Item: Charles Rangel is both an advocate of cradle-to-grave federal entitlements and the higher taxes needed to fund them. But he shows two disturbing recurring liberal hypocrisies: a desire to avoid income taxes (see Timothy Geithner, Chris Dodd, and Tom Daschle) and a fondness for the good life (his multiple rent-control apartments or Caribbean getaway). Moreover, Rangel has repeatedly advanced the argument that his prior heroic service in Korea must be set against his current various ethical violations -- failure to pay income taxes on unreported income, House ethics violations, and abuse of New York rent-control laws. Is not that "Dream Act"-like tax exemption a dangerous precedent? I don’t recall former Congressman Duke Cunningham -- the only Navy flier to achieve “ace” status in Vietnam -- being given exemption from bribery charges, informal or legal, despite his heroic war service.
And when Rangel lists all the felonies that he did not commit -- bribery, sexual shenanigans, etc. -- to offset the crimes he did commit, should we laugh or cry? When the IRS knocks on your door, try that: “But I did not sleep with underage girls and never paid off a cop.” Then see the reaction.
Item: The Obama encomiast Richard Wolffe reported that Obama told an obese staffer to lay off the fatty food and eat a salad instead. The incident is being reported as an example of Carteresque micromanaging: Obama directs the diet of his subordinates while unemployment hits 9.8%. But I think the real message is one of narcissistic exemption. Obama believes that his own behavior is exempt from his own moral strictures. By all accounts he is a devoted smoker who cannot quit. On the list of sins, smoking is as serious as poor dieting.
And do we need more examples in the vein of class warfare waged from Martha’s Vineyard and Costa del Sol? We get news that the Obamas are going to Hawaii for Christmas. I do not begrudge them the warm weather and would like to go there myself for the first time. But I wonder, how do we offset the Obama propensity for Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, and Costa del Sol against lectures and sermons about the evil rich junketing to the Super Bowl or jetting off to Las Vegas? Downright mean country?
A Final Note as Unemployment Hits 9.8%
I think that after the stimulus failed, the $1.3 trillion-dollar deficits did not pump the economy, Orszag, Romer, and Summers, the architects of these policies, fled, and the health-care mess, there is a sort of feeling of: "We tried every liberal nostrum and none worked."
Now what? I think the answer is more talk about another "summer of recovery" and hopes that the Obama trash-talking of business, take-overs, and massive deficits is ending with a new Republican House. So the administration's de facto new attitude is: "OK, they stopped us. We can't do any more to you. So hire, buy, and get back in our game." Then they can claim things got better than they were in January 2009. And, as a bonus, they were not the ones to trim what had to be trimmed from Social Security. It may be easy to hamper the U.S. economy in two years, but it is very hard to sidetrack it completely.
And that tactic may work -- the more Republicans can stop Obama from being Obama.