May 15, 2013 | 165 comments
April 9, 2013 | 42 comments
March 1, 2013 | 50 comments
February 20, 2013 | 109 comments
February 18, 2013 | 73 comments
Thank heavens for Mitt, the designated driver.
Mitt Romney keeps surprising people — in a positive way. First he turns out the best debater ever in American presidential politics — going back to the first Nixon-Kennedy debate.
Now it seems that he is an excellent stand-up comedian — working in the deadpan style of a Jack Benny or Bob Newhart.
Having already whipped Barack Obama in their two debates, Romney faced off against the president again on Thursday night at the Alfred E. Smith dinner in New York to benefit Catholic charities — a black tuxedo and white bow-tie affair where the two men competed strictly for laughs before a politically savvy audience looking only for amusement.
Just as in the first debate, the self-preening president seemed strangely deflated — and unsure of himself. He chose what is always thought to be the safe road in humor — and that is to say, the self-deprecatory road. He joked mostly about his poor performance in the first debate. He also joked about the laughing, sneering, clownish antics of his running mate Joe Biden in his debate with Paul Ryan.
In one of several self-putdowns that made me cringe, as it seemed so odd and unnatural, Obama said:
I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago, I gave him a thrill up his leg; this time I gave him a stroke.
Obama’s best — and, really, his only good line at his own expense — was this one:
Of course, there’s a lot of things I learned from that experience (the lopsided loss in the first debate). For example, I learned that there are worse things that can happen to you on your anniversary than forgetting to buy a gift.
He said of Joe Biden:
I’ve heard some people say, “Barack, you’re not as young as you used to be. Where’s that golden smile? Where’s that pep in your step?” And I say, “Settle down, Joe. I’m trying to run a cabinet meeting here.’”
What Obama did not dare to do in this arena — even with a largely Democratic audience — was to engage in any biting humor at the expense of his Republican opponent — whom he had impaled in campaign ads as a cold, heartless plutocrat who was totally out of touch with half or more of the American people.
That version of Mitt Romney did not pop up in any of Obama’s sallies in their mano a mano at the Waldorf-Astoria. The best that he could manage in the physical presence of his opponent was to say:
Of course, world affairs are a challenge for every candidate. After — some of you guys remember — my foreign trip in 2008, I was attacked as a celebrity because I was so popular with our allies overseas. And I have to say I’m impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem.
The above passage indicates how difficult it is for the president to stop being self-reverential, even when he is doing his best to be self-deprecating.
In contrast to the president, Romney did not avoid the question of his own wealth. He began with a light reference to the plutocratic version of himself that Team Obama trots out in its ads and campaign stops:
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?