Biden and the Police – WSJ

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President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House last week.



Photo:

Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Amid a nationwide crime surge, Democrats may or may not want to support American policing. But at least they want to appear to support it, and perhaps that’s a start.

Tarini Parti and Eliza Collins report today for the Journal:

President Biden is expected to lay out his crime-prevention strategy Wednesday amid a rise in gun violence in many cities, as Republicans seek to tie the increase in crime to calls for cuts to police departments.

Mr. Biden will emphasize that state and local officials in areas experiencing surges in gun violence can use $350 billion in Covid-19 funding to hire more law-enforcement personnel, even if it raises the total number beyond its pre-pandemic level, officials said.

Of course what’s needed is not just funding, but also political leadership that opposes lawlessness and does not seek to use the actions of a particular officer as a pretext to attack cops in general and advance ideological agendas. The Journal report continues:

Law-enforcement officials and criminologists have said that pandemic stress and a police pullback amid last year’s protests are likely contributors to the rise in crime. In the last three months of 2020, homicides rose 32.2% in cities with populations of at least a million, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Quarterly Uniform Crime Report.

Administration officials said cities can use funds from the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package passed in March for law enforcement because the administration views the rise in gun violence as a secondary impact of the pandemic. The administration had previously told cities they could use the funds to retain public employees, including police officers, but hadn’t encouraged them to add law enforcement personnel.

Yes, the Biden administration still wants to blame the homicide surge on the coronavirus rather than on the tolerance among Democrats for last year’s violent riots, the destructive and influential leftist mantra to “defund the police” or ill-conceived policies preventing even good cops from maintaining public safety. But the new White House message is another acknowledgment of what many liberal local politicians have already implicitly admitted and voters of both parties understand: defunding is deadly. According to the Journal account:

Out of the nation’s 20 largest local law-enforcement agencies, city and county leaders want funding increases for nine of the 12 departments where next year’s budgets already have been proposed.

More Americans said violent crime was a “very big problem” in the U.S. than said those of Covid-19, according to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll of 1,588 adults released late last month.

An explicit Biden endorsement for channeling urban Covid aid into crime-fighting is also an acknowledgment that the pandemic emergency really is over. Now that there is bipartisan agreement on this question, lawmakers should act quickly to end other spending programs that were approved in March but are now obsolete in June.

As for the political meaning of today’s Biden address, Niall Stanage writes in The Hill that it’s an “acknowledgement that the issue has become too hot to ignore for his party ahead of next year’s midterm elections.”

***

Department of Double Standards

Rhode Island’s Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is struggling to explain recent comments he made to a local reporter in Providence, and the underlying question of whether he’s living by the standards he demands of others.

Eugene Scott and Felicia Sonmez write in the Washington Post:

Black leaders in Rhode Island were divided Tuesday on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-R.I.) defense of his family’s ties to an exclusive beach club, amid questions about whether the club’s membership is all-White…

It’s unclear what the club’s membership breakdown is. Both Whitehouse and the club have declined to provide details.

Asked Friday whether the club has any non-White members, Whitehouse told news outlet GoLocal Prov, “I think the people who are running the place are still working on that, and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet.” But on Monday night, he told reporters on Capitol Hill that the club informed him it does, in fact, have “diversity of membership,” according to CBS News and Politico….

He added that he believes the local news outlet “got the facts wrong” — even though the senator himself did not initially dispute the notion that the club was all-White.

***

Amid the many condemnations of

Donald Trump,

the press corps has occasionally noted another aspect of the Trump story. Roxanne Roberts wrote in the Washington Post in 2019:

…Trump opened Mar-a-Lago as a private club in 1995. Unlike the Everglades or Bath and Tennis clubs, which did not admit Jewish members, and the Palm Beach Country Club, which admitted wealthy Jews, Mar-a-Lago was open to anyone. “Basically, he didn’t care who came in as long as they could pay for it,” explains a Palm Beach social expert. Money may have been the motive, but Trump’s open-door policy — his was the first club to accept African Americans and openly gay couples — began the slow process to diversify other clubs in town.

A headline on a 1999 Loretta Grantham story in the Palm Beach Post summed up the inclusionary force of Mr. Trump’s venture:

THE PRIVATE CLUBS OF PALM BEACH: TRADITION. SOCIAL STANDING. BLUE BLOOD. AND EVERYTHING SO VERY HUSH HUSH. THEN CAME MAR-A-LAGO

Perhaps Mr. Trump will now consider opening a new club in Newport to challenge Sen. Whitehouse and the rest of the local establishment. Or perhaps Mr. Trump will simply offer to buy the Whitehouse club and redevelop it. In that case, let’s hope the senator responds more graciously than the fictional Judge Smails did to a similar offer from the character Al Czervik in “Caddyshack.”

***

James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”

***

Follow James Freeman on Twitter.

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(Teresa Vozzo helps compile Best of the Web. Thanks to Tony Lima.)

***

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