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Shapiro: Can a bad man be a good president?

This week, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe—a man who certainly should have stepped down months ago—finally resigned from his active role at the agency. McCabe had been under President Trump’s fire for months given his failure to recuse himself from the Hillary Clinton email investigation despite his wife having received nearly $700,000 in campaign donations from Clinton associates during her failed Virginia state senatorial race.

Shortly after his resignation hit the headlines, another story broke from NBC News: The day after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, Trump was astonished and angered to learn that Comey had been offered a flight home on an FBI airplane. He allegedly called up McCabe and reamed him for allowing it. When McCabe dissented from Trump’s diatribe, Trump told McCabe that he ought to “ask his wife how it feels to be a loser,” apparently referring to her election loss.

This is, to put it mildly, gross.

But Trump isn’t exactly shy about his grossness. “Loser” is one of his favorite terms of art. Among other recipients of that accolade are Mark Cuban, George Will, former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, actor Richard Belzer, Scottish farmer Michael Forbes, Glenfiddich scotch whiskey and the GOP as a whole. The list goes on.

All of this has been brushed off by conservatives. After all, Trump is providing some of the most conservative policy of the last half-century. Not only has he signed a massive tax cut into law but he has also slashed regulations, repealed the individual mandate, nominated conservative judges, moved the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, supported the anti-Iranian alliance in the Middle East and moved to box in Russia. He has presided over massive economic growth at home and the collapse of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Trump’s list of accomplishments should seemingly answer a question with which conservatives have been struggling: Can a bad man make a good president? The answer, obviously, should be yes.

What’s more, the answer should have been obvious: Machiavelli suggested back in the 16th century that perhaps only a bad man can be a good politician. Machiavelli stated that virtue is an unrealistic and counterproductive standard for a statesman—what is needed is virtu, a capacity to use virtue and vice for the achievement of a specific end. Even Aristotle, a devotee of virtue, suggested that good citizens need not be good men.

All of which makes sense. Bad men make great artists. Bad men make great athletes. Saints often die in penury; sinners often die in riches.

But Trump’s list of accomplishments is only half the story. That’s because the office of the presidency is about more than mere accomplishments: It’s about modeling particular behavior. Bill Clinton was a successful president, but he was not a good one: He drove the country apart, degraded our political discourse and brought dishonor to the White House. The same was true for President Richard Nixon. Doing good things as president does not mean being a good president. Being a good president requires a certain element of character.

And Trump’s character is still lacking. Perhaps in the end, conservatives should ignore Trump’s character defects and take the wins; I certainly cheer those wins. Perhaps in the end, Trump’s character will poison the wins themselves; we won’t know that for years.

We do know, however, that if we believe the president has two roles—one as a policymaker, the other as a moral model—then President Trump can only be half-successful so long as he refuses to change himself.

Ben Shapiro is host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of

Your Views: What allowed Nassar to become a monster?

The ugly news about Dr. Larry Nassar, who has been found guilty of sexually abusing more than 130 young female athletes over many years, prompts us to ask, How can an intelligent, well educated person become such a “monster”?

Consider the following as a related parable: Fire in a furnace or at a campsite may be both lifesaving and heartwarming, but when a fire is out of control, in a house or in a forest, it is devastating. In that light, we could say that in terms of sexual desire. This is also true for individuals or for a nation.

God is the creator of our sexual nature, and he did so for the purpose of procreation and for an ongoing joyful, bonding experience between a husband and wife. However, if we ignore his standards, we reap devastating consequences. C. S. Lewis put it this way: “From the best gifts come the worst miseries if we are too foolish not to follow the giver’s directions.” How very, very true that is!

We can certainly blame the many negative influences of our society, but our “society” is simply individuals like ourselves. (Sadly, we see ourselves “represented” in our government.) We may not like to admit it, but individually there is a kind of corruption within us. Jesus spoke about the “sinfulness” of our hearts. See Matthew 15:19-20. But also through Jesus is the good news of forgiveness and empowerment to change. Without that, we too could become “monsters.”



Guest Views: What about Wisconsin's other 'hard-working taxpayers'?

There was much to like in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed agenda outlined in his state of the state address last week—including plans to remove juveniles from the troubled Lincoln Hills prison, protecting the state’s SeniorCare prescription drug program, supporting school funding and guaranteeing insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Many of those ideas are politically conciliatory ones—ones that have been backed by Democrats in the past and Walker alluded to that in his speech, saying, “These are not Republican or Democrat issues. These are just Wisconsin issues.”

But there was also a major clinker in the basket and that was the governor’s call for a $100-per-child tax credit for the parents of every child living at home under the age of 18.

It’s payable in cash—just before the November elections when Gov. Walker faces an election challenge as he seeks a third term. The proposal would cost the state $122 million in revenue and in future years would be a credit in the normal tax filing procedure.

“Vote-buying” may be too harsh a word for that, although some have called it that—and no, that did not come from a Democrat, it came from a conservative radio talk show host.

“I love Scott Walker & the reforms he and the WI conservatives have done,” tweeted Jay Weber, a radio host with WISN-AM, “But this idea to give a quicky $100 per child tax credit to parents before the election reeks of the type of vote buying & game playing we’ve ripped on the Dems for doing for 30 years.”

Walker defended the child tax credit, which would be taken from a state budget surplus, tweeting: “Sending the surplus back to the hard-working taxpayers is a conservative idea. With our child tax credit, we are making tax cuts and our reforms real.”

That doesn’t really address the timing of the checks being sent out no later than Sept. 1, just as the gubernatorial race heads down the home stretch. The back-to-school bonus would no doubt be remembered by those families when they go to the polls.

But, the fact is, too, that those bonus checks will go out to roughly 671,000 households, which represent a little less than 30 percent of the households in the state, according to U.S. Census figures.

Where are the checks for the other 1.6 million households in the state? Where are the checks for the millennials without children, for the working seniors on fixed income who could use a buck or two but whose children are grown, or for the couple that simply elects not to have children? Aren’t they too “hard-working taxpayers” as Walker termed it?

Plus, there is no income limit for the fall giveback and no drug testing, either—as the governor has proposed for other state aid programs.

We fail to see the tax equity for all taxpayers in the back-to-school bonuses that just goes to families with children. We are concerned as well that the $122 million draw-down of the state’s budget surplus would reduce it by a third to $263 million, which, according to some budget analysts, is lower than what is recommended for a state budget cushion.

Or perhaps those millions could be the seed funding for a long-term solution to the state’s still unresolved highway transportation needs.

We would urge the state Legislature to seriously examine the governor’s child tax credit proposal and assess whether it really fits the needs of Wisconsin and its taxpayers—all of them.

—The Journal Times (Racine)

Sound Off for Wednesday, Jan. 31

On Sen. Ron Johnson: Johnson has followed in the footsteps of another conspiracy-oriented Republican senator, Joe McCarthy, in making a fool of himself on FOX News falsely claiming corruption at the highest levels of the FBI awash with ‘secret society’ meetings. That foolishness will forever be on Johnson’s lasting legacy as it was with McCarthy.

On criticism of Sheriff Robert Spoden: I think the sheriff brought the criticism on himself because he did not handle that situation well. Or if he handled that well, then I was raised in a family that didn’t handle it well because we were raised with responsibility and to take action for what we’ve done. I just think he certainly could have come up with better ideas than what he came up with. The stupid remark of a ‘prominent’ family, that’s just ludicrous.

  • The facts in this case clearly show that the sheriff screwed up, and despite his long, impressive credentials, he deserved censure.

On tipping drivers: As a delivery driver, I feel pizza delivery drivers aren’t appreciated, and they get no respect when they go out and deliver a hot pie to a customer and the customer turns around and looks for every excuse not to give him a tip.

On tax-cut pay bonuses: Congressional representatives Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are calling tax-cut bonuses for some working Americans mere crumbs. Of course it’s mere crumbs for these two overpaid Democrat politicians who refuse to vote for a tax cut for working Americans.

On Friday Web Views criticism of bikers: This is in regards the guy’s comment about people riding bikes around town. Well, he needs to get himself a bike and start riding by the sound of it because most of these people have all these big SUVs, and all they got them for is prestige and try to impress the next door neighbor.

On Saturday story, “Why does it matter?” (Page 1A): Daily headlines keep the drumbeat going of collusion where none is present. The media continue to ignore where the real collusion is. The text messages between the FBI’s Peter Strzok and Lisa Page show the anti-Trump bias. They even discuss needing an insurance policy in case Trump is elected. This story should be getting daily headlines.

  • The Gazette can print a ‘much ado about nothing’ hit piece on Trump, but where are the articles and time lines on what has gone on with the Clintons and the FBI and who knows how many others?

On filling two open seats in state Legislature: The latest in Wisconsin Republican’s policy of voter suppression is Gov. Scott Walker illegally refusing to hold special elections, placing the GOP interests above the people they were sworn to represent. I find this very extremely offensive.

On immigration: I feel like it’s not fair. My family, brothers and sisters, have been waiting in the line for over 27 years, and they have done nothing wrong but wait their turn. Now it says the illegals that are here are going to get a path to citizenship. Wow, this is something messed up. It is not fair to the people who follow the law.

On credit for the economy: Giving Barack Obama credit for the economy is ridiculous. In eight years, he couldn’t even get the GDP to 2 percent. President Trump has gotten the GDP to almost 4 percent in one year.

On Kentucky school shooting: History shows us you probably won’t get anywhere going after guns. Instead, go after the bullies. They are the reason for a lot of the shootings. Charge them with something, sue them, whatever. I was bullied terribly 50 years ago. I still hate to see them on the street.

On Jan. 21 Sound Off comment on leaf collection: I am 80 years old, live alone and have no family to take care of my leaves. I can’t afford to hire anybody, and I don’t think there would be enough people to hire if we didn’t have leaf pickup. A friend in Illinois in a city similar to Janesville in size told me that the garbage truck people tell the city about any streets that may need a second leaf pickup, and Janesville could do that, too, when necessary.