Things won’t change much after the midterm elections and other comments

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Political scribe: Don’t Expect Much Change After Tuesday

Conventional wisdom says Republicans are likely to pick up some Senate seats while losing control of the House — which may sound “like a victory for Democrats,” though The Week’s Matthew Walther is “not so sure.” Short of non-stop House investigations of Team Trump, none of the Democrats’ policies will be enacted “unless they retake the White House, and they know it.” As for the GOP, besides the tax cut, most of Trump’s accomplishments “have nothing to do with Congress.” The “fundamental reality of American political life — an irrelevant Congress, an embattled president who does things unilaterally while pushing back against partisan investigations” — is “unlikely to be altered” by the midterm results. Voters, “without realizing it, seem happy with the status quo.” And “that is exactly what they are going to get.”

Culture critic: Anti-Semitism Is Bipartisan

On Saturday, reports Tablet’s Liel Leibovitz, the NYPD arrested a man for allegedly vandalizing a Brooklyn synagogue and trying to set other Jewish institutions on fire. But James Polite is not a white supremacist, nor is he “a disgruntled loner”: He is the African-American son of Jewish foster parents, attended Brandeis and worked on anti-hate-crime programs for then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Yet all this apparently was “not enough to prevent him from contracting the mind-numbing virus of anti-Semitism,” which is “so pernicious precisely because it eats through ideological convictions, afflicting left and right alike.” So when a former president stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Louis Farrakhan, as Bill Clinton recently did, “is it any wonder that some are prone to listen when Farrakhan refers to Jews as termites?”

Security analyst: Not the Military’s Job To Oppose Trump

Both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joe Dunford have been subjected to calls that they oppose President Trump’s vow to send troops to stop the migrant caravan. But “this misapprehends the proper role of the military leadership,” contends James Joyner at The National Interest. Any misgivings notwithstanding, “it is well within Trump’s remit as commander-in-chief of the armed forces to order their deployment for that purpose,” and “many other presidents have done so.” Mattis and Dunford may disagree with the policy and “owe it to the nation” to give Trump their best advice. But they must either “carry out the order to the best of their ability or resign their posts in protest and continue their fight from the outside.”

Conservative: Matthew Shepard, the Making of a Martyr

The cremated remains of Matthew Shepard, the college student beaten and left to die in Wyoming back in 1998, were recently buried in Washington’s National Cathedral — an honor that, as Christine Rosen at The Weekly Standard notes, has been granted to “only a handful of Americans.” Because he was gay, the killing was assumed to be a vicious hate crime. But there is “a competing narrative” that the LGBTQ community largely refuses to acknowledge: ABC News, in a lengthy 2004 report, found the killing was actually about “drugs and money,” not bias. Shepard, it turns out, “was using drugs, including crystal meth,” and was a well-known denizen of the crime-ridden Laramie party scene. But “identity politics has rendered it impossible for a large swath of people on the left to reckon honestly with the facts of someone’s life if that person is designated a progressive hero or victim.”

Foreign desk: Mohammed bin Salman Isn’t Indispensable

Some of the Middle East’s most powerful rulers, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, are quietly lobbying the Trump administration to stand behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi killing. Their argument, according to Bloomberg’s Bobby Ghosh, is that MBS’s survival “is essential to the kingdom’s stability and to the containment of Iran.” But this is “an old, thoroughly discredited trope deployed in the support of Middle Eastern tyrants for decades.” Fact is, stability is “the House of Saud’s strongest suit.” Nor does Israel truly need MBS, given “Netanyahu’s own astute cultivation of regional relationships that were once thought impossible.”

— Compiled by Eric Fettmann

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