Friday, December 13, 2019

Boris Triumphant

Last night the Squad received a resounding electoral thumping … in Great Britain. As you know, a party led by an anti-Semitic socialist lost bigly to one Boris Johnson, the British version of Donald Trump.

It was a chastening defeat, to say the least. For the record, I offered a post about Johnson last week, leaning heavily on Andrew Sullivan’s analysis. As it happened, Sullivan saw it correctly.

Anyway, the British people won. The same British people who voted to exit the European Union in 2016, only to have their will defied by politicians and bureaucrats declared boisterously that they meant it. Those who tried to nullify a referendum in the name of democracy lost.

And, let us not forget the weak sisters of Western Europe lost. Great Britain stood alone against the Axis in World War II. They did it again last night. They repudiated the leadership of the European Union, a group I have been calling the weak sisters. They did not want to be ruled by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde and Frederika Mogherini.  Can you blame them?

Thus, the place of the European as a counterweight to American power has been seriously diminished. And not a moment too soon. A continent that prefers regulation to innovation, that submits to Iranian tyranny, that can only assert itself by insulting the American president… that vision, that fantasy is over.

Johnson’s victory was so decisive that news organizations could not spin it as anything but a victory. They could not salvage a face saving spin for the defeated Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn… a man who has just resigned his position as head of his party.

So, some snippets from the news. First, from the New York Times:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party won a commanding majority in the British Parliament, a striking victory that redraws the lines in British politics and paves the way for the country’s exit from the European Union early next year.

The Conservatives were projected to win 364 seats in the House of Commons, versus 203 for the Labour Party, according to the BBC, with almost all of Parliament’s seats decided. That would give the Conservatives about a 75-seat majority, their largest since that amassed by Margaret Thatcher in 1987.

As the results flowed in from individual districts, they pointed to a radical reconfiguration  of Britain’s political map. The Conservative Party was winning dozens of Labour seats in the industrial north and Midlands, shattering the so-called red wall that has undergirded the Labour Party for generations.

For Mr. Johnson, whose brief tenure has been marked by serial defeats in Parliament, legal reversals and ceaseless upheaval, it was a resounding vindication. Defying predictions that he would be tossed out of his job, the prime minister is now assured of leading Britain through its most momentous transition since World War II.

For Britain, which has lurched from crisis to crisis since the 2016 Brexit referendum, its future seemingly shrouded in perpetual uncertainty, the election provided a rare moment of piercing clarity.

Kudos to the reporters for that last phrase: “a rare moment of piercing clarity.” Don’t you think that perhaps we in American could use one of those… to see through the political miasma?

Significantly, the Johnson victory broke through what was considered Labour Party power in working class districts. Many of these flipped decisively toward the Tory Party, suggesting that leftists ideologues do not represent the interests of middle classing working people. Assuming that they ever have.

While we await Andrew Sullivan’s commentary, we will settle for New York Times foreign affairs columnist, Bret Stephens. Fair enough, ever since he landed at the Times Stephens has gone a bit dyspeptic, but still, he emerges from his cocoon today to tell us that he is rooting for Boris Johnson. By his lights we all should be doing the same.

Stephens offers this:

I’m rooting for him, first, because the alternatives are much worse. Waiting to feast on the entrails of a failed Johnson premiership are, from the left, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn — a man who called for closing down NATO, eulogized Hugo Chávez, and kept company with Holocaust deniers — and, from the right, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage — a man who said he’d get rid of anti-discrimination employment laws because “there should be a presumption for British employers in favor of them employing British people as opposed to somebody from Poland.”

As between (a) an anti-Semitic bigot and (c) an anti-immigrant bigot, I’ll choose (b): Boris, who has even called for amnesty for some illegal immigrants.

And apparently, Johnson wants to make Britain great again. Stephens approves:

I’m rooting for him, third, because the United States not only needs Great Britain. It needs Britain great.

One of the frequent criticisms of Johnson and other Brexiteers is that, like Victorians born a century late, they have an exaggerated sense of the U.K.’s significance. Yet for all of its relative decline, Britain has four of the world’s 10 best universities, the fifth-largest economy, the fourth-largest navy (by tonnage), and a globally deployed military. It is second only to the U.S. in Nobel laureates, just as London is second only to New York as a global financial capital. Its literary and artistic scenes remain fecund and globally influential, and its political leaders, until dismal Theresa May, always punched above their weight.

All this means Britain remains a pillar of the Western world. If Johnson fails badly, more than just his mandate or career go down with him.

That would be, the Anglo-Saxon world, Anglo-Saxon culture… the kind that brought us the Industrial Revolution, free enterprise, parliamentary democracy and human rights. You know, the one that has been routinely excoriated for promoting white privilege.

As it happens, Stephens believes that Johnson is going to succeed, despite it all:

And yet I have an inkling that he isn’t going to fail. His mistakes are many, but many of them are venial: He was sacked by The Times of London, for instance, for making up a quote concerning the love life of King Edward II (1284-1327). He has loads of enemies, but by many accounts he has a gift for personal friendship and, unlike his three immediate predecessors, a deep political base. He has a profound sense of history, and writes remarkably well about it. His two terms as mayor of London involved some harebrained schemes, but he still managed to leave office with a near-60 percent approval rating in a city that leans left. His close association with the Brexit campaign gives him a chance, as May never had, to command its allegiance.

He has charisma. He’s eloquent and disarming. He is capable of winning people over.

He’ll need to, if he’s going to bring Britain out of the political deadlock that led to the crushing defeats of May’s Brexit plan. He’ll need it, too, to negotiate a trade deal with the U.S., which Johnson has promised and which post-Brexit Britain cannot do without. For once, Britons should be grateful that Johnson, who in 2015 described Donald Trump as “clearly out of his mind,” has done so much to cultivate a relationship with the president.

Johnson is often compared to Trump, but it’s inapt. Trump is a lout masquerading as a political virtuoso. There’s reason to suspect the new prime minister is much closer to the opposite. For Britain’s sake, but not just Britain’s, I hope that’s true.

As it happens, one could argue that without Donald Trump we would not have had Boris Johnson. One might even argue that the weak sisters of Western Europe were function as Obama satraps.

As of now, President Trump, who is apparently not a political virtuoso, is making the Democratic Party look like a gaggle of brain dead bigots and sanctimonious hypocrites. They can do no better than follow the Squad into the ditch,by putting on a partisan show trial about impeachment. The more the American people see it for what it is, the worse it will be for Democrats.

Trump may not be a political virtuoso, but, given today's Democrats, he does not need to be.


Anonymous said...

Trump is a lout masquerading as a political virtuoso? Is he kidding? Does he think Joe Biden is a political virtuoso? Does he think Schiff is one? LOL.

P.S. Big congrats to Boris Johnson!

Anonymous said...

How many times have they voted to leave the EU again? I dont really know it could have all happened before a hundred times over now I don't care anymore either way.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Bret Stephens is pure Bobo.