Dear Reader (including those of you who normally expect more jocularity from the G-File),
At a White House event on women and the economy, Obama noted “there has been a lot of talk about women and women’s issues lately,” a nod to the emergence of contraceptive rights, working women and all-male establishments as heated issues in his race for re-election in November.
Yes, all of the talk has been orchestrated by . . . the White House. It’s sort of like a mobster walking into a shop and deliberately knocking over all the glassware and crystal. “Say, there’s been a lot of talk about crime in this neighborhood . . .”
What I particularly like is Reuters’s claim that “all-male establishments” have become “heated issues” in the presidential campaign.
Really? First of all, are there any all-male establishments we’re talking about other than Augusta? I’m not aware of any.
Second, very soon after Obama said he thought Augusta should admit women, Romney followed suit. So where is the “heat” coming from on this “heated issue”?
Obama Man of the People, Particularly the Female Ones.
It’s now been roughly three years since we were told Obama would “pivot to jobs.” Meanwhile the White House has made it clear that they will make the question of who is more “in touch” with the average American the central issue of the campaign.
And look at what we’re talking about: Whether very rich women can be members of a country club for very rich men. Not since Caesar had loaves of bread hucked at the proles in the stands has there been such pandering to the masses.
Yes, I know that the real target of Obama’s “women’s issues” initiative isn’t working women, it’s the rich white women who work in the press and form the cadres of professional feminists. If he can gin up those gals, they will carry the message forth that Obama is for the little women. Even though, I would bet most economically struggling women could not give a rat’s ass whether or not rich women get to play at Augusta.
Whoops. There I go again, falling into the trap. The issue isn’t whether women can play at Augusta. They can, as guests. They just can’t be members (actually, they can be members, just none have been invited to become members yet).
In fact, there’s actually a far more exclusive men’s club than Augusta: It’s called Barack Obama’s golfing posse.
Far more women have played golf at Augusta than have played golf with the 44th president of the United States.
In 93 rounds of golf Obama has played with women twice according to the Associated Press (other sources says it’s been once out of 110 games, but we’ll go with the more charitable stat). And, in at least 50 percent of those outings, Obama invited a woman out of political expediency. After getting grief for having a “boys club” attitude in the White House, Melody Barnes, then the head of the Domestic Policy Council, suddenly got an invite to join him on the links. She beat him like a drum.
Speaking of Golf
I don’t hate the sport, but I’m not a huge fan of it either, given that I am arguably the world’s worst two-armed, two-legged, non-blind golfer (as Shannen Coffin can attest). But I also get the appeal a little bit and I don’t begrudge presidents wanting to hit the links. But the double standard for Democratic presidents is just a wonder to behold.
This is really Nordlinger’s turf, so I’ll be brief.
When Republican presidents golf, it’s proof of their insulation from the concerns of real Americans. When Democrats hit the links, it’s simply blowing off steam. The first president Bush was excoriated in the press for golfing during a mild recession. The second was vilified for golfing during a war. President Obama has played more golf than both men combined, amidst wars, recessions, Asian tsunamis, Polish funerals, with nary a word of serious criticism – except for the brief complaint that he didn’t play golf with enough women.
By April of 2010, Obama had already played eight times as much golf as his predecessor did in two terms.
In fairness, that statistic is a little misleading because Bush quit the game three years into the job. He didn’t make a big announcement about it; he just quietly decided it was unseemly. ”I didn’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf,” he explained in an interview in 2008. And even then, Bush got grief for it.
He’s Just Lying
You know, if we lived in a parallel universe where the elite mainstream media was overwhelmingly dominated by conservatives, there would be a whole highbrow conversation about how Jay Carney can sleep at night and whether he’s a disgrace to his profession.
I’m not saying he lies far more than any other White House press secretary – though he’s certainly to the right of the meaty part of the Bell Curve in the distribution of dishonest White House spokesmen. But Carney was once a journalist who claimed to be objective. He hasn’t betrayed anything by revealing himself to be conventionally liberal – nobody who actually read his work ever doubted that, no matter how much he insisted he was impartial (Right, because Joe Biden and Barack Obama just plucked him from the press corps on ahunch he might be an effective mouthpiece for a Democratic administration).
Still, his job now is to lie to the press. That’s not his whole job description to be sure, but if he couldn’t do that he wouldn’t have the job.
This week, he not only insisted that there was nothing political to the White House’s conference on women’s issues, he even got his dudgeon up. “Why are we focusing on small businesses with the small business job creation act? Are we discriminating against big businesses?” He mocked when asked about the political nature of the conference, “we are focusing on women because there are a number of issues that are important with regards to women in the economy, women’s safety, women in education that are very distinct and important, and we’re proud to host the conference.”
Uh huh. Carney’s lying. He knows he’s lying. There isn’t a person in Washington who doesn’t think he’s being glibly dishonest. Again, it’s nothing like a first for someone with his job. But liberals would care, indeed they’d consider it a betrayal, if a mainstream reporter left Time magazine (or the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.) and lied to the press that way for a Republican president.
By now you’ve probably heard that NR and John Derbyshire have parted ways. I understand that there are good people conflicted on both sides of the issue.
This is not the place to go over every claim, charge, and complaint. But I unequivocally stand by my personal view, expressed on Twitter Friday night, that I find Derb’s essay indefensible and offensive.
I will also say I can certainly understand the anger and consternation among his fans. I’ve been a defender of Derb’s over the years when people have argued he should be forced out (it’s a very old refrain). My argument went like this:National Review needs a paleo-ish, literary curmudgeon and misanthrope and if we got rid of Derb we’d have to replace him with someone far less talented or interesting.
Let me deal with a few of the most common, least racist complaints. First: “Of all things he’s written you guys are firing him for this!?”
Look there’s a reason we talk about the straw breaking the camel’s back. Camels’ backs do not normally break from the weight of a straw. The point is that at some point the additional weight is just too much. There’s a long history that a lot of people are willfully ignoring.
More to the point, what Derb wrote was no straw.
Which raises a second common complaint: “What he wrote was the truth!” But in important ways, that’s a misreading. His anecdotes may be true, but anecdotes aren’t data. For instance, he links to this horrible story to declare that one shouldn’t stop to help black people in apparent distress. This isn’t a statistical argument, it’s inferring a sweeping racist and wicked principle from an anecdote.
I’ve been stunned by how many people have sent me e-mail to the effect of “have you seen the video of the black guy beating the white guy in Baltimore?!” as if this is somehow a defense of what Derb wrote – or even germane. If I send them a video of a white guy beating up an undeserving black guy, does that prove all white guys are violent racists? Does it prove all of these black race-peddlers correct? If George Zimmerman turns out to have targeted Trayvon Martin after all, does that prove there’s a huge racist tide sweeping the nation? C’mon. Think people.
Derb says white people should teach their children, as a statistical rule of thumb, to avoid blacks; to never help a black person in distress; that they should leave anyplace where blacks congregate in large numbers; that they should assume that the blacks they encounter are dangerous and dumb; that they should assume black public officials are more likely to be corrupt, and that they should follow these rules for fear of their lives.
That’s indefensible. It violates the conservative – and basically decent American – view that you should take people as you find them, that we are individuals and not simply interchangeable emissaries of a race. In Derb’s advice to his children, skin color is the overriding variable, the first thing his kids should notice, and the last thing they should forget.
For my entire adult life, conservatives have been arguing that we are the true inheritors of Martin Luther King’s exhortation to judge people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. The upshot of Derb’s view – not just this one piece written for Taki(!) – is that it’s not racism if you can appeal to the authority of statistical inferences and the rules of large numbers. Right, because racists has never invoked science before.
The last refuge for Derb’s defenders is that he was writing sarcastically, turning the tables on the racial Left. I buy the second part, but not the first. There’s nothing in Derb’s essay that suggests he’s not being serious and literal. Nor is the essay anything like a grand departure from his past writings. Indeed, all of his concessions to the existence of decent and intelligent blacks are his way of saying nice doggie until he can find a rock. Derb is an incredibly gifted writer. If he wanted to say or suggest that this isn’t really the advice he gives his own children he could have done so – easily. He didn’t.
It wasn’t an easy decision for Rich and Jack Fowler. But I think it was the right one. I wish him good luck in future endeavors.
Again, I don’t think you’re racist or evil or dumb, if you come down against the decision to let Derb go. If you think we made a mistake, that’s a fine topic for conversation. And if your view is that we at National Review are idiots, leftwingers, cowards, etc. and you’ve lost all respect for us/me, that’s fine too.
My only request: Go away.
While the general response from readers has trended toward positive, this episode has unleashed a Tolkienesque army of trolls in my e-mail and Twitter accounts. I can take the insults and anti-Semitic taunts. What I am amazed by is how many people simultaneously tell me they have zero respect for me and are desperate to impress me.
Where’s the Jocularity?
Sorry this G-File wasn’t as whacky as usual. The Derb affair and its aftermath put me in a foul mood, as did spending a big chunk of the weekend spelunking in Joe Biden’s brain. I have a big piece in the next issue on Biden. All of the wackiness missing in today’s G-File can be found there.
Last week’s announced promotion for pre-orders went well. But we’re hoping for more.
In case you missed it, if you preorder now, and send the e-receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org, you’ll get a free e-book with my ten best cover stories, and a chance to win a fetching TOC totebag. Indeed, as a sweetener, if you buy three or more copies, the suits at Penguin say they’ll send you a totebag as well (again: Booze sold separately).
By the way, while this is technically an exclusive to G-File readers (“For now,” quoth the suits), you should feel free to spread the word.
No weird links today, alas. Crazy busy.