The Continuing Crisis

The Continuing Crisis

By From the November 2012 issue

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September made way for October, but not before it gave us its very own September Surprise! Sure, President Barack H. Obama promised in 2009 that unemployment would by now be 5.6 percent thanks to his $830 billion stimulus. It is at 8.1 percent. He promised that the deficit would be cut in half. Alas, the deficit is twice the size that it was in 2008 and metastasizing. He said that owing to his magical health care plan, premiums for a typical family would be cut “by up to $2,500 a year.” Premiums for employer-sponsored family packages have ballooned by $2,370, with no sign of a decrease. Then, too, there was the solemn presidential promise of a growing Gross Domestic Product. It is stumbling along at 1.3 percent, and economist Mr. David Malpass is predicting a recession in 2013, a forecast with which the Congressional Budget Office is agreeing. So on the economy Mr. Obama is, shall we say, in the dark.

Yet these stony facts do not compose the September Surprise. Rather it is that our diplomatic installations around the Arab crescent were torched; four Americans, including an ambassador, were murdered in Benghazi, Libya; and it took two and a half weeks for the Obama government to acknowledge that it was the work of something other than a “Libyan mob.” It was, as the Libyan government said initially, a planned military attack, probably by Ansar al-Sharia, and our government had been warned. Meanwhile President Obama went fundraising in Las Vegas, appeared on the celebrity show The View, and informed 60 Minutes that the torching of our diplomatic facilities represented “bumps in the road.” Bumps in the road to where, back home to Chicago? Get this popinjay out of Washington. Still, there is good news. Mr. Shepard Fairey, the artist who dreamed up the “Hope” poster of 2008, has been sentenced to two years’ probation. We had counseled the death penalty, but cooler heads prevailed.

As for Governor Mitt Romney, he was the toast of mainstream media. They celebrated him as the “Turnaround Kid” who rescued the Olympics and the Democratic state of Massachusetts. They admired him for his ability to “step up to the plate” on Mr. Obama’s foreign policy disasters. He has been recognized as the “Hope and Change” America is waiting for, and even Democrats welcomed him as he glided toward the White House with little children throwing flowers before him. Yet Mr. Romney remains his humble self-effacing self, and allows his vice presidential sidekick, Congressman Paul Ryan, to do the swaggering. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney appeared at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, which shared the world stage in New York City during September with the United Nations General Assembly and—rather surprisingly—with Miss Monica Lewinsky, who had not been heard of since she closed down her handbag emporium.

Toward the end of September she took advantage of her former presidential paramour’s worldwide luster to announce that she is shopping around a tell-all tome, with offers from prestigious publishing houses topping $12 million. Presumably that does not even include the chubby pictures, her love letters to Bill (still unpublished!), and the historic blue dress rendered sacred by the Vast White-Ring Conspiracy. What about the tapes of “phone sex” between her and The Big He? Every intelligence agency worth its salt has them. Will she include them? This could be the biggest literary coup since The Hitler Diaries. Yet all is not roses! The news does suggest that the spacious Miss Lewinsky’s love affair with Bill is definitely off. You might recall that the editors of this magazine have always held out the hope that Bill and Monica would get back together once things had settled down and Hillary had found someone else on whom to affix her bilious wrath, perhaps the State Department or possibly Mr. Howard Dean. Yet in September it became apparent that the 39-year-old cutie is about to make a fabulous fortune penning a tell-all book about her illicit affair with Bill, including the part about his eagerness for ménages à trois, his use of sex toys including toy soldiers, and revelations about Hillary. The rumor is that Miss Lewinsky is claiming Bill told her that Hillary was a “cold fish,” and he laughed and laughed about their “nonexistent sex life.” Now that goes too far. I think we can all agree that Hillary looks great in short shorts and a tank top. The British economy shrank by 0.4 percent. A court in Norway adjudged Mr. Anders Behring Breivik, the killer of 69 Norwegian Labor Party youths, as sane though presumably unreasonable. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison. That teachers’ strike in Chicago was settled amicably, with the teachers agreeing to work longer days though still not actually having to read or write.

In Buffalo, Minnesota, the perpetrator of violence against six Christian churches has been arrested and his only complaint is with God. He is Mr. Wade Murray and he has no known link to any known religion, though he is very irate at the Almighty. In fact, they are not on speaking terms. In an effort to dissuade Afghani soldiers and police from making suicidal assaults on their NATO allies, the combined command in Afghanistan has published an 18-page pamphlet titled Cultural Understanding—A Guide to Understanding Coalition Cultures. Written in Dari, the language of most half-witted Afghanis, it asseverates that Westerners’ nose blowing is not meant to offend or even to entertain musically but is often as involuntary as breaking wind. The pamphlet goes on to explain why Westerners put their feet up on the furniture, when there is furniture around, and that “When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind….They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again they don’t mean to offend.” It is a guy thing.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has apparently gone green. He has given up the bare-chested look and is leading flocks of young Siberian white cranes on their migration routes to Central Asia in a motorized hang glider. The Russian leader is dressed in a white costume to put the young cranes in mind of a full-grown male Siberian white crane. Exactly where his feathers are remains a state secret and whether the hang glider is armed or not has not been revealed. Yet during Mr. Putin’s first flight he led one young white crane, and in his second he led five birds. He is the first Russian leader to serve as a guide to the country’s white cranes, though his predecessor, Mr. Boris Yeltsin, spoke affectionately of pink elephants.

And there is good news on the anti-American front. In Pakistan, Mr. Abdullah Ismail, a flag burner in Lahore, inhaled the smoke from a hateful replica of Old Glory and promptly died. On a more peaceful note, Mr. Andy Williams died at 84, and Mr. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger passed away before the newspaper he did so much to nurture, the New York Times. Finally, in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie’s cost cutting may be having dire consequences. As many as 80 birds simply fell from the sky along Peach Tree Drive in Millville, and there are more birds than that still flying.

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About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.