Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
March 28, 2010 - March 21, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

'Smart Diplomacy'
Applied to Israel

OBAHMUD? I'm not assuming you're unaware of the big headlines, but I know people are withdrawing somewhat from the news world in the wake of the healthcare law and the ugly mix of Democrat gloating and racial smears against the law's opponents that are dominating MSM journalism. So I'm just making sure you concentrate for a moment on this important and disturbing story:

Binyamin Netanyahu humiliated after
Barack Obama 'dumped him for dinner'

For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.

I know there are many different and complex conceivable explanations for such a direct diplomatic snub. Obama is sending a message to Israel that the current regime must be replaced before meaningful negotiations can resume. Alternatively, he is creating U.S. deniability -- and provocation -- for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities that is nevertheless "a consummation devoutly to be wished."

Still. It's impossible not to consider this in the context of Hillary Clinton's pollyana descriptions of the benefits of "smart power" in foreign diplomacy.

Is this really how "smart power" treats a nation that has lived under a constant existential threat from both war and terrorism since its founding 60 years ago?

It's also impossible not to think anew about the -- to many Americans nauseating -- 'Apology Tour' of Obama's first year in office, the largely unrequited cordiality of his outreach to the most criminal despots in the world, and the borderline rudeness of his relations with allies like the U.K., France, and Germany.

And it's hard not to allow as a distinct possibility that our president is fundamentally anti-Israel if not anti-Jew. Are we really supposed to forget that Barack Obama sat in the pew of Jeremiah Wright's church during outbursts such as this?

Well, I can't forget. I'd welcome any guidance on how I can and why I should.

We're constantly assured (er, scorned and ridiculed for not quite believing) that Obama is neither a muslim nor a muslim sympathizer. How does that argument go again exactly?

Intellectual Mush

Gaia. You know. a.k.a. Systems Theory. Huh?

PATERNALISTIC OLD WHITE MEN. I don't usually take suggestions about posts. This time is the exception that proves the rule. Eduardo wanted me to see the Marxists among us and so he offered this link with the proviso that the comments were the only interesting part. He's right. Marxists all. Nothing to say about it, really. Except read them and weep. (Yawn.)

But then he provided this additional link about The Great Turning, which is far more interesting. Why? It's facinating, to me at least, because it's actually written. You know. Sentences. Paragraphs, Spelling and punctuation. Far better than the standard at a score of righty websites, including Ace of Spades, InstaPundit, Hugh Hewitt, Boortz, Hotair (with the sole exception of DocZero), PowerLine, and all the Breitbart sites (sadly). Useful. How? Because regardless of the close relationship that usually exists between them, writing and thinking aren't the same thing. It's possible to be a competent writer and a wildly, utterly incompetent thinker. (Thus explaining Norman Mailer, for example.) Anyway. Here's a sample paragraph:

Now, in this very time, these three rivers — anguish for our world, scientific breakthroughs, and ancestral teachings — flow together. From the confluence of these rivers we drink and awaken to what we once knew: we are alive in a living Earth, source of all we are and know. Despite centuries of mechanistic conditioning, we want to name, once again, this world as holy.

Whether they come through Gaia theory, systems theory, chaos theory, or through liberation theology, shamanic practices, or the Goddess, such insights and experiences are absolutely necessary to free us from the grip of the industrial-growth society. They offer us nobler goals and deeper pleasures. They redefine our wealth and our worth, liberating us from compulsions to consume and control.

So rich is the harvest, that when we claim these new understandings, there’s little room for panic or self-pity. Instead, gratitude arises to be alive at this moment, when, for all the darkness coming upon us, blessings abound. They help us stay alert and steady, so we can join hands to find the ways the world self-heals—and see the present chaos as seedbed for the future.

I love this (Thank you, Eduardo.) It's a perfect archetype of literate writing and, well, nonexistent thinking. Which makes it perfectly post-modern too. Consider that the first sentence of the second paragraph would make exactly as much sense if it had been written thus: "Whether they come through Lady Gaga, carburetor technology, flatulence jokes, or through G-spot theory, itinerant Gypsy fortunetellers, or Beyonce, such insights and experiences are absolutely necessary to free us from the grip of the Cleveland City Council..." There are virtually no commonalities among the strands of thought being so specifically referenced. Gaia theory is a pseudo-mythology imposed on the past, systems theory and chaos theory are legitimate branches of science and math, and everything else in the citation is post-modern, victim-centric bullshit. But it sure sounds scholarly, don't it?

AGAIN my thanks to Eduardo. Rare, really, to get such a distilled example of what people are exposed to every day in the mainstream media. That WTF feeling you get when you read a NYT editorial or hear a sententious commentary from some third-generation successor to Eric Severaid at CBS News is a result of exactly this kind of fakery, which can be given many names: pseudo-intellectualism, faux learning, narcissistic preening, ignorant elitist bombast, jargonized superiority, academically abstruse obtuseness, or what Lewis Carroll aptly named Jabberwocky.

But Lewis Carroll defined it only by example. Bertrand Russell, on the other hand, defined it in (gasp) precise dictionary terms (h/t to commenter Michael Murry at Sic Semper Tyrannis for the exact quote I remembered).

" ... what Mr. [Bertrand] Russell once called ... 'a purely prudential use of language,' ... using words not because he knows what he means by them, but because he knows how they are ordinarily used, and does with them what he has heard other people do with them before. He strings them together in suitable sequences, maneuvers them aptly enough, produces with them pretty well the effects he intends, yet meanwhile he may have not much more inkling of what he is really (or should be) doing with them than a telephone girl need have of the inner wiring of the switchboard she operates so deftly. He may merely be in the condition that Conrad ascribed to those Russians who pour words out 'with such an aptness of application sometimes that, as in the case of very accomplished parrots, one can't defend oneself from the suspicion that they really understand what they say.'" [boldface added]

That's what we're up against with the left. They tend to write better than their counterparts on the right. (That's what the Ivy League does after all... provide a vocabulary of disdain unaffiliated with actual experience.) But they have no idea what they're really talking about. It's just a pile of plausible phrases they've learned how to string together in a way that can be diagrammed as grammatically faultless and therefore superficially beyond reproach. Could you write a more literate paragraph?

This is a syndrome that reaches very high into the realm of the intellectually elite. It explains the opening paragraph of this post, for example. But there's nothing in their educations or predilections that makes them students of systems theory, chaos theory, shamanism, or mythology -- let alone economics, complexity theory, information theory, quantum physics, theology, archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and cosmology -- to the degree that a functioning human being who is grappling with the meaning of life in an oppressively secular age is inclined to do.

What's the biggest single cultural influence in the western world? The Bible. Ask the next intellectuals who patronize you whether they've ever read it. Be alert for deceitful answers because they haven't. From Judges to Proverbs to Isaiah to Romans, it's all Greek to them. (And believe me, they've never studied Greek either.) Everything they tell you about your supposed religious delusions is misdirection. Everything they condescend to share about their superior take on religion, philosophy, science, or politics is "the purely prudential use of language." In other words, intellectual mush.

We're governed these days by an elite class of emperors. All of whom have no clothes. Don't be afraid to jeer at their nakedness. Yes, they're articulate, assertive, arrogant, and if need be, assaultive. But they don't know shit. They're simply the brightest smears we've trained ourselves to track on the Internet. By bright I don't mean intelligent. I mean, rather, the strobing egos of those who know so little of their own paucity that they lack the humility to regard the spotlight as something other than a friend.

LESSON: If they give you a podium to preach from, be very afraid. If you're not afraid, there's a near 100 percent probability that you're a fool. If you take a podium no one gave you, be very very careful. You're probably a fool too. Those are the inevitable odds.

Unless you're InstaPunk. Because we're never ever ever wrong. Except when we're completely full of shit. [Which might have happened once or twice in the last seven years, Maybe.]

Here endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Good News

(h/t NRO) Even ReasonTV sees through the lies.

STAVING OFF DESPAIR. Is there any? Not really. Well, some. Around the edges. But we take what we can get. Like this takedown of David Frum.

David is a man I’ve known professionally for almost a decade, and with whom my social interaction has always been very genial. He is a good and energetic man, and has, in the years since he left service at the White House, dedicated himself to being what I call a “polite-company conservative” (or PCC), much like David Brooks and Sam Tanenhaus at the New York Times (where the precocious Ross Douthat is shaping up to be a baby version of the species). A PCC is a conservative who yearns for the goodwill of the liberal elite in the media and in the Beltway—who wishes, always, to have their ear, to be at their dinner parties, to be comforted by a sense that liberal interlocutors believe that they are not like other conservatives, with their intolerance and boorishness, their shrillness and their talk radio. The PCC, in fact, distinguishes himself from other conservatives not so much ideologically—though there is an element of that—as aesthetically.

And this takedown of James Cameron (w/no help btw from Fox News.)

Uh, oh, James Cameron’s angry and you know how James gets when he’s angry… Stupid:

“Glenn Beck is a f—ing a–hole,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I’ve met him. He called me the Antichrist, and not about ‘Avatar.’ He hadn’t even seen ‘Avatar’ yet. I don’t know if he has seen it.” …

“I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads,” Cameron said. “Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their a–, I’m not sure they could hear me.”

Cameron said conservative criticism of the environmental message of “Avatar” aren’t necessarily attacks. “They’re just people ranting away, lost in their little bubbles of reality, steeped in their own hatred, their own fear and hatred,” he said. “That’s where it all comes from. Let’s just call it out. Let’s have a public discussion. That’s what movies are supposed to do, you know. You can have a mindless entertainment film that doesn’t affect anybody. I wasn’t interested in that.”

My first question for Mr. Global Warming would be to ask why a mansion-dweller so concerned with the welfare of the planet would initially release ”Avatar” on DVD and Blu-ray with no extras whatsoever.

Here’s what a cynical charlatan James Cameron is. The first “Avatar” DVD release occurs on Earth Day to take full advantage of all his Stupakky fans who want to feel good about themselves without actually doing anything to further their cause. But it’s a barebones release. This way Cameron can make a whole lot more money in the future releasing the same film again and again in Special Editions, Deluxe Editions, Platinum Editions and so on.

Does this sound like someone who gives a hi-ho hearty damn about Mother Earth? No, this sounds like just another greedy capitalist wringing every possible nickel from his wares by finessing the market in a way that promotes as much consuming as possible of a product that, by the way, comes in a thick plastic case that must have a landfill half-life of a couple thousand years...

And a Global Warming defeat in France.

It was hailed as a major weapon in the fight against climate change, but France's plan for a domestic tax on carbon emissions has been shelved.

The government had to backtrack on the idea after France's highest court struck down the bill, insisting it had too many loopholes for industrial polluters.

But the government - still smarting from a massive defeat in regional elections on Sunday - appears to be more worried about the impact of a carbon tax on the French economy...

And a post by the most glamorously named economist ever (see video above).

I have been quite demoralized since Sunday: I couldn't believe the level of arm-twisting, deal-making and compromise in the final week of the health-care debate. Sometimes I forget how terrible politics is.

In any case, here is a good video by Reason TV giving three reasons why the health-care bill won't shrink the deficit. I hope it will help the people who are still believing that spending trillions to save billions is possible will open their eyes.

Watch and cry (that is, if you haven't been already for months).

And a lefty WAPO media columnist disses the Iranian Quisling Christiane Amanpour:

In a way, Amanpour, scheduled to leave CNN after 18 years of international coverage and take over the program in August, could be seen as the opposite of the perfect candidate. "This Week" deals mainly in domestic politics and inside-the-Beltway palaver, an area where Amanpour is widely considered to be deficient. Consider: Whenever CNN has thrown one of its big election-night, convention, or presidential debate spectaculars, drafting nearly every living staff member to appear, Amanpour has had a conspicuously low profile.

And even though Amanpour has often been touted for her expertise on foreign affairs, she has vocal and passionate critics in that arena as well. Supporters of Israel have more than once charged Amanpour with bias against that country and its policies. A Web site devoted to criticism of Amanpour is titled, with less than a modicum of subtlety, "Christiane Amanpour's Outright Bias Against Israel Must Stop," available via Facebook...

And a lefty takedown of Michael Moore:

Michael Moore gets the Michael Moore treatment in a new documentary created by a fellow Michigan resident. Accountant turned filmmaker Kevin Leffler isn’t a dyed in the wool Republican trying to score cheap shots off the liberal gadfly. He’s just a regular Midwesterner who knew the guy being trumped up in the press as the straight talking Everyman wasn’t the real deal.

Leffler grew up in the same part of Michigan as Moore, attending the same Catholic Church and even working together on a local youth hotline. So when Leffler calls out Moore, it means something.

Shooting Michael Moore” lets Leffler deconstruct the Moore myth. It’s a project with a tiny budget and little Hollywood razzmatazz – Leffler is a CPA and college professor, not a slick documentarian...

And ACORN is folding (but beware the sequel...)

The once mighty community activist group ACORN announced Monday it is folding amid falling revenues - six months after video footage emerged showing some of its workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.

"It's really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activists that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need," ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said.

And polls are only, well, polls:

If Democrats felt heartened after yesterday’s Gallup poll showing a plurality of support for their new ObamaCare plan, Bloomberg’s survey should bring them back to Earth. The survey asked over a thousand adults their opinions of the ObamaCare bill during and after its passage, and like almost every poll taken in the last several months, a majority of respondents opposed it. Moreover, a majority also consider it a government takeover of the American health-care system...

And no more free speech in Canada. Hurrah! Or is that 'eh'? (Don't be looking to NRO for updates on this one...)

After protesters at the University of Ottawa prevented Ann Coulter from giving a speech Tuesday night, the American conservative writer said it proved the point she came to make -- free speech in Canada leaves much to be desired.

Then she said what she really thought of the student protesters who surrounded Marion Hall, making it too unsafe, in the view of her bodyguard, for the pundit to attempt entry.

"The University of Ottawa is really easy to get into, isn't it?" she said in an interview with the Citizen after the cancelled event.

"I never get any trouble at the Ivy League schools. It's always the bush-league schools."

Coulter remarked on the reception she has had since entering the country.

"Since I've arrived in Canada, I've been denounced on the floor of Parliament -- which, by the way, is on my bucket list -- my posters have been banned, I've been accused of committing a crime in a speech that I have not yet given, I was banned by the student council, so welcome to Canada!"...

Coulter said... it's well known on the campus speaking circuit that conservatives need to travel with security staff, as she did.

"I'm pretty sure little François A-Houle does not need to travel with a bodyguard," she said. "I would like to know when this sort of violence, this sort of protest, has been inflicted upon a Muslim -- who appear to be, from what I've read of the human rights complaints, the only protected group in Canada. I think I'll give my speech tomorrow night in a burqa. That will protect me."...

And OOPS! The immediate benefits Fox & Friends have been promoting (promoting, promoting, promoting...) aren't actually there yet.

So the wheels keep grinding. Will they 'grind exceeding small'? We'll see.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

National Review PC

Damsel in distress? She's got them where she wants them.

MR. STEYN. The National Review famously fired Ann Coulter for being impolitic about muslims in the wake of the 9/11 attack. Amusingly, they're now struggling with a story that should be red meat for them. Here's the newest slab of rare Coulter filet mignon:

Right-wing U.S. firebrand Ann Coulter
will file grievance with rights panel

London, Ont. — Inflammatory right-wing pundit Ann Coulter took aim at a University of Ottawa administrator Monday night, saying an e-mail from the school warning her to use “restraint, respect and consideration” when addressing Ontario students during a speaking tour this week made her a victim of a “hate crime.”

Speaking to students and academics at the University of Western Ontario Monday, Coulter said the e-mail sent to her Friday by Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost of the University of Ottawa, targeted her as a member of an identifiable group and as such, she will be filing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging hate speech.

“I’m sure the Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of it,” Coulter said to loud cheers from the 800-strong audience. “I think I’m the victim of a hate crime here. Either what (Mr. Houle) did was a hate crime, or the whole commission is BS.”

In Houle’s e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by the National Post, the administrator urges Coulter to weigh her words with “respect and civility in mind” when she speaks at the University of Ottawa campus Tuesday.

“Our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or ‘free speech’) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.”

Houle goes on: “Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges.”

Ezra Levant, lawyer and former publisher of the Western Standard magazine, spoke before Coulter on Monday and called Houle’s letter a “veiled threat.” Seamus Wolfe, the president of the University of Ottawa’s student federation, has already said that Coulter is not welcome on campus and that he is trying to work with the administration to find a venue for her speech elsewhere.

The administration, however, has said it does not object to the fiery pundit’s appearance on campus.

Coulter’s targeting of the University of Ottawa administration and Canada’s Human Rights Commissions came at the end of a half-hour speech that attacked political correctness in the United States and the mainstream media, which she said was uncritical of the Obama administration and unfairly biased against conservatives.

“It’s almost like there is one standard for Conservatives and one completely different one for Liberals,” Coulter told the crowd, which alternated from cheering to booing depending on the topic of discussion, which ranged from gay marriage, illegal immigration to Barack Obama’s new health-care bill.

“A word is either offensive or it’s not. In a world of political correctness, all words are banned unless they’re used against conservatives.”

Cool. But so far, NRO hasn't even acknowledged this part of the story. Daniel Foster reported briefly on her speech:

Coulter in Canada

Ann Coulter has given another charged, contentious talk, this time at the University of Western Ontario.

UPDATE: I've heard from a number of readers suggesting that this post (what there is of it) is in some sense critical of Coulter. I guess she's gotten so contentious that calling her contentious is contentious! But please don't read too much into my skinny post. Though I've recently been doing a bit more editorializing, especially on the topic of a certain piece of legislation that, even as we speak, is on its way to the president's desk, my job around here is mostly to keep you Cornerites apprised of the news. So, often I'll just play it straight, and let you draw your own conclusions.

And Mark Steyn, who has waged a huge battle against Canadian hate speech charges leveled at one of his books, has had only this to say about the matter:

Re: Coulter in Canada

Oh, I wouldn't get so excited about one little Toronto Sun story, Daniel. What ought to be "contentious" about Ann Coulter's first Canadian tour is that François Houle, the provost of the University of Ottawa, threatened to lay criminal charges before she'd even uttered a word on Canadian soil.

The reflexive position of the Canadian establishment (of which M. Houle is a very typical example) is to insist on ever narrower bounds of public discourse regulated by an ever more coercive state. If it's a choice between that or the occasional bum joke by Ann Coulter, that shouldn't be a difficult call. [Italics mine]

You can search all seven years of Instapunk archives and never find one negative comment about Mark Steyn. Here's the first. Get the stick out of your ass, Mark. And National Review too. Coulter's funny and most of her jokes aren't "bum jokes;" they tend to be both smart and pertinent to the reality of our political environment.

I'm very fond of The Corner, especially Mark Steyn and Jonah Goldberg, but I have to say I've grown weary of NRO's reluctance to cast Kathleen Parker into the outer darkness she deserves for month upon month of Obama apologias and Palin bashing. And I could grow even wearier within hours if NRO continues to treat Coulter like some sort of Orwellian nonperson.

Her counterattack against the Canadian Human Rights Commissions is inspired, and it should be right up NRO's alley. But no. The ghost of WFB would sniff his disapproval. Or would he?

Don't disappoint us, Mr. Steyn. You know she's a national treasure. Man up.


Guilt. Why are we all feeling it? And we are, aren't we?

UNREDEEMED. We're all grieving now. I'll give you one anecdote to show you I'm there too. I talked to a friend last night, a big wheel in the mainstream media. He was contemptuous of our objections to the health care bill. Almost spittingly so. I was so shocked I demeaned his Columbia journalism degree: "Did you go to business school?" I asked. "I did. Did you ever take a course in economics?" And I love this guy. He's a friend of 40 years. But our country is dying and he -- with two Ivy League degrees -- doesn't have a f___ng clue. I get it. It's a pain in the soul. I understand the heartbreaking exchange between JS and Lake that anyone can read in our Comments section.

What can I do? Not much. (We're waiting for Eduardo's Ayn Rand post, but then we'll have to thump him about that too. So it goes...) How about some distractions, some substitute pains? Moovies. Not happy feelgood shows but something that accords with your mood and twists it into something else -- a thing at one remove from your real despair. Best I can do.

Three movies. One cheapo horror flick. One self-important indie. And one big-budget entry you might have missed if you're like me, because why would anyone watch it?

Horror flick. It's called Population 436. Not a slasher movie. It stars Jeremy Sisto of Six Feet Under fame. And a very lovely girl, one of those corn-fed brunettes for a change. Here's the trailer:

It gets to you somehow. Well, it got to me anyway. Horror taking the form of framed encomiums to a doctor.

The indie flick is Passengers. About a plane crash and its traumatized survivors. I won't show you the trailer because I don't want you to watch it. Good acting performances by Anne Hathaway, Andre Braugher, and a guy named Patrick Wilson. Don't look it up on Rotten Tomatoes, either. Just watch it. Trust me.

The big budget flick is Blood Diamond. There's lots wrong with it. It's preachy, Leonardo di Caprio can't do a South African or Rhodesian accent to save his life, and it's very long. However. It got me. It also got my wife, who shed tears at the end, even though she'd missed nearly half the action. There's an actor named Djimon Hounsou, who will shock you and move you, regardless of any cynicism you rightfully have about sub-Saharan Africa. Here's the trailer.

And, finally, just for JS and Lake. Not a movie but a song. This was a huge hit when I was in college about a hundred years ago. Here's the original:

And here's a diferent version which somehow completes the circle.

Take it as I offer it, JS. The problem is still bad ideas, not soulless Americans. The problem isn't even Harvard. Go here and click on the Chesnokov piece in the top box, then tell me we're all automatically doomed. When I saw it live at Princeton University with my stepdaughter Monica, I looked at her and saw she was weeping. I've never been prouder of her. I believed at that moment in the salvation of all of us.

Or am I just ducking my own particular flavor of guilt?


A Moment of Focus

Love you, my dear. With all my heart.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Uncharismatic, Wonkish
Republicans for President

We're loving the bad haircut and all the charts he's been lugging around.

THE RESISTANCE. How about it? A president who isn't a messiah but a citizen executive. The awful, the truly terrible irony, is that without Reagan there would have been no Obama. A president who is truly larger than life is a rare, rare thing. A man of far-seeing vision, personal charisma, and policies that proved to be right for the long-term health of the republic. The United States has had exactly three of these in 220 years: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan. There have been some who possessed two but not all three of these attributes. Jefferson lacked personal charisma, but it didn't matter as much in his day. Jackson lacked vision, as his intimates and duelling partners would have attested. FDR had vision and charisma, but his vision was wrong and became a festering wound in the heart of the nation. The same was true of FDR's elder cousin Theodore. Because it's not true that people who consider themselves smarter than the rest of us are. A vision of government as the father and mother of a child citizenry is more a function of ego than insight. And electing men who simply look good in suits and deliver affecting speeches can make us think we're connected to someone larger than life, but that's perhaps the worst folly of all.

But after Reagan, the Democrats wanted one of their own. The Reagan funeral -- all that love expressed by citizens of every color and class -- tipped them into desperation. The Republicans have Reagan, who won the Cold War and rescued America's economic and foreign policy primacy, and who do we have? Carter, the smallest, meanest, most uncharismatic leftover of the twentieth century. Clinton, the charismatic scumbag who at every turn traded vision for expediency and everything else for survival in office. To this day, Democrats rummage the gutters for some, any evidence that Ronald Reagan was ever mean, hypocritical, or consumed with blind ego and partisanship. Not finding such evidence, they paint him as an idiot, a figurehead, a photogenic performer. Even to the point of ascribing all his accomplishments in foreign policy to Mikhail Gorbachev and all his accomplishments in economic prosperity to, uh, sheer luck. And they have actually celebrated and joked about his tragic succumbing to Alzheimer's.

Which tells us a lot about the attributes they were looking for in their own version of Reagan. He would have to look good, sound good, and seem good in terms of his marriage and personal morals. It would be great if his national political career was precipitated by a single memorable speech. He should be iconic in some elementally American way. He should campaign in a perpetually positive, speak-no-evil sort of way, as if the very robustness of his own belief in people and America could somehow overcome mere policy differences with the opposition. "We can be better than all this partisan ugliness."

But you can never conjure up a Reagan just because you want one. Truth is, there's only ever been one Reagan. Even Washington and Lincoln didn't quite have what Reagan did. Lincoln had a high voice and suffered from chronic depression. Washington had no teeth, and he was nevertheless so vain it took a constitutional crisis before he could bring himself to wear spectacles in public. Yes, Lincoln was a more gifted writer than Reagan (but not by as much as is popularly believed) and Washington had a better biography (unless we're talking exemplary American biographies), but Reagan was really a 'perfect storm' of presidential attributes, which is why my Irish wife remains so scornful of him to this day -- noting that he was Irish, charming, and regardless of everything, a politician -- which to her means that there must, positively has to have been, something deeply dark and therefore forgivably Irish about him she can't find, no matter how hard she looks. Which makes him, in Irish logic, a fake of some sort who can't be forgiven for having been pretty much what he seemed to be. It actually makes her suspicious that Reagan took a bullet and didn't die while he joked his way through the crisis, because she knows that the celebrated "luck of the Irish" is all bad luck and all real Irish stories end badly.

Except in America. Where we're all presently grappling with -- given the current president's disavowal of it -- the concept of American exceptionalism.

Ah. Yes. Back to the Democrats' Reagan. So they found one and they elected him and a huge majority in congress and the senate, and how can you argue the luck of how the Dems acquired their filibuster-proof majority in the senate -- Arlen Specter turning tail at the tag end of his life and Al Franken chiselling his way past a meek Republican governor to the final stolen seat? How could this not be a sign of Reagan-like luck?

There's only one problem. Obama is not a Reagan. He's a guy who looks good in a suit and delivers a speech that inspires people who have never read speeches much. He's not even FDR or JFK. He's full of platitudes, not eloquence, and there's neither a TR nor a PT-109 in his background. His beautiful suits -- I'll stipulate the best ever -- are all empty.

A long way round, I suppose, to a point that's already been made here. Our next president isn't going to be charismatic, beautiful, beautifully dressed, or situationally eloquent. He'll be what most of the presidents we've gotten when we needed them were: ordinary Americans who know that's what they are. We don't need that extra dimension of "larger than life" right now. What we need is "real life."

The American presidency isn't about fatherhood or motherhood. It's about serving the voters, being a scrupulous steward of our future. Protecting and defending us as a nation. Guarding the budget and its bottom line. Letting us ordinary citizens provide all the pyrotechnics, prosperity, and potency of the American Dream.

Best ideal of an American president in the Obama age? A respectful clerk executing our agenda, with balls the size of Mount Rushmore and principles more granite than the Ten Commandments.

Additional candidates? Mike Pence. Gray but not fun.

I'm even thinking about this guy. So what if he doesn't understand the uncoolness of a spray-on tan. For my money, he's fought like a Trojan and spoken direct declarative sentences I haven't heard since Barry Goldwater -- or Ronald Reagan.

btw, we'll get back to you when what we really need is another Ronald Reagan. Or when we spot one.

Back to Archive Index

Amazon Honor System Contribute to Learn More