June 27, 2016

JAMES TARANTO: Donald And The Duck: A weak week for President Obama.

With his presidency nearly 93% over, Barack Obama isn’t technically a lame duck. (That cutoff is approximately 97.5%.) But although he may not quack like a duck, he looked awfully lame last week.

It started, as we noted Monday and Tuesday, with the attempt to transform the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 into a domestic kulturkampf. First the Justice Department scrubbed the attacker’s declarations of allegiance to the Islamic State from a publicly released 911 transcript—a decision consistent with the president’s policy of denying Islamic terror is Islamic, but one executed so ham-handedly that the department was forced to back down within hours.

Then came another futile set of Senate votes on measures to constrain the rights of Americans under the Second and Fifth amendments. Whereupon House Democrats made their Senate counterparts look almost dignified by comparison.

“Using sit-in demonstrations inspired by civil rights protests,” as a Wall Street Journal news story put it, a group of Democrats hijacked the House chamber. Actually, they might have been inspired by House Republicans, who attempted the same thing in 2008. . . .

This time, however, majority Republicans left the lights on, and one of the sitting-in Democrats used his phone to stream video to a social-media site, which C-Span eventually picked up. Thus everyone was able to watch the ridiculous spectacle.

To be sure, it seemed very serious to people who sympathized with the sitters’ authoritarian aims—including most of the reporters covering it. Almost every news organization took to describing the spectacle as “historic,” as if in response to a memo from the Ministry of Truth. And that may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. NewsBusters.org notes that Pelosi, now the minority leader, “openly thanked people in the news media for creating an ‘echo chamber’.”

It’s the Media Party, to steal a term from Ezra Levant. Plus:

All of Obama’s difficulties last week can be seen as examples of his being eclipsed by Donald Trump, who despite trailing in the polls has become the most dominant figure in American politics.

Trump had put the president (and Hillary Clinton) on the defensive for downplaying radical Islam after Orlando, and he has changed the immigration debate by putting more-restrictive policies at the center of his campaign. The credit for bottling up Garland’s nomination goes to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans, but Trump was quick to endorse that effort: “I think it’s up to Mitch McConnell, and everybody else to stop it,” the future presumptive nominee said at a debate Feb. 13, hours after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. “It’s called delay, delay, delay.”

Say what you will about Trump, he’s been going after Hillary, Obama, and Elizabeth Warren like Mitt Romney and John McCain never did.

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