William P. Barr: Anti-Trump but not anti–Trump's policies

The May 8 Wall Street Journal editorial, "Bill Barr's Warning on Trump," gave an incomplete summary of the former attorney general's appearance before the City Club of Cleveland, May 5 that amounted a distortion of his otherwise devout MAGA views.  The editorial did not even mention that Barr's appearance at the City Club was occasioned by his recently published book, One Damn Thing after Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General.  (Barr was attorney general for President George H.W. Bush, and later for President Trump.)

C-SPAN video screen grab.

For forty minutes, he chatted with City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop, and then for twenty minutes brushed aside an attempt at a barbed question and agreed with friendly questioners.  The last question came from media celebrity Geraldo Rivera.

The proof of the Journal's failure to summarize, accurately, Barr's City Club comments is obvious by watching the video of Barr's appearance and then reading the Wall Street Journal's editorial.  Barr's Cleveland interview came the day after Harvard emeritus professor Ruth Wisse's May 4 Wall Street Journal op-ed on the former president, which ended with this recommendation: "Sober Americans will ... defend the Trump record without supporting his candidacy, and deny him re-election while defeating those who did not allow him to govern."

Speaking in Cleveland, Barr effectively endorsed that view — which, however, likely gladdens the heart of those who tried their darnedest to make it impossible for Trump to govern.  And yet his presidency brought low employment, a thriving economy, positive accomplishments in the Middle East and vis-à-vis NATO, and, most significantly, despite the obstacles created to impede relations with Russia, Putin did not attack Ukraine on Trump's watch. 

Shame on The Wall Street Journal for not listing the positive accomplishments of the Trump administration.

The remarks of Barr that are quoted in the first section of the Journal's May 8 editorial came at the end of the Q&A segment of his City Club of Cleveland chat, from media personality Geraldo Rivera, who asked whether Mr. Trump is fit to be president.  But the Journal provided only part of Barr's reply to Rivera: his prediction that Trump would not be able to carry out his policies.

Not quoted by the Journal was Barr's prediction that the former president will not gain re-nomination.  That is the balderdash of a NeverTrump — yet Barr, elsewhere in his remarks to the City Club, denied he is a NeverTrump.  And although the Journal focused only on Barr's comments critical of the former president, Barr, in the main, spoke in MAGA terms, dismissing Jan. 6 as a "farce"; decrying the media's hypocrisy and partisanship; recognizing that the Democrats have become an extreme left party; denying that Republicans are a threat to democracy; and calling for an anti-crime, not anti-gun, policy.

In response to a barbed question on the January 6 "insurrection," Barr said that the rule of law is really based on the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have done unto you.  He indicated that the rule of law abhors a double-standard — everyone must be treated alike, and he implied that this is not the way of progressive thinking.

Possibly the most bizarre statement in the Journal's May 8 editorial is the assertion that Mr. Trump "triggered a special counsel probe."  What would be Barr's position on that incredible comment, particularly given the former attorney general's sharp criticism of the Russiagate hoax, for which no one has yet to be held accountable?  The Wall Street Journal should apologize for its skewed recitation of Barr's Cleveland remarks by publishing the full text of his thought and reflections on the op-ed page.

Rather than predicting out of thin air that the former president would be incapable of governing if re-elected, Barr should have forcefully told the City Club of Cleveland that it is the duty of the next Republican Congress to hold accountable all those malcontents who would impede the will of the American people in again electing Donald J. Trump their president.

As he began his conversation with Mr. Moulthrop, the former attorney general remarked that the country needs a return to "civil discourse."  And who has made a weapon of uncivil discourse if not the left-wing extremists who would be cheered by Barr's criticism of Donald J. Trump?  They would, if they could, shout down his observations on politics, today, with great vehemence.

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