The pride of O, &c.

ESPN’s Bill Simmons interviews the president, March 1, 2012.


In an interview with the sportswriter Bill Simmons, President Obama said, “I am very proud of the fact I do not cheat when I’m playing golf.”

Well, a non-cheater is better than a cheater — an Obama is better than a Clinton, you could say. But I thought of Bobby Jones.

In the 1925 U.S. Open, he called a penalty stroke on himself. It may well have cost him the tournament, which he wound up losing by a stroke. Praised for his honesty and sportsmanship, Jones would have none of it. In fact, he bridled: “You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”


I saw a headline that said fear of Obama’s reelection was occasioning a “burst of gun sales.” You see, he is stimulating the economy.

Speaking of elections, let me praise them: This year’s election is making a pro-Israel warrior out of Barack Obama. He says, “The United States will always have Israel’s back.”

And as he was sitting politely next to Benjamin Netanyahu, I thought, “Gee: Obama needs him more than Bibi needs O, now.” A highly interesting development.

Yes, elections can have salutary effects (as well as unsalutary ones). But what would an Obama second term be like?

Before the 1980 election, ex-secretary of state Cyrus Vance told Mayor Ed Koch that Jimmy Carter would sell Israel down the river, if he got a second term. I’m a little nervous about O too. Better not to find out.

At a press conference — a very, very rare Obama press conference — a reporter asked the president whether he welcomed higher gas prices. Many do, you know: They say they wean us off oil.

Obama said, “Ed, just from a political perspective, do you think the president of the United States going into reelection wants gas prices to go up higher?”

I was reminded of something a national-security official in the George W. Bush administration said to me, when I asked him about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Democrats were saying that Bush had taken his “eye” off bin Laden, so eager was he to rule Iraq (or something).

The official said (I paraphrase), “First, it’s not true. But second — just from the crudest, most dishonorable political standpoint, don’t you think we’d kind of like to capture Osama bin Laden?”

Last week, I was talking to a man who works for a small college. This college has seen very, very few conservative speakers. He was wondering whether he could get me through — get me approved by the speakers committee. It would be no sure thing: I might be regarded as too extreme, beyond the pale.

Heaven forbid the kiddies should hear an hour of conservatism, in their four-year college careers!

When I hung up the phone, I thought of the battles we have on the right: We’re at one another’s throats in the current primaries. But to the Left, and particularly the campus Left, we’re all the same.

I must confess that I often have the same feeling about the Left: Their squabbles, to me, are just the Bolsheviks versus the Mensheviks. In 2008, there was a protracted battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton. In my eyes, there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between them. You could have flipped a coin (that dime).

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Al Gore, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi — to me, they’re one bloc. If they have differences, they’re teeny-tiny, and they have mainly to do with style, I think.

Several years ago, I spoke on a pretty campus, and I was having lunch with the College Republicans. Their faculty adviser was there too — a Democrat, because there were no Republicans on the faculty. This Democrat had kindly volunteered.

He told me that, in the late 1960s, the campus had seen a conservative speaker: Bill Rusher, the publisher of National Review. I asked whether they had had any conservatives since. The professor couldn’t think of one.

I’m afraid I said, “That sounds about right to me: One conservative speaker every 40 years, or two generations. Wouldn’t want to overdo it!”

I am jolted by the difference between RightWorld, in which I spend a lot of my time, and the rest of the world. In RightWorld, George W. Bush, John McCain, Bob Dole, and Bush 41 aren’t conservatives. They’re moderates or squishes or RINOs. In the rest of the world, they’re either conservatives or right-wingers.