Charles Lipson

Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus

University of Chicago

Frequent contributor: 
Real Clear Politics
Spectator | World
The Telegraph
Wall Street Journal

The message from Michigan

Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump won overwhelming victories in Tuesday’s Michigan primary, but their undeniable success doesn’t answer the hard questions facing each candidate in the general election. They won’t get the answers next week on Super Tuesday, either, even though both candidates are expected to win easily.

What are those questions, on which victory in November depends? Oddly, some are the same for Biden and Trump. Can they recapture the reluctant wings of their party, the factions th

Why Trump won South Carolina

So has Trump, and he left victorious.

The “primary show” will have a few encores, mainly on March 5 (Super Tuesday), when multiple states vote, but the outcome is certain. With his decisive win in South Carolina, Donald Trump effectively clinched the Republican nomination. He easily defeated his last opponent, Nikki Haley, in her home state.

Trump’s victory there follows those in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Trump has carried every state. No one else has come close.

Why did Trump win? For

How To Understand Trump's Jeremiad Against NATO Freeloaders

Donald Trump sent a shiver through official Washington and America’s friends around the world recently when he once again fulminated against NATO allies who refuse to pay for their own defense. His specific target was NATO members that failed to meet their pledge of spending at least 2% of their GDP on their military. Their “free riding,” he stressed, is costly to the U.S., Britain, Poland, and other NATO members who pay more than their share.

The problem is not a new one, nor an easy one to so

Fani’s ‘personal relationship’ sinks her and her office

Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, went down in flames on Thursday. A crematorium wouldn’t have been more efficient. Her angry, self-righteous defense added a load of fossil fuel to the conflagration.

It happened at a judicial hearing before Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the election-interference case Willis brought against Donald Trump and eighteen codefendants. The district attorney charged them with acting jointly to overturn the 2020 US presidential e

The stalemate on illegal immigration

Few moments are less promising to reach a bipartisan deal than the months before a presidential election. And few issues present greater obstacles than limiting illegal immigration. Even the word “illegal” is contested. Progressives say it is too harsh. Conservatives say it is simply truthful.

It is no surprise, then, that the compromise “border-security bill” gasped its final breath this week. The Senate bill, negotiated by a Democrat, a Republican and an Independent, met a hostile reception a

Both parties are fumbling the border debate

Given just how unpopular illegal immigration is, it is stunning to see both the likely nominees for president fumbling the issue. That’s political malpractice.

For Biden, the malpractice consists not only in keeping the border open, which is already killing him in the polls, but in resisting the strongest Republican proposals to close it. Every time Republican congressional leaders visit the White House to negotiate, they come away empty handed.

In stiff-arming the Republican proposals, the Wh

Why is Nikki Haley staying in the race?

In classic cartoons, one character occasionally runs off the edge of the cliff and, for a few moments, hangs suspended in mid-air. Confused, he looks at the camera and then looks down. As soon as he looks down and realizes there is no Earth supporting him, he plummets to the bottom of the canyon. Wile E. Coyote faces that fate repeatedly.

Nikki Haley faces it now. So far, she’s refusing to look down. When she finally does, she will see that there is no ground beneath her in the Republican prima

How Ron DeSantis crashed and burned

“Many are called, but few are chosen.” That verse from Matthew (22:14) certainly applies to presidential aspirants. The latest to be called but not chosen is Ron DeSantis, who ended his campaign Sunday. Technically, he “suspended” the campaign, but that was simply to comply with campaign finance laws. In practice, the run is over.

The campaign was a brief, unsuccessful effort by a candidate who began with high promise, based on his success as Florida governor. He won that office, just barely, i

Lloyd Austin’s mistake should be career-ending

The disappearance of defense secretary Lloyd Austin for a few days without notifying the White House, or even the second in command at the Pentagon, is more than a one- or two-day story. It’s a much larger problem. It’s a problem politically for the White House, an opportunity for Republicans, a dilemma for congressional Democrats and a problem for the most powerful military in the world. And, of course, it’s a major problem for Secretary Austin’s future in the position.

Claudine Gay may be gone, but the issues on campus remain

Claudine, we hardly knew ye. Gay’s tenure atop Harvard was the shortest in that university’s history. Yet it was still too long. In mere months, she did enormous damage to one of the world’s great universities.

Gay is not the only one who should be held accountable for this fiasco. The university’s governing board, the Fellows of Harvard Corporation, should be out, too. They chose her, and their choice did enormous damage to the institution. They should pay for it. Their statement accepting her

The Chicago Mayor's Hat Trick of Dreadful Policies

When your city elects a mayor whose main job qualification is “organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union,” you get what you paid for, or rather what the powerful CTU paid for. With Mayor Brandon Johnson, you get a special bonus, an unwelcome one. His proposed policies are unworkable, unaffordable, and deeply unpopular in the city that elected him less than a year ago.

Three policies stand out for particular ridicule. Mayor Johnson wants to:
• Start city-owned and -operated groceries in some unde

Trump off the ballot?

You don’t have to be a Trump supporter (I am not) to be deeply troubled by Colorado court decision to keep Donald Trump off the primary ballot.

Let me count the ways.

First, the reason Trump is being excluded is new, untested, and profoundly controversial in its application here. Basically, the court is saying Trump cannot appear on the primary ballot because of a subsection of the 14th Amendment meant to exclude Confederate officials who waged a civil war against the United States. Using that

If a University President Is Dreadful, Fire Him/Her/They/ Ze/It

Chicken Little was right about the Ivy League. The sky really is falling. The cleanup can’t begin until we hear a resounding crash and see the debris.

That cleanup job should begin with firing some university presidents. The University of Pennsylvania went first. That great university, founded by Benjamin Franklin, announced that “President Liz Magill has voluntarily tendered her resignation.”

Calling it “voluntary” is reminiscent of the famous old radio joke in which a robber confronts Jack B

Hunter Biden’s refusal to testify strengthens impeachment argument

Surprise! Surprise! Hunter Biden just told the House Oversight Committee he won’t to comply with their subpoena for a closed-door deposition.

Hunter’s refusal was delivered by his formidable attorney, Abbe Lowell. Their “stonewall strategy” was foreordained when Hunter chose Lowell several months ago. Lowell is smart, tough and relentless. He’s a “let’s fight” litigator, replacing Hunter’s former counsel, who was known for striking deals. When the sweetheart deal blew up in federal court, Hunte

The IDF is still the most moral army on earth

Now that fierce fighting has resumed in Gaza, international pressure is building on Israel to curb its military campaign and abandon its objective of crushing Hamas. The humanitarian goal of these demands is to protect innocent Palestinians. The political goal is to appease some Muslim states and appeal to anti-Israel “progressives” and Muslims in Europe and North America. What these demands seldom mention is the cost of leaving in place a terrorist organization bent on killing civilians, taking hostages, using civilians to shield its own fighters, and doing its best to wipe Israel off the map.

How Henry Kissinger Helped Shape the Cold War World

The next weeks will be filled with remembrances, fulsome appreciations, and harsh criticism of Henry Alfred Kissinger, who died Wednesday at 100. His prominence is well deserved. The only modern Secretaries of State who rank with him are George C. Marshall and Dean Acheson, who constructed the architecture of Cold War containment in the late 1940s.

Kissinger’s central achievement was updating that architecture to include China, less as an American ally than as a Russian adversary. Until the lat
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