Dear Reader (and those of you who are too busy examining the layers in the PDF version of the G-File),
I’m writing this en route to Paris – I’m one of the speakers on the NR French riverboat cruise. My wife is sitting next to me, so I’m going to have to keep this PG-13 or lower. Also, because I’m flying (or rather I’m strapped into a device that is flying), I do not have access to the Interweb, so links to items that demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am absolutely 100 percent right about everything will have to wait until next week. Still, I will add a [LINK] everyplace I feel like you’d appreciate the unequivocal proof that I am absolutely, metaphysically, ontologically, and in all other respects completely and totally correct, as everyone from Larry Storch to Barack Obama has admitted many, many times.
The Friendly Skies
Again, the Fair You-Know-Who is sitting right next to me, so I’m going to say this as delicately as I can: The flight attendants on this flight are abnormally non-unattractive. Open Skies, the name of the airline I’m on, is a subsidiary of British Airways, but the staff seems to be all French, and I do mean all French.* It’s an “all business class” airline. Apparently Jack Fowler, NR’s publisher, got a deal on the tickets. (Jack is a fan of a good deal. Rumor has it he was once nearly driven mad when he was told that there was a Domino’s Pizza coupon in the corner of the Guggenheim Museum.) And so far, it’s fantastic. But not because the sky-waitresses are so easy on the eyes. (I swear! Please, darling, go back to your book.) I mean, it’s well known that attractive French waitresses are helpless before my charms once you get them above 35,000 feet. But I am completely impervious to their wiles.
But it is fascinating how so many other countries still hire flight attendants for their looks while in the United States we hire them for their . . . um, errr, their lofty status as carbon-based life forms? Their ability to lie through their teeth about the incredible dangers of playing “Angry Birds” on your iPhone during taxiing and takeoff? Lord knows a cute, doe-eyed twentysomething girl could never be trained to do all that.
Oh, sure, there was Hooters Air, and some folks still have their fingers crossed for a Fox Business Airways. But basically that’s just not how we do things in America anymore.
Why? Because of everything from feminism to unions to the triumph of something that I guess we’ll have to call the meritocracy. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s fair that anyone should lose their job because they’re not young and pretty, or not be hired at all because they’re not female. But we still accept those facts of life in a few areas: modeling, acting, and to only a slightly lesser degree news broadcasting. More to the point, the tide of fairness and feminism brought with it some very valuable things, but it’s worth at least noting that the same tide washed away some of life’s smaller charms.
And yes, I know that this was probably one of the weakest examples I could have cited in this regard.
* Oh, I almost forgot about that asterisk up there. “And I do mean all French” is one of those phrases that sounds dirty but isn’t. Like (as mentioned in the last G-File) “goat painting” or “leading from behind.”
Speaking of Unionization
Around the time the TSA agent was asking me to turn my head and cough, a thought occurred to me. No, that thought was not “In better lighting with maybe a nice bottle of merlot, this would be a lot more enjoyable.”
Throughout all of these government union fights, one of the staple arguments you always hear goes something like this: “These noble public servants do the important work of this or that, and it is only fair and just that they be properly compensated.”
Now, I do not think this argument is always or wholly without merit. Many people become cops or firemen or teachers because they consider it a calling, and what they do is in fact noble.
But is it really true that that the deputy assistant manager for food services in the D.C. public-school system took her job out of a noble sense of public duty? Would the guy who clears the roadkill from the shoulder of I-95 happily do it for free?
My point isn’t to denigrate the work. I’m one of those people who find nobility in honest work. Nor am I saying that we should underpay people who do valuable and necessary jobs. My only point is that defenders of government workers tend to make it sound like the workers who take these jobs do so for lofty reasons and their self-sacrifice should be rewarded, when the reality is often – not always, but often – much closer to the reverse. They take the job because of the generous compensation and job security and invoke the nobility of their vocations to cynically protect their gigs.
The Issue of the Hour
Frankly, I’m perfectly happy Obama released his birth certificate. I always thought that the only thing worse than the birthers being wrong would be the birthers being right.
Igniting a whacky constitutional crisis because Barack Obama spent a few weeks or months in Kenya as an infant seemed like madness to me. Throwing out the first black president in the middle of his presidency would be absurdly difficult, painful, and counterproductive in every way, dredging up a level of biliousness this country has rarely if ever seen. And at the end of the process, even if a “birther Congress” could have successfully impeached and removed the guy for being ineligible, we would have . . . President Joe Biden.
(By the way, I’ve long pondered what a Biden presidency would look like. I think the Lloyd Bridges character in Airplane! gives us a good sense of what Biden’s presidential leadership style would be.)
Personally, I don’t think we need the natural-born-citizen clause. Voters can decide if someone born outside the United States deserves the job. I would never rally behind Arnold Schwarzenegger for president, but my opposition to the guy has nothing to do with the fact he’s an immigrant. One of the things I like best about him is that he’s an immigrant.
What Took Him So Long?
I got a lot of grief from the usual types for asking why Obama dragged this out as long as he did. I still think it’s a perfectly legitimate question.
It seems to me that if there was no “there” there this whole time, the responsible thing would have been for a junior deputy assistant press secretary to release the thing over two years ago.
Think about it. Liberal surrogates in and out of the press and the administration have been saying for two years that the birthers are discrediting the Republican party. They’re racist. They’re nuts. They’re trying to tear down the president and the country with their paranoia. And yet Obama could have put the whole thing to rest with five minutes of paper shuffling. The White House only asked Hawaii for the birth certificate last week. And this was after we’d been told incessantly that Hawaii couldn’t find or couldn’t release the long-form birth certificate.
(Never mind that we never heard anything like the same level of outrage and dismay over the “truther” conspiracy theories, which A) were more widely held on the left than birtherism has been on the right and B) were far, far more repugnant. One theory held that a politician was hiding something on his birth certificate for political reasons. The other theory held that the United States government from the president down systematically planned and carried out the worst terrorist attack in American history and then successfully covered it up with the help of nearly all of our elite institutions.)
It seems to me the strategists around Obama liked it this way. They thought they could exploit the birthers the way Clinton exploited the militias. Keeping the story in the news by letting the birthers drive themselves nuts helped them. The press helped, too. Did you ever notice how whenever a Republican denounced the birthers or dismissed the issue, the press would often cast it as a tactical move to win moderates, not an act of conviction?
During the week of news coverage that Obama says was dominated by the birther issue, you were something like 35 times more likely to hear about the subject on CNN or MSNBC. Do you think those outlets framed the issue in a light favorable to the birthers or to the president? (Even now, the only media types really eager to prop up the birthers as a serious force are MSNBC hosts and their freelance producers at Media Matters & Co., who want to use the topic for guilt by association.)
Trump changed the equation. As odd as it is to me personally, Trump is a mainstream figure and his birtherism wasn’t discrediting the GOP because he’s not identified as a “real” Republican. And given the awful economy and the general pessimism out there, the birther thing had more salience culturally (which is unfortunate).
But also, Obama has been cultivating his image as the “grown-up.” The White House has been trying to position Obama as the adult in the room, above the squabbling parties. Releasing the birth certificate now and having the president denounce “silliness” and “distractions” was a great way to get that message out there.
Or at least it seemed that way. My hunch is that Americans are starting to figure who Obama really is – and the answer, as always, has nothing to do with his birth certificate.
Okay, I’m at the hotel now. They have wi-fi, I have no sleep. So I’m stopping here. I do have a new column out today. It’s on . . . porn! And I don’t even mention the Morning Jolt, whose transition to a full-time, 24-hour porn newsletter has been so gradual, I hardly even noticed.