The Wall Street Journal - 14.09.2019 - 15.09.2019

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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. **** Saturday/Sunday, September 14 - 15, 2019 |A

rons who housed the terrorists who
killed 3,000 of us 18 years ago this
week, to Camp David. Camp David!
The august retreat where presidents
host great nations and great allies.
Where FDR met with Churchill and
Reagan walked with Thatcher.
No one who knows what history
IS would do this. No one who knows
the American people would do it. No
one who felt 9/11 in his bones would
do it. But a guy going for a cheap
handshake and a triumphant photo
would. It’s the kind of idea a mental
case might readily entertain.
By my observation something is
going on with Mr. Trump’s support-
ers. They now concede much more
about him in private than they did in
the past. They use words like “un-
predictable” or “emotional” or “a lit-
tle chaotic.” They say, “Well, he may
be crazy but maybe that’s what’s
needed to keep his enemies hop-
ping.” He may not be a good man,
they concede, but the swamp has de-
feated good men.
What is interesting is that they
no longer say what they used to—
“You’ve got it wrong, he’s stable, a
successful businessman, a realist.”
And they no longer compare him to
His most frequent public defend-

ers now believe he’s a screwball,
which is why they no longer devote
their time to lauding him but to at-
tacking his critics.
They’re uncomfortable. He is
wearing his own people down.
To Thursday night’s debate:
The great question isn’t who got
the most time or who got in a good
shot, those things are rarely as im-
portant as they seem at the moment.
The real question is: Did the candi-
dates in the row of podiums show
any sign that they are aware they’re
going too far left? That they have
come across in previous debates as
extreme and outside the main-
Maybe a little. There seemed to
be some recalibrating. No one
bravely declared they’ll outlaw all
private health insurance. Ms. Warren
in fact repeatedly and rather bra-
zenly ducked the question. It must
be showing up in her polls that tell-
ing more than 100 million people
you’ll take away their health insur-
ance isn’t a “popular idea.” No one
called for open borders, or federal
funding for abortions for transgen-
der women. There was a lot of iden-
tity politics and autobiography.
My first impression was that so
many of the contenders are such ac-

Everyone Knows the Truth About Politics

For instance:
Everyone knows Donald Trump
can be taken in 2020, but everyone
doubts the ability of the current
Democratic field to do it. Everyone
knows Elizabeth Warren has suc-
cessfully created and inhabited a
persona—the determined, high-en-
ergy fighter full of plans—and is kill-
ing it. She knows she has gone too
far left for the general electorate
and will introduce nuance and an air
of greater moderation once she gets
the nomination. Everyone knows
Everyone knows the Democratic
moderates are going nowhere and
cluttering up every stage, but no one
minds their being there because
they make the party look sane.
Joe Biden may have about 30% in
the polls, but that means all the can-
didates to his left have about 70%.
Mr. Biden’s front-runner status as a
perceived moderate (changes in his
stands leave him to the left of Hil-
lary Clinton) doesn’t demonstrate
that the party’s primary-goers tilt
moderate. It shows they’re mostly
progressive, and the perceived mod-
erate is getting that part of the base.
The Democratic Party really HAS
gone sharply left, and everyone
Shall we be rude? Oh, let’s. Every-
one knows Donald Trump is a men-
tal case, including I believe Donald
Trump. Why else does he keep in-
sisting he is an “extremely stable ge-
nius”? It’s as if he knows a lot of
people are certain he’s neither.
It would be nice here to say, “I
don’t mean mental case. I mean his
mind is a raucous TV funhouse; that
he is immature, unserious, and at
the mercy of poor impulse control;
that he doesn’t exercise power intel-
ligently but emotionally, and with an
eye, always to personal needs.” But
mental case will do.
He just fired his third national se-
curity adviser, by Twitter, under
contested circumstances. They had
apparently argued: the president
was going to invite the Taliban, that
band of gangsters, mooks and mo-

complished TV performers with such
rounded, practiced sentences that
are so dramatically delivered. It is
hard to remember but JFK and
Nixon were a little shy to be on TV
in their 1960 debate, and a little for-
mal. Jimmy Carter, too, 20 years
later, with Reagan—they had a cer-
tain muted tone. Up until 2000 or
so, national TV was a place where
you would appropriately feel ner-
vous. Now candidates are so smooth,
so TV-ready. Performers in their nat-
ural habitat.
This isn’t new, of course. But each
cycle it seems a little more so, and a
little more unsettling.
Ms. Warren was relatively quiet,
almost recessive during the first half,
and emerged unscathed as Bernie
Sanders and Mr. Biden went at each
other. Mr. Biden was fine. As Mr.
Sanders spoke and gesticulated in
his wide and ranty way I remem-
bered that sometimes the thing that
works against you is also what works
for you. He comes across like your
angry Menshevik uncle in the attic,
but like that uncle he means what he
says, is sincere and convinced, and
that has its own power.
I close with a last thing everyone
knows, if they only think a minute.
When we talk about politics we all
obsess on alt-right and progressive
left, those peas in a sick pod, and no
one speaks of the center, which is
vast and has something neither way-
left nor way-right has, and that is a
motivating love for America itself,
and not for abstractions and ideolo-
gies and theories of the case. As a
group they are virtually ignored, and
yet they are the center of everything.
They include those of the left who
are no longer comfortable in a new
progressive party. And rightists not
comfortable with Mr. Trump, or with
the decisions and approaches of the
Bush era. It includes those experienc-
ing ongoing EID—extreme ideological
In this cycle they continue to be
the great ignored. And everyone

Democratic presidential candidates talk after the debate in Houston, Sept. 12.



verybody knows ev-
erything.” That mor-
dant observation is
the first of Burnham’s
Laws. James Burnham
was a significant mid-20th century
figure, a public intellectual and po-
litical philosopher who started out
on the left—as a young follower he
carried on an extensive personal
correspondence with Leon Trotsky—
and became in time an eloquent foe
of totalitarianism in whatever its
manifestation. While at National Re-
view, which he helped found, he gave
his colleagues 10 maxims or laws
about the realities of life. No. 5 is
the wholly true, “Wherever there is
prohibition there’s a bootlegger.” No.
10 has become well known: “If
there’s no alternative, there’s no

But most arresting, and richest in
inference, is No. 1, which I always
pare down to EVERYONE KNOWS.
The big secret is that it isn’t a se-
In its personal application Burn-
ham’s No. 1 Law suggests you can’t
successfully or forever conceal any-
thing bad about yourself and your
nature, it will all come out and prob-
ably has. People see more than you
know. Don’t focus on concealment
but creation. In political terms it
suggests: everyone knows your es-
sential position and future necessi-
ties; your close-hold campaign strat-
egies are actually obvious.

The Democrats are

scrambling, Trump is a

screwball and the sane

center is getting ignored.

By Peggy Noonan


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Jane Austen Understood That Manners Maketh the Man


hat accounts for the popu-
larity of Jane Austen over
the past three decades,
whether on the page or adapted to
the screen? One could argue that the
appeal turns on a taste for simple ro-
mantic plots in which heroes and her-
oines find their perfect complements,
or on a fondness for empire gowns
and ribboned bonnets. These things,
no doubt, contribute to Austen’s hav-
ing become, as my editor once put it,
“a best-selling brand.” But what I
think is central to her popularity is a
longing for civility in an age of
coarseness and meanness.
Civility is a hallmark of Austen’s
novels. Beginning in the 20th cen-
tury, when academics began to take
Austen seriously, there was a ten-
dency to diminish this aspect of her
work. Lionel Trilling, the great
mid-20th century literary critic, was
an important advocate for including
Austen in the university curriculum.
He nonetheless distinguished be-
tween those who liked Austen for the
right reasons (i.e., her moral depth
and astute satire) and those who
liked her for the wrong ones.
He associated the latter group,
whom he called “Janeites,” with a fe-
male readership who were fixated on
the trappings of the society she de-
picted: the formal gatherings, picnics
and balls in which people behaved in
carefully prescribed ways. Trilling and
others distinguished between depth
and surface in Austen—between what
her novels were “really” about and the
seemingly superficial elements that
embroidered her world.
But the dichotomy is a false one. It
reflects a disregard for manners that
began to emerge in the mid-20th cen-
tury and has only accelerated since
then. In fact, morals and manners,
depth and surface, are inseparable in
any healthy society. The profundity
of Austen’s novels is based on this

In Austen, bad or amoral people
are generally vulgar and rude. Some
of these characters can pretend to be
mannerly when it serves their inter-
est. The point is that they cease to be
so when their guard is down or when
they are no longer invested in getting
what they want. This is true of Mr.
Elton in “Emma,” of Wickham in
“Pride and Prejudice,” and of Mary
and Henry Crawford in “Mansfield
Park.” In Austen, manners for bad
people are only skin deep; for good
people, they are the outward expres-
sion of inner values.
Lapses in civility happen in Jane
Austen’s novels, but they then be-
come an index to the perpetrator’s
capacity for empathy. In “Emma,”
the heroine’s rudeness to Miss Bates
is represented as a form of cruelty
that she comes to regret deeply. Mr.
Elton, in the same novel, is rude to
Harriet Smith, but without the abil-
ity to care that he has hurt her. The
difference between these two reac-
tions reflects the difference in these

characters’ moral nature.
In Austen, good manners are also
a conduit for learning about another
person in a careful and deliberate
way. Particularly for a single man and
woman who are first becoming ac-
quainted with one another, this keeps

expectations in check until there is
sufficient information to draw a con-
clusion. When Willoughby dances ev-
ery dance with Marianne in “Sense
and Sensibility,” he shows a disre-
spect for decorum that sets the stage
for his later jilting of her. Because he
has failed to abide by the manners
that govern behavior at balls, he
leads Marianne to assume that he is

committed in his affections. She
therefore suffers acutely when he
transfers his attention to another
(wealthier) woman.
Austen makes clear that good
manners may have an innate compo-
nent (certain people have “natural”
social grace), but that they also need
to be strengthened through practice.
In the communities in which her nov-
els are set, individuals abide by es-
tablished rules in their regular, daily
interactions. When someone new en-
ters their circle, he or she can either
elevate or degrade a character’s con-
duct. One sees this in “Emma” with
the introduction of Frank Churchill.
The heroine temporarily falls under
his egoistic spell and is misled into
being thoughtless and rude. She is
righted by the supremely moral and
mannerly Mr. Knightley.
A modern reader may balk at the
heroine’s positioning between these
two male influences. But if one steps
back and considers the situation
more broadly, one can see this as a

dramatization of the Aristotelian
principle that good role models shape
good character and bad role models
shape bad character.
The word “manners” sounds
prissy and old-fashioned to contem-
porary ears. But Austen presents it as
the need to treat others humanely
rather than instrumentally. It is the
outward, formal expression of re-
spect for others—whether one knows
them well, slightly, or not at all.
So many in our country today feel
disrespected, dismissed and unheard.
They, in turn, have abandoned civil
discourse for unmannerly outrage.
We would go some way to rectifying
the divide in America if we were able
to empower the Mr. Knightleys over
the thoughtless Frank Churchills and
insidiously immoral Mr. Eltons, and
reassert the link between manners
and character, surface and depth,
that Austen dramatizes so eloquently.

Ms. Cohen is a dean and English
professor at Drexel University.

By Paula Marantz Cohen

Her work is now popular
because of its eloquent
portrayal of how politeness
is tied to deeper morality.

Obama’s Incredible Movie Makeover


igher Ground, the produc-
tion company formed last
year by Barack and Michelle
Obama in conjunction with Netflix,
recently released its first film.
“American Factory” is a documen-
tary about a General Motors plant
in Moraine, Ohio, a suburb of Day-
ton. The plant closed in 2008 and
was reopened by a Chinese auto
glass manufacturer in 2015. The
film follows the lives of both the
laid-off American workers and the
Chinese workers brought in to run
the new plant.
It’s a fascinating and at times
moving film. What’s interesting
about it, though, is that it never
once alludes to the part Mr. Obama

played in diminishing the ability of
Moraine’s laid off workers to trans-
fer to other GM plants. The presi-
dent’s role wasn’t indirect and isn’t
a matter of dispute: His administra-
tion’s bailout deal for GM included
a backroom exclusive agreement
with the United Auto Workers.
How does a nearly two-hour film
telling the story of these workers
fail even to mention the direct role
the co-owner of the film’s produc-
tion company played in creating
their hardships? Did the filmmakers
think no one would remember?
A quick refresher. The Obama
administration’s auto bailout highly
favored the UAW and its members.
The GM plant in Moraine was
unionized by the IUE-CWA. So—de-
spite being one of the top GM facil-

ities for quality, efficiency and pro-
duction in the country—it was
shuttered, and its employees were
put at the back of the line when re-
questing transfers to other GM

plants. Any non-UAW employees
looking to transfer were forced to
start as new hires, wiping clean
any wages, tenure, and benefits
built up during careers at other GM
“American Factory” documents
the UAW’s efforts to unionize the
reopened auto glass factory with-
out any mention of the same
union’s direct role in the GM
plant’s closure. The Dayton commu-
nity was left out in the cold—thou-
sands of jobs lost, families devas-
tated, longtime GM workers out on
the street looking for work.
In the GM bankruptcy proceed-
ing, the Obama administration was
prepared to allow the Moraine fa-
cility to be demolished and sold for
scraps. But in August 2010, Sen.
Sherrod Brown and I—along with
other lawmakers of both parties—
called on the Obama administration
to step in and save the plant. The
administration’s initial response
was disbelief. Did we really think a
company would ever come back
and use it for manufacturing
again? I did. Many in the commu-
nity did. Which is why there’s a

thriving factory there now.
In the Obama economy, invest-
ment was tough to come by. With a
punitive and outdated tax code, in-
ternational investment was nearly
impossible to attract. State and lo-
cal officials—especially Moraine
Mayor Elaine Allison—worked re-
lentlessly and were able to con-
vince a Chinese manufacturer to in-
vest in and rebuild this once-great
factory. Today that company em-
ploys several thousand people in
what was its start-up operation in
Of course, none of this took
away the suffering endured by the
community. My father worked at
GM for 44 years, including at the
Moraine GM factory campus, and
was a member of the IUE-CWA. In
Mr. Obama’s GM bailout, he lost his
health insurance coverage. So did
many other retirees.
The hypocrisy of this Obama-
backed film is astounding. Mr.
Obama fails to acknowledge his di-
rect role in creating the hardships
the Moraine workers weathered. He
had nothing whatsoever to do with
the plant’s reopening—that was all
the work of state and local officials
and community leaders.
To put the point bluntly: If the
president had his way, there would
have been no plant to make a docu-
mentary about. “American Factory”
would have been “Abandoned Park-
ing Lot.”

Mr. Turner, a Republican, repre-
sents Ohio’s 10th Congressional Dis-
trict. He served as mayor of Day-
ton, 1994-2002.

The former president has
produced a film about a
factory closing—without
mentioning his own role
in forcing its closure.

By Mike Turner

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. is away.

An exchange between Sen. Kamala
Harris and moderator George Steph-
anopoulos at the Democratic presi-
dential debate in Houston, Sept. 12:

Sen. Harris: I am not a protection-
ist Democrat. Look, we need to sell
our stuff. And that means we need to
sell it to people overseas. That
means we need trade policies that
allow that to happen....Butthe
bottom line is this. Donald Trump in
office on trade policy, you know, he
reminds me of that guy in “The Wiz-
ard of Oz,” you know, when you pull
back the curtain, it’s a really small
Stephanopoulos: Okay. I’m not
even going to take the bait, Senator
Sen Harris: Oh, George, it wasn’t
about you.

Notable & Quotable

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