Belmont Club

Who's the Fairest of Them All?

There’s something in the water, and nobody is sure what it is. Neo-neocon notes that Maureen Dowd is acting funny — like she’s met Ted Bundy and is two minds about whether to run or ask for a date.

[Ryan]‘s the cutest package that cruelty ever came in. He has a winning air of sad cheerfulness. He’s affable, clean-cut and really cut, with the Irish altar-boy widow’s peak and droopy, winsome blue eyes and unashamed sentimentality. Who better to rain misery upon the heads of millions of Americans?

Ezra Klein’s warning is even more stark. He sees a dark fairytale represented in Ryan. The Republican vice presidential candidate is Dr. Obama’s monster, jolted into life by the currents from the Lightbringer himself. “Here’s the weird thing about Paul Ryan being named to the Republican presidential ticket: It’s all part of Barack Obama’s campaign plan — a plan that’s working better than his strategists could have hoped. It could also backfire more disastrously than they have ever imagined.” Like another Doctor, whose German sounding last name starts with an “F”, there were apparently unforseen consequences in bringing this creature into existence.

Klein says the President’s advisers initially saw Ryan as a nobody from hicksville. So the plan was to build him up until he was too big for his britches and then tear him down. It was going to be so easy. But “unfortunately for them, Ryan’s profile wasn’t rising fast enough.” So the President set him up for a spike. “Obama did something very unusual. Typically, sitting presidents ignore doomed proposals from the minority party. But on April 13, 2011, with Ryan sitting in the audience, Obama delivered a searing speech — perhaps the toughest of his presidency to that point — on the subject of Ryan’s budget.”

Unfortunately, according to Klein, in building him up Obama may have hatched a monster. “If Obama loses, Republicans will have won the presidency with a mandate to enact a deeply conservative agenda. Left to his own devices, Romney might have been a relatively pragmatic and cautious president. Instead, the Obama administration’s three-year effort to enshrine the Ryan budget at the heart of the Republican Party would prove to have been a crucial push toward enacting that budget into law.”

But if it feels like Apocalypse time in some liberal circles it can’t be because the voters have had a bellyful of poverty, decline and political correctness. It must be because as some activists believe, they are under siege by the forces of darkness.

David Brock was smoking a cigarette on the roof of his Washington, D.C. office one day in the late fall of 2010 when his assistant and two bodyguards suddenly appeared and whisked him and his colleague Eric Burns down the stairs.

Brock, the head of the liberal nonprofit Media Matters for America, had told friends and co-workers that he feared he was in imminent danger from right-wing assassins and needed a security team to keep him safe.

The threat he faced while smoking on his roof? “Snipers,” a former co-worker recalled.

“He had more security than a Third World dictator,” one employee said, explaining that Brock’s bodyguards would rarely leave his side, even accompanying him to his home in an affluent Washington neighborhood each night where they “stood post” to protect him. “What movement leader has a detail?” asked someone who saw it.

“What movement leader has a detail?” Louis Farrakhan, maybe? Or perhaps … well stop right there. Don’t even think of what you might have said next. There’s enough hate in the world without stooping to low-down tactics. That’s exactly what the New York Times thinks is happening in an article describing a group of “former special operations and C.I.A. officers [who] started a campaign on Tuesday night accusing Mr. Obama of recklessly leaking information about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and other security matters to gain political advantage”. The low blow? One of the spokesmen of the group is a veteran who was a former model and actor.

The Opsec group shares an office suite in Alexandria, Va., with a Republican consulting firm, the Trailblazer Group. Christian Ferry, a partner in the firm, said that he had sublet space to Opsec because it included “people I know,” but that Trailblazer had no role in the project.

Among the featured former members of the elite Navy special operations teams are Benjamin Smith, whose Facebook page identifies him as a model and actor who served in Iraq and later became a spokesman for the Tea Party Express and several Republican campaigns. Another former SEAL member, Scott Taylor, is the group’s president and ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia in 2010.

Maybe the dark fairytale that Klein is looking for isn’t the story of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster but Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Maybe the real reason that Dowd, Klein and others are so angry is that the conservatives are finally fielding people like the six-foot plus Romney and Ryan into politics when all they’ve got is Joe Biden. And now this ex-SEAL model! That was the prerogative of liberals! Finding handsome candidates and spokesmen constitutes a direct strike on the liberal self-image. Roger Kimball notes that their ideology never amounted to much more than the vanity of the Evil Queen.

Tom Wolfe exposed an extreme version of this cohort in his essay on the Black Panthers hosted by Leonard Bernstein in his elegant New York apartment. …

They were the enlightened ones. Republicans, the people who voted for John McCain and — Ohmygod! — Sarah Palin, didn’t go to the right schools; didn’t ingest the proper balance of gluten free, free-range, macrobiotic, whatever; wore the wrong sorts of clothes; had funny hairdos; owned guns; and (often) were God-fearing people who took religion seriously. Such people were less objects of pity than of contempt, though when their politics were not on view they provided vast fodder for interventionist government programs aimed at transforming these unfortunates into consensus-chic, testosterone-free liberals.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” For decades it was always ‘why it is you dear Queens’. But what happens when one day the talking mirror comes back with a different answer?  The worst thing a modern Western Leftist leader can be is not wrong but ugly. The suspect in the attack on the Family Research Council in Washington was described by the director of the LGBT organization for which he volunteered as “a kind, gentle and unassuming young man”. But that’s just another way of saying “we’re sorry he doesn’t look like one of us.” That, alas, is his worst fault.

But bad looks are not the suspect’s fault. Nor is there any inherent virtue in being handsome, even though Romney, Ryan and even SEALs seem to have this quality in spades. The idea that people’s moral and intellectual qualities correspond to their physical appearance is ridiculous. However the liberals have been playing the mirror game for so long they can hardly complain now that they are being paid back in their own coin.

The story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was, according to some scholars, a veiled commentary on the attitudes of the nobility toward the Red Staters of the time. They were too ugly to do anything but serve the real elite.

In 1986 Bartels, a German scholar, published an analysis suggesting that the folktale of Snow White was based upon Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von Erthal, who was born in Lohr am Main in 1729 …

The stepmother, Claudia Elisabeth von Reichenstein, was domineering and employed her new position to the advantage of her children from her first marriage …

The dwarfs were reputed to have been working class iron ore miners who lived at Bieber, 33 km from Lohr and who, as a result of poverty and malnutrition in the area, were short of stature.

It’s all pretty ridiculous. But then vanity always is. On that note, let’s all pick up the merry tune. “Heigh-ho! Heigh-ho!”


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