Progressive Insurance

by Victor Davis Hanson
The right ideological credentials mean never having to say you’re sorry

How do you ensure that you won’t be ostracized, denounced, or fired if you are a media celebrity, captain of industry, or high public official?

For some, sexist banter is certainly no problem. Stand-up comedian Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a c–t and a tw-t, but suffered no ill consequences. David Letterman joked on air that Sarah Palin’s 14-year-old daughter had had sex with Alex Rodriguez during a New York Yankees game. There was no downside to that either. President Obama tosses around “sweetie” as he wishes. No problem with that. No one believes Barack could be condescending to women.

It is not just that sloppy speech can, with the right ideological insurance, become irrelevant. Inconvenient truths can be insured against too. Barack Obama’s female staffers make far less than do their male counterparts, at least by the quirky sort of standards that the president himself applies to others to win petty victories in his vaunted war against the war against women. Bill Clinton had sexual relations with a young staffer, in what feminists would call a classic exploitative situation of disparate power. Most such bosses would be fired for hitting on their young assistants. If Woody Allen were not insured as a left-wing filmmaker, he would have been ostracized out of Hollywood.

Racism is not necessarily a job killer either. How could it be, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed during the 2008 campaign that a “light-skinned” Barack Obama spoke with “no Negro dialect.” Joe Biden, himself a candidate in that election, said of Obama that he was the “first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” Despite such racist drivel, a fully ideologically insured Biden was rewarded with the nomination for vice president.

No one asks Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to step down from the Supreme Court; but in a quite frightening remark, she quipped that she was surprised about the uproar over abortion: “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” Frankly, that seemed a savage thing to say, especially given the inordinate percentages of abortions among minorities and the poor. Why did an uncouth Don Imus go on forced sabbatical from radio for his racial crudity, but not, say, Stephen Colbert for his own racial buffoonery? Is it that Colbert is never dead serious in a way Imus always is? No, it’s that Colbert had taken out ideological insurance, Imus not so much.

As far as inflammatory race baiting goes, one can say almost anything one wants — with the proper ideological insurance: Collate these comments by Chris Rock (the Fourth of July is “white people’s day”), Morgan Freeman on conservative opposition to Obama (the Tea Party is “going to do whatever [they] can to get this black man outta here”), Jamie Foxx on Django Unchained (“I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?”), or Hank Aaron on Republicans who oppose President Obama’s policies (they’re like the KKK). Certainly racial venom is not a career ender for the fully insured. Jay-Z, a frequent White House guest, is not shy about wearing a Five-Percent Nation medallion, which reflects an ideology that considers whites inferior devils.

Insensitivity to gay concerns is supposed to be professionally ruinous. But, really, it is not either. Alec Baldwin occasionally lets loose with anti-gay slurs and seems to be doing fine. Barack Obama strongly opposed gay marriage far more publicly than did the head of Mozilla. No one asks our president to resign, or for that matter the legion of Democratic politicians who ran on the premise that marriage is properly only between a man and a woman. They all were fully covered by low-deductible ideological insurance.

Criminal activity is no barrier either. Last week, at a convention hosted by activist Al Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder whined to Sharpton’s audience that he and Obama have been treated unfairly, his subtext being endemic racial prejudice. But Holder’s host knows a lot about racial prejudice. At that moment, Sharpton — who concocted the Tawana Brawley mythology, defamed a district attorney, and was forced to pay libel fines for his slurs; who avoided taxes; and who helped incite a fatal race riot — was back in the news, and not for his long history of racism, homophobia, and religious bigotry.

The latest revelations about Sharpton suggest that he was an FBI informant against Mafia criminals, apparently in some fear that drug charges would be lodged against him. The fully insured Sharpton’s entire career has been predicated on racist language and demagoguery — again hardly obstacles to serial White House invitations. Holder, who called Americans “cowards” and referred to African-Americans as “my people” (try that, John Ashcroft), complained of rudeness and a general divisiveness in the country. Was he referring to Obama’s request of Latinos that they “punish our enemies” or his own racialist language? No matter: Holder pays his insurance premium quarterly with either an accusation of racism or a loud affirmation of his progressivism.

Three miscreant California Democratic state senators — two charged with multiple felonies, one convicted of them — have only recently been put on leave. They are still receiving their state salaries. Since they are left-wing and of minority status, the scandals will soon be off the front pages, and calls for their resignations will be muted.

Lisa Jackson, the former EPA director, left the agency abruptly after it was disclosed that she had created a fake e-mail persona, among other things, to give herself (a.k.a. “Richard Windsor”) an EPA award for being a “scholar of ethical behavior.” Apple rewarded such ethical behavior by giving her a six-figure income as its new environmental liaison. Note well: Had Lisa Jackson Windsor expressed doubts about man-caused global warming rather than fabricated a false identity, then she might not have landed on a lucrative Apple perch — and might have been advised by Apple’s CEO to dump her Apple stock.

Does a poor record of achievement in helping minorities get one fired? Not really. In terms of minority income and employment, Barack Obama’s five years in the White House have been an abject disaster.

Is being rich, then, a class liability? That too depends on whether you bought progressive insurance. If you are a Silicon Valley billionaire who is loudly cool, hip, and left-wing, then offshoring and outsourcing is OK. No one worries that George Soros is a European pariah speculator who was convicted of insider trading in France in 2005, or that the fully insured Steyer brothers seek to trump the Koch model of giving millions to pet political causes.

The president deplores the Supreme Court’s striking down limits on campaign donations. He can do that because he hits the 0.01 percent up for quid pro quo cash in pursuit of noble causes. John Kerry married a millionaire, then a billionaire, and then tried to avoid sales and excise taxes on his huge yacht. That was a disturbing fact, but it was not brought up on the Senate floor — in the manner that Mitt Romney was falsely accused of being a tax cheat by Harry Reid. Reid long ago took out a huge progressive umbrella policy that so far has insured him against his libelous allegations, dubious financial entanglements, and racist statements.

Perhaps the most amply progressively insured operator in the world today is Al Gore. He pays high premiums for nonstop left-wing slurs (such as suggesting that a sitting president is in cahoots with Brownshirts). Yet it pays off when someone might lodge a claim against you. Imagine the following liability and the sort of ideological insurance necessary to defend against it: First, you hype a supposed climate disaster and then offer remedies for it — with your profit margin based on the degree of hysteria you have whipped up. Second, as a big-government, green liberal guru, you sell a failed cable-television network to a carbon-spewing, Islamist Gulf sheikdom, and rush the sale to beat a new hike in the capital-gains tax rate. Third, you ignore questions about why something so worthless might be worth so much to a mostly homophobic, misogynist, and religiously intolerant Middle East monarchy.

Gore’s insurance policies guarantee that he will never be shunned as a tax-dodging robber baron eager to grab petrodollars.

Sometimes progressive insurance involves far more than just liberal rhetoric. Perceptions, however superficial, matter as well. Had George Zimmerman just insured himself by taking his mother’s maiden name and Latinizing his first name, Jorge Mesa would not quite so easily have incurred liberals’ wrath in the Trayvon Martin case. Even the New York Times would have been stumped in its crude attempts to whip up racial hatred by reinventing Zimmerman with the neologism “white Hispanic.”

A Barry Dunham would not have had the resonance with liberals that the exotically multicultural brand of Barack Obama conveys. Even a preppy-sounding President Barry Obama would have had trouble playing golf so incessantly, in a way Barack does not.

Plagiarism is usually an absolute career killer. But you can take out progressive insurance against that as well. Just ask former plagiarists Joe Biden, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Juan Williams, and Fareed Zakaria.

Instead of paying monetary premiums, one supports the proper causes, says the properly cool things, joins the right organizations, and votes the correct way, and by those means purchases a liability policy against the careless mistakes, plagiarism, offhanded lapses, sexual peccadillos, gaffes, and bad jokes that otherwise could prove ruinous.

Complain about racists with the racist Jay-Z, blast the oil companies with the petrodollar billionaire Al Gore, frolic about with a young girl in the Oval Office with Bill Clinton, copy someone else’s work with Maureen Dowd, oppose the anti-abortionists with the eugenicist-sounding Justice Ginsburg — and you will never have to say you’re sorry.

For most people in the media, entertainment, politics, sports, and academia, taking out ideological insurance is a no-brainer.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.