Sometimes the headline is all you need to read: “Those Media Hysterics Who Said Obama’s Presidency Was Dead Were Wrong. Again,” the New Republic confidently declared on December 6, full of the arrogance and smugness that keeps liberals in permanent charge of American life. At least in their own minds, which is more than half the trick. Thus the spectacle of a Sandra Fluke’s lasting symbolism in this day and age.
Just think about it for a moment. The Supreme Court will soon rule on the so-called contraception mandate, the Obamacare requirement that taxpayers and employers subsidize all human sexual activity (see p. 36 and p. 37). And what does that mean? As Fluke famously insisted, it was an outrage that during her law school years she had to pay for her own birth control, this apparently on top of her having to pay for her drinks on those occasions when she went out on the town by herself. Pleasure used to be something we paid for by ourselves. Now it’s supposed to be covered by everyone who’s not partaking of it. Economically that’s a road to ruin (and it makes a leveling policy like Obamacare the worst example of reckless extravagance). Culturally and morally, it puts us on a route that takes us past depravity. Yet that is the way the modern liberal insists society should be ordered. And the right continues to think it has to find a way to accommodate itself to the latest liberal reality (p. 39).
Moments of silence now give way to public applause—and woe to those whose enthusiasm is feigned. (Peter Hitchens is no Stalin in this debate: see p. 20.) Far from politically dead, our president came through for us in South Africa, bowing to Raul Castro in a way he never would to a Republican, attacking his domestic opponents for international consumption, and, at a memorial service of all things, finding time to snap smiling “selfies” in the company of the Danish and British PMs. A scowling Mrs. Obama was the adult in that conclave. We’re not making this up, just as we didn’t Ms. Fluke. This is the way they live now, and we’re expected to go along and join in the fun.
That is, unless we live in Washington state and already revel in other ways to maim our hearts and soul (p. 24). Or live as writers and keep more than ink in our bottles (p. 56). Or, having survived them, recall the culinary splendors of the Soviet era (p. 61). (I mainly recall the finest Chicken Kiev ever, as served in Moscow’s Hotel Metropol in 1977, a dish that won the cholesterol arms race by more versts than even the CIA was willing to acknowledge.)
There are more civilized escapes. Gerald Nachman went to sea on the Mississippi (p. 44). Cruising isn’t for everyone, but it’s also a way of life for many, go figure, as Mr. Nachman is still trying to fathom. But at least the victuals on board weren’t injected with unadulterated butter. A healthier time was had by Teresa Mull, on her first fox hunt in tony Hunt Country (p. 49). Even better, the fox survived to be chased another day. And she even makes the appealing argument that the fox is a more attractive creature than the horse. Unless I’m totally out of touch, that’s a political argument we’re still allowed to have.