Politics & Policy

Obama plays with fire, &c.

President Obama had what he must have thought of as a clever jibe against Rick Perry. He told an audience of donors, “You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.”

You know how some region of the country, or world, will have a cold spell, and some people will say, “You call this global warming?” And other people will say, “Hey, you can’t judge this question by the weather of the moment”?

Well, if that applies to the “skeptics” — why doesn’t it apply to Barack Obama?

‐No one “denies climate change,” as Obama repeatedly says. Everyone knows that climate changes. What some people “deny,” or question, is the assertion of man-made global warming. The global-warming people went to the phrase “climate change,” in order to have all their bases covered.

‐Obama said, “You’ve got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don’t have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they’re gay.” He was speaking of the Republican presidential debates, and trying to tar the whole party with the behavior of a few.

My point, here, is language: When Obama says “somebody,” he then uses the pronoun “they.” When he says “service member in Iraq,” he calls that member “they.”

Pretty much everybody’s doing this, and I’m afraid it is here to stay. This is a battle that smells like losing. To each their own, you know?

‐Individuals in left-wing audiences do and say some pretty outrageous things. Should the Republican presidential nominee take note of this, and use it against Obama and the Democrats? Is Obama pretty much the pettiest president in all history?

‐An ex-Google exec implored Obama to raise his taxes. The president responded, “I appreciate the fact that you recognize that we’re in this thing together. We’re not our own. Those of us who have been successful have always got to remember that.”

You see that Obama equates public-spiritedness with higher taxes. The Google man could do all sorts of wonderful things with his money — things both charitable and entrepreneurial. And the entrepreneurial uses could well increase revenue to the government.

But Democrats, in my experience, seldom think this way. It is an enormous, baffling blind spot.

‐I have an idea: A Republican candidate should give a speech on what the ex-Google exec could do with his money, if that exec wants to help out the public. I don’t have in mind a mocking or condemnatory speech — I mean a thoughtful, explanatory one. This is a “teachable moment.”

‐Rick Perry, the Democrats, and others are making hay out of something Mitt Romney said. Romney spoke of “the great middle class — the 80 to 90 percent of us in this country.” Ha ha! people are saying. Romney, worth at least a quarter of a billion dollars, called himself middle-class!!

No, he didn’t: When he said “us,” he was obviously referring to the American population as a whole. When I say, “Only 1 percent of us knows how to ride a unicycle,” I’m not saying I do.

I can understand why Romney’s political opponents would want to take a cheap shot at him over this. But how do you explain, for example, ABC News? Are they Romney’s political opponents? (You know the answer.)

‐Get ready for a sick, sick statement: “In a rare hourlong interview with The Associated Press, Lt. Gen. Vasily Khristoforov acknowledged that the Soviet version of Wallenberg’s death of a heart attack could have been fabricated and that his captors may have ‘helped him die.’”

Yup, that’s what they did — help Wallenberg die! The Soviets helped a lot of other people die too. (For the article in question, go here.)

‐You may have some criticisms of the American hikers (as they’re called) recently released from Iran. Those should be for later, I think (and a good deal later). This news article told us something stunning — just about the best thing I’ve read all month:

“A smiling Bauer put his arm around Shourd — now his fiancee.” This was at a news conference. “He had proposed to her while they were both imprisoned, seeing each other only an hour at a time no more than once a day. He formed an impromptu engagement ring out of the threads from his shirt.”

‐In case you think the Sandinistas have turned nice ’n democratic, think again: “A Nicaraguan newspaper said Saturday that one of its reporters has fled to the United States following what she described as threats from supporters of the ruling Sandinista party.” I am quoting from this dispatch.

The reporter, Silvia González, had been investigating the death of one of the Sandinistas’ opponents. In Miami, she said, “I am afraid that they will kill me” — “they” being the Sandinistas. “And that is why I left.”

I’m glad she’s here. Does principle demand that we deport her? No principle worth subscribing to.

‐In this column, I have written many times about the Communist goons in Cuba who commit actos de repudio — acts of intimidation and worse at the homes of democrats and other independent thinkers.

This AP report begins, “A raucous pro-government crowd shouting insults and slogans blocked a group of Cuban dissidents from launching a protest march in Havana on Saturday.” I’m not sure the phrase “raucous pro-government crowd” quite covers it. I have seen photos and videos of these howling, violent mobs. And I have seen other reports on this particular day.

But I greatly appreciate that the AP is covering these events at all. It used to be, you heard about them only from democracy groups in Florida, despised by our mainstream media.

Remember and bless the name Laura Pollán. She is one of the “Ladies in White,” and it was her home that was the most recent target. A phenomenally brave woman, Laura Pollán.

By the way, the mob shouted that Pollán and the other ladies were gusanos, worms. This is the word that has always been applied to opponents of the Castro dictatorship. I learned the word in Ann Arbor, Mich., where I grew up. The Left used it with a prideful sneer, against the democrats. I didn’t know it meant “worms” until later.

For a report on Saturday from the Coalition of Cuban-American Women, go here.

‐Think Lech Walesa is great? You are right. Here he is visiting General Jaruzelski, once the Soviets’ proxy dictator in Poland, in the hospital.

‐I winced on seeing this headline: “Living people to appear on US stamps.” The article began, “For the first time, living people will be eligible to be honored on U.S. postage stamps.” It continued, “The U.S. Postal Service announced Monday that it is ending its longstanding rule that stamps cannot feature people who are still alive and it’s asking the public to offer suggestions on who should be first.”

I think this is a terrible development. Is it because of a stubborn conservatism within (within me, that is)? I can’t quite put my finger on it. My business is to articulate. Here, I fail.

It may have to do with this: Passions and popularity pass. The honor of a U.S. postage stamp should not be subject to temporary passions and popularity. Does that make any sense?

Must think more, before typing . . .

‐“The culture is a sewer,” Mark Helprin once said to me. I often have occasion to think of this, and quote this. I saw a headline: “Couple from ‘16 and Pregnant’ arrested in Arkansas.” (Article here.) The next headline was “Ted Haggard to appear on wife swap television show.” (Article here.)

These shows aren’t harmless. They not only reflect our culture, they drive it. They drag us all down, down.

‐Seeing this gave me a lift: “Europe’s Laura Davies overtook Annika Sorenstam to become the all-time Solheim Cup record points scorer at Killeen Castle on Saturday.” I thought, Laura Davies is still playing? I first saw her in the 1980s. What a golfer.

I have a memory — poignant thing. She was playing in the U.S. Open, and it was about a million degrees. And humid. She was wearing a light, white sweater — baggy. I thought she might have been trying to cover her girth a little. I just ached for her. Rooted for her hard.

I believe she won that weekend. New Jersey.

‐In my Monday Impromptus, I cited this article by Walt Harrington, in The American Scholar. A stunning, magnificent thing — about Bush 43, principally. I said I would say more about this article in my next column. But I’m going to wait till the next, if you don’t mind — one more item, and then out.

‐For some reason — can’t remember why now — a reader mentioned Parley Baer to me in a letter. I had never heard of him. He was a character actor, who lived from 1914 to 2002. I looked him up in Wikipedia. I just loved this:

“In 1946, he met and married circus aerialist and bareback rider Ernestine Clarke. They were together for 54 years . . .”

So American, and so wonderful. See you!




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