March 28, 2010 - March 21, 2010
. 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
Cool. But so far, NRO hasn't even acknowledged this part of the story.
Daniel Foster reported
briefly on her speech:
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:
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
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.
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
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
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
And here's a diferent version which somehow completes the circle.
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?
. 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.