Romney's "Secret Video" and the Dem Politics of "Squirrel!"
Democrats need to change their party mascot from the donkey to the squirrel. They divert the media's and the electorate's short attention spans with fleeting, fuzzy objects -- like the main canine character in the animated Pixar movie "Up," who was easily distracted from his main thoughts and serious duties by every last little moving trifle.
Embassy attacks? Quick, find a squirrel! Warnings ignored? Squirrel! American troops killed by long-plotting jihadis exploiting security weaknesses? Squirrel! First Amendment sabotage by White House officials in the name of political correctness? Squirrel! Chronic joblessness, high gas prices, exploding dependency? Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!
As Election Day draws nearer, the Obama campaign and its surrogates in the Fourth Estate have infested the political arena with an army of tactical and rhetorical rodentia. One week, it's GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney's high school hijinks. The next, it's a heinous smear about Romney killing a steelworker's cancer-stricken wife.
Or, it's a hit job on multiple sclerosis survivor Ann Romney's therapeutic horse. Then, it's faux rage over Romney's firm statement condemning the feckless White House response to the murders of our U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi.
This week, it's a "secret Romney video" shot undercover at a closed-door dinner with Florida donors in May. Unemployed Democratic operative James Carter IV (grandson of former president and malaise engineer Jimmy Carter) brokered the film to progressive Mother Jones magazine.
Now, the same media lapdogs who had conniption fits when the late Andrew Breitbart and conservative investigative journalist James O'Keefe used undercover video are tripping over themselves to publish glowing profiles of Carter the Fourth and his impressive "furtive efforts" to secure the Romney tapes.
Carter the Fourth found the cameraman on Twitter, invoked his family name and convinced the mole to leak the tape to Mother Jones' David Corn. To quote Joe Biden with all due sarcasm: BFD.
But back to the bigger Big, Fluffy Distraction at hand: Let's reflect for a moment on the Beltway hoo-hah over one small snippet from Romney's nearly hour-long talk. Here's the quote that has liberal finger-waggers and Republican wet-finger-in-the-wind windbags in meltdown mode:
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney explained to an audience member who asked how the candidate was going to change the "we'll take care of you" mentality of Obama voters. "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. ... And they will vote for this president no matter what."
Romney explained that this portion of voters was comprised of "people who pay no income tax. ... I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
He's talking, of course, about the Peggy the Moochers and Henrietta Hugheses of the world: savior-based Obama supporters for whom the cult of personality trumps all else. He's talking about the Sandra Flukes and Julias of the world: Nanny State grievance-mongers who have been spoon-fed identity politics and victim Olympics from preschool through grad school and beyond. And he's talking about the encrusted entitlement clientele who range from the Section 8 housing mob in Atlanta who caused a near-riot to the irresponsible, debt-ridden homeowners who mortgaged themselves into oblivion and want their bailout now, now, now.
Media wonks sliced and diced the words like hibachi chefs on bath salts. Beltway conservative scribes David Brooks and Bill Kristol denounced Romney as insensitive and out of touch. But Romney told hard political truths, which he's proclaimed openly on the campaign trail before. "If you're looking for free stuff you don't have to pay for, vote for the other guy," he told a heckler in March. "That's what he's all about, OK? That's not, that's not what I'm about."
Gasp! He said he's against freeloaders. Oh, the inhumanity.
In another section of the video that libs don't want to talk about, Romney received his biggest applause when he defended his success and mentioned what Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio's Cuban immigrant parents taught him. "When he grew up here poor, they looked at people who had a lot of wealth. His parents never once said, 'We need some of what they have. They should give us some.' Instead, they said, 'If we work hard and go to school, someday we might be able to have that.'"
Let the parsers and panicky pundits chase their tails and hurl their nuts. This election is about America's makers versus America's takers. Romney should never, ever apologize for making that clear.
The Great Tax Divide
New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt recently took the "no panacea" approach to rebut the argument for tax cuts. Presidents Bush 41 and Bill Clinton both raised tax rates, and the economy continued to grow, while the economy declined after President Bush 43's tax rate cuts, Leonhardt argued.
The 800-pound gorilla that gets ignored by people who use these talking points is the dominant economic factor of those years -- namely the huge and unsustainable housing boom that led to a catastrophic housing bust that took down the whole economy on Bush 43's watch.
Tax cuts are not a panacea. In fact, nothing is a panacea or else, by definition, all the problems of the world would already be solved.
Ironically, it was Mr. Leonhardt's own newspaper that reported in 2006, "An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year."
Expectations are of course in the eye of the beholder. Rising tax revenues in the wake of a cut in high tax rates was a possibility expected by five different administrations, both Democratic and Republican, over a period of more than three-quarters of a century.
No one expected automatic and instant surges in economic growth. Both John F. Kennedy and John Maynard Keynes spoke in terms of the long-run effects of lower tax rates, not the kind of instant results suggested by Mr. Leonhardt's graph of growth rates -- least of all during a very volatile housing market in which American homeowners took trillions of dollars in equity out of their homes.
Back during the 1920s, when there was no such monumental economic factor as the housing boom and bust until 1929, there was a rapid increase in both tax revenues and jobs after the tax rates were cut. Today, the uncertainties generated by an activist and anti-business administration probably have more of a chilling effect on investments than the tax rate does.
Hate and Speech
Presidential confidante and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday-show circuit this weekend in an effort to spin the cascade of violent anti-American protests in the Muslim world into a story about the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. In the course of this impossible task, Ambassador Rice made a number of dubious claims, but perhaps none was more dangerous and stupid than this bold declarative to ABC’s Jake Tapper:
What transpired this week . . . in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region, was a direct result of a heinous and offensive video [entitled “The Innocence of Muslims”] that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.
The baffling assertion that the protests were a spontaneous and unmediated reaction to an amateurish YouTube video that anteceded them by a month so strains credulity that we have to assume the administration doesn’t even believe it. House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) has said that there is preliminary evidence that the Benghazi attack was premeditated and well-planned. In Cairo, Mohammed al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda caporegime Ayman al-Zawahiri, was at the front of the horde. Other protesters were reportedly paid. They burned American flags and ran up al-Qaeda colors in their place. They chanted “Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!” And they did it all on the anniversary of September 11.
We may not think much of the president’s foreign policy, but we find it difficult to believe he could see all this and think “if it hadn’t been for that damned YouTube video . . . ”
The truth is that the video was a pretext, and the attacks the consequence of a deep current of anti-Western rage that persists in the Muslim world despite the president’s famous “Cairo speech” and the muddled engagement strategy for which it was the synecdoche. Because the administration cannot admit this — perhaps not even to itself — its spokesmen trot out patent absurdities such as Ambassador Rice’s and present them to a largely compliant media. Unfortunately, this does violence not just to the facts, but to that preponderant American value: the freedom of speech.
To say that the besieging of American missions abroad, and the murder of American diplomats, is “the direct result of a heinous and offensive video” is to implicitly legitimize such a causal connection; it is not more than a step or two removed from saying that the victim of a crime was “asking for it.” To lead not with condemnation of the killers but with apologies, epithets, and disclaimers for the speech acts alleged to have incited their rage, is to incentivize the kind of thinking displayed by the Egyptian prime minister, who said that the attacks on U.S. embassies were not wrong per se but merely misdirected because the United States government hadn’t actually produced the video. And to append embarrassed defenses of free speech aimed at Muslim extremists with soothing invocations of freedom of religion, as the Cairo embassy staff did and the administration continues to do, is to miss the point of both liberties in a tragically ironic way: Under the First Amendment, the free-speech and free-exercise clauses are both compatible and complementary. Under the Islamism that drives the embassy besiegers, the one is, as the vice president would say, literally the mortal enemy of the other.
Nor have the crimes against free speech been merely rhetorical. Before police brought in the video’s creator for “questioning,” ostensibly over whether he violated the terms of a 2010 probation agreement, the federal government reportedly requested that YouTube investigate whether “The Innocence of Muslims” violated the site’s terms of service, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs himself placed a phone call to a Florida pastor to ask him to withdraw support for it.
This not-so-subtle coercion occurs against the backdrop of renewed efforts to globalize anti-blaspemy laws, efforts with which the current administration has shown a troubling sympathy. In 2009, in what American diplomats said was an effort to “reach out to Muslim countries,” the administration joined with Egypt, the representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to introduce a hate-speech resolution at the U.N. It called on all states to “take effective measures to combat” religious hate speech. Last year, Secretary Clinton followed up with an initiative, called the “Istanbul Process,” under which the State Department, together with the OIC, is seeking ways to implement other U.N. resolutions against “religious stereotyping.” But the OIC’s final objective is to obtain the international criminalization of blasphemy against Islam, and such missteps by the administration give the appearance of validating this repressive effort.
All of this unjustly undermines free speech, and for a problem it never caused in the first place. Rice’s statement, and the official administration narrative it reflects, is thus built on both empirical and moral errors. It is both incorrect and, in a profounder sense, wrong.
Shifting Demographics: The Death of Conservatism?
A major rule of political warfare is to never accept the wisdom of those who don’t have your best interests at heart.
Columnist Kathleen Parker, who inexplicably passes for conservative, recently sounded the death knell for the Republican Party in a piece entitled “Pale Party of Lincoln” (the Republican Party and conservatism, though two different entities, share many overlapping ideas and individuals, so, for the sake of brevity, “Republican Party” will be used throughout).
Many observers, on both sides of the aisle, echo the notion that, since America is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, the GOP, primarily a white party, will have to attract more minorities to remain viable. According to projections, by mid-century, white Americans will be outnumbered by all other groups combined.
Parker writes, “courageous Republicans might look for clues in their children’s science book…There they’ll learn that eco-systems thrive and are most productive when there is bio-diversity… The strongest and fittest are those who adapt and that species for now goes by the name Democrat.”
James Carville based “40 More Years: How Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation,” written before the Republican tidal wave of 2010, on partly the same premise. Granted, the claim is not unreasonable, as demographic and lifestyle shifts could spell trouble for a party moored in white, traditional America. But note the presumptuousness of conventional wisdom: generations not yet born are already deemed the property of the Democratic Party.
To those invested in bigger government, statism is always our inevitable fate, and that notion, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, hypnotizes freedom’s staunchest allies, as well. But another rule of political warfare is to beware of those who boldly claim that they can foretell the future. Life holds too many twists and turns to anticipate, and, as for politics, it is defined by a cyclical nature that reveals itself only in hindsight.
As Jonah Goldberg notes in “The Tyranny of Cliches,” no one group, once given the vote, has ever assured either party unlimited rule. Republicans, by the way, are told that they must especially worry about the growing Hispanic population.
Black Americans won the vote in 1870, massive waves of immigrants flooded this country in the early 1900s, women were given the vote in 1920, and eighteen year-olds in 1972, and the cycle of two-party dominance has remained steady. Republicans, for instance, all but owned the presidency between the Civil War and 1920, with only Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson (both elected twice) breaking their hold, but control of Congress shifted constantly.
And despite a century-old cottage industry predicting the demise of the GOP, Eisenhower, Nixon and even Bush 43 brought their party back after seemingly unstoppable Democratic rule.
Those who grumble that the Republican Party is too white actually mean it is too conservative. It is true that blacks and Hispanics are largely drawn to the Democrats, but it is also true that when liberals have to choose between their cherished “diversity” and raw power, they will leave America drab, uniform and dependent every time. Liberal control of social policy and culture has decimated the black, two-parent family, an institution rich in heritage, determination and community.
Large numbers of Hispanic and poor-white babies are now being born to single mothers, leaving them dependent on the same welfare state that deems its own continuation, and not the self-sustenance of families, as Priority #1.
Ideally, self-government is about competing ideas, not the clash of groups and interests. If racial identity is now the defining characteristic of public life, then it is not the future of the Republican Party we should be discussing, but the future of the United States of America as we know it.
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