The Week

Elizabeth Warren (Roman Genn)


If Geronimo had a great-great-great-step-granddaughter once removed, she’d look like Elizabeth Warren.

If you have heard about the Obama campaign’s social-media offering “The Life of Julia,” you have likely heard of it via mockery. The online slide show tracks a woman from age 3 to age 67, showing how she benefits from big-government policies and would suffer from GOP cuts (e.g., at age 18, college-bound, she gets a Pell grant; at age 27, her birth control is covered by Obamacare). Julia is a lifelong suckling at the teat of the state, with minimal initiative and commitments: At age 31, she “decides to have a child,” evidently by parthenogenesis (no mate is indicated). Ominously for her creators, she is also dull as dirt, a public-service announcement from a Fifties middle-school film strip. In 2008 Obama was triumphantly marketed as too cool for school — author, hoop-shooter, man of many cultures. This time around, if the sheen doesn’t shine, he will have to rely on the dirty ground game of politics as usual. Buckle down.

Vice President Biden may have been saying that he supports same-sex marriage, or he may have been saying that the federal government should treat same-sex couples as married whenever state law does. Obama strategist David Axelrod insisted on the second interpretation — as near as we can tell from his own somewhat confusing statement. The next day Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, said more forthrightly that he supports same-sex marriage. The administration as a whole cannot speak clearly because it favors same-sex marriage but evidently regards open advocacy of it as politically harmful. That’s why a thread of dishonesty runs through everything it says on the subject. By speaking his characteristic gibberish, Biden may have emerged as Obama’s perfect spokesman on marriage.

President Obama talks a big game when it comes to money and politics, and he was ostensibly so vexed by the Citizens United decision that, complaining about what he would later call the “corrosive influence of money in politics,” he took the unusual step of berating the members of the Supreme Court in his 2010 State of the Union address. Yet nobody has taken more advantage of this allegedly corrosive system than he. While running for president in 2008, Obama abandoned his promise to opt for public funding of his campaign, freeing himself to raise as much as possible. That he did, ending up with twice the war chest of his opponent, John McCain. Nor is he squeaky clean when drawing the line between presidential business and political campaigning: In late April, the Republican National Committee lodged a complaint with the Government Accountability Office that the president, with his frequent Air Force One trips to swing states, seemed to have rediscovered his ardor for public funding of campaigns. Given such a record, it will be no surprise to learn that, per a new book on the subject by Brendan J. Doherty, Barack Obama has already held more reelection fundraising events (124) than every elected president since Richard Nixon — combined (94).

The Obama administration has settled on “Forward” as its campaign slogan, which has a nice midcentury-totalitarian ring to it. As slogans go, it has a mixed history. It is the motto of Wisconsin, a lovely if lefty state, and the name of a great Jewish newspaper once edited by Seth Lipsky. Vorwärts is a Marxist newspaper in Germany that once lost a libel case brought by Adolf Hitler. (The paper had claimed he was financed by American Jews and Henry Ford; both claims were false, but one was more plausible than the other.) In some ways, “Forward” is the perfect slogan for the Obama administration: Having brought the country to the edge of fiscal ruination, the president plainly intends to move forward into the abyss. “Forward” suggests the inevitable march of capital-H History. In November voters will have a chance to stand athwart it yelling “Stop!”


May 28, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, No. 10

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Rob Long reviews The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, by Jonah Goldberg.
  • Arnold Kling reviews Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society, by Jim Manzi.
  • Jay Nordlinger on the composer Michael Hersch.
  • Charles C. W. Cooke on Walt Disney.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Sound of My Voice.
  • Kyle Smith on the NFL draft.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .