December, viewed from beginning to end and with the advantage of hindsight, demonstrates incontrovertibly that President-elect Barack H. Obama is indeed a hind. On the other hand, by the end of December he was at least vindicated in the claim repeated so stentorianly on the campaign trail that Washington’s political system is “broken.” By then, as most of his appointments had been named, leaked, or under threat of indictment, it became clear that the Washington system was, for a certitude, broken. How else does one explain a system that, having rejected the candidacy of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries, nonetheless finds itself saddled by year’s end with a third Clinton administration?
Of all the Clintonistas that the Prophet Obama has appointed, the most bizarre is the appointment of Senator Clinton as secretary of state. The Prophet himself during his campaign remarked on her lack of foreign policy credentials. “What exactly is [her] foreign policy expertise?” he jeered. The Prophet’s incoming White House counsel, Mr. Greg Craig, was blunter. In a detailed memo last March, Mr. Craig— who also answers to “Mr. Greg” after a few drinks— explained why, as he put it, “There is no reason to believe…she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton administration,” and he should know. He was a Clinton White House lawyer.
March was the month when at least two of Senator Clinton’s claims to foreign policy credentials were exposed as the sheerest poppycock. She had been presenting herself as having been an indispensable instrument in effecting the Irish peace settlement during her husband’s historic and—face the facts— animal-house administration. “I was deeply involved in the Irish peace process,” she would boast on the campaign trail. Unfortunately for her, Judicial Watch forced the Clintons to release Hillary’s heavily redacted White House schedules, from which it was apparent that she had nothing to do with the peace process other than appearing in public with her husband, sporting her famous forced smile. More embarrassing, one of the participants in the Irish peace negotiations, Mr. David Trimble, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, attested, “I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill around.” Trimble characterized her empty boasts as “a wee bit silly.” Earlier she had fibbed that “I actually went to Northern Ireland more often than my husband did,” adding that on one occasion she “pulled together in Belfast, in the town hall,” Catholic and Protestant women whom she persuaded to bury the hatchet so “the hard work of peace-making could move forward.” That whop per provoked London’s Daily Telegraph to report, “There is no record of a meeting at Belfast City Hall, though Mrs. Clinton attended a ceremony there when her husband turned on Christmas tree lights in November 1995.”
It was also on the campaign trail last March that the Obama Administration’s secretary of state was caught B.S.-ing that 12 years before, while traveling through Bosnia as First Lady, she had to dodge what she called “sniper fire.” She had repeatedly employed this sniper-fire canard to suggest her vast geopolitical experience as against Mr. Obama’s rusticity. Supposedly, the snipers attacked at a planned “greeting ceremony” for her in Tuzla, which had to be canceled as the sniper fire rained down and, said the mendacious Hillary, “we just raaan with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Actually, the ceremony was held at the base. It was not canceled, and it was taped by CBS with scores of journalists and dignitaries standing by. CBS played the tape. A military officer, presumably offended by the next secretary of state’s trivialization of military security measures taken for her, admonished, “Getting shot at by snipers is not something you forget—or make light of.”
March was also the month in which she was caught B.S.-ing to CNN that “I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo.” She arrived there after the borders were opened. Her claims to correcting her husband’s misjudgements on the Rwanda genocide were also exposed as lies, withal stupendously callous lies. So now President-elect Obama has invited this perpetual sophomore into his cabinet. It will be Travelgate and Filegate all over again—this time from the State Department, and with Boy Clinton in charge of the intern program.
It was another glum year-end at the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. Contrary to its computers’ projections, 2008 continues an eight-year string of cool temperatures worldwide, despite carbon dioxide increases that have reached record levels. Nonetheless, the Associated Press reported that global warming “is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack [H.] Obama can’t avoid,” and the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a tax on flatulent barnyard animals that could even cover the relatively modest flatulence of chickens and of migrant farmhands. Speaking of chickens, officials in Virginia continue their mindless harassment of local birdwatchers. In mid- December, Loudoun County authorities— some heavily armed--raided two bird-watching sanctuaries and detained more than 500 chickens being trained for competition in the area’s prestigious cock fighting arenas. No bird-watchers were actually arrested. In fact, none could even speak English. But a local judge has granted county authorities permission to end the birds’ lives, and not by the relatively popular expedient of sending them off to a KFC franchise. Rather, they will be euthanized. “It’s a humane end,” proclaims Miss Laura Rizer, a Loudoun County animal control officer, whose next targets could include painted buntings or prothonotary warblers if Virginians of a progressive cast of mind cannot stop this senseless slaughter.
The chapter has closed on ex-senator Larry E. Craig’s efforts to expand conservatism to include lavatorian conservatives. With such plans on his drawing board as a scholarly journal (Bathroom Beautiful) and the enlistment of celebrity spokespersons (Joe the Plumber), there was reason to believe that the retired Republican from Idaho was going to take up conservative political advisor Mr. David Frum’s challenge to expand conservatism’s base, so to speak. But a Minnesota appeals court has rejected Mr. Craig’s latest effort to withdraw his (Mr. Craig’s, not Mr. Frum’s) ill-considered guilty plea for that unfortunate lapse in the men’s lavatory at Minneapolis International Airport and Spa. Mr. Craig was hoping to have his disorderly conduct charge overthrown as a breach of his “legally protected speech,” thus giving lavatorians everywhere legal standing and a warm place to hang their hats. “I disagree with their conclusion and remain steadfast,” the shy, balding, doughy-faced visionary said, “in my belief that nothing criminal or improper occurred in the Minneapolis airport.” A serious political movement was being born, and, alas, it now is fated to go the way of the American Prohibition Party. The loss is a blow to Mr. Frum, too.
From the UK comes a preview into curriculum reforms that might very well be planned for American institutions of higher learning. Educators in Manchester are distributing to their students a DVD instructing them on proper nose blowing and other aspects of nasal hygiene. Admittedly, university courses in nose blowing sound a bit farfetched for American campuses, but there was a day when the same could be said for women’s studies and departments of journalism. Progress never ceases.
The crisis continues, and next month we shall award our 2008 J. Gordon Coogler Award for the Worst Book of the Year. A hint? The Coogler will be given to one of the year’s politically correct assaults on Mr. Winston Churchill, seated nearby. And miss not Sir Martin Gilbert’s treatment of the great man on page 66.