January 8, 2021
A dreadful beginning–– Issue #112

2020 was awful, and we rang in 2021 with hopes we would put the pandemic, riots, and economic shock behind us.  Who thought 2021 could be worse!

Like many of you, I am in despair over this week’s calamities.  We will soon turn to sorting through the policy consequences to try to chart a positive path forward, but in the meantime, I want to share with you a few articles I found important and insightful.

Nothing excuses the lawlessness of those who stormed the Capitol, but the overwhelming majority of people who converged on Washington on Wednesday were positive and peaceful.  They are as distressed as the rest of us at what happened, as a Columbus Dispatch article describes.

"I got a sense of patriotism and love for the country, that people were there for the right reasons," said Trump supporter Aaron Carpenter who traveled from Ohio to participate in the march.

"For four years, our party has talked about law and order," Carpenter said. "I think what happened yesterday, that's patently unacceptable."

The U.S. Capitol Police were shockingly unprepared for the attack on the Capitol.  Capitol police reportedly and bewilderingly declined earlier offers from the Pentagon of additional National Guard manpower and from the Justice Department of additional FBI personnel.  The chief of police and two other senior security officials have resigned. Congressional leaders say they will investigate.

Kimberly Strassel of The Wall Street Journal has consistently offered insightful commentary on the Trump administration’s actions.  She, too, despairs, in today’s column, “Trump Erases His Legacy.”

A quote from Mick Mulvaney in her column sums it up.  “We signed up for making America great again. We signed up for lower taxes and less regulation. The president has a long list of successes that we can be proud of. But all of that went away yesterday.” Mr. Mulvaney is a founding member of the House Freedom caucus and the onetime Trump chief of staff. He resigned Wednesday as special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland.  (The Journal’s content is behind a paywall.  Send me a note at and I can send you a PDF copy of the article.)

Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, offers a longer-term perspective in a column in The Hill, “Our Constitution passed a difficult stress test.”

He writes:  “Our country and our Constitution were subjected to several stress tests on Wednesday. They were ugly and dangerous. But our Constitution, with its system of checks and balances, passed these stress tests: The debate went on in Congress; the resolutions questioning the election failed. Trump tweeted, ‘There will be an orderly transition on January 20.’”

Looking ahead, the American Action Forum’s health care policy director, Chris Holt, has a post today with an early assessment of the health policy landscape in light of Democratic control of Congress and the White House in “What Georgia—and the Riot at the Capitol—Mean for Health Policy.”

We will turn to a deeper analysis of that in the coming weeks.
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