Harry Reid and his love that dare not speak its name for Cowboy Poetry is a subject that's just begging for Mark Steyn to have some fun with, and -- appropriately enough -- in a western newspaper (OK, the Register in Orange County, one of the swankier patches of the great frontier, but still) Steyn obliges:
Harry Reid seems to have figured that it's in America's interest (or, at any rate, his) to spend like there's no tomorrow even as the clock chimes quarter-to-midnight. And, when the Complacent Caballero tells you that we cannot contemplate doing anything as "mean-spirited" as a $50,000 cut in a poetry festival, he's telling you it's over. What else do we fund apart from cowboy poetry? Well, American taxpayers fund the vast bulk of the rapidly expanding Chinese military merely through interest payments on the debt. This is the point in the cowboy movie when the guy squints through the window of the shack and says, "It's quiet out there. Too quiet."
What do you need to write cowboy poetry? Words like "tumbleweed" and "chaps." Also, trochees, spondees and dactyls. Pencil and paper. Total cost: 79 cents. Maybe you and a half-dozen other cowboy poets like to book the back room at the local bar once a month for an evening of cowboy poetry and a few beers. Total cost: couple hundred bucks. Maybe folks get word, and you figure you should get a bigger room and invite the public and charge a three-dollar admission. Why does any of this require national subsidies managed by a distant bureaucracy thousands of miles away?
Well, because these days, what doesn't? Once upon a time, the cowboy embodied the rugged individualism of the frontier. In Harry Reid's world, he embodies dependency without end. To "preserve" the "tradition," it is necessary to invert everything the tradition represents: From true grit to federally funded grit. Thus America, bouncing along in the Dead Wood Stage of history.
Whipcrack-away, whipcrack-away, whipcrack-away!
When even the cowboy is on the public dole, EU member Daniel Hannan is right -- America has become far too Europeanized for its own good.
So where does the president expand the new frontier next? It's time to really head west, young Obama!