Politics & Policy

Barack Obama’s journey, &c.

Barack Obama has come a long way. Do you remember his keynote address to the 2004 Democratic convention? Kind of stirring.

He quoted the American motto: “E pluribus unum. ‘Out of many, one.’” He continued, “Even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us — the spinmasters, the negative-ad peddlers, who embrace the politics of ‘anything goes.’ Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”

Nice, don’t you think?

These days, as he winds up his reelection campaign, he’s running an ad that says, “Mitt Romney: Not one of us.” The Obama super-PAC, disgustingly named “Patriot Majority,” is running an ad that denounces Romney as an “economic traitor.”

What a pathetic, ugly, hypocritical presidency. Good riddance (please).

‐In an Impromptus last week, I mentioned a walk around Darien, Connecticut, where “left-wing bumper stickers are affixed to $80,000 cars.”

A reader writes,

“I saw an irksome bumper sticker the other day. I wondered if you had it in your ‘collection’: ‘Hate. Lies. Greed. The Republican Way.’ I must confess, I found myself thinking rather uncharitable thoughts about the lady driving that Mercedes. ‘You dare to condemn me while you drive around calling half the country greedy, hate-filled liars? Look in your mirror to see what hatred looks like.’”

Yeah.

‐Grant that all politicians — like all people, probably — stretch the truth. Grant too that “politics ain’t beanbag,” as we’ve all been told from infancy. But think about President Obama in the second presidential debate (not to mention the other two).

Indicting Romney, he said, “He was asked, ‘Is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 year?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I think that’s fair.’” Romney, of course, had been talking about capital-gains taxes.

Obama repeated his longstanding claim that “you can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it.” This is a policy that only Obama seems to know about.

He said that “millions of women all across the country” rely on Planned Parenthood for mammograms. Planned Parenthood does not offer them.

He said that Romney wanted the auto companies to go bankrupt without any hope of recovery. Nonsense. On energy policy, the Arizona immigration law, the Benghazi attack — more nonsense, more untruths.

There comes a point at which a man leaves a normal, shady political realm and crosses into outright dishonor.

‐A reader from northern Wisconsin sent me a story published in the Huffington Posthere. The story then went big-time, going overseas to the Daily Mailhere. The Mail treated it in most flamboyant fashion.

The story, mind you, concerned a crime. A human-rights crime. A math teacher handed out an assignment. The assignment asked a question: “What happened after Chief Short Cake died?” After you solved the problems correctly, you found that the answer was, “Squaw bury Short Cake.”

All hell broke loose. The teacher was accused of vicious racism, blah, blah, blah. He issued the most abject apologies. He was suspended, blah, blah, blah. The whole drill. You’ve seen it, or heard about it, a thousand times.

Society can be very puritanical, about certain things. The puritanicalness doesn’t change; only the “things” do, if you know what I mean.

Our reader comments, “One of the larger and better-known lakes in the area is Squaw Lake, about a quarter mile off the reservation [Indian reservation, or Native American reservation, or whatever the acceptable term is at the moment]. I guess it’s still okay to say you went fishing there.”

The American sense of proportion is utterly defective.

‐Late last year, I had a column titled “The stench of ‘Occupy,’ &c.” The column contained this item: “I read a headline: ‘Occupy Boston Storms Israeli Consulate.’ I thought, ‘It always comes down to the Jews, doesn’t it? So many grievances, so many extreme movements. It doesn’t take them very long before they get around to the Jews . . .’”

I was reminded of this when reading Damian Thompson, here. He shows a picture of a cartoon published on “a Facebook page set up to support Occupy Wall Street” (his description). The cartoon shows a big, vile Jew about to eat up the U.S. presidential candidates or something. As Thompson says, it is right out of Nazi propaganda, or Arab propaganda.

Yes, it always comes down to the Jews, doesn’t it? Always. No matter what. A sickness that hangs on, century after century . . .

‐My homegirl, Eliana Johnson, sent me a news story out of Connecticut. The headline: “Four Of Five Speakers Cancel For UNESCO/UConn Conference On Human Rights.” The subhead: “One Speaker Pulled Out Because Shimon Peres Would Be Honored.”

Sure. Of course.

I can’t resist telling a story, one of my favorite stories of all time. I’ve told it in this space before, I know. I heard it from Bernard Lewis, some years ago.

Golda Meir came to his university, Princeton. During a Q&A, someone asked her, “Prime Minister, why is it that the PLO belongs to UNESCO while Israel does not?” (The PLO had some partial membership during this period, I believe. And Israel had been kicked out.) Meir responded, “Well, let’s think about it. ‘UNESCO’ stands for ‘United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.’ Obviously, the Palestinians have more to contribute to education, science, and culture than we do.”

As I’ve commented before, “one of the finest uses of sarcasm I know of.”

‐This is not so fun: The person who pulled out of the conference because of Peres (probably the outstanding Israeli dove in the history of that country)? A young woman I have hailed in my column before, more than once, I believe: the Bahraini activist Maryam al-Khawaja. What a shame. Perhaps she will, in fact, be ashamed, in later years.

‐Have I noted this story in Impromptus yet? According to declassified German intelligence files, Fidel Castro recruited old SS men, to train his troops. This was during the Cuban missile crisis. As my colleague Rick Brookhiser commented, “Who needed the SS when you had Che?”

Years ago, Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart told me that Fidel Castro was a fascist: always had been, always would be. Their father, Rafael Lincoln Diaz-Balart, was for a time a close friend of Castro. His roommate. His comrade. Even his brother-in-law. He knew Castro very well.

Here is Diaz-Balart speaking in the Cuban legislature in May 1955: “. . . Fidel Castro is nothing more than a psychopathic fascist, who could choose to align himself with communism only because fascism was defeated in the Second World War.”

For my 2003 piece on the Diaz-Balarts, go here. It contains this material.

‐A little language? I quite like it when certain native Spanish-speakers, speaking English, put an “es” in front of words beginning with “s” — “es-school,” “es-stove.” The other day, I heard a quite beautiful word: “es-strawberries.” Better than the original! Totally musical.

‐A little more language? A reader e-mails, “Thought you’d appreciate this. I was in the elevator with my building’s security guard this afternoon. She’s a southern woman. We had a conversation about the weather, as people do. I had never heard the expression she used at the end.”

Here’s a little transcript:

Her (the security guard): “Great weather we’re having.”

Him (our reader): “I know, but I hope it doesn’t snow next week.”

Her: “They’re saying it might.”

Him: “Ugh, I know, but I hope not.”

Her: “Ain’t no tellin’, John told Helen.”

Beautiful. See you!

 

To order Jay Nordlinger’s new book, Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.

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