The Lost Liberals
WASHINGTON -- With Scott Brown's election to the senatorial seat held by Edward Kennedy for 47 years, a few things are suddenly clear. Americans in large numbers fear a further government encroachment on our private healthcare system. There are other means of reforming it. Americans do not want to bear higher tax burdens, more profligate government spending, and crushing deficits to be borne by future generations. One other thing is clear. For the most part, the American press is not very informative.
When Bill Clinton went up to Massachusetts to campaign for the Democratic candidate, not one mainstream news organization reported what is a matter of cold fact, to wit, when Bill Clinton campaigns for others they lose. In fact when Clinton was president the Democratic Party mostly lost. In 2004, as I reported in my 2007 book on Clinton in retirement, of the 14 Democrats Clinton campaigned for 12 lost. He was not even able to campaign successfully for his pal, Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid in Virginia last year. Equally unhelpful is outside campaigning from the Prophet Obama. He was no help for Democratic candidates in the recent midterm elections in New Jersey and Virginia. Right now Obama's presidency is a failed presidency. Nowhere in the mainstream media is that reported in their one-year assessments of his presidency. Yet it is now thunderously clear.
There are still wisenheimers out there who will say that this very clever president will now recalculate and change course. He will steal to the center. His Democrats will follow. Truth be known, the Democrats led by Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, are no more likely to change course than the artistes of the Grateful Dead were ever likely to take up aerobics, join Alcoholics Anonymous, and resort to golf before they all died years short of the average longevity for an adult American male. The Democrats vote the way they do because they are captives of a culture, the youth culture of the 1960s, a culture that has endured, aged, but never smartened up.
This week in a very funny segment of his radio show Rush Limbaugh made a very pertinent point. He did so after playing what he called "patriotic music," in this case the Venezuelan national anthem, which sounded as though it were being performed by a large orchestra of kazoos. Then Rush referred to the "1960s hippies who govern us." Given to amusing hyperbole as he is, El Rushbo was not far off. Most of the real 1960s hippies are either doddering around in early retirement (retirement from life spent on a park bench) or long ago they served as crepe suzettes for the worms. Sure one or two of the left-wing Democrats in Congress might have once been hippies -- one can envisage a long-haired Henry Waxman shuffling through Haight Ashbury in bell bottoms and Jesus sandals -- but today's dominant Democrats in Congress, for a certitude, were hippie fellow-travelers since their troubled youths in the 1960s and early 1970s. They have ever since lived in a closed society, closed to the realities of the Reagan and post-Reagan years.
The Prophet Obama may be a bit too young to have joined what in the late 1960s and early 1970s was called the New Left, but his mentors, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the late Saul Alinsky, were true believers. They saw America as a failed state years ago, and the president agrees. Remember his extraordinary statement last April to 2,000 Europeans at his Strasbourg Town Hall: "In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." This is vintage 1960s left-wingery. Just as Jimmy Carter was the first former president to speak ill of a sitting president while on foreign soil. Obama has now surpassed him. He is the first sitting president to speak ill of America while on foreign soil, and he has done so repeatedly.
Most probably the president sees nothing wrong with this sort of diminishment of his country. Most probably the Democratic leadership sees nothing wrong with it either. Liberals like them get elected not because they understand Americans but because they understand American journalists, who also are part of their 1960s culture. Yet it is a culture from an America of long ago. As even Massachusetts demonstrated this week, most Americans believe Americans know how to solve their problems through initiative, limited government, and hard work, not through the nanny state.
Hold That Tiger
WASHINGTON -- When I read the other day that the lapsed golfer Tiger Woods' nationwide approval rating had fallen from 87% to 33%, the only conclusion I could draw was that he had been out campaigning for the Democrats' healthcare plan. According to an interesting piece on him in the current Vanity Fair, the superb golfer now has a disapproval rating of 57%. Is this the consequence of his getting too close to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the glacial-faced Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi? No, apparently it is the consequence not of his associating with politicians but rather of his living like one. His sex life has been exposed, and it is comparable to that of a particularly virulent germ.
If the reporter for Vanity Fair is accurate, Woods' sex life is hyperactive, to say nothing of unhygienic. Yet his disastrous collapse in the polls still perplexes me. If he were president of the United States and being impeached for his wantonness, his polling numbers would soar. His critics would be assailed with that popular line from the 1990s, "it's only sex." Why, I ask, is a golfer being abominated for promiscuity? He tried to keep his sex life private. He did not flaunt his many gallantries. It is not as though he has cheated on his golf game, and if he has so does Bill Clinton. There are whole books written about the former president's cheating on the golf course. Some Americans find it amusing. Others give Bill a good-natured pass.
Supposedly the disapproval Woods is suffering is because he and his handlers carefully choreographed a squeaky-clean image for him. Yet most politicians live carefully choreographed lives. Worse they invite the press to cover their lives, while keeping the unsavory stuff out of sight. Woods did not invite the press into his private life. He was a very private person. Unlike the politicians who invite the press into their homes while keeping the cuties out of sight, Woods never practiced such deception. The press might at least show him the respect they once showed 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards, who played the reporters for fools.
With the revelations about Woods' scortatory pursuits, millions of dollars of corporate endorsements have been withdrawn. The claim is that his publicists lied about Woods' wholesomeness. Well, what is surprising about that? Publicists are supposed to lie about their clients. They exaggerate their clients' virtues and hide their defects. In fact, I would argue that the word publicist is a euphemism for "liar." Maybe Woods' critics should turn their wrath on his publicists, and let him get on with playing golf. It is his golf game that attracted the millions of people to follow him, not his sex life -- though this might now change.
One of the complaints now swirling around Woods is that his handlers carefully manipulated his press conferences. In them he would, according to an indignant golf correspondent, "talk forever and say nothing." Now this brings me to a matter that has always mystified me about press conferences held for sports stars. They almost never have anything interesting to say. Woods is now being criticized for ornamenting his press conferences with such vacuities as, "I had a pretty good day." Apparently the assembled reporters believe he had an obligation to add, "And I am going to have a pretty good night. I have two bimbos waiting in the limousine. They're in the trunk with the champagne."
One thing has caught my eye in all the angry coverage of this fallen golfer. He was a sports prodigy from a very early age. Reportedly, at the age of two he appeared on The Mike Douglas Show where he demonstrated his "perfect swing" -- the reference is to a golf swing, I am sure. Apparently, he has been in the limelight ever since. He has won about every tournament that an athlete in his sport could win, often more than once. Then he retires behind a facade. His only real interest has been golf.
I have actually known two child prodigies from different sports, one a very popular sport, the other less so. For years they dominated the opposition. Both men had one thing in common. They were born blanks. There was nothing to them, aside from their athletic achievement. Perhaps Woods' critics among his erstwhile fans and among the sportswriters would not be so angry if they had recognized Tiger Woods' emptiness. Still they only have themselves to blame for investing in a superlative golfer qualities that he never had. Yet give him this much credit: he never made any claims to nobility. The errant politician always does -- and his loyal followers fall for his claims every time. Even now there are Clinton loyalists out there insisting that Bill is a noble man. Some might even believe he is a virgin.