Monthly Archives: September 2008

Lipstickgate

A lot of conservatives are willing to give Barry the benefit of the doubt for his “lipstick on a pig” remark. Even former psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer thinks the remark innocent, even if the crowd listening to Barry immediately and raucously took the line to be a slap at Sarah Palin.

While I don’t think anyone should be seriously offended by the line, I think Barry’s being disingenuous when he pleads innocent. I mean, how many times did you hear the word lipstick before, as compared to after, Sarah’s pitbull/hockey mom joke ? Face it; Barry knew what he was doing, so why did he do it?

The answer: Barry suffers from an excess of self-esteem and has thus come to believe that his supposed charm and verbal smoothness render his critics defenseless. In addition, he’s amazingly thin-skinned. There is no question that Sarah’s acceptance speech really got to him, particularly her (and Rudy Giuliani’s) mocking of his “community organizer” experience.

But even more upsetting is that before Sarah, Barry was indisputably the most exciting, best looking, most charismatic and sexiest (not to mention, youngest) candidate out there. No more. As Camille Paglia wrote (see yesterday’s post):

Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.

As a result, Barry can’t resist taking shots meant to degrade Palin’s powerful personal charm and physical attractiveness , characteristics of which, before Sarah, he was declared this campaign’s embodiment.

So Sarah’s the new rock star. Barry and his campaign know it, which is why he and they will not be able to resist taking cheap shots at her even if they boomerang like lipstick on a pig.Viagra Biaxin Interaction Dosage Adjust
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A Better American Than You?

Michael Kinsley can be a very funny writer, but in the line quoted below, from a Time column, he is, I think, unintentionally funny:

Sarah Palin thinks she is a better American than you because she comes from a small town, and a superior human being because she isn’t a journalist and has never lived in Washington and likes to watch her kids play hockey.

By all means, let’s hear it for those neglected, salt-of-the-earth, rich east and west coast sophisticates – the big shot journalists and academics – who made this country what it is today. Three cheers for the endlessly-chattering minority who are so looked-down-upon by those elite, small town rubes like Sarah Palin!

On the other hand, Camille Paglia offers analysis that is both funny and interesting:

…I have become increasingly uneasy about Obama’s efforts to sound folksy and approachable by reflexively using inner-city African-American tones and locutions, which as a native of Hawaii he acquired relatively late in his development and which are painfully wrong for the target audience of rural working-class whites that he has been trying to reach. Obama on the road and even in major interviews has been droppin’ his g’s like there’s no tomorrow. It’s analogous to the way stodgy, portly Al Gore (evidently misadvised by the women in his family and their feminist pals) tried to zap himself up on the campaign trail into the happening buff dude that he was not. Both Gore and Obama would have been better advised to pursue a calm, steady, authoritative persona. Forget the jokes — be boring! That, alas, is what reads as masculine in the U.S.

…Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.

And Dick Morris accurately, I think, argues that the election is about Obama:

… Now, the election will hinge on a referendum on Obama. Is the extra health care coverage he would pass worth the huge tax increases he will impose? Nobody buys his claim that he will only increase taxes on a few rich people and give the rest of us tax cuts. Voters can add, and they realize that his spending plans and tax cut promises come to a trillion dollars and that his tax increases represent only one-tenth as much. They know that everyone who pays taxes will end up paying more if Obama is elected. The question will be: Is it worth it?

Is his commitment to income redistribution and increasing tax “fairness” worth the risk his tax plans pose for the economy?

Is his plan to pull out of Iraq and his commitment to multilateralism in foreign policy worth the risk of putting someone with virtually no foreign policy experience in charge of our international relations in the middle of a war? Is his promise to respect the Constitution and ratchet back the intrusions of the Bush homeland security measures worth the extra risk of terror attack?

The answer to these questions will only partially depend on what Obama is proposing and on how sound we think his judgment is. They will also depend on the events that will transpire between now and Election Day.

If Iran moves closer to getting nuclear weapons or Israel attacks Iran to forestall that development, things could change in a hurry. If the current atmosphere of economic uncertainty and impending possible crisis — signaled by the federal takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — deepens, it may make voters less willing to risk the high taxes and big spending that Obama will bring in his wake. If Russia continues to assert its imperial right to dominate Eastern Europe and restore a Soviet-style satellite empire, voters will wonder if they can take a chance on Obama.

But if things are relatively peaceful and uneventful, voters may bristle at the stagnation and turn to Obama in the hopes of change.

The key point is that this race is now not about Bush or McCain or Bill Clinton or Palin. It’s all about Obama.

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Who "Didn't Get It"?

Is Bob Woodward’s new book on Bush and the Iraq War an attack on the president for not listening to his top generals and instead ordering the surge?

The Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn comments:

When Abraham Lincoln famously sent word to Gen. George McClellan that he’d like to “borrow” the army if the general wasn’t planning on using it, the commander of Union forces likely did not take it kindly. McClellan, after all, was a man whose letters home referred to Lincoln as an “idiot,” “a well-meaning baboon” and other colorful language.

In the first few pages of “The War Within,” Bob Woodward opens with another presidential remark that offended another wartime general. This time the recipient was the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey. During a videoconference with Baghdad, the president said, “George, we’re not playing for a tie. I want to make sure we all understand this.” Gen. Casey, Mr. Woodward writes, took this as “an affront to his dignity that he would long remember.”

Whether or not Gen. Casey long remembered, “The War Within” makes clear his disdain for his commander in chief. If the views and remarks attributed to Gen. Casey are not accurate, Mr. Woodward has done him a grave injustice. If they are accurate, they come as further evidence of the obstacles President George W. Bush had to overcome to get his commanders to start winning in Iraq.

Opening with Gen. Casey also says something about Mr. Woodward. There’s a case, I suppose, for using the general who opposed the surge to open what is hailed as the definitive account of that surge (not to mention using Robert McNamara, the Defense secretary who helped lose Vietnam to end the book). Surely, however, that would be the same case for wrapping the definitive account of the strategy that brought Robert E. Lee to Appomattox around Gen. McClellan.

Gen. Casey, after all, was the commander who all along maintained that the solution in Iraq was for America to draw down its forces — even after the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. He was the commander who later that year was given his own chance to secure Baghdad with Operations Together Forward I and II, and failed. Most of all, he is the commander who was wrong when the president was right to insist that Baghdad could be secured and al Qaeda dealt a harsh blow with more troops.

Gen. Casey’s continued adherence to a failed strategy does not make him a dishonorable man. It does make him an odd choice to serve as the foundation for the charge that the president was out of touch with the war. As evidence, both the general and the journalist point to questions about how many of the enemy we were killing as a sign that “the president did not get it.”

Then again, maybe it’s Gen. Casey and Mr. Woodward who did not get it. The questions the president asked were driven by something everyone in the West Wing worried about. Every night for years, Americans tuning into the evening news were greeted by the same image from Iraq: a burning car or Humvee, accompanied by a fresh report about soldiers or Marines who’d been blown up by an improvised explosive device or suicide bomb.

Nor did these images exist in a vacuum. A media obsessed with body counts featured grim roll calls of the dead, marking each macabre “milestone” — 1,500 war dead, 2,000 war dead — along the way. In this context, was it really unreasonable for a president to ask his commander on the ground if we were fighting back, when it sure didn’t look that way to the American people?

The same might be said of the one truly original take offered by Mr. Woodward. This is his curious assertion that it’s not the surge that has produced the great reduction in violence in Iraq. The reduced violence, he says, is the result of the increased lethality of covert operations against terrorist leaders and operatives.

Which brings up two interesting points. First, we are led to find fault with a president allegedly obsessed with a “kill the bastards” approach to Iraq. But then we are asked to accept that the reason we’re now seeing success in Iraq because we’re . . . killing the bastards.

Second, the surge was a shift in mission, not simply an addition of five brigades. Until the surge, we had pursued a political solution, hoping that the answer to Iraq was the rise of a democratic government that would persuade Iraqis to come together for their future. The surge, by contrast, finally recognized the obvious: Until Iraqis started feeling safe in their own homes and neighborhoods, there would be no compromise or rebuilding.

Sophisticates have never liked Mr. Bush for his preference for words like “win” and “victory” to describe what America is trying to do in Iraq. And if Mr. Woodward’s latest contribution is any clue, they’ll never forgive him for doing something even worse: proving it can be done.

Sarah Palin Rumor Hotline

If you want to check out whether or not the rumors about Sarah Palin are true, you can click here.

An excerpt:

# No, she’s not anti-semitic. In fact, she has an Israeli flag in her office. (Contrary to popular belief, the usual Evangelical thinks Israel has a right to exist, granted by God.)
# No, I don’t think she’s being “indoctrinated by Lieberman and AIPAC as we speak”; I don’t get the feeling that being indoctrinated is something that Palin does well.
# Yes, it seems unlikely that she’s going to be in hiding for the next two weeks seeing as she’s been in rallies twice in the last two days. Or at least it’s going to be real rough, given that she has three media interviews scheduled today (6 September) alone.
# Yes, it does appear that Palin’s local pastor preached about an end time when God will judge everyone, even Wasilla, Alaska, and the United States. Duh. This is called the Book of Revelations, and while I don’t believe it personally, I don’t see it as a disqualifier for the hundred million or so Baptists, Methodists, Evangelicals, Episcopalians, Catholics, Assembly of God, Presbyterian, Lutherans (traditional and Missouri Synod), African Methodist, and so on Christians in the US.

# No, she’s doesn’t believe that the Iraq War was directed by God. Yes, she did pray that proceeding with the war was God’s will: “they should pray ‘that our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God, that’s what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that plan is God’s plan.’” (Ever hear the phrase “Not my will, but Thine, be done”?) Yes, this apparently freaks some people right out.

…# yes, she did fire the public safety guy — but he said in the Anchorage paper that, for the record, she never, and no one else in her administration ever, tried to make him fire her ex-brother-in-law
# and yes, the state trooper (her sister’s ex-husband) she was worried about did: tase her 10 year old nephew; drive his state patrol car while drinking or drunk; did threaten to “bring her down”; and did threaten to murder her father and sister if they dared to get an attorney to help with the divorce.
# yes, the state trooper was suspended when he was put under a court protective order
# no, the trooper wasn’t fired
# yes, she did fire the Wasilla Chief of Police as Mayor; yes, it was because he was lying to the City Council.

…# yes, she’s an was an Assembly of God Holy Roller. No, she doesn’t attend an AoG church now. Yes, she did leave the AoG because they were getting too weird for her.
# No, she’s not anti-Mormon. No, not all AoG churches are anti-Mormon. (AoG is even more hard-core about allowing each pastor and congregation to make their own decisions than the Baptists are.) (Thanks to AnonAmom in the comments.)
# No, she’s not from another planet. No, I haven’t actually heard that one yet, but you wait. Okay, I have now heard it.

# yes, she apparently believes in some variant of Intelligent Design
# no, she didn’t try to force the schools to teach it; she said if someone brought it up, it was an appropriate subject for debate.
# No, she doesn’t believe in “abstinence only” education. Yes, she thinks abstinence is an effective way of preventing pregnancy. Duh. Yes, she believes kids should learn about condom use in schools.

This site is useful for links to other articles.

The Naturally Popular Person versus The Monotonous Leftist

Writing in the New York Sun, Conrad Black succintly and smartly contrast Sarah Palin with Joe Biden, while skillfully skewering Harry Reid:

…even the Republicans were not prepared for the virtuosity of Mrs. Palin’s debut on Wednesday night. Managing to be winsome and even ingenuous, while witty; hard-hitting without being a harridan; an authentic feminist about what women can aspire to, while being a traditionalist; a clean government achiever and a populist enemy of the oil companies’ excesses and the proverbial special interests; a spunky and endearing, yet effective, attack dog; she touched all the buttons. The early Democratic and media ripostes of offended American womanhood, lumpen bourgeois mediocrity, and the primitive frontierswoman with a rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other, were completely inadequate.

She is a naturally popular person, and a contrast with Joe Biden, a monotonous leftist journeyman, full of pretension and loquacity, a plagiarist (from Neil Kinnock of all people) with hair plugs. When Mrs. Palin quoted the noisy nonentity the Democrats have inflicted on the Senate as majority leader, Harry Reid, as detesting John McCain, and said that was the greatest compliment the Republican nominee could receive, to deafening applause, a resonant tocsin sounded…

Be Wary of Your Friends

Nick Cohen, columnist for Britain’s left-wing Guardian, makes some good points about the “berserk” Democratic media’s reaction to Sarah Palin:

…Instead of protecting [the Democrat’s] precious advantage, they succumbed to a spasm of hatred and threw the vase, the crockery, the cutlery and the kitchen sink at an obscure politician from Alaska.

For once, the postmodern theories so many of them were taught at university are a help to the rest of us. As a Christian, conservative anti-abortionist who proved her support for the Iraq War by sending her son to fight in it, Sarah Palin was ‘the other’ – the threatening alien presence they defined themselves against. They might have soberly examined her reputation as an opponent of political corruption to see if she was truly the reformer she claimed to be. They might have gently mocked her idiotic creationism, while carefully avoiding all discussion of the racist conspiracy theories of Barack Obama’s church.

But instead of following a measured strategy, they went berserk. On the one hand, the media treated her as a sex object. The New York Times led the way in painting Palin as a glamour-puss in go-go boots you were more likely to find in an Anchorage lap-dancing club than the Alaska governor’s office.

On the other, liberal journalists turned her family into an object of sexual disgust: inbred rednecks who had stumbled out of Deliverance. Palin was meant to be pretending that a handicapped baby girl was her child when really it was her wanton teenage daughter’s. When that turned out to be a lie, the media replaced it with prurient coverage of her teenage daughter, who was, after all, pregnant, even though her mother was not going to do a quick handover at the maternity ward and act as if the child was hers.

Hatred is the most powerful emotion in politics. At present, American liberals are not fighting for an Obama presidency. I suspect that most have only the haziest idea of what it would mean for their country. The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies: Bush, the neo-cons, the religious right.

In this, American liberals are no different from the politically committed the world over. David Cameron knew that he would never be Prime Minister until he had killed the urgent hatred of the Conservative party in liberal England. A measure of his success is that hardly anyone now is caught up by the once ubiquitous feeling that no compromise is too great if it stops the Tories regaining power. Hate can sell better than hope.

When a hate campaign goes wrong, however, disaster follows. And everything that could go wrong with the campaign against Palin did. American liberals forgot that the public did not know her. By the time she spoke at the Republican convention, journalists had so lowered expectations that a run-of-the-mill speech would have been enough to win the evening.

As it was, her family appeared on stage without a goitre or a club foot between them, and Palin made a fighting speech that appealed over the heads of reporters to the public we claim to represent. ‘I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion,’ she said as she deftly detached journalists from their readers and viewers. ‘I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.’

English leftists made the same mistake of allowing their hatred to override their judgment after the Iraq war. If they had confined themselves to charging Tony Blair with failing to find the weapons of mass destruction he promised were in Iraq, and sending British troops into a quagmire, they might have forced him out. They were so consumed by loathing, however, they insisted that he had lied, which he clearly had not. They set the bar too low and Blair jumped it with ease. ‘When a man believes that any stick will do, he at once picks up a boomerang,’ said GK Chesterton, and when the politically committed go on a berserker you should listen for the sound of their own principles smacking them in the face.

Journalists who believe in women’s equality should not spread sexual smears about a candidate, or snigger at her teenage daughter’s pregnancy, or declare that a mother with a young family cannot hold down a responsible job for the pragmatic reason that they will look like gross hypocrites if they do. Before Palin, we saw hypocrisy of the right when shock jocks who had spent years denouncing feminism came over all politically correct when Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky.

In Britain, the most snobbish attacks on Margaret Thatcher did not come from aristocrats but from the communist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who opined that Thatcherism was the ‘anarchism of the lower middle classes’ and the liberal Jonathan Miller, who deplored her ‘odious suburban gentility’. More recently, George Osborne, of the supposedly compassionate Conservative party, revealed himself to be a playground bully when he derided Gordon Brown for being ‘faintly autistic’.

In an age when politics is choreographed, voters watch out for the moments when the public-relations facade breaks down and venom pours through the cracks. Their judgment is rarely favourable when it does. Barack Obama knows it. All last week, he was warning American liberals to stay away from the Palin family. He understands better than his supporters that it is not a politician’s enemies who lose elections, but his friends.

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The Feminist Left's Worse Nightmare

British writer Barbara Amiel does a job on the “intellectual snobs” that patronize Sarah Palin:

The glummest face Wednesday night might have been, if only we could have seen it, that of Hillary Clinton.

Imagine watching Sarah Palin, the gun-toting, lifelong member of the NRA, the PTA mom with teased hair and hips half the size of Hillary’s, who went … omigod … to the University of Idaho and studied journalism. Mrs. Palin with her five kids and one of them still virtually suckling age, going wham through that cement ceiling put there exclusively for good-looking right-wing/populist conservative females by not-so-good-looking left-wing ones (Gloria Steinem excepting). There, pending some terrible goof or revelation, stood the woman most likely to get into the Oval Office as its official occupant rather than as an intern.

Imagine Hillary’s fury. The gnashing of teeth after all the years of sacrifice and hard work—a life of it—and then the endless nuisance of stylists, makeovers and fittings for Oscar de la Renta gowns for Vogue covers. And surely that gimmicky holding of the baby papoose style by Todd Palin after his wife’s acceptance speech is sacrosanct left-wing territory! If only Chelsea had been younger of course, Bill could have done it and then, well, who knows what might have been forgiven him?

American feminists have always had a tough sell to make. To the rest of the world, no females on earth have ever had it as easy as middle-class American women. Cosseted, surrounded by labor-saving devices, easily available contraception and supermarkets groaning with food, their complaints have always seemed to have no relationship to reality.

Education was there for the taking. Marriages were not arranged. Going against social mores had no serious consequences. Postwar American women (excluding those mired in poverty or the odious restrictions of race) have always had the choice of what they wanted to be. They simply didn’t decide to exercise it until it became more fashionable to get out of the home than to run it.

Sarah Palin has put the flim-flam nature of America feminism sharply into focus, revealing the not-so-secret hypocrisy of its code and, whatever her future, this alone is an accomplishment. As she emerged into the nation’s consciousness, a shudder went through the feminist left—a political movement not restricted to females. She is a mother refusing to stay at home (good) who had made a success out in the workplace (excellent) whose marriage nevertheless is a rip-roaring success and whose views are unspeakable—those of a red-blooded, right-wing principled pragmatist.

The metaphorical hair stood up on the back of every licensed member of the feminist movement who could immediately see she was a monster out of a nightmare landscape by Hieronymus Bosch. Pro-life. Pro-oil exploration in Alaska, home of the nation’s polar bears for heaven’s sake. Smaller government. Lower taxes. And that family of hers: Next to the Clintons with their dysfunctional marriage, her fertility and sexually robust life could only emphasize the shriveled nature of the one-child family of the former Queen Bee of political female accomplishment.

Mrs. Palin’s emergence caused a spasm in American feminism. Caste and class have always been ammunition in the very Eastern seaboard women’s movement, and now they were (so to speak) loading for bear. Sally Quinn felt a mother of five had no business being vice president. Andrea Mitchell remarked that “only the uneducated” would vote for Mrs. Palin. “Choose a woman but this woman?” wrote Baltimore Sun columnist Susan Reimer, accusing Sen. McCain of using a Down’s syndrome child as qualification for the VP spot.

The hypocrisy was breathtaking. Only nanoseconds before the choice of Mrs. Palin as VP put her a geriatric heartbeat away from the presidency, a woman’s right to have a career and children was a shibboleth of feminism. One always knew that women with views that opposed those of official feminism were to be treated as nonwomen. To see it now out in the open was the real shocker.

The fact that this mom had been governor of a state was dismissed because it was a “small state,” as was the city of which she had been mayor. Her acceptance speech, which knowledgeable left-wing critics feared would be effective, was dismissed before being delivered. She would be reading from a teleprompter. The speech would be good, no doubt, but written for her.

Had she been a man with similar political views, the left’s opposition would have been strong but less personally vicious: It would have focused neither on a daughter’s pregnancy, nor on the candidate’s inability to be a good parent if the job was landed. In its panic, the left was indicating that to be a female running for office these days is no hindrance but an advantage, and admitting that there is indeed a difference between mothers and fathers that cannot necessarily be resolved by having daddy doing the diaper run.

All the shrapnel has so far been counterproductive. The mudslinging tabloid journalism—is Mrs. Palin the mother or grandmother of her Down’s baby?—only raised her profile to a point where viewers who would never dream of watching a Republican vice-presidential acceptance speech tuned in…