Ed Driscoll

America's Crisis of Character

Peggy Noonan walks us through the daily horrors of the TSA (with a nice reference to a video shot by Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit), and the GSA partying on our dime in Vegas, before observing the Secret Service scandal:

That one broke through too, and you know the facts: overseas to guard the president, sent home for drinking, partying, picking up prostitutes.

What’s terrible about this story is that for anyone who’s ever seen the Secret Service up close it’s impossible to believe. The Secret Service are the best of the best. That has been their reputation because that has been their reality. They have always been tough, disciplined and mature. They are men, and they have the most extraordinary job: take the bullet.

Remember when Reagan was shot? That was Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy who stood there like a stone wall, and took one right in the gut. Jerry Parr pushed Reagan into the car, and Mr. Parr was one steely-eyed agent. Reagan coughed up a little blood, and Mr. Parr immediately saw its color was a little too dark. He barked the order to change direction and get to the hospital, not the White House, and saved Reagan’s life. From Robert Caro’s “Passage of Power,” on Secret Service agent Rufus Youngblood, Nov. 22, 1963: “there was a sharp, cracking sound,” and Youngblood, “whirling in his seat,” grabbed Vice President Lyndon Johnson and threw him to the floor of the car, “shielding his body with his own.”

In any presidential party, the Secret Service guys are the ones who are mature, who you can count on, who’ll keep their heads. They have judgment, they’re by the book unless they have to rewrite it on a second’s notice. And they wore suits, like adults.

This week I saw a picture of agents in Colombia. They were in T-shirts, wrinkled khakis and sneakers. They looked like a bunch of mooks, like slobs, like children with muscles.

Special thanks to the person who invented casual Friday. Now it’s casual everyday in America. But when you lower standards people don’t decide to give you more, they give you less.

Gee Peggy, too bad that last sentence didn’t occur to you in the fall of 2008, when you laid out “The case for Barack Obama, in broad strokes:”

He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make.

To borrow one of Obama’s favorite words on the campaign trail in 2008, you were certainly bamboozled, Peggy:

As Glenn Reynolds notes:

Pictured on the left, above, is Jon Favreau, who still works for the White House at a salary of $172,200 a year. According to the linked article, Obama calls him his “mind reader.”

This leaves reader Paula Colozzi unimpressed: “$172,000 for recycled speeches, as recent reviews of Obama’s speeches have been shown to be. A bit overpaid perhaps.” Hey, recycling is going green.

Peggy concludes her latest column thusly:

In isolation, these stories may sound like the usual sins and scandals, but in the aggregate they seem like something more disturbing, more laden with implication, don’t they? And again, these are only from the past week.

The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people who have enough years on them to judge with some perspective.

Something seems to be going terribly wrong.

Maybe we have to stop and think about this.

To recycle one of Mencken’s lines, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” That was certainly true in 2008, and the aftermath was the very opposite of the MSM’s favorite adverb in the years since, at least to those of us who didn’t drink the Obama-Kool-Aid at the time.