Belmont Club

The Man I Used To Be

They’ve downsized the news.  A glance shows what used to be called the big news has dropped below the fold. It is easy to see why.  As Daniel Henninger wrote in the Wall Street Journal, big news is bad for the president. So up with the little news. The major ticket item are all poison.

Want to know how to really scare a Democratic candidate for Congress on Halloween? Forget the Sarah Palin mask. Don’t say “Boo!” Just slip up behind them and whisper, “national security.” They’ll jump from here into next week’s election. In New Hampshire, North Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa and Colorado, Republican challengers are spooking Democratic Senate campaigns by yelling, “Islamic State” and “Ebola.”

Since people can’t quite be persuaded to stop talking about Ebola, the next best thing is to tabloidize it so that the conversation focuses on a nurse in Maine who wants to ride her bicycle in despite the quarantine state officials want her to observe.

Ditto for the international news. Seventy people were decapitated by ISIS. Six hundred prisoners were machine-gunned in a ditch. Mali is in a new uproar. But in keeping with the tabloid theme, the hot headline is? As Iowahawk Tweets:

Vegas line on the anonymous WH foreign policy genius who called Bibi “chickenshit”.

Kerry 3:2
Biden 3:1
Ben Rhodes 4:1

David Berstein takes up his pen in the Washington Post to explain what the “chickenshit” scandal is all about. Never mind that someone has apparently tried to blow the Iranian heavy water supplies or that the administration is now considered to be in “detente” with Teheran.  If you’re not talking about chickenshit, you’re not with it. Basically the story is that someone in the administration double-dog dared Israel to commit political suicide but Netanyahu didn’t bite.  Hence he’s a coward. Consequently someone (see Las Vegas odds above about ‘who’)  said  “nyah, nyah, yer chickenhit.”

This stuff used to be cool. It used to be edgy. Why, these jibes might actually have worked once, back when the president had a reputation. But things change. The pacifist Paul Verheen found he learned to hate the German foe during the Great War.  Aware of the change,  “he sat down and wrote wearily: ‘Since it seems that in this state of hatred my conscience becomes diminished, I dedicate these pages, with emotion, to the man I used to be.'”    People still change. Time was when president Obama had a reputation so exalted that even world leaders would be humbled in his presence.  But that was then,  this is now.

Now the Israeli government has retorted, “who’s chickenshit?”  And Jeffrey Goldberg is outraged at the lese majete: “Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Please Don’t Speak to My President That Way”. The trouble is too many other foreign leaders have been treating him like dirt.  Netanyahu’s taking his cue from the insolence of other leaders.

Take Russia, for example. NATO has accused Rusia of flagrantly violating European airspace, announcing “that an increasingly large number of Russian military aircraft have been tracked flying unannounced into European airspace this month — behavior that threatens to escalate the already taut relations between Moscow and the West.” Nineteen Russian planes were intercepted in a single day, according to ABC news.

Russia hacked the White House, as Russell Berman of the Atlantic reports. “Hackers who may have been working for the Russian government succeeded in breaching unclassified networks at the White House earlier this month, leading to disruptions as U.S. authorities moved to secure the building’s computers.” The Washington Post says “the FBI, Secret Service and National Security Agency are all involved in the investigation. White House officials are not commenting on who was behind the intrusion or how much data, if any, was taken.”

It’s as if they’ve lost respect for the president.  They’re bearding him in his den.

Michael Tomasky, writing in the Daily Beast, is for one appalled at the fall from grace. Contemplating a possible Republican win in the Senate, he indignantly asks: “How Can Dems Be Losing to These Idiots?” How can the party of high powered intellects, movie stars, pundits and journalists actually be losing to these blankety-blank dimwits?

Looking at John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, it’s a good question. If these guys can beat you then …

Somewhere along the line the current administration misplaced its mojo. At some point in the last six years, but more likely in the last, the rear axle of the Hope and Change wagon fell off and nobody’s seen it again. In pointed contrast, nobody wants to call Beijing a name. The Washington Times says that ‘No one has the guts to sell submarines to Taiwan’ as China pressures Pentagon. Why? Because China’s not a ‘used to be’. China is an is.

Paul Vermeer’s was self aware that he was no longer the man of old.  By contrast the administration isn’t conscious that “I ain’t what I used to be”.  There’s something very sad about that. The first rule of being able to call someone ‘chickenshit’ is to not be ‘chickenshit’ yourself.

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