EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Dear Reader (including Kevin McCarthy, who may be too busy putting a cast on his Boehner, having stepped on it so badly),
I feel like Donald Trump when asked to list all the reasons why he’s terrific; I have no idea where to begin.
#ad#Lots of stuff has happened since my last “news”letter. Rather than approach this blank page with the sort of planning and care that you’ve come to expect from this well-crafted digital epistle, I’m going to throw care to the wind and, like Bill Clinton at a Saudi harem, I’m going to just jump right into it.
Don’t Move On
Speaking of Bill Clinton, by the end of his presidency, whenever critics said anything critical of him, the almost instantaneous response from his praetorians was to say (1) the critics were “obsessed” or “haters” and (2) that it was time to “move on.” People forget that MoveOn.org began as a kind of non-partisan, No Labels-y, bit of marketing claptrap designed to make the Lewinsky scandal seem like old news. It was a mass-marketing version of the liberal habit of saying “the time for debate is over” — something liberals never say when the debate is politically helpful to them.
Of course, once the country did in fact move on, MoveOn revealed what was always obvious to all of us “obsessed” “haters”: It was an entirely partisan, left-wing operation from soup to nuts.
(Speaking of which, I wish someone would run for president under the name “Soup.” That way when writing about the polls I could write, “There’s a lot of interesting things happening among the really unconventional candidates from Soup to Deez Nuts.”)
So it was of some small interest when I saw the coordinated response from Hillary’s posse immediately after her Meet the Press interview last Sunday. Here they all are, spontaneously saying the same thing: “time to move on.” What was so amusing was how they all seemed to pretend that this wasn’t a coordinated spin operation.
We all know the old rule of thumb for anyone who gets involved with Bill Clinton: “Get yourself tested.”
A slightly less-well-known saying about Hillary Clinton: “There are no coincidences.” She didn’t just have a lucky run in the cattle-futures market, her billing records didn’t just show up in the West Wing, and Dorothy’s house didn’t simply land on her sister because of a freak accident.
#share#Anyway, I’m really not obsessed with Hillary Clinton. In fact, one of the points I’ve been hammering like a zombie skull (if all I had to fight off zombies was a hammer) is that Hillary Clinton suffers from a charisma deficit, and by “deficit,” I mean a yawning chasm of charismalessness that descends into Stygian darkness to the point where if you dropped a stone — or even a 1978 AMC Pacer — into that metaphysical null set of charm, you would hear nothing but the subtle shushing of the wind as it vanished into the bottomless abyss.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton can be both fascinating and infuriating because he’s so damn smart. His ruthless ability to yoke both the angels and the demons swirling around him to the chariot of his political ambition makes him a worthy subject for biographers, psychologists, and secret monastic orders looking for signs of the End Times.
So while Hillary holds no fascination for me whatsoever, Hillary adoration is endlessly intriguing. It is the Bronyism of the political world. (For those of you who don’t know what Bronies are, I’m sorry. After you click on this link, whatever esteem you had for mankind will be at least a little smaller. I think even the pope would allow a flicker of doubt of God’s plan after looking at it.)
Look, she’s not dumb or weak. She’s not without talents. But, when I read, say, Lanny Davis’s suck-up e-mail to her — an e-mail of such profound sycophancy that it can really only be described in the vernacular of proctology — it makes me think of the “familiars” from the Blade movies. In the Blade universe, familiars are human servants of vampires, who will do anything to one day be rewarded with eternal life. Clinton’s sycophants aim a good deal lower.
Lanny Davis wrote this:
I consider you to be the best friend and the best person I have met in my long life. You know that from the dedication and appreciation of you I have always felt and expressed to you over four decades.
And he even threw in this:
Please please please * note there are *three pleases*: *Do not be bashful or concerned about saying no to my request.
And here’s the amazing part: She still said no! Now, I’ve been through some rough moments in my life and my friends have been there for me (“I know you’re not talking about me” — The Couch). I’m not saying they’d take the rap for me if I killed someone or forgive me if it was revealed that I was the guy who cancelled Firefly. But you’d have to go pretty far down the list of my friends into the territory of Friendly Acquaintance Land, People I Held the Elevator Door Forsylvania, and Friends of Friends Whose Car I Puked In On Spring Breakstan before they’d refuse to say a nice word about me to a reporter if I begged them in a three page e-mail (never mind carried more water for them than Gunga Din for 30 years). And yet, like Frank Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate, I’m sure to this day if you asked Lanny what he thought about Hillary, he’d say “Hillary Clinton is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”
That’s weird man.
And so are all the people who constantly insist that the “real Hillary” is charming and funny and all around awesome, as if someone in the limelight for 30 years could hide even a glimpse of this allegedly superhuman charm. The real Hillary seems as real to me as the Chess Team equipment manager’s horny Canadian super-model girlfriend. Bigfoot erotica makes more sense to me (and yes, that’s a real thing, too) because I at least know what they say about primates with big feet.
The Smoking Server
So why did I bring this up? Oh, right: this server story. I am getting a little obsessed with it. Perhaps not as much as my friend Shannen Coffin. Just the other night, his lovely wife called me in a panic because at Sunday dinner Shannen sculpted a perfect replica of Hillary’s server out of the mashed potatoes.
#related#And as with Hillary fandom, what fascinates me is not the way Hillary lies constantly and with all the skill of John Candy on the parallel bars, but the way the Beltway establishment — led by her friends — is constantly looking for reasons not to see what is plainly in front of them.
Take the constant refrain that each e-mail tranche contains “no smoking guns.” The other night on the Special Report online show I ranted about it with just a fraction of the energy stored in my splenetic-dilithium crystals, and Charles Krauthammer offered to write me a prescription for valium. I could go on all day about the layers of lies upon lies here. For instance:
‐There are plenty of smoking guns in every e-mail dump. The number of classified e-mails is now in the hundreds.
‐Hillary Clinton insisted in her first statement that she never sent or received any classified information. She knew this was a lie when she said it. Those were extremely prepared remarks. She only revised that to “marked” classified when the lie didn’t take.
‐The “marked classified” thing is a lie on the merits and in intent. Some e-mails were marked classified and it doesn’t matter if they were marked classified. The information was classified regardless of marking. She knew this.
‐She constantly says her system was allowed but never says who allowed it . . . because the person who allowed it was Hillary Clinton. She might as well have hung a banner over her desk that read, “Le département d’État, c’est moi!” (If one of you francophone pedants corrects my French here, I will drive out to your house and leave a burning bag of epoisses on your doorstep).
But all this misses the point. I’m not normally an ALL CAPS kind of guy. So please forgive me for this: BUT THE SERVER IS THE SMOKING GUN! It’s all smokey-like, sitting right there in the FBI evidence room. I feel like the guy in the “To Serve Man” episode of The Twilight Zone shouting “It’s a cookbook” except that was at least a secret. To borrow a line from Thoreau, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.” Hillary’s secret server is a trout bigger than the figurative Twinkee Egon Spengler described in Ghostbusters.
And, I’ll just say it again, so as to avoid going bonkers: Saying there is no smoking gun is not a denial!
If I accuse you of murdering your chiropodist and you immediately reply, “You have no smoking gun!” you’re basically admitting you did it. “There’s no smoking gun!” is the sort of rhetorical device used by serial killers in the Death Wish and Dirty Harry movies. “Ha ha! I’m going to get away with it!”
And when I point this out to Clinton defenders who think “Hillary Clinton is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life,” they look at me with the same head-tilting bewilderment my dog displays when I patiently explain to her that a hexagon has six sides.
Then after a long silence, they say, “It’s time to move on.”
I gotta go make some mashed potatoes.
I didn’t intend to go on about all that for so long, so I will briefly chime in on a few of the other items in the news.
I listened to Barack Obama’s remarks Thursday night about the Oregon shooting. I will say this in the president’s defense: He is obviously sincere. No decent person on either side of the gun-control debate isn’t weary and wounded in his or her soul after these mass shootings. I can only imagine how Obama feels when he has to offer his condolences to the victims and their families, particularly when he’s invincibly confident that he knows the solution to the problem.
And that brings me to what makes him so infuriating. From the first days of his presidency, he has acted as if he has a unique and unimpeachable grasp of the right policy on every issue. When he says he’s open to ideas from other people, what he really means is he’s open to novel explanations for why he’s correct about everything. This certainty is dangerous for all sorts of reasons — a point George W. Bush’s critics used to wax sanctimonious about with mechanical regularity. But one of the reasons it is so vexing in Obama is that it lets him play games with the truth in order to get what he wants.
For instance, he talked over and over again about how there are simple “commonsense” solutions that would protect gun rights. If only we could be like other advanced countries:
We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours. Great Britain. Australia. Countries like ours.
Well, do you know the state of gun rights in Great Britain and Australia? They are only marginally more robust than free-speech rights in Russia or Iran.
He also said that there’s less gun violence in states with stricter gun-control laws. I don’t want to steal Charlie Cooke’s food bowl, but come on. Compare Washington, D.C., or Chicago to Burlington or Dallas. Yes, gun violence went down in New York City, but gun violence had been very high with the same gun-control laws. Stop and frisk, which liberals despise, had a lot more to do with declining gun deaths than gun control did. The most relevant gun-control rule in the Oregon shooting was the one that prevented law-abiding people from having guns on a “gun free zone” campus.
So when he says it’s okay to “politicize” these tragedies, he means it in full. When Obama engages in politics, he distorts the truth, demonizes his opponents, and seeks any other weapon that may be near to hand. He does this because he sees politics not as a realm for compromise, but the means by which he achieves what he wants, because what he wants is the only right and just thing.
Various & Sundry
My column from yesterday is on the ongoing foreign-policy debacle that will continue to unfold until Obama leaves office.
There’s an old rule in geopolitics which, if I remember correctly, dates back to Hugo Grotius. It goes something like this: When everybody starts quoting Fred Thompson in The Hunt for Red October, it’s time to make sure the fecal guard protecting the rotor blades is in good working order.
For some reason I think it works better in the original Latin.
Still, if I were one of the companies hawking gold, silver, “food insurance,” or post-apocalyptic catheters on cable TV, I would be calling Fred Thompson right now begging him to be my pitchman for our next line of commercials.
It’d begin with Thompson in a banker’s suit in front of an old-style TV.
“Hello, I’m Fred Thompson. Remember this?”
Cue footage of Admiral Painter in Red October on deck of aircraft carrier
“Well, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t a movie. That’s why I think you should get a reverse mortgage today, take that money and buy some real security in the form of gold and meals ready to eat.”
Zoë Update: I could regale you with the usual tales of the dingo rolling in deer poop, chasing varmints, and playing soccer, but I have bigger news. Zoë is getting a running buddy — we hope. We’ve long thought the indefatigable dingo needed a canine partner to play with, because even though she gets three hours a day of perambulatory adventure, she could still get a patent for a perpetual motion machine. Well, fate has delivered. The Fair Jessica’s parents have an English springer spaniel that is too much of a handful for them. So we are making arrangements to ship her down from Fairbanks. Pippa is about two years old. Here she is at ten months:
Still, we are very nervous about this. Zoë is a jealous beast and we’re worried that she won’t be too keen on the idea of sharing her humans and her toys (but I repeat myself). If you have any useful personal experience on this kind of canine insertion operation, please shoot me an e-mail.
When I was on the Pacific Research Institute cruise this summer, my buddy Steve Hayward asked if he should split aces. But that’s a different story. Steve also asked me if I’d sit down for an interview for his blog over at Powerline. I said sure. Here’s the first installment. I’ve already heard from several parents of under-achievers that it gives them hope. (And for those interested, here’s the eulogy to my dad which I referenced in the interview.)
Oh, since I didn’t write a G-File last week, here’s the latest GLoP Culture podcast. It was recorded while I waited for the Verizon cable guy to come and fix my Wi-Fi. It was “fixed” — sort of. But now the house has deadzones it didn’t have before. Which means I’m going to spend another weekend trying to get this taken care of.
Another thing I’ll be doing this weekend: watching this AEI event with Deirdre McCloskey, Yuval Levin, and others. Really sorry I missed it last night.
And here’s some other stuff:
(But will it be bigger than this one?)
How did this NOT work? Report: Man Uses Raccoon to Start Breathalyzer Equipped Car; Raccoon Then Attacks Driver