Jun 282009

In the weekend WSJ, Gerard Baker tries mightily to raise the double standard. The scene might not make quite as good a monument as the statue of the soldiers raising the flag on Iowa Jima, but it ought to count for something in the journalism profession.

The article is titled Sex Americana. Subheadline: “Infidelity is no longer a career-killer for politicians. Bur weirdness, mendacity and ineptitude just might be.” The article is of course about Sen. Mark Sanford. (Why that topic rates a full page on the front of the Weekend Journal, and the firing of Gerald Walpin does not, deserves a front-page article all its own.)

Especially since the Clinton days, the media have a hard time hounding someone out of office for marital infidelity. They need an angle to show why this one should go, while in the case of the other guy we need to move on so he can stay. And Baker thinks he has found one:

For all the talk of yet another politician dragged down by an uncontrollable libido, it may well be the sheer strangeness of Mr. Sanford’s behavior, rather than his original sin, that will do him the most political harm.

Though adultery was, and still is perhaps for a minority of voters, an automatic disqualification for political office, the fact is that the moral rules by which American politicians are judged are complex and changing.

There you have it. According to Baker, Sanford didn’t follow the usual pattern:

There was, for once, no adoring wife, standing by her man, gazing dewy-eyed at the flawed hero. There was no attempt by the sinner to explain his sin in artfully phrased self-exonerations; no references to some inner demon, an abusive father, an addictive personality or the indescribable pressures of working so hard for the good of the American people.

Therefore, goes the innuendo, Sanford needs to go because he is weird.

To tell the truth, the weirdness is one of the things I liked about this whole affair — especially the part where Sanford was out of touch for several days. We need more of that in our executive officers.

As to the apology in front of the cameras, I didn’t see it and don’t plan to watch it on YouTube, either. My entertainment comes from mocking the newspaper coverage, which hardly leaves time for watching the actual events the professional journalists are writing about. But Dorothy Rabinowitz saw it, and she didn’t seem to think it was weird at all, as such things go. To her it was the same old, same old:

We can now add the sad-eyed Gov. Mark Sanford, making his tearful public confessional, to the galaxy of similar fallen stars we have seen in this state before. The question no one has ever answered is how they all fell into the grip of the same delusion: namely, that the way to retrieving dignity is to go before the microphones to issue craven apologies to a list of purported victims.

So she seems not to have seen the same apology that Gerard Baker saw. But maybe Baker isn’t even convinced by his own innuendo, because towards the end he seems to have changed his mind about what it might take to get Sanford booted:

[He] seems to have spent state money on furthering the affair. If anything undoes him, it will be that.

Well, yes, that would do it. But I suppose if we’re going to be concerned about how state money is spent, we might also have to be concerned about the abuses that Gerald Walpin was trying to stop, and we couldn’t have that now, could we? Better to stick with the weirdness angle.

Jun 212009

Quote of the weekend

The Times implies, without quite saying it, both that it approves of Obama’s evasions (“the United States must take special care”) and that it would approve if he took a different approach (“he may have to speak out more forcefully”). It’s hard to know whether to describe this as a posture of total deference to the president or of complete indifference to the underlying subject.

Jun 172009

When Obama’s first stimulus bill was making its way through Congress, we kept hearing about “shovel ready” projects that could get started right away. Then it turned out there weren’t so many such projects.

But now we see that some projects truly are shovel ready.

Last night the scandal involving the firing of federal watchdog Gerald Walpin made it onto the front page of Google News, though not to the very top. In the wee hours of the morning you could find it, not on the front page, but pretty high up if you clicked on U.S. news. Around 9 a.m. EDT it was 19th on U.S. news, and now it’s not there at all. It looks like the news media have been burying it as fast as possible.

There you have it. That story was shovel ready.

Jun 162009

I guess the old saying is no longer operative. Lefters used to say that you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. It looks like Gerald Walpin may have broken the wrong egg.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House lawyer says President Barack Obama fired the watchdog for federal AmeriCorps programs because he was “unduly disruptive” and engaged in “trouble and inappropriate conduct.”

And here I thought it was the job of watchdogs to be disruptive.

Back when Rod Blagojevich was in the news, it reminded people that President Obama had come out of the corrupt Chicago political machine. But there were those who pointed out that President Truman came out of the corrupt Pendergast machine, but had managed to stay clean himself. So why couldn’t Obama do the same?

I don’t have the answer as to why he couldn’t, but with the handling of Gerald Walpin it has become apparent that Barak Obama is no Harry Truman.

WSJ editorial here.

Jun 142009

George Bush had his Colin Powell, and now Barak Obama has his Larry Summers.

Colin Powell sacrificed his integrity to give an eloquent speech at the UN, assuring the world of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapon’s of mass destruction. He of course had lots of doubts about it even as he spoke.

And now Larry Summers has told has said President Obama is a defender of free markets.

President Barack Obama’s chief economist on Friday defended White House economic policies against criticism that they amounted to “a kind of back-door socialism.”

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers said Mr. Obama’s interventions “will go with, rather than against, the grain of the market system.”

This of course is complete crap and he knows it, but just as with George Bush, the president needs his people to say things like that.

Summers is now going to have to live with this blot on his record just as Colin Powell has had to live with the one on his.

(I must admit that I was slightly swayed by Powell’s speech at the time. I am not in the least swayed by Summer’s speech. Neither of these men is among my favorite politicians, but I respect both of them enough to be saddened by what they had to do.)

Jun 132009

When the subject of hate-crime legislation comes up, there are always advocates who say, No, it’s not going to outlaw hate speech or hate thought.

If that’s true, then we should expect those people who advocate hate-crime laws to do the following:

  • Condemn the existence of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the legislation under which it operates, which explicitly does try to regulate hate speech, as can be seen in this non-debate debate on CTV. (And by the way, what about those people who criticized George W. Bush for paying no attention to other countries, and those who advocate the use of other country’s legal decisions as precedents for our own? Why aren’t they complaining about the lack of news coverage of this issue in Canada?)
  • Propose legislation that affirms that hate speech is a cherished and protected right under our Constitution.
Jun 082009

I posted this in the comments section of a WSJ article titled “Going ‘Paperless’ to Thwart Scalpers.”

I love scalpers, too. They don’t suck anyone’s blood. They don’t steal anything. I decide if I like the asking price, and if so, I pay it. If not, not. Usually it’s not, because my wife doesn’t want me spending a lot of money on tickets for sporting events, even though she’s the sports fan in the family. But once in a while I make use of a scalper’s services. It’s unlike Obama’s cars, where you have to pay whether or not you want one. Now THAT is something like stealing. Scalpers, on the other hand, perform a valuable public service. They should be held up as heroes to the younger generation. In fact, they deserve one of my not-so-famous Leviathan Anklebiter awards.

If people have emotional problems with the idea of free-choice prices, they should get therapy rather than keep other people from making their own choices.

Jun 042009

This is just creepy. Yes, a speech can be an important and influential event, but for it to have such an impact so quickly? And how would a reporter have any possible way of knowing these things without doing extensive polling?

Why not just tell us what Obama said and what the crowd reaction was? That’s all we really know for now.

Washington Post headline: “Muslims Seem Won Over by President; U.S. Adversaries Unmoved.”

CAIRO, June 4 — President Obama’s choice of Egypt as the site of his address to the Muslim world endeared him to Egyptians, who are always proud to host a foreigner and show off their history.

That he came to downtown Cairo, instead of heading to the Sinai beach resorts where the country’s diplomatic gatherings are often held, told them he was serious about connecting on a personal level.

When he sprinkled his speech with words from the Koran and balanced support for Israel with a strong call for a Palestinian state, the deal was closed.

Maybe the Washington Post now hires clairovoyants as reporters?

Jun 042009

Well, yes, I imagine he is. In the same category:

  • Bill Gates appears open to making money from software
  • Ann Coulter appears open to critizing “liberals.”
  • Ford Motor Company appears open to making some cars
  • The Reticulator appears open to making snarky comments about Obama’s lapdog media

Obama appears open to some health insurance mandates” (LA Times headline)