Will San Bernardino Make 2016 Campaign Resemble 1968’s “Law And Order”?


Last week’s terrorist massacre in San Bernardino brings the law-and-order issue back to presidential politics, writes Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal. He likens the situation to 1968, when Richard Nixon put restoring “law and order” at the center of his campaign and hammered Hubert Humphrey with it. Now Hillary Clinton is in Humphrey’s position, Henninger says. “Humphrey was never able to overcome the public's sense of unease about domestic security,” he writes. Nixon carried 32 states to Humphrey's 13, with independent candidate George Wallace taking five southern states, which Nixon certainly would have won.

The law and order issue is made possible by modern media coverage, Henninger believes. In the past, the coverage was on urban riots, crime and political protests. Now, media “trains its lens relentlessly on every disturbing event and pursues the aftermath in detail. The effect is to compress these incidents into an emotional mass of discomfort.” Now the list can read “Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, soaring urban murder rates, the Umpqua Community College killings Oct. 1, the rise of Islamic State and its barbaric videos, Charlie Hebdo, Syrian refugee flows, two weeks of highly publicized protests on U.S. campuses and …San Bernardino.” One hard issue now is surveillance. On domestic security, “progressive Democrats have eroded and delegitimized the police function,” says Henninger.

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