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Ed Driscoll

The Making of the President

“Just think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines and you won’t be far wrong.”

With Landrieu losing a Senate seat that had been in Democrat control for 132 years last night, Kevin D. Williamson puts her shellacking into nearly a century’s worth of context:

Bearing in mind that four presidential elections is not a very large data set, the fact is that voting is racially polarized across the country, not just in the South. In 2012, Barack Obama won 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206; if only whites’ votes had been counted — if Mitt Romney had been running for the office of President of White Folks — then Romney would have handed Obama a crushing loss, roughly 438 to 100 in the Electoral College. Romney would have won such Democratic strongholds as California, Illinois, and New Jersey; in fact, he would have won every state except for Iowa, Washington, Oregon, New York, and a few small states. Race is not the only cleavage, of course: If the vote had been white men only, chunks of New England would have slipped away, leaving Barack Obama with something like half a dozen states and 40 electoral votes.

On the other hand, have a gander at the 2014 midterm-election map: Does this look like the showing of a rump Southern white people’s party to you? It may be that presidential elections, unlike congressional and gubernatorial elections, really are mainly about culture, about signaling identity and values, about how we see ourselves and our country. If that is the case, it should not surprise us all that much that blacks and whites vote differently. Not only do policy preferences reflect racial divisions, but there are racial differences in all manner of beliefs, tastes, and opinions. We can all laugh at jokes about the O. J. Simpson verdict’s role as a black-authenticity heuristic today, but roughly contemporaneous racial disagreements are not amusing even in retrospect.

That the Democratic party has attempted to hijack for itself credit for the hard and often bloody work performed for a century almost exclusively by Republicans, from Lincoln to Eisenhower, is a reminder that the party of Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton is not a place for men with a very developed sense of decency.

That being the case, Democrats should spare us their batty tales about Louisiana sending off the South’s last Democratic senator — a sanctimonious white lady if ever there was one — because white bigots are being inspired by a governor one generation away from Punjab, Haitian refugees representing Utah in the House, and this National Review cruise aficionado. From George Wallace’s infamous stand in the schoolhouse door to Barack Obama’s, embarrassing racial politics are the Democrats’ bread and butter. And what happened in the 1960s wasn’t the parties’ “changing places” on racism and civil rights; it was the Democrats’ — some of them, at least — joining the ranks of civilized human beings for the first time.

It only took them a century.

But I’m not holding my breath waiting for the cohorts of Al Sharpton, not to mention the man himself, dubbed “smart… entertaining… experienced… thoughtful… provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is” by that channel’s president to enter the 21st century anytime soon.

Update: QED.

Candy Crowley Out At CNN

December 5th, 2014 - 4:06 pm

And so, as she flies the blue lady of the skies into the sunset, and after pocketing one of our coveted Duranty Awards this year along the way for her fine, fine work, we say, aloha 5 0′clock Candy!

Let me remind you that the Weblog is open 24 hours a day for your dancing and dining pleasure.

The leftwing New Republic on sexist Massachusetts leftists:

Finally, there’s the nasty matter of sexism. Historically, Massachusetts doesn’t like female candidates. And, for all the plaudits showered on the Commonwealth’s voters for overcoming their seeming misogyny by sending Elizabeth Warren to the Senate two years ago, the fact is that Warren is a political superstar. We’ll know Massachusetts has reached true gender equality when its female hacks stand as good a chance as its male ones.

Not to be confused with Democrats in Pennsylvania, who in 2008 were declared racist by their fellow leftists at the Huffington Post:

But now there are two and we’re facing Pennsylvania and whom are we kidding? This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don’t mean people, I mean white men. How ironic is this? After all this time, after all these stupid articles about how powerless white men are and how they can’t even get into college because of overachieving women and affirmative action and mean lady teachers who expected them to sit still in the third grade even though they were all suffering from terminal attention deficit disorder — after all this, they turn out (surprise!) to have all the power. (As they always did, by the way; I hope you didn’t believe any of those articles.)

And don’t get would-be Texas Governor Wendy Davis started on those rubes in her home state:

Jon Stewart tossed the softest of softballs at her. He played up anti-voter ID propaganda as if it’s fact, but hey, he had his clown nose on when he was telling that lie.

The trained audience booed at the mere mention of Greg Abbott’s name. Unluckily for Davis, none of them actually get to vote in Texas.*

Davis mocks the state that she wants to make her its governor at the end of this clip. Stewart notes that a college ID is not a valid form of ID for voting, but a gun permit is.

Davis laughs. “Welcome to Texas!” she fires back in scorn.

And that should be that for the Texas election. Wendy Davis really has just been on an MSNBC audition tour all this time.

As Ricochet’s Troy Senik has noted, “Populism’s Hard When You Don’t Like the People.”

Think of the New Republic quote at the start of this post as a coming attractions teaser, and get ready for two years — possibly followed by four to eight years! — of leftists who spent the last six years telling you’re racist for not supporting Barack Obama telling you you’re sexist for not supporting Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren.

Very likely the same leftists. Forward!

Related: Michelle Malkin on “Up in Flames: The spectacular self-immolation of the Wendy R. Davis gubernatorial campaign.”

“The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic writes that a “senior Obama administration official” told him about Israeli Prime Minister and former IDF member Benjamin Netanyahu. As Goldberg writes, just in time for the midterms — and possibly the rest of Obama’s lame duck administration — “The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here:”

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)  But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former Administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency. (President Obama, in interviews with me, has alluded to Netanyahu’s lack of political courage.)

Gee, if you’re a world leader being insulted by an administration staffed by the radical chic likes of John Kerry and Obama himself, where Joe Biden almost seems like the grown-up of the bunch, you’ve got to be doing something right. More from Goldberg:

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

* * * * * * *

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not Rabin, he’s not Sharon, he’s certainly no (Menachem) Begin. He’s got no guts.”

Ahem:

After graduating from high school in 1967, Netanyahu returned to Israel to enlist in the IDF. He trained as a combat soldier and became a team leader in an elite special forces unit of the IDF, Sayeret Matkal. He took part in numerous cross-border assault raids during the 1969–70 War of Attrition. He was involved in many other missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), and the rescue of the hijacked Sabena Flight 571 in May 1972 in which he was shot in the shoulder.

After his army service, Netanyahu returned to the United States in late 1972 to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He returned to Israel in October 1973 to serve in the Yom Kippur War for a 40-day period. While there, he fought in special forces raids along the Suez Canal, as well as leading a commando team deep into Syrian territory.

Or to put the above into visual terms alongside America’s commander-in-chief:

Incidentally, this could add quite an interesting dynamic to the presidential race to come. Or as John Podhoretz asks, “So who’s going to ask Hillary whether she agrees Bibi is chickenshit?”

Update: “So, if this administration WERE Jew-hating, what exactly would they be doing differently?

Flashback: Here’s Jeffrey Goldberg helping Obama over the finish line in October of 2008 via accusations of conspiracy theories and (what else?) racism in 2008:

Quote of the Day

October 27th, 2014 - 11:13 pm

Born into a Democratic family, he took time off from Catholic University to work on the 1984 presidential campaign of Gary Hart, who overcame 1 percent polling numbers to nearly defeat Walter Mondale for the Democratic nomination.

“He should run, not only for his own sake but I think for the party’s sake,” Mr. Hart said of Mr. O’Malley, a friend, in a telephone interview. “I don’t believe in coronations. I guess Walter Mondale was the Hillary Clinton of that time.”

“Martin O’Malley, a Hillary Clinton Loyalist, Is Now a Potential 2016 Alternative,” as DNC house organ the New York Times continues the far left’s rumbles against the party’s aging and gaffe-prone dowager.

Hillary: You Didn’t Build That

October 25th, 2014 - 8:55 am

“If you have a job right now, don’t thank the company that hired you or the investors that created the company. According to Hillary Clinton, they didn’t build that. At first arguing that hiking the minimum wage would not cost jobs, the presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner then extended those thoughts in a very peculiar way,” Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air:

At a Democratic rally in Massachusetts, Hillary Clinton’s attempt to attack “trickle-down economics,” resulted in a spectacularly odd statement. …

She went on to state that businesses and corporations are not the job creators of America. “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs,” the former Secretary of State said.

Read the whole thing. “It’s not easy to get economics this wrong in such a short space of time,” Ed writes. “At some point, Democrats are going to have to come to grips with the fact that their front-runner is not just a lousy campaigner, but perhaps just as incompetent as the President from which they’re all attempting to run away at the moment.”

But note which direction they’re running, as Moe Lane writes in response to Hillary’s revealing gaffe:

The 2016 Democratic primaries are going to be fascinating.  The idea is to run away from an unpopular President, guys.  Towards the center.

In order to triangulate against a GOP Congress elected in part because of his disastrously leftwing first two years in office, Bill Clinton tacked to the center and the economy flourished. Rather than promise four more years of the same, Al Gore lost in 2000 because he admitted that he was planning to govern much further left than his boss, as Slate noted in November of 2000:

In the wake of a successful centrist presidency and the best economy in memory, Gore adopted an angry populism as the tone of his campaign. Michael Kinsley aptly characterized this stance as “You’ve never had it so good, and I’m mad as hell about it.” Egged on by populist advisers like Bob Shrum and Stanley Greenberg, Gore failed to assimilate the political implications of the social changes that have swept the country in the past decade. The new reality is not just that middle-class Americans think of themselves more as taxpayers than as the recipients of government programs. It’s that middle-class Americans actually own big chunks of the oil, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies that Gore was vilifying. Instead of running the first campaign of the new economy, he ran the last campaign of the New Deal.

Oh, would that that were true; Time magazine couldn’t wait to compare Obama to FDR in 2008, even before his administration tacked much further to the left than GWB. And now Hillary and Elizabeth Warren want to move even further left to distance themselves from Obama’s failed policies?

Why not just go full East Germany and call it a day?

(Oh right, that’s already in the works.)

Two CNNs in One!

October 22nd, 2014 - 6:25 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

● A panel on Tuesday’s “CNN Newsroom” wondered “why are people so darn mean?” to Monica Lewinsky.

“CNN: ‘Why Are People so Darn Mean’ to Lewinsky?”, headline, Breitbart TV, yesterday.

● “Shame on Monica Lewinsky.”

Headline, CNN.com, yesterday.

Related: Stacy McCain on “The Externalization of Responsibility: Monica Lewinsky’s Personal Shame,” in which he reminds readers that in his estimation, “Here’s the thing: Monica Lewinsky committed perjury,” and manages to work in the phrase “mendacious fellatio performers” to boot.

Meanwhile, as Stacy’s title implies, Lewinsky seems to blame the Internet as a medium, and Matt Drudge as a publisher, for her pariah status, as Allahpundit notes:

Per Matt Bai’s new book, it was the Gary Hart affair 10 years before Monicagate that marked a sea change in the media’s willingness to report on politicians’ sexual indiscretions. Michael Isikoff, who was famously scooped by Drudge on the Lewinsky story, said later that his Newsweek editors had merely demanded that more work be done on it before it ran, not that they had spiked it altogether. It would have come out, Internet or not.

To invert Marshall McLuhan’s legendary aphorism, sometimes it really is the message, and not the medium in which it’s initially disseminated.

The ‘Bam Who Fell To Earth

October 15th, 2014 - 10:42 pm
obama_ny_daily_news_2008_and_10-15-14-1-sml-2

Click to enlarge.

If only the New York Daily News had taken its own advice in 2008.

Embedding a large photo of the screaming “For God’s Sake, Get a Grip” headline on the front page of the Daily News tomorrow on President Ebola (sorry), Glenn Reynolds writes “It’s Come to This.” But it helps to flash back to the covers the Daily News ran during election week of 2008, to place Thursday’s cover into context. And to get a better sense of how absolutely all-in the center-left tabloid (as opposed to the increasingly zany and cult-like New York Times of the Pinch Sulzberger-era at least) went for Obama, to the point where its wealthy publisher claimed he wrote at least one speech for Barry.

The 2008 covers above, just a small example of the daily hagiography pumped out by the MSM back then, reflect a very different, but similarly self-destructive contagion that rapidly enveloped the MSM starting in early 2007. The virus began to subside around mid-2009, when it slowly became obvious that the MSM had sacrificed their credibility to elect a false messiah. But as a dangerous aftereffect to Obama fever, the MSM quickly turned viciously on its readers, in the form of their unceasing racialist attacks on the Tea Party and anyone who dared oppose The One. (There was a taste of this in 2008, when Bill and Hillary Clinton, once and future Democrat stalwarts, were similarly tarred as racists by the Democrat operatives with bylines.)

However the current story plays out, it’s far too late for Obama himself to get a grip on Ebola; he was never an executive, merely a socialist true believer, failed community organizer, and good teleprompter reader decked out with expensive taxpayer-funded bespoke suits. But he spoke the same language as the MSM, and like them, he had a (D) after his name, and that’s all that mattered.

After November, it will be fascinating to watch the MSM similarly go all-in to aid Hillary, and act as if 2008 never happened, and pretend that they had no role to play whatsoever in electing a president about to go as deep into the memory hole as Woodrow Wilson, and for similar reasons. It isn’t just that the MSM got things so wrong, it’s that they permanently shattered their credibility to make it happen. Don’t let them forget what they’d like the world to forget.

Related: With the headline, “Could It Possibly Get Any Worse?”, Roger L. Simon proves that he sure loves to tempt fate.

Veepz in the Hood

October 4th, 2014 - 12:22 am

 

Give CBS’s DC affiliate some credit; that’s the headline they ran with on this story, earning a Drudge link, even if it what it refers to is buried eight paragraphs into the actual AP copy:

Meg Kissinger, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, posted on Facebook that she was told by a White House aide that she was not allowed to talk to people in the crowd.

“[A]ssigned to cover Michelle Obama’s speech today and was told by a Mary Burke aide and one for the White House that I could not speak to the people in the crowd. To say that I was creeped out is an understatement. This is what reporters do in America: we speak to people,” Kissinger posted. “At least that’s how I’ve been doing things — at all kinds of political events — since 1979.”

Kissinger wrote that reporters and photographers were cordoned off during the event.

“Reporters and photographers were cordoned off in a central area with chairs and tables. Several people in the crowd asked if they could have extra chairs reserved for the media — but reporters were initially forbidden from handing them over. Eventually, some of the Burke staff gave the extra chairs to attendees,” Kissinger reported.

So just to review, Michelle Obama’s husband’s staffers have reporters and videomakers arrested. Michelle own handlers warn journalists not to talk to the crowd; Joe Biden’s handlers lock reporters into closets, and Hillary’s follows the media into bathrooms, and waits for them just outside the stall.

And other than a little bitching about it afterwards, not a whole lot of pushback emerges from the media over these moments, thus helping to reinforce the growing perception that the supine MSM are in reality, merely Democrat operatives with bylines.

(And ten days ago, when we last heard from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, another of its journalists was accused of harassing — at his home — the disabled former police officer who blew the whistle on GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s Democrat attackers, doubling down on the Democrats with bylines narrative the MSM has created for itself by ditching any semblance of objectivity.)

Mitt Romney: Tanned, Rested and Ready?

September 25th, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Jonathan Last takes a look at the GOP line-up for POTUS 2016 and does not like what he sees. “Now the field looks much more like Perry, Cruz, Rand Paul, and, possibly, Jeb. With Ben Carson making noises about getting in. And suddenly the clown show looks like it might be coming back to town:”

I posit that it’s possible the Republican field in 2016 could be much weaker than people anticipate.

If that happens–if Walker loses and Christie can’t recover his mojo and Jindal never takes off and Rubio either decides not to go, or can’t escape his immigration problems and Ryan stands pat and Huckabee chooses to keep making money–then there will be a moment of chaos and panic in Republican circles as the party realizes that the line-up they were expecting isn’t going to appear. And in that moment, there will be the opportunity for both a fresh face we haven’t looked at before, and for Romney 5.0.

Exit question: This is a serious question–not me being snarky. If I told you that you had to have either Jeb or Romney 5.0 as the nominee, who would you pick? And I’ll ask the question two ways: (1) For governing ability and (2) For electability purposes.

I’ll hang up and listen to you off the air.

So, second look at SMOD 2016?

“Joe Biden 2012: Can you believe Mitt Romney wants to hit Syria?”, as spotted by Allahpundit today at Hot Air: 

Via the Corner, an amazing clip — even more amazing than when it first made the rounds a year ago, when Obama announced that he wanted to bomb the opposite side of the conflict in Syria from the one we began bombing last night. In the year since, literally every Romney 2012 position mocked by Biden in the clip below has turned out to be prescient. Romney said it was a mistake to bring everyone home from Iraq. Verdict: Yep, pretty much. Romney said we should be more confrontational and less cooperative with Russia. Verdict: You tell me. Romney implied he’d intervene in Syria to keep chemical weapons out of the hands of jihadis. Verdict: President “Red Lines” adopted the same position less than a year later. Romney claimed it was a mistake to set a date for total withdrawal from Afghanistan. Verdict: The jury’s out but I know which way I’m betting.

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey spots the Mother of All Corrections at the New York Times: “On second thought, Bush did pull together a coalition on Iraq,” Ed writes, adding that “it only took them two weeks to realize their error! It seems that the Paper of Record had no record of the broad coalition built by George W. Bush for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including ground troops from more than a dozen nations, when it attempted to explain the difference between the approaches of Bush and Barack Obama on war in Iraq and now Syria.”

Who knew?  Other than the New York Times in 2003, that is:

Forget Nexis access. Forget Google search capabilities. Are we to imagine that reporters at the New York Times — and their editors — can’t figure out how to access their own archives?

But the Times charges its readers for access to some of those archives — those Shylocks! (As Joe Biden might slur, much to the confusion of the average Timesman.)

[Candidate Obama] shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make.

—Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2008.

[President Obama's] essential problem is that he has very poor judgment.

—Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, yesterday.

As juxtaposed by the Hot Air commenters last night.

The Beltway and Park Ave. chattering classes gave us Barack Obama because he flattered them first, and in the case of formerly stalwart GOP types such as Noonan and Christopher Buckley, and the Axis of Davids (RINOs Gergen, Brooks and Frum), because they didn’t want to lose their place at the endless cocktail party when it was obvious by mid-October of 2008 that Obama would be the likely winner thanks to McCain’s disastrous “suspending his campaign” tactic late in the previous month. It will be fascinating to watch their prognostications going forward into 2016.

Sandy Berger Could Not Be Reached For Comment

September 16th, 2014 - 3:11 pm

Did a Clinton aide remove damaging evidence to help Hillary’s election chances? In addition to, and more recently than Sandy Berger, that is:

Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, writing in the Daily Signal, tells the story of former State Department official Raymond Maxwell, a well-respected 21-year diplomat who personally contributed to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Mr. Maxwell has told lawmakers that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest aides–including her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and her deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan–privately removed politically damaging documents before turning over files to the Accountability Review Board, the independent board investigating the Benghazi terror attack.

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz confirmed to Fox News that last year, in a private interview, Maxwell told him and other lawmakers that Hillary Clinton’s aides oversaw the operation, which allegedly took place on a weekend in a basement office of the State Department.

As Peter Wehner concludes at Commentary, “if the details of the Benghazi story were identical but it had happened in the Bush, Reagan, or Nixon administration, there would be a fierce, relentless, around-the-clock investigation led by the major media outlets:”

But not in this case. Not with the Obama administration. Not with Hillary Clinton. Because many in the elite media have a narrative–the truth about what happened about Benghazi doesn’t really matter–and they’re sticking to it. Some reporters may go through the motions now and again, but that’s all. There’s no driving ambition to get to the bottom of this story. They would really rather not know. And the fact that they would really rather not know tells you a very great deal of what’s wrong with American journalism today. Elite journalists are as infected by ideology and motivated reasoning–in this case, by motivated reporting–as members of the DNC or the Obama White House.

Missed it by that much, as the MSM largely are Democrat operatives with bylines, and in some cases self-admitted members of the “non-official campaign” to elect Obama, ever-eager to airbrush the narrative, on the air in real-time if necessary:

Speaking of which, as Thomas Lifson of the American Thinker noted in April, “Attkisson charges Media Matters helps produce news reports for CBS.”

‘A Bridge Too Far’

September 16th, 2014 - 1:09 pm

Jacob Weisberg of Slate reviews The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by self-admitted “European-style Social Democrat” Rick Perlstein, in Democracy Journal:

If he were willing to look more critically at the left, the way he does at the right, Perlstein might give more weight to the visible bridge of Reagan’s stated views. By the mid-1970s, the failures of Great Society liberalism were evident: Despite some popular and meaningful accomplishments like Medicaid, the poorly thought-out War on Poverty was arguably doing more harm than good. Broken welfare and public housing systems were not liberating the urban poor, but trapping a new underclass in a new kind of poverty. Crime, bad schools, and the threat of busing were driving the middle class away from America’s cities. With a top marginal rate of 70 percent kicking in at just over $100,000 for individuals (or around $275,000 in adjusted terms), income taxes were both too high and, with as many as 25 brackets, gratuitously complex. Few people paid 70 percent, of course, but the pursuit of shelters and loopholes was creating pervasive distortion in economic behavior. Delegated regulatory authority empowered unaccountable bureaucrats not only to ignore the economic cost of greater safety, but to set prices for everything from airline tickets to long-distance phone calls. Liberal government had arrived at an impasse that an interest-group-dominated Democratic Party was unable to address.

In the international sphere, similarly, Reagan’s critique of Henry Kissinger’s amoral realpolitik and detente with the Soviet Union was far from preposterous or the worldview of a simpleton. The anger of both conservatives and anti-Communist liberals over Ford’s refusal to meet with Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the summer of 1975 was fully justified—even if they were ultimately proven wrong in their negative view of the Helsinki Accords. Perlstein’s understanding of Reagan is constrained by his tendency to see conservatives as either frightening wackos or cynical manipulators. The one thing he doesn’t do in his new book, infuriatingly, is take conservative political ideas—and, by extension, the people who voted for them—seriously.

An alternative thesis is the one Perlstein seemed to be framing up with his first, shorter, and better book: that the crucial bridge in modern Republican politics was the one leading from Barry Goldwater to Reagan. Nixon was the last important President of the New Deal Era, in the same way that Bill Clinton is best subsumed under the rubric of the Reagan Era. Constraining the federal government was not a significant component of Nixon’s political rhetoric, and he left it bigger, more expensive, and more powerful than he found it. Reagan did not ultimately reduce the size of the federal government in any meaningful sense, but he did diminish its scope and ambitions in ways that continue to resonate and define contemporary Republican politics.

Beyond the plagiarism charges circulating around Perlstein over this book raised initially by Craig Shirley, the conservative author of earlier works on Reagan that Perlstein, to say the least, apparently leaned on rather heavily, Orrin Judd had the best short critique of it. Dubbing him “The Accidental Hagiographer,” Orrin writes:

As you can see here, the premise of this volume is not only hilarious but inflates Ronald Reagan into a mythical hero far moreso than any of the fawning texts we on the right produce : the gnostic reality, known only to the Left, is that America is nothing special and, for one brief shining moment, in the 70s everyone was about to realize that, but Reagan, through the exercise of little more than his personal will, restores the delusion that America is more important than other states.

If Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh had given Reagan that much credit for reshaping the world around himself, they’d be dismissed as overenthusiastic cultists.  But Reagan looms so large in the mind of the Left that Friend Perlstein can’t see he’s gone far beyond any Reagan fanboy of the right in his claims for the greatness (let’s say we use the term in its value neutral sense) of the Gipper.

Of course, as great as the Gipper ultimately was (and his ghost is still living rent free in Obama’s addled mind) he couldn’t have done it without the left making a complete hash of America in the 1970s, as Weisberg notes above. To paraphrase an old line by P.J. O’Rourke, that’s the one and only reason we should always be grateful to Jimmy Carter.

(Via John Podhoretz.)

Everybody says so. Everybody. But with so much on the line, who are all those mystical sprites and gnomes who are constantly confounding the pathways between his brain and vocal cords, and forestalling the former president’s immense efforts to be clear?

Speaking of hoary old MSM cliches, it will be fun in 2016 to be constantly told by the MSM that “this is the most important election of our lifetime” — by so many people who got the last two most important elections in our lifetime so wrong.

sexism_everywhere_9-6-14

“Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome these days,” George Will told Chris Wallace on Fox New Sunday back in April. “It’s just constantly saying the word racism and racist. It’s an old saying in the law; if you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table. This is pounding the table:”

There’s a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn’t had a new idea since the 1960s except ObamaCare and the country doesn’t like it. Foreign policy is a shambles from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad. So what do you do? You say anyone criticizes us is a racist. It’s become a joke among young people. You go to a campus where this kind of political correctness reigns and some young person will say looks like it’s going to rain. The person looks and says, you’re a racist. I mean it’s so inappropriate. The constant implication of this is that I think it is becoming a national mirth.

However, the left (there’s nothing “liberal” or “Progressive” about 21st century Democrats) have recently begun to hyper-obsess over a new word and, if you’ll pardon the imagery, are inserting it everywhere:

To borrow from the popular Internet meme featuring Buzz and Woody from Toy Story (which has to be sexist as well, right? Of course it is!) Sexism…Sexism Everywhere!

Back in May, in a post titled “Why Democrats Call Americans Racist,” I wrote:

As in the 2010 midterms, expect the madness from the left to ramp up exponentially between now and November. They’re just getting started.

(And then presumably some time between mid-November and the start of the new year, the left will begin declaring half of America sexist. Unexpectedly.)

The protests in Ferguson, ginned up with the help of outside marchers from across the country, and Al Sharpton, direct from the NBC-Comcast boardroom inside Rockefeller Plaza certainly fit in with the first half of that equation all-too-perfectly. And with that bonfire having fizzled out, it can mean only one thing:

Democrats really are “Ready for Hillary.”

Assuming she wins, is the rest of America ready to be trapped in a 1972-era Mobius Loop in which everything bad in the world will be dubbed sexist for the next four to eight years?

(Which doesn’t mean that the left will cease dubbing everything racist as well, as well, of course.)

Related: As usual Andrew Klavan proffers excellent advice on these topics:

Update: As always, Stacy McCain is asking the important questions concerning the issues that vex us all.

What If There’s No There There?

August 29th, 2014 - 2:58 pm

Jay Cost is asking if the clothes have no emperor, in the Weekly Standard:

Toward the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term, a friend of Vice President Bush encouraged him to think carefully about what a Bush presidency should look like. According to Time, Bush responded, “Oh, the vision thing.” Fairly or unfairly, this phrase came to characterize the Bush 41 tenure. Despite his impressive résumé spanning three decades in government, he seemed not to have a clear view of what he wanted to do.

When Barack Obama campaigned for the White House in 2008, that hardly seemed like his problem. Obama would take in the whole sweep of American history in his speeches to suggest that his candidacy was its culmination. His heavy-handed propaganda​—​from the Greek columns to Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster​—​suggested a man with a vision surplus.

In the sixth year of his presidency, it is clear that Obama does not have much of a vision at all. Sure, he is a man of the left and possesses a commitment to its goals; he thinks government should grow larger and taxes should increase. Beyond that, he does not seem to have a firm sense of the reforms he should implement, how to implement them, how he fits into the constitutional schema, what a sensible U.S. foreign policy should be or how to execute it.

This is not to say that the White House does not offer positions on the issues. We are inundated with Obama positions. We are also treated periodically to longer “think pieces” from sycophantic authors granted extraordinary access to reinforce the point that this is a president deeply engaged in the issues of the day, struggling to bring order from chaos.

Yet the constant positioning and propagandizing belie deep-rooted ambiguities in this administration, which​—​it must be noted​—​has taken flak from left and right for years. Radical academic Cornel West recently suggested that Obama is a corporatist stooge, while Rand Paul fretted about the “socialist nightmare” the president is creating. Some might think these critiques accidentally demonstrate that the president is down-the-center. More likely they point to the absence of “the vision thing.” Sometimes he’s a corporate crony, sometimes a socialist; it all depends on what side of the bed he wakes up on.

Read the whole thing. Of course, corporatism and socialism have been deeply intertwined by their very nature since the days of Otto Von Bismarck, as Jonah Goldberg noted in Liberal Fascism. And as Jonah writes in his latest G-File regarding Mr. Obama’s own lack of the vision thing:

The reality, alas, is that Obama is — and has always been — out of his depth on the international stage. Given the prestige of the presidency and the incredible institutional forces behind the office, particularly when a liberal is elected, it takes time to burn through all of the political capital that comes with the job. But Obama has been throwing that political capital on an Oval Office bonfire like so much kindling on a clean and safe Anchorage night. In yet another metaphor that threatens to burn out the dilithium crystals , the credibility inferno is reaching China Syndrome proportions (“You should have said ‘literally’ a lot! Literally means ‘pay attention to how smart my metaphors are.’ Wheeeeee!” — Joe Biden). For a depressing but brilliant analysis of this meltdown, see Bret Stephens’s piece in the new Commentary coincidentally titled “The Meltdown.”

Remember the famous SNL clip where Phil Hartman plays Ronald Reagan? He’s an amiable dunce in public, but get him behind closed doors and he’s a master strategist? Well, maybe that stuff about Obama being the liberal opposite of Reagan is true. Out in public, he seems like he’s the Chess Master (though I never saw it). But get him behind closed doors and he’s in the chair next to Biden shouting “I can spin faster than you!”

Unlike Reagan, who was a master orator at the podium, while the introverted GWB was often painfully inarticulate on the world stage (there are many, myself included, who sympathize deeply with his fear of public speaking), as left-leaning pundit Jonathan Rauch noted in the Atlantic back in 2003 in “The Accidental Radical,” Bush #43 came to Washington with a clear vision of reform, much of which came from observing the mistakes his father made, and set about executing his plan.

In his new article, Cost compares the distance between Obama’s mesmerizing performance on the campaign stump in 2008 and 2012 and behind-the-scenes, his sleepwalking haze as chief executive to FDR and LBJ, who were excellent campaigners and could shape policy behind closed doors. But FDR had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy and governor of New York before becoming president, and LBJ spent decades in both houses of Congress before circumstances thrust him into his own role as an accidental radical.

In sharp contrast to the long careers of both men, Obama made three brilliant calculations to leapfrog so quickly into the White House: One: Since the McGovern debacle, Democrats often nominate a chameleonic newcomer to the national scene onto whom they can project whatever policies they wish to advance that year. Two: Race trumps gender on the left, and a majority of Americans would be thrilled to vote for a black president, provided he wasn’t a radical far left bomb thrower in the Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson mold. And finally, even though Obama was precisely that, given the background he marinated in all his life, from his radical parents to his years at the foot of Rev. Wright, that the media would be similarly thrilled to push all of that aside for him. And he was certainly right about that:

As MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough told Hugh Hewitt a couple of weeks ago, the memoirs to come from Obama White House insiders will make for astonishing reading, once the former president makes it official and leaves office:

This president wants yes men around him. And again, I hear that from my Democratic friends, I hear that from his own former chiefs of staff. If anybody steps out of line, they’re immediately insulated and pushed out. You know, I said this on set after the cameras were turned off to a couple of people who I knew wouldn’t say it on the air. I said guys, you know as well as I do that the second this administration is over, the books are going to come from former secretaries of state. The books are going to come from former chiefs of staff. The books are going to come, and this president is going to have to deal with 20-30 years of disparagement from his own side, calling him one of the least effective presidents, because he’s one of the most insulated presidents.

I suspect the material that emerges will be alternately thrilling, terrifying, and laugh-aloud funny, often within the same sentence. Not the least of which being when we discover how the famous conclusion of Robert Redford’s 1972 movie The Candidate played out in real life, once a real-life far left tyro senator won the biggest political title in the land in 2008:

The Madness of 2008: A Gnostic Too Far

August 26th, 2014 - 2:10 pm

Sometimes a conman makes a first impression so magnetic, the timing of the vaporwear he’s selling seems so perfect, and his marks so eager for his spiel, they eagerly hypnotize themselves without all that much coaxing. Victor Davis Hanson explores “The Madness of 2008:”

Pundits vied for superlatives. On little evidence, Christopher Buckley assured us that Obama possessed “a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect.” For some, proof of Obama’s godhead became almost physical — a “perfectly creased pant” for David Brooks, a tingling leg for Chris Matthews. For Evan Thomas he was a “sort of God”; for one blue-chip historian he was the smartest man with the highest IQ ever running for the presidency. And on and on, as huge crowds acted as if they were watching Paul McCartney on tour in 1966. After the election, there was real apprehension that the country might not make it for the two and a half months until an elected Obama could take power.

Given that there was no evidence from Obama’s legislative career to justify such superlatives, we can only assume that our intellectual elites got caught up in the faux Greek columns, the Obama tutorials for fainting crowds about proper first aid, the teleprompted emphatics of “Let me be perfectly clear” and “Make no mistake about it,” the Latinate motto “Vero possumus” on the faux presidential seal on his campaign podiums, the boast that Obama & Co. were “the ones we’ve been waiting for,” the messianic promise to cool the planet and lower the seas, the Lincoln self-comparisons, and the other embarrassing childish banalities.

Obama, it is true, ran a brilliant campaign in 2008, hinting to the Other that as a non-white he shared both their racial bona fides and their frustrations, hinting to white elites that his own unique heritage would end racial hostilities and thus allow them to square the circle of living largely separate elite lives and not having to feel guilty about it. He dropped his g’s and went into Southern cadences among African Americans, and then back again into wonkish academese to mainstream whites. It was well known that in impromptu talks he stuttered and stumbled with uh’s in deer-in-the-headlights fashion, and used the pronouns I, me, my, and mine ad nauseam, but such unease was ignored given his teleprompted eloquence and the considerable elite investment in his symbolism.

In sum, in 2008 Obama gave America more than enough evidence to doubt that he was ready for the presidency, but when a nation becomes unhinged by trivialities like “hope and change,” there is not much one can do — until the patient wakes up from his trance and in embarrassment asks, “What exactly was all that nuttiness in 2008 about?”

We will be fathoming that strange madness of 2008 for decades to come.

Afterwards, it’s all fun and games until the marks realize they’ve been sold a bill of goods, and then wonder where they go to get their own credibility back — which they’ll need to promote the wears of the next bunco artist.

Perhaps those who willingly allowed themselves to be sold a bill of goods in 2008 atone in strange ways. In his post on far left historian (and alleged plagiarist) Rick Perlstein’s new biography of President Reagan’s rise to power, Orrin Judd dubs Perlstein “The Accidental Hagiographer:”

As you can see here, the premise of this volume is not only hilarious but inflates Ronald Reagan into a mythical hero far moreso than any of the fawning texts we on the right produce: the gnostic reality, known only to the Left, is that America is nothing special and, for one brief shining moment, in the 70s everyone was about to realize that, but Reagan, through the exercise of little more than his personal will, restores the delusion that America is more important than other states.

If Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh had given Reagan that much credit for reshaping the world around himself, they’d be dismissed as overenthusiastic cultists.  But Reagan looms so large in the mind of the Left that Friend Perlstein can’t see he’s gone far beyond any Reagan fanboy of the right in his claims for the greatness (let’s say we use the term in its value neutral sense) of the Gipper.

Perhaps in writing about how the mythical heartland of his imagination (insert Pauline Kael reference here) was hypnotized by the ebullient speechmaking of an upbeat presidential candidate offering to restore his party to greatness after its recent, seemingly fatal stumbles on the national stage, and upend the perceived malaise of the times, Perlstein had the right notion, but the wrong presidential candidate. Or simply wished to project his own party’s gullibility onto the other side of the aisle.

Update: “Take a minute today, though, to appreciate that this guy, the epitome of in-touch cultural cool in 2008, is now so at risk of being seen as ‘out of touch’ that Axelrod and Bill Burton have to eat sh*t publicly as damage control. Oh well. As Amanda Curtis could tell you, sometimes even the most practiced Democrat run out of things to say.”

Related: “Top 5 Crazy Lies Told During Campaigns We Fall For Every Time.”