Politics & Policy

Meeting the press, &c.

Yesterday, I was doing what every red-blooded American male does: perusing National Review Online. One of the joys in life. Anyway, I found a video of an exchange between David Gregory and John Boehner. Gregory is the host of Meet the Press. Boehner is — well, you know.

Gregory was giving Boehner a very, very hard time about people who believe that a) Obama wasn’t born in this country and b) he is a Muslim. Boehner was supposed to denounce them. Maybe he should.

But I was struck by Gregory’s high dudgeon, his great indignation. How dare anyone think that Obama is a Muslim! How dare anyone think there’s anything fishy about his birth certificate! Was he ever this way about gross offenses to President Bush? I’ll get to that in a moment.

Confronted with the Muslim question, I might have said, had I been Boehner, “First, there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim. Plenty of good and honorable people are. Some of the best people are. You’re not implying there’s anything wrong with being a Muslim, are you? You’re not saying that ‘Muslim’ is some kind of slur, are you? In any case, Obama is surely what he says he is. Religion is a matter of conscience.”

There are many reasons I’m not speaker of the House. The fact that I would give “wrong” answers on Meet the Press is one of them.

As to the birth-certificate question: I know very little about it. I am not a student of this issue, in part because I don’t give a rip — I mean, give a rip about where Obama was born. (Yes, I know there’s that Constitution thing. What are you, an originalist monster? Living document, baby.) I think I know this: Liberals love the issue, because it makes opposition to Obama seem kooky. It discredits opposition to Obama generally.

As I understand it — and I repeat that I am no student of this question — President Obama can have his birth certificate released with a wave of his hand. He can settle the matter once and for all simply by authorizing the release of his birth certificate.

But why would he do that? It’s such a good issue for him: and his fellow Democrats, and his supporters in the media.

I’ll tell you one reason he should do it: There are plenty of sincere, well-meaning people — non-crazy people, non-hating people — who have doubts about where he was born. If Obama can clear up the matter for them, shouldn’t he? I’m not talking about the appeasement of nuts. I’m talking about the setting straight of decent people who labor under a misunderstanding or confusion.

I was going to say something about David Gregory and Bush. I thought his name sounded familiar. (Gregory’s, I mean, not Bush’s.) Then I remembered. Sometime in 2009, I did a piece recalling all the poison — the demented, sometimes murderous hatred — hurled George W. Bush’s way. For eight years, it was “BusHitler,” or however they spelled it, and “Kill Bush.” And for eight years, all you heard from the Left was, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

After Obama was sworn in, the great, great concern of the establishment media was civility toward the president, and the government in general. Dissent was no longer the highest form of patriotism; it was the highest form of racism (as the crack went). I concluded my above-mentioned, and linked-to, piece as follows:

. . . they [the fevered anti-Bush rabble] are hardly positioned now to condemn the anti-Obama protesters. But all the smart people are consumed with worry about militiamen, brownshirts. On Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked a conservative senator whether he was troubled by threats of “violence against the government.” Well, that is a fine question to ask now. Did he notice the murderous displays against Bush? All of us have a little hypocrisy in us, probably. And to point out hypocrisy, as I have done in this article, is one of the easiest things in the world. But the current hypocrisy reeks so bad, it’s surprising that even the hypocrites don’t smell it.

I have just confirmed something via Google: Gregory wasn’t the guy who bowed to Obama. That was his NBC colleague Brian Williams. I guess it’s only right that Obama be bowed to now and then, seeing as he bows to others — mainly to foreign potentates. One was the king of Saudi Arabia; another was one of the big party bosses in Beijing.

If he’s going to bow, couldn’t he at least bow to someone admirable, like the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper? But then, the current Japanese emperor — another of the president’s bowees — is okay, as far as I know.

(In truth, Williams’s bow to Obama wasn’t a grand and deep bow — just kind of bowish.)

‐I was reading this AP report, on the aftermath of the historic protests in Egypt. Have a few paragraphs, then I wish to make a point, about “life in these United States.” (Wasn’t that a feature of Reader’s Digest?)

The protesters’ first act was deeply symbolic of their ambition to build a new Egypt and their determination to do it themselves: Thousands began cleaning up Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, the epicenter of their movement. The sprawling plaza was battered and trashed by 18 days of street battles and rallies by hundreds of thousands.

Even as thousands flowed in to celebrate, broom brigades fanned out, with smiling young men and women — some in stylish clothes and earrings — sweeping up rubble and garbage. Others repaired sidewalks torn apart for concrete chunks to use as ammunition in fighting with pro-regime gangs. Young veiled girls painted the metal railings of fences along the sidewalk. “Sorry for the inconvenience, but we’re building Egypt,” read placards many wore.

“We are cleaning the square now because it is ours,” said Omar Mohammed, a 20-year-old student. “After living here for three weeks, it has become our home . . . We’re going to leave it better than before.”

I couldn’t help thinking of the “tea partiers” in Washington (and elsewhere), leaving the sites of their mass rallies absolutely spotless. This made a stark contrast with the Obama-inauguration celebrants: who trashed the place, literally.

If I were a partisan type, I would say that this illustrates a difference between conservatives and liberals: conservatives taking responsibility, cleaning up after themselves; liberals just expecting someone else to do it, or not thinking about it at all. But I’m not a partisan type, am I? Heaven forfend. (An expression last used in 1952, I believe.)

‐Above, I spoke of confusion over Hawaiian birth certificates (or at least one of them). Well, I’m confused about something myself. As far as I know, “CPAC” stands for “Conservative Political Action Conference.” And yet reports say that last week’s proceedings were dominated by libertarians, Paulistas — heckling Cheney, calling him a war criminal, and so on. Fine. But can’t they have their own meetings and rallies? What are they doing at a Conservative Political Action Conference?

If you’re going to be proudly anti-conservative — you know, be it. Don’t go skulking around at conservative conferences. I’m not sure many people show up at Randian events yelling about God, marital fidelity, charitableness, and other backward stuff.

I’m sorry, but the sight, on video, of Dick Cheney, a great man, being screamed at and defamed — and looking gaunt from illness — made me sick.

‐Okay, a story from Ann Arbor, provided by a reader. A professor of medicine travels to the University of Michigan to attend an event celebrating the centennial of Robert Johnson, the bluesman. The professor has no association with the University of Michigan; he just wants to attend the event.

At his table are several U of M administrators and faculty members. One of them says how great it is to be able to celebrate the Johnson centennial — instead of the Reagan centennial. Naturally, he expects everyone to agree with this. He has not noticed any horns and tails.

Now, our guy, the medical professor, is a conservative. And he says, “I liked Reagan, but I went through a period when I was angry at him: That was when he signed amnesty for illegal aliens. But he won me back when he threatened to withhold funds from the U.N.”

Dead silence. The silence of silences . . .

‐Above, I let loose a blast of anti-Rand sentiment. I would like to make up for it — or leaven matters, if I may put it that way — by excerpting something from a piece I wrote last year. It was called “Among the Progs: A peek at the conservatives and libertarians of Norway” (glorious people). The below is about Siv Jensen, leader of the Progress party:

Chief among her political models are Reagan . . . and Thatcher. . . . And her writer of choice is Ayn Rand: “I have read her books over and over again. I just love them. They inspire me, they provoke me, they make me feel alive — they force you to reflect on a lot of issues in your society.” Has any writer ever received a finer tribute? So, Jensen is a Randian, then? “No, not all the way through. Her ideas are a bit too radical for me. But, when I was younger, I got inspired by reading her, and I think everyone could benefit, because she forces you to think — and it’s healthy to think, no matter what your ideology.” 

Let me repeat some of what Jensen said: “I have read her books over and over again. I just love them. They inspire me, they provoke me, they make me feel alive — they force you to reflect on a lot of issues in your society.” Yes, that’s an amazing tribute.

‐End with a little celebrity news? As though this were Vanity Fair or something? Yesterday, walking to work, I saw Michael Caine, getting out of a shiny black SUV. He had been driven to Regis Philbin’s show. As Caine walked to the door, a photographer snapped pictures like mad — an employee, or hiree, of the show, I feel sure. Caine never looked his way. He just walked straight in, with a slight scowl.

He looked rather elderly, with white hair and granny glasses. He was also professorial, rumpled. Yet he looked like a star. A remarkable sight.

Okay, that wasn’t much, but it’s all I got, celebrity-wise, and I’ll see you. Thanks for reading.




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