Newt and Paul Ryan
How did so flawed a man as Newt Gingrich get to the top of his party in the 1990s? For that matter, how did so flawed a man as Bill Clinton get to the top of our government in the 1990s? And—here I am giving you a hint to the answer for the above questions—how did so flawed a man as Dominique Strauss-Kahn get to the top of the International Monetary Fund and of French politics? All are about the same age. All have similar, shall we say, recreations. The answer is that they came from what is called the 1960s Generation. Now they are gone. There will be temporary reprises—more court appearances for DSK, an occasional public appearance for Bill, some more catastrophic missteps on the campaign trail for Newt—but for all intents and purposes they are history.
In Europe and in America the 1960s Generation was pretty much the same. It was composed of student hustlers who became national political hustlers. Some were rock prodigies who continued as rock prodigies, rather pathetically into middle age and, rather absurdly, beyond. They did not amount to a majority of their generation but they claimed to typify it, and their cheerleaders went along with the sham. They were called the most idealistic generation ever and the call was close. Other idealistic generations, for instance the generation that founded this country, fared better. Unfortunately, the 1960s Generation was flawed from the start and never overcame its flaws.
Let us hope that we have seen the last of them. The other morning in the New York Times David Hajdu, an associate professor of journalism at Columbia University, marked Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday by noting how many voices from the 1960s had recently turned 70. John Lennon (RIP), Joan Baez, Paul Simon, and George Clinton were mentioned. Next year, Hajdu reverently enthused, Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Brian Wilson, and Lou Reed will achieve their 70th. How long can this go on? Will no one from a younger generation note the obvious, to wit, in the arts and in politics the 1960s Generation was a bust?
There are no Faulkners, no Hemingways, no Fitzgeralds. There are no Aaron Coplands or a Virgil Thomson. In drama there is David Mamet, but that is about it. In Europe there may be a little more life in the 1960s has-beens but not much.
Newt is an especially loathsome figure, at least in his last phase, the presidential campaigner. Congressman Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has taken on the biggest challenge facing America since World War II and the Cold War, our enormous entitlement and budget overhang. In a way it is a graver challenge than World War II and the Cold War, because cowardly politicians can duck it for a few more years. Then the bond markets and the credit raters will step in, and it will be too late for America. Our years of prosperity will be over. Possibly even our years of national security will be gone. Ryan has faced the threat manfully and he has the Republicans in Congress with him for now.
So in his first week on the campaign trail, Newt undercut Ryan, and in his remarks on Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare, the would-be Republican presidential nominee has giv-en the Democrats a sound bite that they will play over and again: a corpulent Gingrich denouncing “right-wing extremism,” and holding forth against Chairman Ryan’s “right-wing social engineering.” Of course, it is not social engineering. Rather, Ryan wishes to control costs by his policy of “Premium Support,” a fixed-dollar subsidy allowing senior citizens to purchase private insurance options. The poor get adjustments on their premiums according to their need. The cost of health care will be controlled by market principles and consumer choice. Finally, the program will not go into effect for 10 years so we will have plenty of time to fine-tune it. For people 55 years of age and older, nothing will change with their Medicare.
Paul Ryan is going to campaign for his 2012 budget one way or the other. President Barack Obama has made him the most popular Republican in the country. The boob Gingrich has seconded the notion. Ryan might as well go whole hog. Campaign for the 2012 budget and for the presidency. There are increasing numbers of conservatives and independents pulling for him.
An Imposter’s Complaint
HERE WE ARE now in the afterglow of another Memorial Day. The flags and the bunting are being put away. The memories endure for another year of our honored dead, of the brave wounded, of the veterans—some grizzled, some still youthful—all deserving their country’s gratitude. Then there are the imposters, who have created often from zilch military honors, whole careers, records of heroism and splendid triumphs. What wretches!
One is Joseph Brian Cryer, 45, who claimed to be a U.S. Navy SEAL and boasted online of his “77 confirmed kills” during a glorious operation in Libya in 1986. A genuine SEAL, Don Shipley, exposed Cryer as an imposter. Shipley has taken it upon himself to expose frauds and veterans who engaud their war records. It must be a full-time occupation. This kind of thing happens surprisingly often, and very much in public. A best-selling historian was suspended for a year from his college teaching position for bragging to his students of his Vietnam War feats, and, oh yes, he claimed exploits on the football field too. Both claims were fabrications. Now with SEAL Team 6’s exploits in snagging Osama bin Laden, SEALs are turning up everywhere.
Cryer admitted his hoax to the Washington Examiner, explaining that he confected the story as “a coping mechanism” because of some grievance he had against the Navy. He did serve in the Navy in the 1980s, but as a seaman, not as a SEAL. I thought a “coping mechanism” was a euphemism for drowning one’s problems in booze or some other addiction. Now a coping mechanism is a lie. Well, it did not help Cryer.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?