Another month, another step in our public degeneration. In his listless performance before the White House Correspondents’ Association, our president casually uses the verb “piss off” without a moment’s hesitation. No one notices, not that anyone would object. As the evening’s comedian observed, he remains in the top fifty of our nation’s greatest presidents.
Is his power waning? One sign it just might be is that his brother-in-law has been fired as head basketball coach at Oregon State University, a public institution reliant on federal funds. Though he had a losing record in a six-season run that coincided with this president’s tenure, the AP report made sure to note that at 94-105 he is the “fourth-winningest coach in school history.” The rest of his contract has been bought out for $4 million. Good news for the taxman, but can such buyouts also be applied to winning politicians with losing records?
Our president took some cheap shots in his correspondents’ dinner remarks, including one at Pat Buchanan for saying something nice about Vladimir Putin. This from the starry old droog who promised Vladimir he’d have “more flexibility” in his second term. Excuse the French, but it appears that flexibility has become a carte blanche for Mr. Putin. Were he more adept at holding a knife and fork, Ukraine would already be carved to pieces. And who knows what he’ll summon for dessert. To read about Reagan-Gorbachev today, as in Kenneth Adelman’s masterful account (p. 16), is to step back not just a quarter century, but maybe to the time of Turgenev. So how are those sanctions working out for you, Mr. O? Working like clockwork orange, one might say.
Which is fine with him. He has other sanctions in mind, but of a domestic nature, even if buttressed by the finest French intellectualism (see James Piereson’s sober assessment of Thomas Piketty—or “our little Piketty,” as adoring progressives might as well be calling him; p. 52). Presumably our president won’t include his millionaire brother-in-law among those designated for confiscatory treatment—after all, he’s unemployed now, a feature of our daily life best filed away under “the new normal.”
Back in Cold War days, our progressives often spoke of convergence, as if the U.S. and USSR were becoming alike not just military but economically, socially, and above all politically. Ronald Reagan put an end to such talk but under his current successor it seems to be resurfacing if not yet articulated. But consider. Everyone knows who the oligarchs are in Russia, and how they thrive so long as they kiss Putin’s rings and worship at his feet. Now the left has taken to using the same term in reference to America’s filthy rich, or at least those who haven’t reached an accommodation with the current administration. In Russia, Putin has turned the media into his errand boys and he’s just honored those who’ve spread his Big Lie campaign against Ukraine. Our president meanwhile has launched his own campaign on behalf of an administration climate change report that puts the UN’s to shame. Its launch included his meeting with national and local TV weathermen, just to remind them of how they are to report the weather, hint, hint. People say Putin’s recklessness is a sign of irrationality. Our president’s Al Gore-ism is a more likelier case of bonkers. At this point (p. 20), John Derbyshire is probably best qualified to assess what’s up with their brains.