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Other writers, on Hillary, Trump and President Obama

Other Writers

Hillary vs. the sharing economy

Veronique de Rugy in Reason: During a recent economic address by Hillary Clinton to soft-launch her “growth and fairness economy” plan, she rightfully noted that we “need new ideas” to combat slow economic growth and the lack of opportunities for some Americans. But then she proceeded to offer outdated and failed policies that would guarantee the United States remains stuck in the 20th century forever.

Nowhere was this more visible than in her attack on the sharing economy—a term used by my colleagues who are experts on technology policy at the Mercatus Center to describe “any marketplace that uses the Internet to connect distributed networks of individuals to share or exchange otherwise underutilized assets.”

Without mentioning companies such as Uber, Airbnb, and Lyft by name, Clinton explained that “many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home or even driving their own car.” As she remarked, that’s a good thing because this “on-demand, or so-called gig, economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation.”

But don’t get too excited. She immediately tempered her praise for the ability of consumers to contract directly with producers because it raises “hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.” That reflection was quickly followed by a promise to stifle those disruptive forces with more “workplace protections.”

Donald Trump builds, burns his brand

Charles M. Blow in the New York Times: Donald Trump is exactly what the Republican Party deserves.

The Republican Party has nurtured anti-immigrant, xenophobic nastiness for years, but it has tried to do so, at least at the national level, in language that disguised it as a simple issue of law and order.

Trump has blown all that to bits.

Trump is now leading in the polls as measured by support of likely Republican primary/caucus voters, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released this week. Although, it should be noted, he leads with only 17 percentage points in the crowded field, just three points ahead of Jeb Bush, a gap that is still within the poll’s margin of error.

But Trump leading in the polls is all the media needs to allow Trump to also lead the debate. There is nothing a television camera likes more than spectacle.

Let me be clear: Trump will not be the president of the United States. But I firmly believe that Trump not only knows that, he doesn’t want to be president. Trump is brand-building. This is all free publicity for a salesman in the business of selling himself.

There is a cottage industry among some public people that is breathing new life into the adage “all press is good press.” These people use ignobility as an elevator; they inflame their way to infamy. They get the country talking and their names trending, then they turn that cultural currency into hard currency.

Every minute Trump is on your television screens, it’s good for Trump. Every time Trump’s name is mentioned on social media, it’s good for Trump. Every time someone writes about Trump, it’s good for Trump. This column is good for Trump.

Obama echoes Reagan on Iran

E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post: When President Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in November 1985, he whispered to the Soviet leader: “I bet the hard-liners in both our countries are bleeding when we shake hands.”

Reagan had a point. His inclination to negotiate with the Evil Empire left many of his conservative friends aghast. In an otherwise touchingly affectionate assessment of the 40th president’s tenure, my Post colleague George F. Will said that Reagan had “accelerated the moral disarmament of the elevating wishful thinking to the status of political philosophy.”

Few metaphors are perfect; Iran is not the Soviet Union. But the Reagan legacy is worth pondering to understand why, barely hours after the nuclear deal with Iran was announced, so many of President Obama’s critics leapt to conclude that the accord, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, would “only embolden Iran — the world’s largest sponsor of terror.” Many of the president’s supporters were just as fast off the mark in backing him.

No doubt the instant responses can be explained partly by partisanship and by whether the responder has faith in Obama. But these reactions also had much to do with attitudes toward the proper approach to an adversary.

Reagan’s willingness to bargain with Gorbachev weakened the hard-liners in the Soviet Union, creating the opening for its collapse. And there are parallels between the two-step approaches that both Reagan and Obama took to a problematic foe. The Gipper was very tough at the outset of his presidency, and the Soviet Union realized it could not keep up with U.S. defense spending. Gorbachev came to the table. Obama got our allies to impose much tougher sanctions, and Iran came to the table.