Biden Did Himself No Favors With Angry, Partisan State of the Union

Newsweek – State of the Union addresses have long been dull, pro forma affairs. Loud cheers resound, offering the pretense of unity over division. Policy disagreements are buried under unifying values. The leader soberly rattles off platitudes about achievements and aspirations, often illusory. The union’s “state” is always “strong,” and the nation’s “best days” invariably “lie ahead.”

No longer. President Joe Biden‘s third and very possibly last State of the Union address descended from this act of staid but dignified statesmanship to what Democrats think they need to shore up his increasingly doubtful reelection bid. In his 67-minute address, reportedly the result of months of intense preparation, Biden was bitter and angry, delivering many of his lines in the loud and cranky tone of a frustrated family patriarch who commands no respect, marshals no enthusiasm, and fears his legacy will spill down a drain of derision. It was not “presidential” by any stretch. It was hysterical and vulgar, desperate and cheap.

Long gone was the “unifier” of those few halcyon days in early 2021, when the newly inaugurated Biden peered out from the armed camp that Washington, D.C., had become to promise he would pursue a moderate course to settle divisions and curb the vitriolic partisanship of former president Donald J. Trump’s term.

Now Biden is a hyperpartisan, blaming the Republicans—who control neither the presidency nor the Senate nor the Washington bureaucracy—for all of his many problems, from Ukraine to border control to tax policy. He broke firm and laudable precedent to take a swipe at the Supreme Court, the Justices of which attended the speech but by tradition registered no reaction to it, for overturning Roe v. Wade, even though the result has been a pro-choice surge in state abortion referendums and the election of Democrats in several important races. Biden claimed Republicans would cut entitlements to fund a tax cut for the rich despite the Republican House majority’s failure to act on entitlements at any time during his presidency. He countered with his own plan to introduce yet more punitive taxation on “wealthy” Americans.

We heard surprisingly little about Biden’s supposed “achievements,” which his loyalists—and those who benefit from his increasingly obvious cognitive decline—tout with nauseating regularity despite all evidence to the contrary and in the face of massive popular disappointment. Instead, the president lashed out, once again broad brushing half the country as authoritarian fascist enemies of democracy on par with the Nazis, the Confederacy, and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Biden has largely avoided mentioning Trump throughout his presidency—perhaps a wise move. Trump currently outclasses him in opinion polls on virtually every issue, as well as in general competence, physical and mental ability, and, according to almost all recent surveys, the popular vote in the all-but-certain rematch that awaits us in November.

But as Biden gets cagier and undoubtedly more worried about his dubious reelection prospects, he simply cannot ignore Trump. Although Biden never said his name (unlike Laken—or, as Biden mispronounced it, “Lincoln”—Riley, a nursing student murdered by an illegal immigrant on Biden’s watch) in the speech, he referred to his “predecessor,” “the former Republican president,” 13 times. There can be no doubt that as November approaches, the race will become increasingly brutal, personal, and negative—characteristics that, Democratic strategists may wish to note, heavily favored Trump in 2016.

Comparing himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt, a trope to which his flatterers never tire of resorting, struck another point about Biden. With a coterie of Washington politicos and a congressional Democratic Party either convinced of, or willing to play along with, the illusion of the incumbent’s soundness and importance, there is now less chance than ever that he will be replaced as the Democratic candidate, as some have speculated. Given his grumpy demeanor, that is probably good news for the Trump camp. Either way, Thursday’s State of the Union did nothing to convince the 82 percent of Americans who believe Biden is simply too old for the presidency to change their minds.

Sweden’s Accession to NATO: A Strategic Assessment

Until Russia invaded Ukraine, the prospect of NATO incorporating either Sweden or Finland was nonexistent.

The European Conservative – On March 7, Sweden officially became the 32nd member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the transatlantic defensive alliance that, since 1949, has bound the United States, Canada, and most European nations in a collective security structure. Sweden’s accession will follow that of Finland, which formally joined NATO in April 2023.

Even before Sweden’s formal accession, Swedish military forces began taking part in an 11-day, joint-service military exercise alongside 12 NATO members. The operation, which is held biannually, is focused on the Arctic “High North,” where Norway, a NATO member since the alliance’s founding, shares a short but strategically significant 195-kilometer land border with Russia. Until now, the operation has been called “Cold Response,” but given the new memberships of Sweden and Finland, which are hosting the exercises along with Norway, it has been renamed “Nordic Response.” More than 20,000 servicemen are involved, with 4,500 hailing from Sweden. The exercises overlap with NATO’s Steadfast Defender 2024 (SD24) operation, a series of maneuvers scheduled between January and May 2024 that involves a total of 90,000 troops drawn from all NATO countries (including Sweden) and constitutes the largest NATO exercises since the Cold War.

Like neighboring Finland, which also joined NATO in the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Sweden abandoned decades of neutrality to protect itself from aggression that could only conceivably come from one large country to its east.

NATO expansion in Scandinavia is one of the great ironies of contemporary geopolitics. A major rationale for Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and for its general hostility to the West over the past two decades, is its perception that the Atlantic alliance is led by treacherous enemies eager to contain, diminish, and ultimately subjugate Russia. A significant part of the Kremlin’s apprehension is rooted in NATO’s expansion eastward, first into the former East Germany, then into Central and Eastern Europe, and finally to the former Soviet Baltic republics and to Balkan countries that Russia has traditionally insisted are under its protection. Possible NATO membership for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova has infuriated Russian strategic planners, who assert continuing hegemony over all post-Soviet space and have acted to prevent those three countries from integrating with Western political and economic structures. The prospect of NATO membership for Sweden and Finland has also galled Russia’s leaders, who periodically threatened unspecified “retaliation” if either country should join the Atlantic alliance.

Russia’s objections have long resounded on the geopolitical stage, sometimes to sympathetic understanding among Western analysts and policymakers, even though NATO is purely defensive, only takes effect when a member state is attacked (this has only happened once: following the September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States), and, for a time in the 1990s, embraced the possibility of altering and pacifying its mission to accommodate some form of Russian involvement.

Until Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, however, the prospect of NATO moving to incorporate either Sweden or Finland was nonexistent. Majorities of both countries’ populations had long opposed NATO membership, even though their governments maintained regular military contacts with the alliance, enjoyed private security guarantees from the Americans, and joined the European Union in 1995 (Finland also adopted the Euro upon the transnational currency’s introduction in 1999, though Sweden has not). Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia and was under Russian rule with limited autonomy from 1809 to 1917, effectively subordinated its Cold War-era foreign policy to Soviet interests in order to stave off invasion in the last months of World War II. It remained quiescent into post-Cold War times, giving the English international relations lexicon the verb “to Finlandize,” meaning “to neutralize” or “to render harmless.”

Despite Sweden’s storied martial past, it preserved a prudent neutrality for over two centuries, successfully avoiding both world wars through cautious diplomacy. During the Cold War, fear of provoking Swedish accession to NATO was a leading factor in the USSR’s more pacific approach to Finland, and in its speedy withdrawal from the Danish island of Bornholm, which the Soviets briefly occupied in 1945-1946 and voluntarily evacuated on assurances that it would remain demilitarized (Bornholm has a voluntary militia but no regular Danish military or NATO presence). After the Cold War, Sweden almost totally disarmed, reducing its army and navy by 90% and its air force by 70%.

This all changed in 2022, not because of Western “expansion,” but because of Russia’s naked aggression. With weeks of the war breaking out, a majority of both Swedes and Finns for the first time favored NATO membership, as did a nearly unanimous consensus among their political leaders. Their governments acted swiftly and won relatively rapid approval from the 30 existing alliance members. In the early weeks of 2024, Sweden’s accession overcame objections from two holdouts: Turkey, which has been angered by the Swedish government’s toleration of anti-Islamic speech and expression, and Hungary, which has objected to official Swedish criticism of its domestic government. By the end of February, however, both countries’ parliaments relented and approved Sweden for membership, following trenchant diplomacy sweetened in both cases by favorable arms deals.

Sweden’s entry into the alliance changes the balance of power in the Baltic Sea, which will essentially become a NATO lake. Except for Russia, whose Baltic access is limited to the environs of St. Petersburg and the former East Prussian exclave around Kaliningrad, all countries of the Baltic littoral are now NATO members. While Denmark and Norway already control egress from the Baltic to the open ocean, and Estonia and Finland bottle up St. Petersburg, Sweden’s membership will vastly improve NATO maneuverability and interception efforts across the maritime region. Just as the Soviets feared in Stalin’s time, Sweden’s membership advances NATO territory hundreds of kilometers closer to Russian territory and military assets. Sweden’s 3,200 kilometer-long mainland eastern coastline protrudes far enough into the Baltic to block any Russian naval movements attempting to gain local tactical or strategic advantage or to deploy nuclear-armed submarines beyond a very small operational area.

Gotland, the Baltic Sea’s largest island, which Sweden barely defended in recent times and officially demilitarized between 2005 and 2016, lies less than 300 kilometers from Russia’s major Baltic naval base at Baltiysk, in the Kaliningrad exclave, and only about another 40 kilometers away from the capital and military headquarters at Kaliningrad itself. NATO jets stationed on Gotland could obliterate both Russian military centers in a matter of minutes, while military units stationed on Gotland could play an effective supporting role for combat operations on the Eurasian mainland. Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city and Scandinavia’s biggest port, offers a close and convenient conduit for NATO troops and supplies if they had to be rushed in to defend the Baltic States, Poland, or Finland against Russian attack. And farther north, where Swedish forces are now engaging in joint maneuvers with future NATO allies, Sweden can augment Norwegian and Finnish operations to monitor and, if necessary, contain Russia’s Northern Fleet, which is armed with about two-thirds of Russia’s second strike, submarine-based nuclear arsenal.

Sweden could also play an essential role in regional military operations. Despite its post-Cold War disarmament, this year it is on track to spend 2% of GDP on the military, the agreed minimal threshold for all NATO members, and one that even some much larger alliance members perennially fail to reach. Sweden’s defense industry is high-tech and already producing or upgrading air and naval vessels of world class sophistication. The country also maintains a “Total Defense Service,” which requires all residents between the ages of 16 and 70 to participate in national service—including military service for those with the requisite training—in the event of a crisis. As Sweden begins to integrate its military into NATO, reports suggest that it is already primed to contribute troops to the alliance’s multinational force in Latvia. And in perhaps the greatest irony of all, with the bulk of Russia’s armed forces tied down in Ukraine, it is nearly inconceivable that Russia can now take any meaningful military initiatives elsewhere, including retaliatory measures against defiant Scandinavian democracies.

Is Merit Really Making a Comeback?

Standardized tests are back for admissions at Yale, but it may not be for the right reasons.

City Journal – Yale University has announced that it will reinstate standardized test requirements for admissions, beginning with students applying to enter in fall 2025. Yale’s “test flexible” approach requires applicants to submit a standardized test score but lets them choose between several options: SAT, ACT, International Baccalaureate, or subject-based Advanced Placement examinations. The policy change follows recent test reinstatements at Dartmouth College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Purdue University.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, about 80 percent of American institutions of higher education, including Yale and almost all other prestigious schools, suspended standardized-testing requirements, usually citing the stress of those upsetting times to favor more “holistic” means of selecting incoming freshmen. Since then, disclosing test scores has been optional. Four years on, most of those institutions still have not returned to the pre-Covid status quo, layering pandemic concerns with the progressive conviction that standardized tests are inherently racist and therefore produce admissions outcomes that perpetuate racial inequality. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions last June made going test-optional all the more necessary, for that option offered a convenient loophole for institutions seeking to favor lower-scoring demographic groups, without creating an evidentiary trail of racial discrimination. An applicants’ personal challenges and experiences (which might be associated with race) could still be factors in admission.

With identity politics coming under pressure at top schools in recent months—and with the value of college education itself increasingly called into question—it may be tempting to believe that Yale and the few peer institutions that have reinstated test scores have seen the light and embraced merit once again. In January, it’s worth noting, a study by Opportunity Insights, compiled by researchers from Dartmouth and Brown University, found a strong correlation between high academic achievement and students who submitted test scores, and a corresponding correlation between lower academic achievement and students who declined to submit their test scores.

One might think that results like these could be of some value to Yale, which has struggled in recent years with free speech and academic freedom issues, overzealous Title IX and DEI enforcement, and a presidential search that has become high-profile with recent resignations of two other Ivy League presidents: Harvard’s Claudine Gay and the University of Pennsylvania’s M. Elizabeth Magill. Yet, the meritocracy argument does not appear to have won the day entirely in New Haven. The university buttressed its announcement of the new admissions policy with the claim that “tests can help increase rather than decrease diversity,” and that “inviting students to apply without any test scores can, inadvertently, disadvantage students from low-income, first-generation, and rural backgrounds.” Mandatory test scores, in other words, are not back in because they produce the most qualified student body but because the university now believes that testing in fact promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion, which presumably remain Yale’s highest priorities.

How did Yale’s leadership reach this conclusion? “When admissions officers reviewed applications with no scores,” the university’s statement maintains, “they placed greater weight on other parts of the application. But this shift frequently worked to the disadvantage of applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds.” The university’s faceless admissions bureaucrats may, for example, have failed to consider that applicants from low-income secondary schools have fewer means besides standardized test scores to demonstrate their talent, while more “privileged” students can produce transcripts with honors courses, long lists of unique study and “enrichment” opportunities, and more informative recommendation letters from dedicated teachers in stabler environments.

“This confidence is founded on evidence,” Yale’s statement concludes without a trace of irony, adding that “we hope to empower applicants to put their best foot forward, and to help admission officers respond to excellent students from all contexts.” If you think “excellent” means “most qualified,” however, you might want to ask Yale administrators what they mean by “contexts.” That word has become awfully complicated of late.

For the Flying Public It’s a Lose, Lose

Newsmax – Did your plane skid off the runway?

Did a side panel of your 737 blow out mid-flight due to “loose bolts?”

Did an engine on your jet burst into flames midair?

Did an oxygen leak prevent your plane from leaving Davos on time?

All of these infelicities of modern air travel have happened in the first weeks of the new year. The last incident victimized hapless Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he tried to leave the World Economic Forum, in fact.

But if you are concerned about the condition of America’s aviation industry, fear not: it is more diverse than ever before, and the good people at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are working hard to make sure it will be even more diverse in the future.

In March 2022, the FAA, a federal agency overseen by the Transportation Department that employs some 45,000 people to manage civil aviation, set a bold new course in implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) among its work force.

“Our inclusive culture is defined by our values,” its statement loftily maintained, “and we continuously seek employees from all backgrounds with distinctive ideas, perspectives, insights and talents … FAA actively supports and engages in a variety of associations, programs, coalitions and initiatives to support and accommodate employees from diverse communities and backgrounds.”

How broadminded of them.

Lest you imagine that an August 2023 New York Times investigation documenting nearly 300 “near misses” by planes landing at or taking off from U.S. airports in a 12-month period following the 2022 diversity guidelines changed any minds, updated diversity guidelines released last month reveal a bit more about what “backgrounds” our federal sky monitors would like to see better represented in an industry in which, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, some 80% of accidents are caused by human error.

Departing from its original focus on making sure more Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, female, disabled, and LGBTQ people were included in its workforce, the FAA now insists that “individuals with targeted or ‘severe’ disabilities are the most underrepresented segment of the Federal workforce” and therefore deserve greater accommodation.

“The mission of the FAA involves securing the skies of a diverse nation,” the diversity statement continues, “it only makes sense that the workforce responsible for that mission reflects the nation that it serves.”

Under the Federal People With Disability (FWD) program, on which the FAA relies, however, “severely” disabled individuals include those whose challenges in life include “hearing, vision, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, epilepsy, severe intellectual disability, psychiatric disability and dwarfism.”

Some of these conditions — such as epilepsy and dwarfism — are precise with applicable medical definitions, but several are alarmingly undefined.

Just what is a “severe intellectual disability,” and would you believe a person suffering from one is competent to manage your flight?

Are FAA employees whose disability is “psychiatric” screened for depression, suicidal ideation or homicidal tendencies in jobs involving decisions that can put hundreds of lives at risk? Or would such different and presumably inequitable treatment be unacceptably discriminatory?

Exactly how deaf or blind can one be before FAA diversity bureaucrats perceive any practical problem in employment involving airplanes flying at hundreds of miles per hour?

These inconvenient details are swept aside.

Scrolling down the FAA website’s protocols, implementing the new diversity plan is largely left to managers, who may engage in “on-the-spot” hiring, which the FAA defines as a “non-competitive hiring method for filling vacancies.”

Caught between FAA commissars who evaluate them at least in part on increasing diversity hiring and a sea of potential employees of varying characteristics and competencies, the temptation for managers will be all too strong to make non-competitive hires among the disabled, regardless of definition, risk, or effect.

In addition to serving official DEI ideology in a way that can only benefit middle management careers, this would also eliminate the often laborious process of competitive evaluation among job candidates.

As long as nobody in a position of responsibility cares about safety, competence or comfort, it’s a win-win. For the flying public, however, it’s a lose-lose.

NPR’s Demise Long Overdue

Newsmax – “Trump is a racist,” tweeted former Wikimedia Foundation president Katherine Maher in 2018. Maher further posted “white silence is complicity,” excused Los Angeles looters for reacting against America’s “system of oppression,” confessed culpability for her own “whiteness,” and denounced her home state of Connecticut for, she claims, having amassed wealth through slavery.

As investigative journalists have revealed, these posts were scrubbed from Maher’s feed sometime before it was announced that she will become the new CEO of National Public Radio, which touts “fact-based reporting” in an environment where “opinion and commentary are secondary.”

Maher, 40, will succeed John Lansing, 66, a white male who led the radical leftist, government-subsidized news source from October 2019 under the end of 2023.

Lansing’s contract was scheduled to conclude in September 2024, but he announced his departure a year earlier, claiming that he wants to spend time with his college-age daughter during a study-abroad program.

If you really want your Boomer parents around while you’re studying abroad, there is probably a good chance they listen to NPR.

But as Lansing found during his troubled tenure, the overall number of Americans tuning in is in a tailspin.

According to Nielsen Audio ratings, from June 2021 to June 2023, even urban markets with overwhelmingly leftist publics registered significant declines in NPR’s listenership:

  • New York’s flagship WNYC member station lost 20% of its market share in those 24 months.
  • In Chicago, WBEZ’s audience declined by 19%.
  • Listeners of San Francisco’s KQED fell by 24%.
  • Los Angeles’s KPCC (now LAist) lost 25% of its audience, while that city’s alternate NPR member station, KCRW, tanked by 42%.

It’s true that Nina Totenberg’s ageing phalanx of fans is rapidly dying off — some 41% of NPR’s national audience is over 55, while less than 6% is under 25 — but another and less rarified culprit raised its head during Lansing’s tenure: diversity.

Even before the George Floyd mess, Lansing pioneered an initiative to make diversity “our number one goal,” presumably ahead of reporting the news or producing high-quality content.

Long before DEI conquered other American institutions, NPR went full bore (pun intended), boasting of workshops on unconscious bias, tracking racial data on content and reception, and mandating that hiring committees and job finalist pools included women and minorities.

By the time Lansing announced his departure, employees of color accounted for 46% of NPR executives, compared to 9% when he came along.

Obviously, this hasn’t helped NPR remain competitive in the free marketplace of ideas – despite benefiting from your tax dollars while competing radio networks do not.

Nor has it much broadened NPR’s appeal to underrepresented communities.

As of 2022, NPR estimated that only about 25% of its audience were listeners of color and that its audience’s median annual income was a comfortable $115,000.

If that disconcerts listeners like you, recall that in 2020, NPR’s number one song of the year was Cardi B’s “W.A.P.,” a hip-hop tune listing material favors a young woman of color hopes to gain from sexually beguiling men.

NPR contributor Briana Younger claimed to find the song “fun and infinitely quotable,” but the audience of “Morning Edition” probably doesn’t groove to it while dropping off the kids at school.

By contrast, in 2023 NPR denounced Oliver Anthony’s hit country song “Rich Men North of Richmond,” featuring complaints of working-class white males, as “extremist and conspiratorial.”

Lansing also bet heavily on podcasts in the hope of drawing younger audiences, doubling NPR’s production division.

It was a bad wager.

According to Listen Notes, which monitors the podcast industry, the overall number of new podcasts fell by 80% in 2022.

By late that year, NPR was in serious trouble as Lansing’s initiatives crumbled and corporate advertisers, who had come to fund as much as 40% of NPR’s budget, melted away.

Lansing announced a $10 million budget cut, which by February 2023 expanded to cover up to $32 million in losses.

NPR laid off about 10% of its staff, or about 100 employees.

Ironically, some of those who departed were among women and minority staff.

NPR’s plight was not singular in legacy media, in which an estimated 2,500 jobs have disappeared in the last year, but it was one of the heaviest hit outlets.

Gannett’s and Spotify’s layoffs amounted to 6% each, while Vox let go 7% of its employees.

Leaving his job early might be an understandable choice for Lansing in these dire circumstances.

But Maher, who appears to have no experience in broadcast media and may well have been hired because of her gender, will have a tough job when she and her clumsily concealed political and racial biases take the helm at NPR on March 25.

In addition to NPR’s internal tension between progressive ideals and financial viability, Americans distrust legacy media, with Gallup finding in October 2023 that a record 68% rated their level of confidence as “not very much” or “none at all.”

The latter category has soared to an all-time high of nearly 40%. No matter what Katherine Maher does or tries to do, the fate of NPR could soon be a broadcast to nowhere.

Memory Challenged

City JournalWas President Biden’s disastrous press conference the beginning of the end?

“My memory is fine!” insisted a defensive President Joe Biden at a hastily convened press conference last Thursday, at which he identified Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the president of Mexico and blanked on the name of the cathedral where he received a rosary upon the death of his son Beau. For much of the press conference, Biden, 81, resorted to indignation to bat away questions about his mental acuity from an unusually insistent White House press corps.

Just before the press conference was called, Justice Department special counsel Robert Hur released what should have been welcome news for the Biden administration: a 345-page report concluding that the president should face no criminal charges over his improper storage of top-secret government documents and sharing of top-secret information with a ghost writer who held no security clearance. Hur’s report, however, also found that Biden displayed significant memory lapses during the investigation, including an inability to state when he had served as vice president or the year in which his son died. Biden, Hur concluded, is an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

Were it not for Biden’s ill-advised press conference, the main topic of discussion might have been the legal implications of Hur’s report. Biden and his supporters could have claimed vindication, while his opponents might have carped about prosecutorial double standards in light of Donald Trump’s federal indictment for broadly similar alleged offenses. But after Biden left the podium, the desperation was like blood in the water for the beltway sharks, who closed in to feed on a public relations catastrophe—a “nightmare,” according to an anonymous Democratic congressman interviewed by NBC News.

Doubts about Biden’s mental competency can no longer be ignored in any serious analysis of American electoral politics. As long ago as May 2023, a Washington Post/ABC poll found that only 32 percent of Americans believed Biden had the “mental sharpness” to serve as president, against a majority that thought so only three years earlier, when candidate Biden led the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. By last September, however, a CNN poll found that 73 percent of Americans were seriously concerned about Biden’s physical and mental competence, and that 67 percent of Democrats favored another nominee for their party in 2024. Four days before this week’s press conference, an NBC poll registered Biden’s lowest approval rating ever, 37 percent. More than three-quarters of those surveyed said that they have “major” or “moderate” concerns about Biden’s health in a second term, which would end in his 86th year, with the “major” category accounting for 62 percent. Only 11 percent registered no concern.

All the while, Biden’s verbal gaffes have become more frequent and profound. Earlier last week, the president misidentified President Emmanuel Macron of France as his long-ago predecessor François Mitterrand, who died in 1996, and whom Biden seemed to believe hailed from Germany. The day before the press conference, Biden twice claimed at New York City campaign events to have spoken recently with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who left office in 1998 and died in 2017, apparently meaning to name Angela Merkel, who left office in 2021 and is still alive.

The episodes seem to be influencing the presidential race. The same NBC poll that registered mass concern about Biden’s health days before the press conference found that Trump holds a 16-point lead in being considered “competent and effective.” This registers as a 25-point swing since 2020, when voters favored Biden in that category by nine points. The current numbers represent Trump’s greatest lead on any issue except for immigration and border control. Before the day was out, the Republican National Committee released a mock Biden campaign ad using Hur’s “elderly man with a poor memory” comment. An ABC poll taken over the weekend found that 86 percent of Americans—including 73 percent of Democrats—now believe Biden is simply too old to serve a second term.

Overall, according to NBC’s pre-press-conference polling, Trump leads Biden by five points in the national popular vote in a hypothetical rematch. RealClearPolitics polling averages, compiled before the press conference, show the former president ahead nationally by a similar margin and in all six 2020 swing states. Even if Trump is convicted of a crime before the election (which remains far from certain), NBC’s polling data put Biden up by only two percentage points, still a statistical dead heat in the popular vote and leaving plenty of room for a Trump victory in the Electoral College.

Leading Democratic strategists, including James Carville, Paul Begala, David Axelrod, and, reportedly, former president Barack Obama, have expressed serious misgivings about Biden’s ability to lead, as well as fear that this factor alone may cost him the election. Commenting on CNN, Washington State’s Democratic representative Adam Smith opined that Biden “does not have the normal strength to go out there and campaign.” But these voices have not prevailed so far in persuading Biden to drop out in favor of another candidate. In early primary contests, Biden has won commanding victories over fringe challengers like Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips. The registration deadlines for new candidates in about 80 percent of Democratic state contests have now passed.

It’s unlikely that Biden’s cognitive disposition will improve in the nine months before Election Day. Though much else can happen in that time, the paths leading to a Biden second term have become increasingly tangled.

Biden’s to Blame for Attack on U.S. Servicemembers in Jordan

Newsweek – It was bound to happen eventually. After over 170 attacks against U.S. military installations across the Middle East since October 2023, on Sunday a drone launched by Iran-backed militants in Syria struck a U.S. supply and logistics site in Jordan. Three American servicemembers were killed and more than 30 were injured. Along with two Navy SEALs lost on a secret mission in Yemen last week, the fatalities are the first to be suffered by U.S. forces since Hamas‘ October 7, 2023, attack on Israel. Dozens of U.S. servicemen had been severely injured in such attacks over the past few months.

In Washington, the ossified policy elite is agonizing over how to respond. Like an addled old man yelling at kids to get out of his yard, President Joe Biden has repeatedly warned of retaliation against Iran, which actively supports a dozen militant groups across the region, including Hamas. U.S. action, however, has been limited to desultory air strikes against Iranian clients in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Thus far, no American response has proved decisive enough to stop the attacks or to dissuade Iran from stepping up its active military presence in the Persian Gulf. The hesitancy and haphazardness of Biden’s responses have only emboldened Iran and its proxies to launch ever more daring attacks, now with fatal results.

In its timid approach to Iranian aggression, Biden’s national security team appears to be following the mystifying playbook of Barack Obama, which held that Iran could launch proxy attacks without fear of war, but insisted that Iran itself could never be attacked, paradoxically due to fear of war. The controlling factor is the administration’s hope—again mirroring Obama’s failed strategy—that Iran’s Islamist theocracy can be goaded into showing restraint through a combination of kid-gloves treatment in the field and high-value hard currency payments, either in cash or through the release of frozen assets.

“The Biden Administration has been pursuing a strategy of strategic engagement with Iran, in the hope of achieving two goals,” says Michael Gfoeller, a retired U.S. ambassador who served for many years in the Middle East, including as policy adviser to U.S. Central Command. These goals, he told me, are “reviving the Obama-era Iranian nuclear agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) and moderating Iran’s aggressive behavior toward U.S. allies in the region.” As was the case under Obama, all this has done is signal American weakness to a culture, society, and wider region that respects strength.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Iran has temporized on returning to Obama’s nuclear agreement—a questionable deal in any case—while giving its proxy forces free rein to attack U.S. assets. Iranian supplies have also flowed to Hamas, which is widely believed to have launched its October 2023 attack on Israel with Tehran’s imprimatur, and to Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia which has engaged in active military operations across Israel’s northern border since October in what may be a precursor to full-scale war.

As pro-Iranian militants blast away at U.S. forces in the Middle East with tepid consequences for themselves and none for Iran, even America’s allies in the region show little regard for Biden or his team. Israel remains resistant to a ceasefire or deescalation of combat in Gaza, despite increasingly pathetic U.S. entreaties and empty threats to slow the supply of military hardware to Israeli forces. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken‘s trips to Middle Eastern capitals, which he imagines to be “shuttle diplomacy,” typically receive the cold shoulder from Arab leaders who neither respect nor fear him. And of course, everyone in the game knows that a year from now Biden will either be out of office and replaced by a revenant Donald Trump or reelected with an exceptionally weak mandate while suffering from increased cognitive decline. As America enters a prolonged electoral contest, its position in the Middle East is unlikely to improve under its current leadership.

It’s Not OK To Be Claudine Gay: Harvard’s President Resigns

The European Conservative – To much popular outrage, Harvard announced that Gay will remain employed as a professor, apparently in good standing and at a salary of about $900,000 per year.

“The next president of Harvard University MUST be a black woman,” posted the black commentator Marc Lamont Hill on January 3rd, the day after that institution’s disgraced president Claudine Gay resigned. Hill’s statement has been widely echoed by racial activists across the media in recent days, suggesting that Gay was, in fact and possibly illegally, appointed leader of America’s premiere university because she is a black woman (quotas-based hiring, and more recently, the use of race in higher education admissions, is prohibited by U.S. law). Gay, Harvard’s first black and second woman president, had been under fire since October 7, 2023, when she failed to make any statement on Hamas’s brutal attacks on Israel, which killed over 1,200 civilians and saw over 200 others hauled off as hostages.

The next day, 34 Harvard student groups signed a letter “entirely” blaming Israel for its fate. Gay eventually issued a series of equivocal statements claiming free speech rights for pro-Hamas protestors while also condemning the attacks with greater conviction. She later apologized for her hesitant response, but angry Harvard alumni and donors, many of them Jewish, denounced the university and Gay personally, demanded her resignation, withheld donations, and declared they would not hire Harvard graduates who made or supported pro-Hamas statements, among other consequences.

Gay was already a controversial figure. When her appointment as Harvard’s president was announced in December 2022, many scholars winced at her research record, which consisted of just eleven academic journal articles in a 26-year academic career. That relatively small volume is dwarfed by the research output of Gay’s predecessors. As one observer pointed out, former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, who had previously served as U.S. treasury secretary, published more in the year 1987 than Gay has published in her entire life.

Gay’s research record also appears to stand far outside the normal output of university professors who are promoted at all, let alone those who reach the highest administrative ranks. In the humanities and social sciences, in which Gay was employed as a Harvard political science professor before her ill-starred administrative career, prestigious U.S. institutions generally require a well-received and vigorously peer-reviewed scholarly book published by a reputable press for promotion from the entry-level rank of assistant professor to the next level, associate professor—a promotion that almost always comes with a de facto lifetime job protected by tenure. Further promotion to the rank of ‘full’ professor usually requires a second such book. Holding an endowed chair, to which Harvard appointed Gay in 2015, requires still more. Lesser institutions, such as small liberal arts colleges or minor state universities that often focus more on teaching than research, sometimes grant initial promotion for articles, but in recent decades the practice has become uncommon even in them, to say nothing of any institution of national repute. With the exception of Claudine Gay, I am unaware of even one case in the past few decades in which an Ivy League university advanced a person with a record even close to equaling hers to a deanship or its presidency, both of which she received in surprisingly short order at Harvard. Despite academic platitudes about ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability,’ university hiring and promotion processes are confidential to the point of absolute secrecy, and it is both widely believed and entirely possible that Gay’s race and gender were decisive factors in her career advancement.

In her time as Harvard’s dean of Arts and Sciences, Gay also raised eyebrows for an initiative to reduce the ‘visibility’ of white males in her school, and for her apparent role in disciplinary proceedings against the renowned black economist Roland Fryer, a Harvard faculty member whose research concluded that police brutality in America is significantly less common than many black activists maintain. During Gay’s deanship, Fryer was found to have told sexually-themed jokes in his workplace. His initial sanction was a reprimand, but a panel that included Gay reportedly overruled it and imposed on Fryer a two-year administrative leave without pay and the loss of his influential research laboratory. Harming Fryer in this way is suspected to have been a pretext to punish him and delegitimize his research findings because they do not conform to standard leftist anti-police narratives. Just before Gay became president, the United State Supreme Court found in a landmark case that Harvard’s admissions system, including for Arts and Sciences applicants, was unconstitutionally biased against white and Asian applicants, and further ruled that the use of race as a factor in college admissions is illegal.

Needless to say, throughout her career Gay has been an outspoken proponent of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), a dominant ideology on American campuses. Rooted in Marxist critical theory, its major theorists posit that all whites (including children and babies) are racist, that the solution to past and present discrimination against people whom they define as ‘the oppressed’ is current and future discrimination against those whom they identify as ‘oppressors,’ and that the United States and virtually all of its institutions are ‘structurally racist’ and should be reconstructed according to an ‘anti-racist’ model determined by DEI theorists themselves. Proponents of DEI often argue that Jews are an integral part of a privileged white ‘oppressor’ class and, in their view, legitimate targets of violence and intimidation by Palestinians, whom they believe to be an ‘oppressed’ group. As one might imagine, committed adherents of DEI who lead institutions that have adopted DEI as a guiding philosophy could very well have a cognitive problem denouncing the Hamas attacks.

“Harvard’s horror,” as I have described it elsewhere, stewed until December 5, when Gay, along with her fellow prestigious university presidents M. Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania and Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, humiliated themselves before the U.S. Congress under tough but direct questioning about what types of speech would constitute impermissible harassment under their institutional policies. The questions included whether calling for the genocide of Jews would fall beyond the pale of acceptable speech. All coached by attorneys from the same high-priced law firm, which has also outspokenly embraced DEI, and barely concealing their disdain at having to testify before elected representatives of the American people, all three women gave nearly identical—and identically supercilious—responses, claiming that their answers would depend on “context.”

In addition to the obvious moral and common sense dimensions, however, all three universities maintain sophisticated policies governing ‘harassing’ and ‘discriminatory’ speech and behavior and impose serious sanctions for violations. In one particularly galling example, even as the president of the University of Pennsylvania struggled with the permissibility of calling for genocide on her campus, her institution currently maintains that it will impose “major sanctions” on law professor Amy Wax for voicing controversial views about race and academic achievement.

The pronounced outrage brewing since October 7 exploded after the failed Congressional testimony. More alumni withdrew donations, in one case up to $100 million. At Penn, where some trustees were already angered by a pro-Palestinian literary festival held in September 2023, an organized movement of board members gathered steam and forced Magill and board chairman Scott L. Bok to resign a few days after her Congressional testimony. Many critics had the same hopes for the leadership of Harvard and MIT. As Magill’s fate swung in the balance, MIT’s board of trustees immediately closed ranks behind Kornbluth and declared its unanimous support for her leadership, though student protests there remain pronounced. At Harvard, a faculty letter supporting Gay began to circulate, eventually attracting over 500 signatures—a relatively small portion of Harvard’s total number of faculty members but a significant number nevertheless. A separate letter of black alumni and ‘allies’ also expressed support, as did the executive leadership of Harvard’s powerful alumni organization, and, it was later revealed, former U.S. president Barack Obama, whose father was black.

At the same time, according to one calculation, Harvard lost a total of $1 billion in donations as a direct result of Claudine Gay’s mishandling of the crisis. On December 10, the day after Magill resigned from Penn, conservative journalists Christopher Rufo and Christopher Brunet released a dossier of material provided by a third-party source alleging that Gay had plagiarized some of her academic work. The material had formed the basis of a complaint going back to October, which Harvard proceeded to investigate confidentially. Despite these revelations, Harvard’s top governing body, the Harvard Corporation, unanimously backed Gay and retained her in leadership. Notably, the Corporation’s president Penny Pritzker—herself a major Harvard donor—had led the job search that led to Gay’s hiring and had been Obama’s secretary of commerce. As to the plagiarism—a serious academic offense for which dozens of Harvard students have been sanctioned in recent years—the Corporation claimed that it had consulted with a panel of unidentified ‘experts’ who allegedly concluded that Gay’s transgressions amounted to little more than a handful of “inadequate citations.” Gay promised to submit corrections to implicated materials, but it is widely accepted—both in academia generally and, apparently, under Harvard’s code of conduct, that citations failures of the type noted in her investigation does constitute plagiarism.

In the weeks that followed, two more sets of plagiarism allegations against Gay surfaced, some disclosed by Rufo and Brunet and others by their fellow journalist Aaron Sibarium, who worked independently. These allegations were far more serious. Direct textual comparisons widely published in the media suggested that Gay had copied entire paragraphs from other scholars and plagiarized in a wide pattern that extended over much of her career. Over the Christmas holiday, a fourth tranche of allegations revealed that the practice had involved a total of nearly 50 incidents of plagiarism in more than half of Gay’s published works and in her doctoral dissertation. It was also revealed at that time that in October, when the first allegations were received, the New York Post was made aware of them and contacted Harvard for comment. Harvard’s response, almost certainly issued at Gay’s direction, was a 15-page letter from a law firm that works prominently in defamation law demanding that the Post not publish the story on pain of a lawsuit seeking “immense” damages. It also maintained that the allegations were “demonstrably false,” even though its internal process was ostensibly in process at the time of the threatening letter and later concluded that Gay had, indeed, erred.

The mounting scandal proved too much. Thoughtful contributors even to leftist mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic, among others, argued that Gay’s position was untenable. On January 2, the first business day of the new year, Gay resigned. Tellingly, her letter did not admit or apologize for wrongdoing, but rather claimed that it was in Harvard’s best interest for her to go and that she had been victimized by “racial animus.” She amplified that position in a New York Times op-ed published the next day, in which she admitted to “mistakes” but railed against her critics, whom she again accused of acting out of racism rather in response to the overwhelming issues at hand—that her leadership fell far short at a critical moment, and that her academic work was riddled with what appeared to be massive ethical failings.

Gay’s matter is far from over. Almost immediately, leftist media and sympathetic commentators embraced her playing the race card. Some ignored the professional issues altogether and insisted that she fell victim to a racist and sexist smear campaign, even though some of her prominent critics—and the most prominent scholar whose work she is believed to have plagiarized—are other black women. Others attempted to argue for the first time on any mass scale that plagiarism is not a serious matter, despite rigorous standards of academic honesty that are still on the books and universally enforced in other cases. Still others have argued that punishing Gay is a violation of her academic freedom and First Amendment right of free expression. Yet others have attacked Harvard, castigating it as a “racist” and even “fascist” institution, even though it had appointed Gay to its presidency on a slim record and then stood by her in the face of increasingly incriminating evidence even as Magill, a white female Ivy League president, was forced to resign without an academic scandal. The black leader Al Sharpton led a protest in front of the offices of the hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, the most outspoken Harvard alumnus demanding Gay’s resignation, who is accused of no wrongdoing other than airing his criticism of Gay. Activists then targeted Ackman’s wife, art historian Neri Oxman, who holds no academic post, accusing her of plagiarism violations in her doctoral dissertation similar to the most minor ones Harvard’s investigation found Gay to have committed. And, to much popular outrage, Harvard announced that Gay will remain employed as a professor, apparently in good standing and at a salary of about $900,000 per year.

Americans who oppose DEI—a position largely identified with the Right but increasingly shared on the Left—have two major victories to celebrate. University administrations are notoriously resistant to pressure from without and well as within. Their donors and governing boards tend to be tame rubber stamps that approve the whims of the administrators they hire rather than true sources of leadership that supervise how their institutions work. Ackman admitted as much in a long essay reflecting on the nature of the problem of higher education, in which he candidly revealed that he had no idea what DEI really was even as he handed over millions of dollars to Harvard and, he says, celebrated Gay’s appointment as its president as a triumph for diversity. Surely, he is not alone. Now, however, he realizes that DEI is in fact the problem and that dismantling it should be the leading priority in restoring American higher education to the great heights it achieved in the last century. Doing that work will take time, energy, and resources unlike anything conservatives have ever before devoted to social and cultural issues. But devote them they must. As the case of Claudine Gay shows, they can win.

Lessons from the removal of Harvard’s president

The Spectator – Her decision to leave Harvard’s presidency is not a real goodbye.

“This is not a decision I came to easily,” wrote disgraced former Harvard University President Claudine Gay of her resignation just after New Years.

That might be the only honest thing Gay has said about the debilitating scandal in which she has devastated her once-prestigious institution over the past three months. Indeed, her decision to resign did not come easily at all.

It only came after Gay repeatedly failed to state, including in Congressional testimony, and in the wake of the deadliest anti-Semitic violence since the Holocaust, that calling for the genocidal murder of members of her university community is a violation of its code of conduct.

It only came after Gay’s failed leadership cost Harvard an estimated $1 billion in financial loss, a significant drop in applications for admission and international mass opprobrium.

It only came after Gay was convincingly accused of plagiarism — in four separate reports documenting nearly fifty incidents of that major scholarly transgression across virtually her entire academic career, none of which she has publicly denied.

It only came after it was revealed that Harvard, under Gay’s leadership and almost certainly at her direction, had lawyers experienced in defamation claims threaten to sue the New York Post for “immense” damages if it published a story about what they called “demonstrably false” plagiarism allegations against her, even while Harvard — nominally committed to free speech — was actively investigating those allegations.

It only came after disclosures that former US president Barack Obama intervened with the university’s governing Harvard Corporation, presided over by his loyal commerce secretary Penny Pritzker, who had also led the job search that hired Gay, to save the embattled university president’s job.

It only came after opinion writers for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic and other news outlets otherwise fully committed to the pernicious principles of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) concluded that Gay’s position was untenable even by their abysmal standards.

It only came after the world was stunned to see Gay receive staunch support from the leadership of Harvard’s powerful alumni association, its influential campus newspaper and hundreds of Harvard professors — purportedly the best minds in the world — who apparently saw no problem with plagiarism on a scale that would almost certainly have ended any of their careers and resulted in the expulsion of their students who committed it.

Indeed, Gay’s resignation only came after her controversial appointment, based on a scholarly record so sparse — eleven unremarkable academic journal articles in twenty-six years — that it is unlikely to have merited promotion to associate professor, to say nothing of senior administrative posts, at any prestigious institution had Gay not been black, female and compliantly committed to DEI.

At the bitter end, Gay predictably did what she has done best for her entire career: she played the race card. In “her truth,” her travails were not caused by her actions, which her resignation letter did not even mention, but arose from “personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.” She may wish to consult with her disgraced University of Pennsylvania counterpart M. Elizabeth Magill, who is white and resigned last month without a plagiarism scandal, but the academic left has taken to social media to drown its sorrows and champion Gay, ignoring the many valid reasons for her departure while fantasizing that she is merely the latest woman of color to be victimized by Cambridge, Massachusetts’s well-known white male supremacist community.

Gay’s decision to leave Harvard’s presidency is not a real goodbye. While it is unlikely that she will ever again be entrusted with any amount of administrative responsibility, she will stay on as a faculty member, presumably in good standing despite the massive plagiarism allegations, and, according to reports, likely at a salary closer to what she was paid for her six months and two days as Harvard’s shortest-serving president than to a normal professor’s unenviable compensation. The rapidly dwindling number of prospective parents still naïve enough to think a Harvard degree is prestigious should be aware that Gay could remain at Harvard for decades as a living martyr for the DEI faithful, all while receiving a fat paycheck subsidized by the tuition dollars of class after class of eager freshmen who could face the even more galling farce of being graded by her.

That in itself is a scandal appalling enough to ensure that in the popular mind Harvard will remain a discredited clown college. For purely academic and reputational reasons, Gay has utterly no business being on any university campus in any academic capacity and should never again impart or evaluate one iota of scholarly knowledge on any subject. If she fails to resign from her continuing faculty post, the Harvard Corporation should strip her of tenure and give her the sack in such a humiliating way that her colleagues are afraid to be seen in public with her, or at the very least learn that plagiarism is not acceptable conduct. If the Harvard Corporation fails to remove her, Harvard should as a community reject that determination and do all it can to re-staff its governing body with leaders who really are committed to excellence and truth — not the shifty “my truth” formulation, but the actual, objective “Veritas” of Harvard’s sullied motto.

Gay’s departure from the Harvard presidency and apparent soft landing, like Magill’s at Penn, is merely a cosmetic change. It offers an important lesson, however. The structures, attitudes, ideology and people who elevated those lesser women to high professional rank all remain firmly in place at both of their institutions and at almost all of America’s 4,000 or so other colleges and universities. At least publicly, they all fully believe in the racialist, anti-white and anti-male ideology that enabled Gay’s and Magill’s appointments, outrages, and, ultimately, the severe trauma and reputational damage they have inflicted on their universities. Until they are rooted out, nothing of significance will change other than that the number of Americans who express any amount of trust in higher education will continue its precipitous decline.

The way forward is clear. Even when shielded by centuries-old legacies, multibillion-dollar endowments, crusty institutional structures and former presidents of the United States, university bureaucrats are fundamentally weak managerial caste flunkies who have proved themselves highly susceptible to criticism, financial loss, unpopularity and all the other unpleasantness that recently permeated the crumbling ivory towers of Harvard and Penn enough to topple their lackluster presidents. If American higher education is to be saved, the pressure must continue unremittingly and at every level.

An Embattled Mayor

A lagging economy, rising crime, new scandals, and budget problems have left their mark on Eric Adams’s first two years in office.

City Journal – “This is a very, very complicated city,” New York mayor Eric Adams told WPIX television journalist Dan Mannarino earlier this week, “and that’s why it’s the greatest city on the globe.” Its complexities are certainly presenting Adams with all the challenges he can handle. Earlier this month, Quinnipiac revealed that Adams has the lowest approval rating of any mayor it has polled: 28 percent (and only 35 percent of New York City Democrats), with 58 percent disapproving. Under a third of New Yorkers approve of Adams’s handling of crime, schools, and the migration crisis. Only 32 percent find him honest and trustworthy. An abysmal 22 percent back his handling of the city’s (dire) financial situation and homelessness problem.

The worries are piling up. Since 2019, the Tax Foundation has rated New York the second-worst state in the union to start a business, behind New Jersey. Manhattan commercial real estate vacancy rates are still high, at over 22 percent—more than double the annual average in the decades before the Covid-19 pandemic—with no relief in sight. Nearly half a million people have left the city since 2020, with many settling in low-tax and pro-business red states. In financial services alone, according to an August 2023 Bloomberg study, 158 firms managing more than $1 trillion in assets have abandoned Gotham for sunnier places.

Adams, a Democrat elected to replace (and, voters hoped, improve upon) the term-limited Bill De Blasio, has been reduced to begging prosperous ex-New Yorkers to return. Few have answered his pleas so far; nor do those who remain seem interested in organizing a financial bailout for the city, as had been the case in the 1970s. New York’s self-proclaimed status as a “sanctuary city,” however, has drawn more than 150,000 illegal immigrants, who will cost the city some $12 billion by the end of 2025, when Adams will be up for reelection. This past September, Adams declared that the migrant crisis alone “will destroy New York City.”

All the while, crime rates have continued to rise across multiple categories, including assault, auto theft, transit violations, and hate-related attacks—though the dramatic spike in homicides that began in 2020 has thankfully abated somewhat. Frustrated by limits on law-enforcement operations, leftist criminal-justice ideology, and policies that favor criminals over the law-abiding, thousands of police officers have left the NYPD, continuing the most rapid exodus of cops in the city’s history. In the early months of 2023, police departure rates were more than twice last year’s high monthly totals. And New Yorkers who act to protect themselves or others from assailants in public places can themselves easily end up under arrest and subject to prosecution.

Adams’s answer to Gotham’s problems? Shortly after entering office, he advised New Yorkers to “change your perspective.” In a way, they have. According to a Siena College poll released in July, a whopping 87 percent of New Yorkers said they consider crime a major issue, while nearly one in six reported acquiring a firearm despite strict gun-control legislation. Adams has blamed the media, rather than the criminals or his inability to deal with them, for fanning the public’s fears.

Two recent scandals, in addition to other corruption allegations, further handicap Adams. In November, the Turkish government was alleged to have helped his mayoral campaign, presumably to gain favorable treatment from city government. A group of FBI agents investigating the case embarrassingly confronted Adams on the street and seized his electronic devices, while others searched his chief fundraiser’s home.

Late last month, one of Adams’s former colleagues in the New York Transit Police alleged in a lawsuit—filed under Democrat-sponsored state legislation that temporarily dropped the statute of limitations on civil actions for sexual assault—that he had sexually assaulted her 30 years ago, as well as committing battery and employment discrimination. Adams denies the accusations.

Between news of the FBI investigation and the lawsuit, Adams announced some $4 billion in emergency budget cuts, affecting police deployments, garbage collection, public library services, and migrant resources—all of which could make the city less livable. Some 83 percent of New Yorkers have expressed concerns about the cuts, and DC 37, the city’s largest public-sector union and a major supporter of his election campaign, has filed a lawsuit against him and several other officials over the reductions. Disclaiming responsibility, Adams blamed Washington for not picking up the slack.

The mayor’s position is so embattled that former New York governor Andrew Cuomo—who resigned from office in August 2021 after sexual harassment complaints—is reportedly exploring a campaign to become New York’s next mayor, telling the media, “I do not believe the city is heading in the right direction.”

Perhaps all is not yet lost for the Adams administration. When WPIX’s Mannarino asked the mayor what he thought he could work on the most in his remaining two years in office, Adams replied, “Probably communications.”