Politics & Policy

Over the line, &c.

There has hardly ever been a campaigner who hasn’t exaggerated, demonized, scarified, and all the rest of it. It goes with the territory. But there’s a line, I think — and I also think that Rick Santorum, in his battle against Mitt Romney, has crossed it.

Here are some greatest hits from recent days: “Mitt Romney is in bed with Barack Obama.” Romney “passed socialized medicine.” “Mitt’s whole career, he’s been working for liberals.” Romney is “a liberal governor of Massachusetts.” He is “an Occupy Wall Street adherent.”

Not only are these not truthful comments, they’re not even sane. And you want sanity in your nominee, as a bare minimum. Newt Gingrich has dubbed Romney a “Massachusetts moderate.” Who could have guessed that, between the two main not-Romney candidates, Newt would be the more temperate in his rhetoric?

Although Santorum has not, thus far, accused Romney of forcing Holocaust survivors to eat non-kosher food for the first time in their lives, in their dying days. That was a Newt special.

‐Another Santorum beauty: Romney “doesn’t understand how America works any more than Barack Obama understands how America works.” Well, growing up with George, starting businesses, running the Olympics, serving as governor — Romney has a halfway decent understanding of how America works, I would say. Maybe even close to Rick Santorum’s understanding.

As for Obama, he managed to understand America well enough to get himself elected president, alas.

‐Santorum said that Romney and Ron Paul are in cahoots, teaming up against him. “The coordination that I felt at that debate that night was pretty clear — it was like they were passing messages behind my chair.”

If Romney can pull off such a tricky, crafty feat in a campaign, imagine what he could do in American foreign policy . . .

‐He was supposed to have stepped in it by telling a Detroit audience, “I drive a Mustang and Chevy pickup truck. Ann [Mrs. Romney] drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. I used to have a Dodge truck, so I used to have all three covered [the three Detroit automakers].”

What was the problem? You see, he revealed himself to be — cover the children’s ears — rich. All those cars. And two Cadillacs! Holy smokes, what will the yokels say?

Actually, the yokels, in my home state of Michigan, tend to have a lot of cars. Maybe even more than the Romneys. There might even be a Caddy or two among those cars. Besides, I think everyone pretty much knows that Romney has made a lot of money. And I have a feeling the public might be a little less resentful than some suppose.

A few weeks ago, a Santorum campaigner-blogger on this site said that Romney was “pretending he’s not rich.” Well, for a guy who’s pretending he’s not rich, he’s pretty loose with the Cadillac talk.

This article begins, “President Barack Obama is telling Latino voters their choice in the election ‘will not be that difficult’ because he’s the only one who backs comprehensive immigration reform.”

I couldn’t help thinking what Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, said during the 2010 campaign: “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, okay? Do I need to say more?” This was before a Hispanic Republican, Brian Sandoval, won the governorship of Reid’s state, Nevada — beating Reid’s own son, Rory.

How sweet it was, and is.

‐Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, was roundly criticized for not coming out and saying, forthrightly, “Of course Barack Obama is a Christian. Who could question it? Christian as they come.” Instead, he said things like, “I accept him as what he says. If he says he’s a Christian, I accept that. I’m not going to say he’s not. . . . He is a nice man. And his wife is a class act and their kids are class — you can’t help but like them.”

Graham was pilloried. But I thought of this: Bill Maher said flat-out that he didn’t believe Obama was a Christian. He said he thought Obama was lying about that. He said that, as he saw it, Obama was a secular humanist, pure and simple.

Yet few pounced on Maher for that, as I recall.

Also, Franklin Graham, at the same time he was making his remarks about Obama, would not call Mitt Romney a Christian. And nobody, but nobody, cared about that.

Such a strange country we have.

‐The U.S. Army, using Black Hawk helicopters, has been dropping food, medicine, and livestock feed to people stranded in the mountains of Montenegro, which have been socked with snow. (Story here.) Nice to know our soldiers have taken a break from killing babies and wiping themselves with Korans to help the hungry.

One of the helicopter pilots compared his work in Montenegro with his work in Afghanistan: “There, we were getting shot at.”

‐The headline said, “High court torn over law banning lies about medals.” You know, I’m torn too: If it’s illegal to lie about military honors, what other things should it be illegal to lie about? The article began, “Free speech cases before the Supreme Court often lead justices to consider far-fetched scenarios, and Wednesday’s argument . . . was no exception.”

The Wise Latina, Sonia Sotomayor said, “I take offense when someone I’m dating makes a claim that’s not true.” Like that race and ethnicity should have nothing to do with a judge’s interpretation of the Constitution?

‐I don’t have anything on the Oscars for you, but I have something on a movie: Unstoppable (2010), which I saw on DVD. Wonderfully interesting and exciting movie, I think — but guilty of a few groan-making clichés.

1) The guy who messes up, causing terrible trouble, is a fat white dufus. The viewer is expected to hate him, or scorn him, without reservation.

2) Business executives are heedless or evil, putting profits over people — willing for people to die en masse so that the stock price can remain level. The top exec is reached by telephone when he’s on the golf course!

He’s playing golf! How long has that stereotype been around — since about 342 B.C.? Golf has been a democratic game for ages (forever, actually). I’m surprised they didn’t dress the CEO in top hat and tails and have him eat urchins.

The thing about Marxists, and the Marx-influenced — they’re not just wrong, they’re so crude.

3) The two black characters are 100 percent competent and 100 percent heroic.

Ah, America. Anthropologists of the distant future will have a field day.

‐I heard a political story that is one of the most charming I have heard in my entire life. Hope you like it: A friend of mine was living in San Francisco in 1980. After work on Election Day, she heard that Carter had conceded to Reagan. But she so wanted to vote for Reagan, and, even more, against Carter, she went out and voted anyway. She wasn’t going to be deprived of casting that ballot, even if the outcome was already known.

Love it.

‐A little music? For a column in City Arts, go here. It’s about a Barber of Seville and an Aida at the Metropolitan Opera. Friend of mine wrote me something funny.

In the column, I say,

In this production of The Barber, there is one humble mule. (I’m speaking of an animal, not casting aspersions on a singer.) In Sonja Frisell’s production of Aida, which premiered in 1988, there are about five proper horses — but no elephant. There’s a prop that represents a tusk, however, serving as a war trophy. Has the Met gone cheap?

My friend e-mailed, “You think the Met would put an elephant on the stage in an election year?”

‐Care for a name? A reader writes, “Number 14 for the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team, currently ranked #1 in the nation, is Madison Packer. She lists her home town as Birmingham, Mich., but she has the perfect name to play sports in Wisconsin.”

Our reader adds, “Perhaps her middle name is Brewer.”

‐Care for one more name? Over the weekend, I Googled around about André Tchaikowsky, the Polish pianist from midcentury. I couldn’t quite remember whether he was related to the composer — I didn’t think so, but wanted to be sure.

I discovered that he was given the name Andrzej Czajkowski when he was about seven. This was part of an attempt to save his life. He and his dad survived the war, but his mother was killed at Treblinka.

Later, the pianist changed the spelling of his name to André Tchaikowsky. His original name was Krauthammer — Robert Andrzej Krauthammer.

I thought NRO readers, in particular, would appreciate knowing about another great Krauthammer.



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