She didn’t just sing. She opened a vein on stage.
Saturday, June 18th, 2011
…The President of the United States has two jobs: he is the head of government and the head of state. In British terms, he must do the jobs of both the Prime Minister and the Queen. The Queen sprinkles pixie dust; the Prime Minister does the dirty work of legislative sausage making. Presidents (like Ronald Reagan and FDR) succeed when they fill the job of head of state so well that they accumulate political authority which they can then use to run the government. The pixie dust they sprinkle makes the sausage look good. Presidents who fail to establish themselves as national leaders and symbols (like Jimmy Carter) end by losing their political authority as well.
President Obama started off with great advantages in the pixie dust department. As the first African-American president, he embodies important American qualities simply by being himself. Young, energetic, blessed with a stylish wife and a vibrant family, he holds Kennedy-class cards when it comes to touching enduring American themes and ideals. He was (and can still be) an ideal representative of America to itself and to the world, a symbol of hope for national and global reconciliation and renewal.
But the President has failed to meld that image and the symbolic weight of his office to a compelling policy vision. He takes strong individual stands — from support for health care reform to the bombing of Libya — but between the moves and the counter moves, the rhetorical claims and the policy reversals, the President’s image has become fuzzy and perplexing. Did he abandon the concept of stimulus and cast himself as a deficit cutter because he believes it, or was the shift a tactical calculation? What does he really believe will get the economy going again?
In particular, he has said nothing memorable about the crisis that is shaking the global economy and undermining the American middle class. The meltdown of the blue social model is the great and inescapable fact of our time. In what many voters will feel as a sign of financial apocalypse, the AARP has dropped its opposition to cuts in Social Security benefits. At home, Democrats like Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown are slashing budgets and attacking the perks of public sector labor unions almost as industriously as Republicans like Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels. Abroad, Socialists like Greek Premier George Papandreou is cutting as hard as the Conservative David Cameron. Germany has passed a balanced budget amendment; France is debating its own version. Economic turmoil is shaking the political foundations; rising food prices helped set off the Arab Spring, the price of gold has gone through the roof, and China and other foreign creditors are increasingly skeptical about the long term value of their dollar-backed assets.
President Obama’s predecessor made many mistakes, but something is at work here that is much bigger than the faults of the Bush administration. It is not just a US domestic problem, because we see it in the more-regulated European countries as well as in the less-regulated US.
Americans are realistic enough to understand that the breakdown of the blue social model is a messy process and that perhaps no president can deliver a pain free transition to the next stage. But what they aren’t hearing from President Obama is a compelling description of what has gone wrong, how it can be fixed, and how the policies he proposes will take us to the next level.
What they hear from this administration are defensive responses: Hooveresque calls for patience mingled with strange-sounding attacks on ATMs and sharp, opportunistic jabs at former President Bush. The White House has responded to strategic challenges at home and abroad with tactical maneuvers.
I wonder how Democrats manage to keep track of their talking points when Obama keeps yakking out of both sides of his mouth.
For openers, he’s changed his tune from 2008 about shutting down Gitmo; raising the debt limit; getting us out of Afghanistan faster than you can say Afghanistan; a transparent and post-racial administration; military tribunals; and even the Patriot Act, for heaven’s sake. So, while some people suspect that Obama will dump Joe Biden in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2012, Obama’s people are rumored to have sent out feelers to George W. Bush.
One of the fascinating items in Obama’s speech in May regarding the Middle East and his recommendation that Israel withdraw to its 1967 borders, presumably as a necessary first step to disappearing entirely from the face of the earth, was his use of the word “swaps.” Political strategists and Talmudic scholars both here in America and in Israel have been scratching their heads, trying to figure out what the President thought the Palestinians might be willing to cough up in exchange for Israel’s agreeing to commit suicide. Among the guesses have been a skate key, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, clippings from Yasser Arafat’s beard and Osama bin Laden’s collection of pornographic videos.
As we all know by now, Anthony Weiner wears gray jockey shorts. And while I usually wouldn’t want to be accused of piling on and kicking a guy when he’s down, I find the urge irresistible in the case of this arrogant putz who had assigned himself the role of hit man for Pelosi’s Democratic mob. However, by this time virtually everything rotten that could be said has been said, except for the fact that when I first saw the crotch shot seen around the world, I swear that my honest reaction was that it was much ado about very little. In fact, I was apparently the only person who saw the picture and was unaware that I was looking at a sexually aroused Weiner. When someone finally set me straight, so to speak, I was reminded that at the 1973 Academy Awards, a naked man streaked across the stage. The very droll David Niven, who was hosting the event, mused, “Just think, the only laugh that man will probably ever get is for stripping and showing off his shortcomings.”
But I will say that I was greatly relieved when, after a week and a half of lying, Weiner took total responsibility. After the way he and his left-wing henchmen went after Andrew Breitbart, I thought maybe he’d only take 37% or 22% or maybe even 8.6%.
Speaking, as we were, of appearances, am I the only person who thinks that when you see Barack Obama these days, looking even more dour than usual, with those ears jutting away from his head, his resemblance to an angry bat is downright spooky?
I recall a cover of Time magazine during the 2008 campaign in which Obama was decked out to look like FDR, a homburg on his head, a cigarette holder in his teeth. Being Time, it was naturally intended as a compliment. There are, after all, a lot of meatheads on the Left who still regard Roosevelt as godlike. To the rest of us, FDR was more a case of oh-my-god!
Like Roosevelt, Obama has been the beneficiary of what my friend Bernard Goldberg has aptly called the mass media’s slobbering love affair. The fact is, the courtiers of King Louis XV could take lessons in simpering, curtsying and bussing the royal bum, from the likes of Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Joy Behar, David Letterman, Rachel Maddow, Maureen Dowd and Oprah Winfrey.
On my last trip to Atlanta I struck up a conversation with my cab driver. (Most of the Atlanta cabbies I met were from Africa.)
He emigrated from Ethiopia just eight years earlier. His English was barely accented. He’d arrived speaking no English, but figured out that he needed English to advance.
Indulging non-English speaking immigrants is a) bad for them and b) bad for America. Our melting pot gets lumpy when we don’t speak a common language.
Furthermore, catering to Spanish speakers fuels ethnic resentment. Here’s why: if you run, say, a dental practice and 15% of your patients do not speak English, you will most likely hire a bi-lingual receptionist for practical reasons.
That means all the native, English speaking job applicants are out of luck. So the native born get pushed out of jobs because new comers are unwilling to fit in.
Here’s a video of a Texas state legislator who’d had enough.