As Europe falls apart, America clowns around

Fred Hiatt writes from Adasevci, Serbia: It is hard to watch the desperate, dignified families huddling around the phone-charging stations in the government shelter in this Balkan village as the clownish spectacle of a presidential campaign unfolds at home.

Foot soldiers of misery, they tumble out of buses and their first request is not for water, food or diapers. They have been on the move for weeks, in some cases months, and they need to connect — with relatives they’ve left behind and may never see again, with comrades who can relay rumors on the dangers of the road ahead.

They are escaping the wreckage of entire countries. A million have washed into Europe in the past year, and another million are on the threshold. The continent’s leaders see the mass migration as their starkest test since World War II. Far-right xenophobic parties are on the rise. Longtime commitments to free speech, tolerance and open borders are eroding. Many of the leaders despair at the absence of U.S. leadership and the rise of Russian meddling.

Whatever your politics, you cannot fail to grasp that the problems are deadly serious, and any remedies complex and elusive. Meanwhile, the Republican presidential debates unfold like some grotesque game of playground taunting, with real problems, to the extent they are discussed at all, presented as amenable to easy solution. [Continue reading…]

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