Before the Michigan primary, Rick Santorum placed a “robo-call” to Democratic households, saying, “Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker.” Santorum opposed the auto bailout too. Did he slap the faces of Michigan workers? And “Wall Street billionaire buddies” is the language of In These Times or Keith Olbermann, not of a conservative Republican. Every candidate on the campaign trail, like almost every person, engages in hyperbole. But even in the heat of battle, candidates should avoid the dishonorable and simply false. Santorum is better than that.
The White House recently hosted a group of left-wing activists to help them plan a prayer vigil outside the Supreme Court, which will begin hearing oral arguments on Obamacare on March 26. We can only imagine what form these invocations to the Almighty (or, effectively, to Justice Anthony Kennedy) will take, but don’t you dare suggest the administration is mixing politics with religion. As the New York Times reported, “Sensitive to the idea that they were encouraging demonstrations, White House officials denied that they were trying to gin up support by encouraging rallies outside the Supreme Court.” Rather, their purpose was “to give the various groups a chance to learn of the plans.” Right. There is as yet no outrage from the ever-watchful religious skeptics in the media. For heaven’s sake, all Rick Perry wanted was some rain.
Washington’s media elite gathered at the Newseum for the premiere of Game Change, a film dramatization of the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. The filmmakers chose a curious yet predictable focus: Although she doesn’t appear in the book until four-fifths of the way through, the film is almost entirely about Sarah Palin. The movie tells us, accurately, that the McCain-Palin campaign was a disorganized, divided mess, but when it deviates from the book’s reporting, it veers into caricature. (A foreign-policy adviser shows Palin (Julianne Moore) a map and declares, “This is Germany. They were the primary antagonists during World War I and World War II. They allied with Japan to form what became known as the Axis Powers.”) The actors give it their all, but the audience is left wondering what the point is of so many big-budget reenactments of recent events that we witnessed as they happened: Palin’s first speech, her convention address, her debate performance, McCain’s concession speech. Perhaps the answer is to be found in the elated mood among the Washington press corps that attended the screening. As 2008’s winning ticket finishes up a disappointing term with uncertain reelection prospects, those mainstream-media voices no doubt need reassurance that Sarah Palin was as bad as they imagined.
The Koch brothers — the libertarian philanthropists and businessmen — are in an increasingly unpleasant dispute with the management of the Cato Institute about the distribution of some of the think tank’s shares. The management says that the Kochs are trying to take over Cato and make it a propaganda arm of the Republican party. The Kochs say that the management is flouting the shareholder agreement, a claim to which the management’s complaints about the agreement give credibility. We hope Cato emerges from this conflict with its reputation intact. While we often disagree with it about social issues, the proper role of the courts, and foreign policy, it does valuable work. It is an effective ally of the Right, even if it refuses to acknowledge the fact.
Representative Dennis Kucinich, the gnomish Ron Paul of the Left, has been defeated in a Democratic primary election in Ohio. We will miss him, a little, inasmuch as his high-octane blend of left-wing idealism and impenitent flakiness expresses the contemporary Democratic tendency in its purest form. With his UFO enthusiasms and his implausibly gorgeous red-headed wife towering a good foot over him, Representative Kucinich is an unmistakable figure in Washington, and a useful reminder of why those who share his views should be kept as far from the levers of power as possible.