Months after the fact, Republicans are said to be reeling still from the setbacks of November 6, not to mention the hurtful campaign speech delivered by our president in place of a second inaugural address. They clearly do need to display some thicker skin. Or let things wash over them, the way that stalwart Democrat Chuck Schumer did after the brazen Beyoncé made a fool of him by lip-synching our national anthem at the inauguration. The fact of the matter is, as pols are wont to say when facts aren’t on their side—but in this case, they are facts Republicans should face squarely—our president campaigned dirty and now he intends to rule dirty. Or dirtier, actually. If they don’t know this by now, they may never know. “There isn’t any resistance to Obama anywhere,” Rush Limbaugh said last month, “and it’s going to get even worse from this point.”
He has a solid case. Consider the Republican reaction to the president’s second-term appointments, every key one of them a middle finger pointed at the opposition. Did anyone even take it personally? Not in the case of John Kerry, whom the Senate couldn’t wait to confirm, no questions asked. Perhaps knowing him was reason enough to want him to move on. And could he be any worse than his predecessor? If that’s the best we can do, as Paul Kengor reminds us (p. 24), we are indeed up a creek. And it’s no consolation that the French regard him as one of their own (p. 36). He may be tall, but he’s no de Gaulle.
One must say Republicans did considerably better in reacting to Chuck Hagel, who certainly didn’t help his case by coming across as a dimwit pretending to be a halfwit. When Senators McCain and Graham tore into him, it seemed personal. But when Senator Ted Cruz exposed him, it was both political and principled. That’s the way forward, committed and unapologetic. We can assume Sen. Cruz will agree with every word in fellow Texan Bill Murchison’s piece this month (p. 16). Incidentally, after Cruz’s appearance at the National Review Summit on January 26, people were wondering whether his Calgary birth might preclude ultimate political ad-vancement. Though one could just as easily see him on the Supreme Court, long after he had reacted no doubt sympathetically as well to Stuart Taylor’s authoritative cover story on the flagrant, constitutionally corrupting abuses in the lawsuit industry (p. 12).
Is it too late to retract something I said? I think I owe Ms. Beyoncé an apology. I did not mean to denigrate her mastery of lip-synching. Surely an expert in empty words won’t have much to say that might fit into a memoir. That will make the life of Matthew Walther much easier, seeing how he’s spent the coldest days of this past winter slogging through eight rock-star autobiographies (p. 20). Just as there’s a market out there for Barack Obama and Super Bowl halftime peep shows, so do we have rock singers on the brain, purveyors of rot and unfathomed self-absorption with all the lasting power of words from lips that move and do not make a sound. Is that to be our ultimate contribution to civilization?