Overcaffeinated Cassandras continue to forecast an “authoritarian” and anti-constitutional Donald Trump dictatorship. They are mistaken about the near future because, among other reasons, they misread the recent past. Also, they are oblivious to, or at least reticent about, the behavior of Trump’s successor: Joe Biden is, like Trump, an authoritarian recidivist mostly stymied by courts.
When Trump wielded presidential power, he could not even build his border wall. But next time, the fevered forecasters warn, the entire federal apparatus, which mostly loathes him, will suddenly be submissive. Such alarmism, which evidently gives some people pleasurable frissons, distracts attention from the similarity of Trump’s and Biden’s disdain for legality.
Instances of Trump’s anti-constitutional behavior have been amply reported and deplored. Biden’s, less so — although they (e.g., the eviction moratorium, the vaccine mandate, the cancellation of student debt), and judicial reprimands of them, have been frequent. Now, consider the lack of attention to his contempt for the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, and the Senate majority’s supine complicity.
But in some corners of the media, the fact she committed plagiarism matters much less than the reality that it was conservative writers who caught her. The Washington Free Beacon‘s Aaron Sibarium (a reporter at a right-leaning news website) performed the lion’s share of the digging; Christopher Brunet (a conservative writer), Christopher Rufo (a conservative writer and activist), and Phil Magness (a libertarian economic historian) also made important contributions. Astonishingly, some mainstream standards-keepers have decided that the ideologies of the accusers have essentially discredited the accusations.
To make things abundantly clear, the media has never chosen to ignore a plagiarism scandal or write it off as trivial or unfair, merely because the accuser has a political agenda. Plagiarism allegations derailed the 1988 presidential campaign of then Sen. Joe Biden (D–Del.), who was accused by The New York Times and others of copying elements of a speech by British Labour Party Leader Neil Kinnock. Biden also copied from both John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and “did something very stupid”—his words—in law school, when he stole five pages from a law review article and submitted them as part of a legal brief.
You would have to have been born yesterday to think that allegations of plagiarism are a new political weapon invented by conservatives.
The Claudine Gay saga at Harvard University has come to an end, and the usual suspects are making the usual defenses. As Noah Rothman notes in his Corner post from earlier today, the racial hucksters are at it again, claiming that any setback for a black woman — never mind how earned that setback may be — is a function of America’s white-supremacist superstructure. We expect grifters and cranks like Ibram Kendi and Jemele Hill to make those arguments. It would be out of character if they didn’t.
But more than that, what we’ve learned is that the story here isn’t that Gay plagiarized myriad other scholars for her notably thin roster of published works, but that plagiarism itself is an illusion, a distraction waved in front of the public’s face while evil conservative activists work behind the scenes to enact racist fantasies.
It’s also, apparently, an attack against academic freedom, according to Irene Mulvey, the president of the American Association of University Professors. “It’ll chill the climate for academic freedom,” she said, “and it may make university presidents less likely to speak out against this inappropriate interference for fear of losing their jobs or being targeted.”
Or, maybe, Occam’s Razor can apply. Claudine Gay was the president of arguably the most prestigious university in the world. Her résumé was strikingly threadbare even before it came to light that she didn’t have many of her own ideas, and as time went on and the evidence against her academic integrity mounted, it simply became too much for Harvard to bear.
There’s a certain type of journalist with an increasingly utilitarian outlook, i.e. it’s so important the Good Guys win that the ends justify the means and fairness and accurately are subservient to that. This was subtext for a long time but is now being said explicitly.
Yuval Levin is right to caution against the impulse to regulate AI in a state of panic (“Artificial Intelligence and the Law of the Horse,” op-ed, Dec. 22). Biotechnology was in a similar position in the early 1980s as research in recombinant DNA began to yield new medicines, pesticides, crops and more. As today with AI, white papers from the regulatory agencies were piling up. Then-Sen. Al Gore proposed a new agency to govern all biotechnology.
Instead, the White House called together the research and regulatory agencies and instructed them to sort out their concerns and jurisdictions. The result, in 1986, applied existing statutes along with the principle that regulators should focus on actual risks of the product, rather than imaginary risks of the technology used to make it.
A lawsuit that challenged the new framework as the product of an obvious interagency conspiracy was dismissed by a federal judge, who noted, “While it may be unusual for federal agencies to coordinate with each other, it is not actually illegal.”
Turning the analytical spotlight on the economy’s supply side for a change — those who produce things behind the scenes rather than the consumption that takes place in plain sight — [Lael] Brainard reminded us that it is not necessary to have a recession to bring down inflation. Indeed, if we can tap into the world’s labor supply, and if we can bring in more goods, the resulting increases in supply may actually counteract some of Washington’s COVID-rushed printing press money and the inflationary spiral it began.