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The Action Is Not All in Washington

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

   WASHINGTON -- As the race for the presidential nomination enters the pandemonium stage, I take solace in the soothing wisdom of my friend the British historian, Paul Johnson. He writes: "America is a big country, with vast regions and endless opportunities for polycentrism." Another way of putting it is that America is a federalist system with endless opportunities for variation. It is always a mistake to focus too intensely on Washington or New York. What about Indianapolis, or Wichita, or Raleigh, North Carolina?


        Today the campaign for the Democratic nomination is entering an eerie stage. The campaign for the Republican nomination is entering a terminal stage. Yet out there in America things are taking place that should be reassuring.

        Over the weekend here in the Washington area, the Conservative Political Action Conference held its yearly meeting. It was as big as ever. One would think that every conservative who is anyone would have showed up, but that is not the case. In America today there is a huge population of conservatives. They are, at any one time, gathering in dozens of different places, to discuss issues closer to home and to act. In the Midwest, the West, the South, even the Northeast -- each area of the country has its own distinct government atrocity to put down. And ever since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the conservatives have been organizing often with the aid of the public-spirited Koch brothers or the Heritage Foundation.

        So late last week, I ventured to Raleigh to test the waters. There the estimable Civitas Institute brought together some 650 concerned citizens to strategize about government atrocities, public education atrocities, public health care atrocities, and more ... atrocities. They had hammered out alternatives to the statist panaceas, and they had cooked up a few new solutions of their own. Heidi Cruz, wife of candidate Cruz, was there to state her husband's case; so was David Limbaugh; and to talk of his own tribulations at the hands of the government, Dinesh D'Souza. It almost felt like I had never left Washington, and it is inspiring to think that such conferences are held nationwide. An organization like Civitas exists in most states. There is a lot of energy in America, and it is being expended all across the country.


        At the present moment the news from Washington is that the Republicans are intent on mass suicide. Millions of dollars are being raised to cut down Donald Trump. Then Marco Rubio will cut down Ted Cruz, finally John Kasich will poison Rubio's souffle, or maybe not. Perhaps some other variant will befall the Republicans en route to their national convention. Then perhaps they can again nominate Robert Dole or the ever-ready Mitt Romney.

        Actually, I expect something quite different to take place. The Republican Convention will nominate one of the remaining candidates, and he will triumph in the fall. Because over in the Democratic race there are only two candidates, one with a hippie past and a very timid present. And the other with a luridly variegated and wild past that is about to catch up with her. I think things will look very different in the Democratic race by the summer.

        Last week, Clinton's former aide Bryan Pagliano was granted immunity by the Justice Department. I have been predicting this for weeks. Pagliano was in charge of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal server. Now we know that the Washington Post was wrong on March 3 when it said that no grand jury has been at work. A grand jury has been at work, and Pagliano is no longer hiding behind the Fifth Amendment. Prosecutors would not allow immunity for no reason. This will not be a replay of Webb Hubbell's uneventful appearance before a grand jury back in the 1990s. As Jed Babbin wrote the other day in The American Spectator, "Pagliano's immunity agreement is a strong indication that several people, almost certainly including Clinton, will be indicted." That is what makes the present stage of the Democrats' nominating process eerie.


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