Opinion

Full Speed Backward

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Posted: Jan 10, 2018 5:45 PM
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Full Speed Backward

Some of us can think of far worse accusations to make against a president of the United States than what Donald Trump is now being accused of by his oh-so-reflexive critics. Namely, that he changes his mind -- and his policies -- when they no longer seem to be working. But this isn't inconsistency so much as common sense. Why go on doing the same thing over and over again in the vain hope that this time it will work?

To quote the president's press secretary, whose name, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, will have a familiar ring here in Arkansas: "Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission (in charge of investigating voter fraud), and he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action."

In short: Stop, look and listen when the sound of an approaching political train threatens to drown out everything else. This bipartisan committee, aka the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, was chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The administration isn't giving up its interest in tracking allegations of fraudulent voting; it's just taking another tack when faced by the opposition's determination to derail the whole train.

The leader of the Democratic minority in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, was busy painting the administration's tactical retreat as a great victory for his party. "The commission," he claimed, "never had anything to do with election integrity. It was instead a front to suppress the vote, perpetrate dangerous and baseless claims, and was ridiculed from one end of the country to the other. This shows that ill-founded proposals that just appeal to a narrow group of people won't work, and we hope they'll learn this lesson elsewhere."

Seldom in the history of political infighting has so much been claimed by so few on so little basis. The upshot of all this commotion is that the country no longer has one more bureaucracy cluttering up the federal government. Which may be the best result an overburdened public could have hoped for.

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The moral of the story: Give us a happy ending every time, even if it takes a while and an awful lot of rhetoric to get there. Something tells us this whole raucous episode will prove only a blip on history's radar screen as the Republic goes forward -- in this case by going backward.