Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Life Of Barry? Bupkis!

This campaign should put the late night comedians, Saturday Night Live, and Comedy Central out of business.

When you have the first White Woman and Plagiarist of Color running for the Senate and Barry, aka Barack, running for re-election as a Gay African American who was born simultaneously in both Hawaii and Kenya, what is left for the poor comedians to make up? Not that they’re particularly interested: Apparently Jon Stewart has yet to see anything funny about the “confusion” surrounding Obama’s biography. Only unhip racists need go there, sayeth the conventionally wise.

Roger Kimball does a nice job on the president as International Man of Mystery:

…The recent revelation that from the early 1990s until the day before yesterday—or, to be more accurate, until Obama made his decision to run for president—a biographical pamphlet circulated by his literary agents described him as having been “born in Kenya” has been setting the world of Twitter atwitter.

What should we think about that? An agency spokesman who claims to have been responsible for the “born in Kenya” wheeze has publicly said that it was a mistake, a typographical error, a slip of the pen that just went “unchecked” for, um, sixteen-seventeen years. I can understand that. She meant to write “Hawaii” and wrote “Kenya” instead. Could happen to anyone. They look and sound enough alike, don’t they, that no one noticed. You meant to write “there” and you wrote “their” instead. You meant to write “cup” and you wrote “floccinaucinihilipilification” instead. No one—no one at the literary agency, not the author himself—could be expected to notice. You understand that, right?…

At the beginning of the Metaphysics, Aristotle observes than human beings are by nature curious animals: they ask questions and want to know the truth about the world around them. But not all men. One of the great oddnesses of the 2008 campaign was the code of omerta enforced by the the legacy media about anything having to do with Obama’s past. Where was he born? Don’t know, don’t care. What were his college years like? Can’t you move on to something important, like the time Mitt Romney ragged some hippie in high school? Why did Obama say that former Weatherman Bill Ayers was “just a guy in the neighborhood” when he was plainly an important political mentor, if not also the ghostwriter, for the future president?

And on and on and on. There are a lot of questions to be asked about Barack Obama. Why are his college records sealed? Why can’t we see a certified copy of his birth certificate? Why are his medical records sealed? I’ve been told that his Social Security registration was issued by Connecticut, which would be odd, but cannot check because that too is sealed. Obama worked as a lawyer, but we don’t know who he worked for because his client list is sealed. Why is it that Michelle Obama can no longer practice as an attorney? We know the fact but not the reason…

The Democratic Party media, or what Ann Coulter calls the non-Fox media, landed more reporters at the Wasilla airport the day after John McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate than the U.S. Army landed soldiers on the beaches of Normandy on D Day. But Obama’s college transcripts? His New York cocaine dealer? Bupkis!

Obama Is Gay. Warren is “A Woman of Color.”

It is still only May, but we have already discovered that Barack Obama is gay and Elizabeth Warren is “a woman of color.”

First, Warren from a news article in the Wall Street Journal:

A 1997 Fordham Law Review article described Democratic Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren as Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color,” saying in footnotes that the information was based on a 1996 telephone interview with a Harvard spokesman.

The spokesman cited, Michael Chmura, also described Ms. Warren in a 1996 Harvard Crimson article as a Native American, and an example of faculty diversity at a time when the law school was facing heat that it was too male and too white.

And then Barry, the Gay Blade from Tina Brown’s Newsweek with comment from Michael Ramirez:

With Michael Ramirez’s cartoon comment:

Gay Obama

And in addition to being gay, Obama is not letting us forget his victim status as a black guy with an Arab name:

Go know!

The Brain And The Bully

The Young Brainiac

The Homophobic High School Bully

It is only May in this election year, and already the Democratic Party media has devolved into a self-parody of a self-parody.

Two examples, the first of which is presidential hagiographer (See his book on Bill Clinton) David Maraniss’s book Barack Obama: The Story which inspired an unintentionally funny column by one Meghan Daum in the LA Times. Daum concludes from an excerpt by Maraniss published in Vanity Fair that Barry may actually be “too brainy to be president,” thus outdoing “presidential historian” Michael Beschloss who opined that Obama is merely the smartest guy to have ever occupied the Oval Office. I mean, not even Barry worshippers like Chris Matthews, Maureen Dowd, and Evan Thomas ever wondered whether their idol may be too big for the job.

Here’s Daum on Obama’s “braininess”:

…Maraniss reveals an Obama brimming with the kind of existential angst and intellectual precocity usually reserved for characters in Woody Allen movies.

It’s fitting that the setting was New York City, where Obama moved at age 20 when he transferred to Columbia University from Occidental College in Los Angeles. To Alex McNear, a girlfriend at Occidental, Obama holds forth on T.S. Eliot. He calls “The Waste Land” “an ecstatic vision which runs from Munzer to Yeats” and encourages McNear to “read [Eliot’s] essay on Tradition and the Individual Talent, as well as Four Quartets, when he’s less concerned with depicting moribund Europe…. Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism — Eliot is of this type.”…

Irony challenged and humorless, Daum doesn’t get it that most of the intellectually precocious and angst-ridden characters Woody Allen has created are, more often than not, the butt of his jokes. Maybe she should watch Midnight In Paris again where Allen affectionately but effectively satirizes the “Paris-in-the-20’s” writers and artists like Hemingway, Picasso, and Dali, not to mention the insufferable art professor played by Michael Sheen.

There is a word for Obama’s ruminations on T.S. Eliot -sophomoric, and the quotes reveal more about his ego-driven pomposity than his intelligence.

But she goes on:

He was so self-consciously cerebral, he appears headed for the Supreme Court or the State Department, not to a place where braininess and critical thinking can often seem less prized than gut instincts and schmoozing skills. Not a place, in other words, like the Oval Office.

And she doesn’t stop there. She seems unaware that the U.S. Constitution with its checks and balances and enumerated federal powers are what’s preventing Brainy Barry from doing what He knows is best for the rest of us:

…To many who were feverishly devoted to Obama’s candidacy four years ago, what was most exciting wasn’t just the idea that American voters could elect a black man. It was the idea that we could elect — and be represented by — someone who was unapologetically intellectual. But in the current political climate, intellectual can too often equal ineffectual. Thanks to a system that’s broken by partisanship and pandering to the lowest common denominator, being in politics — even being the president — may have less to do with holding your ground than holding your nose.

It’s hard not to come away from the Vanity Fair article without feeling, strangely enough, that the White House is holding Obama back. The gulf between the brilliant young man who wanted to change the world and the stymied president who can barely pass a piece of legislation, the cosmopolitan wearer of the sarong and the lock-step wearer of the flag pin, suggests he could have served the American people far more effectively if he weren’t bogged down being the leader of the free world.

Earth to Meghan: It’s not the “partisanship and pandering.” It’s the Constitution which makes it very difficult to “get things done” without a strong consensus of opinion. Under that constitution, the president must convince a significant majority of the people that his proposals are what’s best for them and the country. Obama’s problem is that he has not convinced a majority of people that, for example, his health care law is a good thing despite spending his first two years in office trying to do just that.

Face it Meghan, Brainy Barry just ain’t all that persuasive, despite his (and his idolators’) rock solid belief in his irresistible “charisma.”

The second bit of campaign shtick came from the Washington Post in a hard-hitting investigative piece exposing, I am not making this up, Mitt Romney’s alleged bullying of a boy in high school because, allegedly, the boy was gay.

High school????

I taught in high schools for more than 30 years, and I can attest that high schools (junior and senior) are horrible places because they are mainly populated by adolescents who are usually extremely unpleasant creatures to be around, most especially in groups; one-on-one they are merely bearable. Thus it is beyond hysterical for a so-called major newspaper to bring up anything (unless it involves criminality) that anyone, be he (or she) prominent or obscure, did in high school.

That being said, it appears that the Post still managed to play fast and loose with the known facts:

…Timed to drop the day after President Obama’s announced embrace of same-sex marriage, the story set the political world atwitter. But earlier today, Breitbart News reported that the Post had inflated witness testimony. The original Washington Post piece stated the following:

“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and has long been bothered by the Lauber incident.

Yet in an interview with ABC News today, White disowned that characterization:

While the Post reports White as having “long been bothered” by the haircutting incident,” he told ABC News he was not present for the prank, in which Romney is said to have forcefully cut a student’s long hair and was not aware of it until this year when he was contacted by the Washington Post.

White didn’t know about the incident until this year, but the Post reported that he had “long been bothered” by it. We demanded a correction.

So the Washington Post did what no reputable newspaper should ever do when caught falsifying testimony: it made a stealth correction to its own article. The article now reads:

“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and said he has been “disturbed” by the Lauber incident since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by The Washington Post. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.”

The Post did not note that it had made any correction to the article.

It was irresponsible of the Post to run the hit piece in the first place, especially given its obvious bias; to retract a critical phrase and replace it without noting the retraction is just as bad.

But it gets worse. Tonight, Christine Lauber, John Lauber’s sister, said that she didn’t know anything about the bullying incident. More importantly, she said that the story had factual inaccuracies. Betsy Lauber, another of John’s sisters, told ABC News, “The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family.” Said Christine, “If he were alive today, he would be furious [about the story].” Jason Horowitz, the reporter on the Post story, did speak to both sisters and quoted them in the story – but apparently still botched the facts.

The Post piece implies that the Romney incident was somehow the beginning of the end for Lauber:

Sometime in the mid-1990s, David Seed noticed a familiar face at the end of a bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

“Hey, you’re John Lauber,” Seed recalled saying at the start of a brief conversation. Seed, also among those who witnessed the Romney-led incident, had gone on to a career as a teacher and principal. Now he had something to get off his chest.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation,” he said.

Lauber paused, then responded, “It was horrible.” He went on to explain how frightened he was during the incident, and acknowledged to Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”

Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters.

But Lauber, at least according to his obituary in the South Bend Tribune, led an incredibly full life. He graduated from Vanderbilt, became a member of the British Horse Society, had his seaman papers, was a licensed mortician in three states and head chef at the Russian River Resort in California, and even served as a civilian contractor to the troops in Iraq. This does not sound like someone crippled by a supposedly crucial incident back in high school.

And as I said, it is only May!

The New York Crock

In a recent column, New York Times‘ former executive editor and now columnist Bill Keller, revealed an embarrassing obliviousness to reality. The columnist attacked the right-wing tilt of Fox News while congratulating his own publication (and the rest of the “mainstream media”)as a model of objectivity.

Here’s a bit of Keller’s nonsense:

…My complaint is that Fox pretends very hard to be something it is not, and in the process contributes to the corrosive cynicism that has polarized our public discourse.

I doubt that people at Fox News really believe their programming is “fair and balanced” — that’s just a slogan for the suckers — but they probably are convinced that what they have created is the conservative counterweight to a media elite long marinated in liberal bias. They believe that they are doing exactly what other serious news organizations do; they just do it for an audience that had been left out before Fox came along.

I would never suggest that what is now called “the mainstream media” — the news organizations that most Americans depended on over the past century — achieved a golden mean. We have too often been condescending to those who don’t share our secular urban vantage point. We are too easily seduced by access. We can be credulous. (It’s also true that we have sometimes been too evenhanded, giving equal time to arguments that fail a simple fact-check.)

But we try to live by a code, a discipline, that tells us to set aside our personal biases, to test not only facts but the way they add up, to seek out the dissenters and let them make their best case, to show our work. We write unsparing articles about public figures of every stripe — even, sometimes, about ourselves. When we screw up — and we do — we are obliged to own up to our mistakes and correct them…

Give me a break!

Today, William McGowan, author of Gray Lady Down, unloads on Keller’s fantasy of an objective, “fair and balanced” New York Times:

…for Keller to say that “we [the mainstream media] try to live by a code, a discipline, that tells us to set aside our personal biases, to test not only facts but the way they add up, to seek out the dissenters and let them make their best case,” among other self-stroking claims, is a crock.

Times editors and reporters have long put their thumbs on the scales to ensure that the “intelligent opinions” it wants its readers to hold are in accord with their own. They do so largely by manipulating the stories they choose to cover, the sources they rely on and the quotes they run to fit The Times’ overwhelmingly liberal worldview. As public editor Clark Hoyt wrote in April 2008, the “news pages are laced with columns, news analysis, criticism, reporter’s notebooks, memos, journals and appraisals — all forms that depart from the straightforward presentation of facts and carry the risk of blurring the line between news and opinion.” Is The Times a liberal newspaper, the paper’s first ombudsman Daniel Okrent asked. “Of course it is.”

A prime example of opinion bleeding into news coverage was the Duke “rape” case of 2006, on which The Times ran almost 150 news reports, columns and editorials, almost all skewed against the suspects. One controversial piece affirmed that the prosecutor had assembled a strong enough case to go to trial, even as it acknowledged the case had major holes in it. Dan Abrams, a former MSNBC legal analyst, called the article “shameful” and “an editorial on the front page of what is supposed to be the news division of the newspaper.”

And what about the paper’s foot-dragging in acknowledging the religious motivations of jihadi attacks such as the massacre at Fort Hood in 2009? What about the way the paper jumped to conclusions about the 2011 shooting in Tucson, when it beat the drum about violent right-wing rhetoric for days even after it became clear that the shooter was an apolitical nut job? What about the accusations that Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants is fueled by bigotry and will foster racial profiling when the Obama administration itself made no such claims in its case before the Supreme Court?

Keller is also out to lunch about the paper’s level of transparency. “When we screw up — and we do — we are obliged to own up to our mistakes and correct them,” he says.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, after Keller drew scorn for running an anonymously sourced front-page report insinuating that John McCain had had an affair with a young lobbyist, Keller was unrepentant, even after public editor Clark Hoyt insulted his journalistic judgment. Asked about the McCain campaign’s complaints on a New Yorker panel, Keller arrogantly replied, “My first tendency when they do that is to find the toughest McCain story we’ve got and put it on the front page.” But Keller had to eat crow when the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, brought a $27 million libel suit, only dropping it after she got a back-peddling statement from The Times — a year after the original article. Brandon Darby was slandered in a 2009 Times report as the instigator of a bombing plot against the 2008 GOP convention. In fact, Darby was an FBI informer who wanted to avoid bloodshed. It took Darby two years and he, too, had to file a lawsuit to get his correction. And The Times has never given the Duke lacrosse players a correction — or an apology — despite advice from one of its former public editors that it should put up a billboard in Times Square doing precisely that.

Keller also argued that The Times is open to dissent while Fox demonizes it. This is especially rich coming from someone who has been waging an Ahab-like demonization campaign against Fox for so many years. In 2005, Keller called Fox’s “fair and balanced” motto “the most ingeniously cynical slogan in the history of media marketing.” Speaking about the Tucson shooting at the National Press Club in early 2011, which his own paper egregiously misrepresented, Keller asserted, “It is true that the national discourse is more polarized and strident than it has been in the past, and to some extent, I would lay that at the feet of [Fox owner] Rupert Murdoch.” In March 2011, at the City University of New York, Keller took his anti-Fox vendetta to a new level, saying, “I think if you’re a regular viewer of Fox News, you’re among the most cynical people on planet Earth.” Bernie Goldberg rightly said that what Keller really meant was that Fox viewers are among “the stupidest people” on the planet.

Keller seems not to have noticed the way public editors on his watch have been treated like unwanted stepchildren. According to Daniel Okrent, his time at The Times was “18 months of bruised feelings, offended egos, pissed off editors and infuriated writers.” Outside critics are simply blacklisted.

Keller spends a lot of time in the column bashing Roger Ailes for not cooperating with a New York magazine writer working on a book about Fox. When I was researching my last book, Gray Lady Down, I called Keller several times for comment, but never got a return. (None of Keller’s editors offered access either.) And the praise Keller now expresses for the New York magazine writer, Gabriel Sherman, is a far cry from the passive-aggressive put-down he tossed at Sherman for investigating the backstory to the McCain mistress “expose” in ’08.

Shrinks say that we often find the most annoying things about other people are the very things that unconsciously bother us most about ourselves. They have a fancy word for this: “projection.” Most of us, however, know this kind of hypocrisy by the handy old saying: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. To the couch, Bill Keller. To the couch.

Inflated Grades, Useless Subjects, a Debased Degree

I taught school for the 35 years that saw the birth and explosion of “self-esteem” education: the belief that forcing students to acquire “mere knowledge” is cruel and unnecessary (not to mention difficult and time consuming) and that teaching students “how to think” (really pumping up their egos while marinating their minds in the agenda of the Democratic Party) is what education ought to be about.

When Barack Obama came on the scene, I recognized him as the perfect product of the post-1960’s American education system which gave us the obliviously ignorant but powerfully narcissistic elite university graduate. Decades ago, researchers reported on the highly skilled and knowledgeable Korean students who nonetheless were insecure about their abilities. At the same time, their American counterparts were woefully lacking in knowledge and skills while maintaining an incomparable level of self-esteem, which perfectly describes our current president.

Wall Street Journal columnist Brett Stephens sums up Obama and his acolytes in a piece addressed to “the class of 2012:

Dear Class of 2012:

Allow me to be the first one not to congratulate you. Through exertions that—let’s be honest—were probably less than heroic, most of you have spent the last few years getting inflated grades in useless subjects in order to obtain a debased degree. Now you’re entering a lousy economy, courtesy of the very president whom you, as freshmen, voted for with such enthusiasm. Please spare us the self-pity about how tough it is to look for a job while living with your parents. They’re the ones who spent a fortune on your education only to get you back— return-to-sender, forwarding address unknown.

No doubt some of you have overcome real hardships or taken real degrees. A couple of years ago I hired a summer intern from West Point. She came to the office directly from weeks of field exercises in which she kept a bulletproof vest on at all times, even while sleeping. She writes brilliantly and is as self-effacing as she is accomplished. Now she’s in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.

If you’re like that intern, please feel free to feel sorry for yourself. Just remember she doesn’t.

Unfortunately, dear graduates, chances are you’re nothing like her. And since you’re no longer children, at least officially, it’s time someone tells you the facts of life. The other facts.

Fact One is that, in our “knowledge-based” economy, knowledge counts. Yet here you are, probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history.

A few months ago, I interviewed a young man with an astonishingly high GPA from an Ivy League university and aspirations to write about Middle East politics. We got on the subject of the Suez Crisis of 1956. He was vaguely familiar with it. But he didn’t know who was president of the United States in 1956. And he didn’t know who succeeded that president.

Pop quiz, Class of ’12: Do you?

Many of you have been reared on the cliché that the purpose of education isn’t to stuff your head with facts but to teach you how to think. Wrong. I routinely interview college students, mostly from top schools, and I notice that their brains are like old maps, with lots of blank spaces for the uncharted terrain. It’s not that they lack for motivation or IQ. It’s that they can’t connect the dots when they don’t know where the dots are in the first place…

When did puffery become the American way? Probably around the time Norman Mailer came out with “Advertisements for Myself.” But at least that was in the service of provoking an establishment that liked to cultivate an ideal of emotional restraint and public reserve.

To read through your CVs, dear graduates, is to be assaulted by endless Advertisements for Myself. Here you are, 21 or 22 years old, claiming to have accomplished feats in past summer internships or at your school newspaper that would be hard to credit in a biography of Walter Lippmann or Ernie Pyle.

If you’re not too bright, you may think this kind of nonsense goes undetected; if you’re a little brighter, you probably figure everyone does it so you must as well.

But the best of you don’t do this kind of thing at all. You have an innate sense of modesty. You’re confident that your résumé needs no embellishment. You understand that less is more.

In other words, you’re probably capable of thinking for yourself. And here’s… [another fact]: There will always be a market for people who can do that.

In every generation there’s a strong tendency for everyone to think like everyone else. But your generation has an especially bad case, because your mass conformism is masked by the appearance of mass nonconformism. It’s a point I learned from my West Point intern, when I asked her what it was like to lead such a uniformed existence.

Her answer stayed with me: Wearing a uniform, she said, helped her figure out what it was that really distinguished her as an individual.

Now she’s a second lieutenant, leading a life of meaning and honor, figuring out how to Think Different for the sake of a cause that counts. Not many of you will be able to follow in her precise footsteps, nor do you need to do so. But if you can just manage to tone down your egos, shape up your minds, and think unfashionable thoughts, you just might be able to do something worthy with your lives…

And here’s John Steele Gordon on our puffed-up president:

The new web ad being run by the Obama re-election campaign stars Bill Clinton. The copy is priceless, vintage Obama self-absorption. It starts off with the words on the screen, “The commander-in-chief gets one chance to make the right decision.” Then President Clinton comes on and says,

“Look, he knew what would happen. Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there and it hadn’t been bin Laden. Suppose they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him.”

Isn’t that great? The Navy SEALs risk death or imprisonment in some filthy Pakistani jail and Obama risks . . . . a bad headline.

It reminds me of a story about Harold Ross, the legendary founding editor of The New Yorker. James Thurber had written a profile on someone and it was scheduled to run in the next issue as the lead article. About half an hour before the magazine was to close, however, Thurber ran into Ross’s office and told him they would have to kill the profile because the subject had just died. Ross’s reaction? “Goddamnit! Why does everything have to happen to me?”

At least Harold Ross was a great editor.

Bin Laden’s Favorite Journalists

al-Qaeda’s man at the New Yorker Magazine.

From yesterday’s release of al-Qaeda documents captured at Chez bin Laden in Pakistan and said to be the work of Adam Gadahn (al-Qaeda’s American spokesman):

…From the professional point of view, they [TV networks] are all on one level– except (Fox News) channel which falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks neutrality too. As for the neutrality of CNN in English, it seems to be in cooperation with the government more than the others (except Fox News of course). Its Arabic version brings good and detailed reports about al-Sahab releases, with a lot of quotations from the original text. That means they copy directly from the releases or its gist. It is not like what other channels and sites do, copying from news agencies like Reuters, AP and others.

I used to think that MSNBC channel may be good and neutral a bit, but is has lately fired …Keith Olberman

CBS channel was mentioned by the Shaykh, I see that it is like the other channels, but it has a famous program (60 Minutes) that has some popularity and a good reputation for its long broadcasting time. Only God knows the reality, as I am not really in a position to do so. ABC channel is all right; actually it could be one of the best channels, as far as we are concerned. It is interested in al-Qa’ida issues, particularly the journalist Brian Ross, who is specialized in terrorism. The channel is still proud for its interview with the Shaykh. It also broadcasted excerpts from a speech of mine on the fourth anniversary, it also published most of that text on its site on the internet…

In general, and no matter what material we send, I suggest that we should distribute it to more than one channel, so that there will be healthy competition between the channels in broadcasting the material, so that no other channel takes the lead. It should be sent for example to ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN and maybe PBS and VOA. As for Fox News, let her die in her anger…

I suggest that we send the material-or materials-to a group of writers and professional or independent journalists, who have shown interest in al-Qa’ida issues, from different countries. In Britain, the two journalists Atwan and Fisk, and probably others, in America Brian Ross, Simon Hirsh [Seymour Hersh?] … In Europe, the Norwegian journalist who spent some time with the students in Kroner and released a film that was condemned in the West because he shows that the students are humans that have families and children and that they laugh and eat as the rest of the people…[emphasis mine]

So let’s see…al-Qaeda hates Fox News, thinks less of MSNBC for firing Keith Olbermann (What, they don’t like Rachel Maddow? Sexists and homophobes!), thinks CNN is a government mouthpiece (sounds right to me), and loves New Yorker Magazine anti-American Seymour Hersh.

Maybe I’m off base here, but aren’t those the views (except for the CNN thing) of the average “progressive,” NPR addicted Obama supporter?

Funny, You Don’t Look Like An Indian

Apparently, you have to be a Harvard professor to be this goofy:

You Cannot Be Serious!

Unutterably Pathetic

The other day someone asked me if I “liked” Mitt Romney. There is a word for people you like: friends. Friends are people you enjoy spending time with and who enjoy spending time with you. However, as Groucho Marks might have put it: I would not vote for any politician who would have me as a friend.

Clearly, a lot of Barack Obama’s putative appeal to liberals (or “progressives” as they like to be called nowadays) is that he is or at least tries to come across as someone you (or at least they) would like to hang out with. How else to explain his undignified appearance “slow jamming” on the Jimmy Fallon Show and his non-stop pandering to all the politcally correct victim groups: “women,” Hispanics of the non-white variety, college students, and the non-“rich,” among others.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.” Though I am not religious myself, I have always admired Chesterton’s insight into the liberal mind. The guy who asked me if I liked Romney was really asking if I believed in Romney.

Perhaps this is why Jay Leno recently observed that conservatives are better able to laugh at themselves than liberals. Conservatives don’t believe in politicians the way liberals do, and to believe in politicians is to condemn yourself to a lifetime of bitter disappointment. Perpetually disappointed people are incapable of being amusing or amused.

To be sure, conservatives have raised Ronald Reagan to near demigod stature, but I consider that similar to Jews making a big deal out of Hanukkah so that their kids won’t convert to Christianity for the presents. The Democrats are always looking for a savior, while the Republicans are looking for someone merely to prevent or undo the damage.

If you allow yourself to think about it, the Democrats, I must conclude, were extremely irresponsible to thrust an inexperienced community activist on the nation because it made them feel morally superior that their candidate was not “white” and thus would redeem them and the rest of us from the mortal sins of slavery and Jim Crow. Surely there were more experienced and tested Democratic politicians than Barack Obama (and Hillary Clinton).

Take Evan Bayh: a two term Indiana governor and U.S. Senator. He’s young, articulate, good looking and to my knowledge did not attend a racist church for two decades or obstruct justice (as a special prosecutor reported in the case of Hillary whom he refused to indict because he didn’t believe he could get a Democratic D.C. jury to convict her). But Bayh is merely a white guy, not a redeemer.

Which brings me to Mitt Romney. I wish he would stop trying to be a regular guy like Obama pretends to be. I wish he’d lose the blue jeans and put on a suit and tie. But most importantly, I wish he’d start talking about the serious stuff in a serious way. An example: He should admit that the 2008 meltdown was a bi-partisan production caused mostly by government pressure to get banks to provide mortgages to unqualified people which thus created a system doomed to collapse when the inflated prices of houses went south. It is Romney’s responsibility to counter Obama and the Democrats’ claim that the debacle was the fault primarily of the loosely regulated private sector.

Dorothy Rabinowitz urges Romney to get serious in today’s Wall Street Journal:

…It would help if [Romney] showed, first of all, a capacity to run a campaign not obviously dependent on the latest polls, or the fears of consultants. He could begin by ignoring the chorus of hysterics agonizing over the gender gap, then proceed to comport himself like a presidential candidate who grasps that women see themselves as citizens like any other—not as a separate group assigned victim status, to be favored with special tenderness…

He’d do well, too, to discard the established wisdom that his indisputably appealing wife is his most powerful weapon—and to cease regularly throwing her at audiences. There is only one campaign presence that counts for voters, and his name is at the top of the ticket.

If that ticket is to be a winning one, Mr. Romney had better begin doing what Republican primary candidates so assiduously avoided doing for so many months. Other than those pronouncements extracted by debate moderators, there has been no silence more deafening, more ridden with fear—fear of the isolationist wing of the tea party—than that shown by the Republican candidates this year on matters of foreign policy.

Mr. Romney had better spell out clear positions on that, and on our national security. Even now the ideologically deranged sector of the tea party—tormented believers whose every living hour is devoted to the discovery of newer and more terrible violations of the Constitution—is pushing a serious legal war on the government’s right to detain terrorists.

We should hear from Mr. Romney on a matter of this kind. And in full and bold detail, what the voice of America will be in a Romney presidency—what it will stand for in regard to Syria, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. It won’t be enough to assert in passing that we intend to stand by America’s allies, or that there will be no more apologizing for the United States, splendid vows though they are.

Mr. Romney will have to run against President Obama with roughly the firepower with which he dispatched his competitors for the Republican nomination—and he’ll have to do it in his own voice, unflinchingly. He might take a lesson from the example of John McCain, today the most formidably cogent, spirited and relentless of Mr. Obama’s critics.

Little of this was on display four years ago, during Sen. McCain’s own presidential run, a picture of hesitancy and political caution. A campaign in which the candidate—fearing charges of racism—refused even to mention the reality of Mr. Obama’s 20 years of happy obliviousness to the hate-consumed, anti-American tirades of his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Such cautions did not prevent the Obama campaign and its surrogates from hurling charges of racism at every opportunity, including in the primary race, when Bill Clinton himself—known to some as the first black president—stood accused.

Things won’t be different this election season, Mr. Romney should know. The race card will be played even more energetically this time around, despite such proof of racism as white America’s overwhelming support that put Mr. Obama into the presidency in the first place. Mr. Romney could do worse than a presidential run in the spirit of the Mr. McCain we see today—a man free of useless caution. Of course, the senator now has a fat target: the four years of the Obama presidency. But so has Mr. Romney.

The Republican nominee to be may not find it easy to drop the habits and training of his primary campaign—the most cautious, heavily managed, no-unplanned-moment-allowed quest for the nomination in memory. He’ll have to do it, nevertheless—perhaps by recognizing that he won not because of that caution but in spite of it.

It would help, finally, if Mr. Romney proved himself the first candidate in years to grasp that aspirants to the presidency who appear on late-night comedy shows invariably end up looking like buffoons. That’s in addition to denigrating their candidacy, the presidency itself, and looking unutterably pathetic in the effort to look like regular guys.

Most voters with any sense—this will perhaps exclude a fair number of the screamers in the late-night studio audiences—will understand that the candidate isn’t one of them, not even close. That voters in their right minds don’t choose a candidate for president because they’ve had the privilege of seeing him look unspeakably absurd while engaging in obsequious exchanges with late-night hosts…