The Week

(Roman Genn)


Mitt Romney went on a three-country foreign swing, to Britain, Poland, and Israel. His choice of destinations said it all: our main ally throughout the last century, a firm ally since the collapse of Communism, and the only democracy in the Middle East. All three countries have been dissed, in various ways, by the Obama administration, which prefers resets with hostile tyrants. So the press reported it as Gaffe-apalooza. In Israel, Romney said that “culture makes all the difference” between Israeli success and Palestinian backwardness. Palestinian spokesmen squawked, as if corruption and a terror fetish were good things. In Poland, Romney’s press secretary told badgering reporters to “shove it” — not bad advice. In Britain, Romney did raise hackles with the political establishment when he sympathetically noted London’s Olympic problems. But Londoners have noticed them too: Maybe Romney should run for mayor. The special relationship can take it.

Charles Krauthammer found himself in a fact fight with the White House when he mentioned the strange case of the Churchill bust, which had resided in the Oval Office during the Bush administration but which President Obama sent back to the Brits. The story had been told before and is held up as an example of the current administration’s inattention to the special relationship, but this time around, an odd thing happened: The White House claimed the episode never happened. It produced photographic evidence, and more than one enraged Democrat subsequently denounced Mr. Krauthammer as a “liar.” But the photographic evidence turned out to be a different depiction of Churchill, and the British embassy confirmed that the bust had in fact been returned, just as Mr. Krauthammer had said. The White House apologized for its error, although not for its diplomacy.

The unemployment rate continued to climb in July, reaching 8.3 percent, with economists at the Fed predicting it will move slightly higher by year’s end. The U.S. unemployment rate today stands at more than a full point above Canada’s and more than three times the Swiss rate. The unemployment rate for young people seeking work is 12.7 percent overall, 14 percent for young Hispanics, and 22.3 percent for African Americans. The president recently gave a speech in which he said of the economy: “We tried our plan, and it worked.” Not for 22.3 percent of young blacks it didn’t.

Asked how well Obama would do among Jewish voters, Nancy Pelosi said that Republicans were “using Israel” to get votes when “what they really want are tax cuts for the wealthy.” Jews who support Republicans, she said, are “being exploited. And they’re smart people.” Smarter, or at least more sophisticated about politics, than the House Democratic leader.

A new book by Politico reporter Glenn Thrush says that President Obama “has quickly developed a genuine disdain” for Romney, and that “scorn stoked Obama’s competitive fire, got his head in the game, which came as a relief to some Obama aides who had seen his interest flag when he didn’t feel motivated to crush the opposition.” Maybe so. Scorn and disdain for one’s opponents can, however, also breed complacency, something Obama’s campaign has often seemed to show. Obama has never had to compete for middle-of-the-road voters (the financial crisis pushed them into his camp in 2008). We suspect, and certainly hope, that he will find this experience rather less enjoyable than his aides are predicting.

August 27, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, NO. 16

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Daniel Foster reviews Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, by Arthur Herman.
  • John J. Miller reviews The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in Crisis, by Joshua M. Glasser.
  • Nick Schulz reviews A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity, by Luigi Zingales.
  • Andrew Roberts reviews The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia, by Roger Kimball.
  • Ross Douthat reviewsTotal Recall.
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