National Review / Digital
The Week

(Darren Gygi)


In order to pass Obamacare, the Democrats got the Congressional Budget Office to say that it would reduce the deficit. More than half of the savings came from a portion of the bill called the “CLASS Act,” a new entitlement to long-term care. CBO found that it was a net money-raiser for the government over the short run because it started collecting taxes before it started paying out benefits. Former senator Judd Gregg (R., N.H.) managed to pass an amendment saying that the government would have to find the entitlement actuarially sound to launch it. The Obama administration has finally admitted that it cannot. Liberals say that this story is a testament to — wait for it — the administration’s conscientiousness and the overall law’s wisdom. The theory appears to be that you pass a law under false pretenses in order to find out what’s not in it. Republicans should move to formally repeal the CLASS Act, get new estimates of the law’s cost — and hold hearings to let the administration tell the full story of just how diligent it has been.

If Occupy Wall Street speaks for the 99 percent, does that include Kanye West? The rapper, who showed up at Filthland in Lower Manhattan to show a little solidarity, drives a $300,000 Maybach. Don’t you? Other celebrities making an appearance have included leftists (Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon), airhead scene-tourists (Mike Myers, Katy Perry), and the dead (Pete Seeger). Meanwhile one celebrity who earned his fame the hard way will not be coming. Lech Walesa, one of the heroes of the late 20th century, originally expressed sympathy for Occupy Wall Street on vaguely social-democratic grounds: “We need . . . less money for money’s sake.” But when Polish-American contacts told him about the anarchy, confusion, and Communism that reign at Zuccotti Park, Walesa backed off. The difference between Solidarity and solidarity, Hollywood-style

The levelers at Zuccotti Park are encountering some real-world political dilemmas that involve, of all things, property rights. One faction evidently thinks that objecting to bankers’ hogging the nation’s wealth gives them license to bogart OWS’s supply of whatever they need, including money and food; others are willing to accept the concept of private property as long as it’s theirs. This is just one of many internal disputes that the Occupiers have faced over finances, logistics, security, sanitation, and so forth. With all the time and effort the OWS organizers have put into developing self-governance, some commentators say they are just like the founding fathers, except that they bathe even less often. But consider: They are protected by an outside police force, provided by a government they mock; after exhausting the wealth given them by earlier generations, they are now taking money from one another; and notwithstanding a proliferation of consensus-seeking boards and committees, they can put forth no unified message, which has led to talk of splitting up. In other words, instead of revolutionary America, the Occupy movement resembles today’s European Union.

On the long list of things in which our nation’s people will always show a profound lack of interest, a Joe Biden presidential candidacy lies somewhere between single-payer health care and a shot-by-shot remake of Glitter. First of all, in 2016, Biden will be 74. The two times he did run for president, in 1988 and 2008, his support peaked in the single digits, and in the latter year, as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, he arguably lost a debate to Sarah Palin. He is considered a foreign-policy oracle only in Delaware and the U.S. Senate. And where will he possibly find Biden’s Biden — a vice-presidential choice so ludicrous that nobody could contemplate removing the president from office? Nonetheless, when asked by CNN whether he would consider a run for president in 2016, he replied, “I’m not closing anything. . . . I’ll make up my mind on that later.” Was this an early signal to potential backers? Mere hyperbole? Or just another example of the vice president’s random-walk conversational style?

Speaking of the vice president, he recently remarked that the alternative to passing the Democrats’ latest public-sector-bailout bill is an epidemic of rape and murder. He said nothing about frogs or locusts, but give him time, America, give him time

November 14, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 21

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Anthony Daniels reviews After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, by Mark Steyn.
  • Steven F. Hayward reviews Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America, by Joseph A. McCartin.
  • David Pryce-Jones reviews Jerusalem: The Biography, by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
  • Stephen Smith reviews Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America, by Richard White.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Way.
  • Richard Brookhiser turns the page.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .