criminalize politics.
"See that little stream? We could walk to it in two minutes. It took the British a month to walk to it -- a whole empire walking very slowly, dying in front and pushing forward behind."
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Tender Is The Night"
The Leave campaign won the referendum on withdrawing Britain from the European Union because the arguments on which the Remain side relied made Leave's case. The Remain campaign began with a sham, was monomaniacal with its Project Fear, and ended in governmental thuggishness.
"There's an old adage about a vat of wine standing next to a vat of sewage. Add a cup of wine to the sewage, and it is still sewage. But add a cup of sewage to the wine, and it is no longer wine but sewage. Is this what Donald Trump has done to our politics?" -- Martha Bayles, in the Claremont Review of Books