Blow and Collins

In “Dangerous World, Serious Leaders” Mr. Blow says bombast is hollow, braggadocio is meaningless, and this country needs its most stable and steady hands to guide it.  Ms. Collins considers “The Republicans’ Sin of Endorsement” and has a question:  Really, what have they got left to lose?  Here’s Mr. Blow:

There is starting to be a sad, somber repetitiveness to the horror of terror attacks and the world’s reaction to them.

The attacks in Brussels this week brought the familiar ritual: initial shock, local emergency response, global condemnation and solidarity, signs of heroism, and resilience from those most closely affected.

This is the new normal. This is the new world of terrorism.

And there are no quick and easy fixes for the madness of madmen, contrary to what some might have us believe. We can seek to gather multinational coalitions with regional participants to fight the threat (something the Obama administration has been trying to do) and have an aggressive air campaign (which the Obama administration is doing), but the threat will not be easily dislodged. People can be killed, towns can be reduced to rubble, but ideas die slow deaths.

So long as free people live in free societies and increasingly cluster in urban areas, they will be soft and easy targets for those who have apocalyptic dreams of watching the world burn.

Although the terror attacks that have reached Western societies are a particular thing — what the columnist Maajid Nawaz calls a “global jihadist insurgency” — terrorism itself is simply an extension of the tremendous terror rocking some Middle Eastern and African countries.

According to the most recent Global Terrorism Index report published by the Institute for Economics and Peace:

“In 2014 the total number of deaths from terrorism increased by 80 percent when compared to the prior year. This is the largest yearly increase in the last 15 years. Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been over a nine-fold increase in the number of deaths from terrorism, rising from 3,329 in 2000 to 32,685 in 2014.”

The report continued:

“Terrorism remains highly concentrated with most of the activity occurring in just five countries — Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. These countries accounted for 78 percent of the lives lost in 2014. Although highly concentrated, terrorism is spreading to more countries, with the number of countries experiencing more than 500 deaths increasing from five to 11, a 120 percent increase from the previous year. The six new countries with over 500 deaths are Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Cameroon.”

And yet, we have presidential candidates in this country responding to the expansive globalism of this threat with myopic nativism and the threat of torture, things that would likely make America less safe, not more.

This is a serious time in need of serious leaders. This country needs now, more than ever, its most stable and steady hands to lead it through a world that has become incredibly dangerous. Bombast is hollow. Braggadocio is meaningless.

And global terror isn’t the only threat this country and its allies face. There are others, some of which overlap and intersect with terror.

Syria is a failed state, and the overwhelming stream of refugees fleeing that country has put a tremendous strain on Europe.

Afghanistan is experiencing a resurgence of the Taliban.

North Korea, a nuclear state, keeps acting erratically and firing missiles into the ocean, and Iran recently conducted ballistic missile launches that drew an administration rebuke as “provocative and destabilizing.” As The New York Times reported, the statement “all but accused the Iranians of having violated a United Nations Security Council resolution that calls on them to refrain from such acts.”

China is building islands in the contested South China Sea and is deploying missiles to another island in the area. Russia seems nostalgic for its Soviet Union glory days. Libya is a disaster.

And then there is the über threat of global warming, the instability it can cause and the ways it might contribute to conflict. According to a 2014 report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

“Although there is little agreement about direct causality, low per capitaincomes, economic contraction, and inconsistent state institutions are associated with the incidence of violence. These factors can be sensitive to climate change and variability.”

This idea of global scarcity of resources, opportunity and employment is not to be taken lightly.

In a 2011 book by Jim Clifton, the chairman and C.E.O. of Gallup, titled “The Coming Jobs War,” he pointed out:

“The primary will of the world is no longer about peace or freedom or even democracy; it is not about having a family, and it is neither about God nor about owning a home or land. The will of the world is first and foremost to have a good job. Everything else comes after that.”

He explained that of the world’s five billion people over 15 years old, three billion said they worked or wanted to work, but there were only 1.2 billion full-time, formal jobs, and concluded:

“The war for global jobs is like World War II: a war for all the marbles. The global war for jobs determines the leader of the free world.”

All of these weighty issues and more are pressing down as we consider who will be our next president.

We can’t put our fate and the world’s into the hands of leaders with small minds and big mouths. This election and everything the next president will face is “for all the marbles.”

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

How can things get worse for Republicans? Jeb Bush turned out to be a terrible candidate. Marco Rubio turned out to be an annoying twit. Donald Trump is a nightmare. Something had to be done, and so the solid, steady moderate elite decided the best strategy was to rally around … Ted Cruz.

Welcome to worse.

They were terrified of Trump, whose short list of foreign policy advisers includes a 2009 college graduate with a résumé that boasts he once took part in a Model United Nations. Far better plan to nominate Cruz, whose list includes a guy who wrote an opinion piece suggesting President Obama is a Muslim, and a woman who thinks Senator Joseph McCarthy’s judgment about communists in the federal government was “spot on.”

They thought Trump would be such an unpopular nominee that the party would face a historic disaster in November. Obviously, the way to improve chances was to support the most actively disliked Republican politician in America.

Our question for today is, Why aren’t these people rallying around John Kasich? The Ohio governor is the other Trump alternative, far and away the sanest member of the trio. True, he’s kind of boring, but that doesn’t seem all that terrible a quality when you’re comparing him with Cruz, who is, at his best, excruciatingly irritating.

Senator Lindsey Graham started the trend of people who loathe Ted Cruz endorsing him to be president of the United States. He admitted that Kasich would be a better candidate in November, but claimed that the governor would never get the nomination because he’s “seen as an insider.” Mitt Romney, who announced he’d be voting for Cruz in Utah, made it clear that he likes Kasich. But he said Cruz had a better chance of denying Trump the nomination.

Yes, Romney wanted to make sure he could strike a blow against Trump’s “bigotry” and “xenophobia.” So he threw his weight behind Cruz, who called for police patrols in American Muslim neighborhoods “before they become radicalized.”

“I don’t try to figure them out,” said Kasich in a phone interview. “Everybody decides these things on the basis of — I don’t know what.”

The official Republican world now contains people who took a dive and endorsed Trump, the ones who’ve endorsed Cruz and pretended it was a profile in courage, and the ones still sitting on the fence. They all look miserable.

Wouldn’t you think a few would just say, “Look, I know Kasich is behind in delegates, but he behaves in the way I want our party to be.” It would be nice moment, wouldn’t it? But so far, the list of people who’ve gone there is pretty much confined to one ex-governor.

This week Trump and Cruz had a fight about … their wives. An anti-Trump “super PAC” circulated an old picture of Melania Trump from GQ, posing more or less nude, with the message: “Meet Melania Trump. Your next first lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”

Now, candidates don’t control political action committees, but the Cruz campaign does have a history of dirty tricks, so you could imagine even a less lunatic person than Trump getting angry. Then Trump, in his inimitable way, threatened to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz. Leave the families alone! What this country needs is a bean-free election.

Or at least candidates who can talk about terrorism without being terrifying. After the Brussels bombing, Cruz called for those police patrols, and bragged that he could say something so daring only because he wasn’t afraid of being politically incorrect. Trump hyperventilated about waterboarding. Meanwhile, Kasich issued a statement about international cooperation in the war against terror. You’d think that would have moved somebody.

But no. “Friend — I wanted you to be the first to know that today I am endorsing Ted Cruz for President,” Jeb Bush wrote in an email Wednesday morning. Some political observers believe that he’s trying to protect the political future of his son, George P. Bush, who is currently serving as Texas land commissioner. If that’s the case, non-committed Republicans, you really should consider voting for John Kasich just to make it clear that you are not interested in having any more members of the Bush family in line for the presidency.

“I did get a text from Jeb at 5:30 in the morning, but no phone calls,” Kasich reported.

None of these new converts to the Cruz camp seem to have any actual arguments about Cruz being a good potential president. Bush, in his announcement, complained that “Washington is broken” but made no attempt whatsoever to explain how things would be improved by the nomination of a senator whose sole achievement in office was an effort to shut down the government. Maybe they think if Cruz is the spoiler at the convention, it’ll be easier to shove him away to make room for a brand new superhero? (Looking at you, Mitt.)



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