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Commentary by Michael Barone

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August 21, 2020

Blue and Red America Differences Could Hurt Democrats By Michael Barone

Give Politico's chief Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza, some credit. After Michelle Obama's speech capping the first night of the Democrats' virtual convention, he tweeted: "Story of an era in two convention speeches: Barack 04: 'There's not a black America and white America . ... there's the United States of America.' Michelle 20: 'my message won't be heard by some people' because 'we live in a nation that is deeply divided.'"

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August 14, 2020

Biden-Harris/Trump-Pence Race 'Tightening' By Michael Barone

Just as Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his vice presidential nominee, and a week before the Democrats' virtual national convention is scheduled to begin at various sites, the basement strategy he's been pursuing, hailed as the political equivalent of "The Emperor's New Clothes," was starting to look tattered and torn.

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August 7, 2020

Ticket Balancing May Be Risky for Joe Biden By Michael Barone

If the presidential nominating process is the weakest part of our political system -- and, perhaps not coincidentally, one not referenced by the founders -- the vice presidential selection process comes solidly in second place. Some might even argue it's a contender for the top spot.

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July 31, 2020

Intensifying Into Violence By Michael Barone

"Protestors in California," tweeted ABC News, about an incident in Oakland, "set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station and assaulted officers after a peaceful demonstration intensified."

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July 24, 2020

Goodbye, After Nearly Two Centuries, to the National Conventions By Michael Barone

If things had proceeded according to schedule, we'd be checking the polls this week to see if Joe Biden had gotten a bounce from his acceptance speech in Milwaukee. That's because the Democratic National Convention was originally scheduled for July 13-16.

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July 17, 2020

Trump Opponents' Worst Traits Are Trump's Fault By Michael Barone

You could say it's all Donald Trump's fault. His bad qualities -- his carelessness about facts, his obstinance about admitting error, his contempt for others' views -- have turned out to be contagious, to the point that you could argue they're more damaging to his opponents than to him.

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July 10, 2020

Behind the Media's Breathtakingly Dishonest Coverage By Michael Barone

"I don't think I've ever seen such dishonest and biased coverage of any event." That was Brit Hume, who has been covering events for more than 50 years for Fox News, ABC News and investigative reporter Jack Anderson.

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July 3, 2020

Generations Defining -- and Redefining -- American History By Michael Barone

Americans naturally tend to think of their presidents in terms of generations, like they do with their families. This may have started with the news that former Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, half a century to the day the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence they jointly drafted.

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June 26, 2020

The Frivolous Democrats By Michael Barone

White college graduates have emerged from the last two decades of elections as an increasingly large and cohesive political bloc -- and one that poses problems for both political parties.

Back in the pre-COVID-19 era, their numbers augmented by recent products of woke campuses, they seemed the dominant force in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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June 19, 2020

Success Breeds Failure By Michael Barone

Success breeds failure. That's a lesson taught by America's current woes, the stumbling attempts to cope with the novel coronavirus, and the all-too-familiar scripts for responding to police misconduct and violent riots.

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June 12, 2020

The New Religion of Woke Anti-Racism By Michael Barone

It's all about religion, isn't it? "(W)e have the cult of social justice on the left," Andrew Sullivan wrote in New York Magazine, "a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical."

Linguist John McWhorter elaborated on that theme in The Atlantic. "(A)ntiracism," he wrote, "is a profoundly religious movement in everything but terminology."

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June 5, 2020

Violent Rioting, as in the 1960s, Hurts the Most Disadvantaged By Michael Barone

"America is burning. But that's how forests grow." So spoke Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

"Riots are an integral part of the country's march towards progress." So read a now-deleted tweet from the Democratic Committee of Fairfax County, Virginia, the affluent Washington suburb with a population of 1 million.

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May 29, 2020

Plague in a Time of Partisanship By Michael Barone

America faces a contagious infection: partisanship. Consider the responses to a poll question about treating the COVID-19 virus with the long-approved and widely used drug hydroxychloroquine.

A Morning Consult poll shows 52% of Republicans supporting the drug and 16% against. At the same time and in the same country, 56% of Democrats opposed it, and 13% were in favor.

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May 22, 2020

COVID-19 Shows We're More Risk-Averse Than Post-World War II Americans By Michael Barone

Do you remember the 1957-58 Asian flu? Or the 1968-69 Hong Kong flu? I do. I was a teenager during the first of these, an adult finishing law school during the second. But even though back then I followed the news much more than the average person my age, I can't dredge up more than the dimmest memory of either.

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May 15, 2020

Who Sent COVID-19 Positive Patients Into Nursing Homes? By Michael Barone

On a multicountry trip to South America, President Ronald Reagan couldn't restrain himself from the inane observation that every tourist finds himself saying about such trips. "Every country is different." So, it seems, is every virus capable of spreading into pandemic.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-19, for example, tended to kill otherwise healthy people in the prime of life, ages 20 to 40. COVID-19 tends to kill people age 70 and above, especially those with comorbidities.

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May 8, 2020

Law Professors for 'Speech Control' By Michael Barone

"In the great debate of the past two decades over freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong." So write Jack Goldsmith and Andrew Keane Woods, law professors at Harvard and the University of Arizona, respectively, in The Atlantic.

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May 1, 2020

Time for Reopening By Michael Barone

Time for reopening? Let's reframe the question. Time for what to reopen? With what precautions? In which states and counties and communities? Mandatory reopening or voluntary?

And who really decides? Governors, mayors, the president? Business owners or consumers? Does anyone really expect what economist Arnold Kling calls "patterns of sustainable specialization and trade" to snap back into pre-COVID-19 shape?

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April 24, 2020

Don't Look for Coronavirus Consensus By Michael Barone

In the clashing commentary about whether lockdowns and stay-at-home orders should continue, or whether businesses and stores should be reopened, one senses a yearning for consensus. Why can't everybody just agree?

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April 17, 2020

Colleges and Universities Threatened By COVID-19 By Michael Barone

Some of America's most beautiful spaces -- our colleges and university campuses -- are closed and empty these days. Schools have canceled their spring semesters and commencements because of the COVID-19 virus; classrooms, dormitories and athletic facilities have been closed.

Students at many institutions are told that they can continue to access instruction online. But exams and grades have been canceled in many cases, and one suspects that online viewership will be sporadic and concentration intermittent.

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April 10, 2020

Will Post-Coronavirus America Blaze New Trails or Just Keep Hunkering Down? By Michael Barone

On my daily walk down a side street, I saw the restaurant with a diagonal cross made of adhesive tape on its sign. Gone was the notice that it would open for takeout; it looked to be closed for good.