Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 7, 2009

Re: Obama’s Speech

Rick, you’re absolutely right. It is a pretty wonderful speech, Obama’s controversial address to America’s schoolchildren, and is, I would say, quite remarkably nonideological.

The key passage, in my mind, is this:

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education — and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. . . . Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things. But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you — you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

Given his predecessor’s odd take on education—asserting its profound importance while joking all the while about what a terrible student he himself had been—this comes as a welcome message from any American leader and especially from an African-American president of the United States. Work hard, don’t be overwhelmed by failure, and keep a sense of what it means to have a future. This all has the distinct advantage of being true, being true for everyone, and being something every young person can hear with profit.

None of this means anyone under the age of 40 will actually be listening, though.

Rick, you’re absolutely right. It is a pretty wonderful speech, Obama’s controversial address to America’s schoolchildren, and is, I would say, quite remarkably nonideological.

The key passage, in my mind, is this:

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education — and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. . . . Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things. But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you — you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

Given his predecessor’s odd take on education—asserting its profound importance while joking all the while about what a terrible student he himself had been—this comes as a welcome message from any American leader and especially from an African-American president of the United States. Work hard, don’t be overwhelmed by failure, and keep a sense of what it means to have a future. This all has the distinct advantage of being true, being true for everyone, and being something every young person can hear with profit.

None of this means anyone under the age of 40 will actually be listening, though.

Read Less

President Obama’s Speech to the Students

The White House has posted the text of the remarks President Obama will give tomorrow to students across America. It is a lovely speech. Here is an excerpt from his remarks about the story of America:

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

In other words, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. This was once an inspiring message in the Democratic party, expressed not only in a speech to students but also to adults in an Inaugural Address. In any event, it is nice to hear it again.

The White House has posted the text of the remarks President Obama will give tomorrow to students across America. It is a lovely speech. Here is an excerpt from his remarks about the story of America:

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

In other words, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. This was once an inspiring message in the Democratic party, expressed not only in a speech to students but also to adults in an Inaugural Address. In any event, it is nice to hear it again.

Read Less

Can We Take “No” for an Answer?

September is the month we’re supposed to hear the Iranian regime’s response to Obama’s engagement proposal. This report suggests that the breathless anticipation is over:

His statements came as the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog warned of a “stalemate” over Iran’s nuclear program. Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency began meetings in Vienna that could set the stage for a toughening of sanctions against Iran.

Ahmadinejad also said Iran will present a package of proposals for talks to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany but rejected any deadline for such talks.

He said the package would “identify challenges facing humanity . . . and resolve global concerns.”

But he said that “from our point of view, Iran’s nuclear issue is over. We continue our work within the framework of global regulations and in close interaction with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” But “we will never negotiate over obvious rights of the Iranian nation,” he said.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday Iran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights but is ready to sit and talk with world powers over “global challenges.”

No, he doesn’t really mean it, we’ll be told. This is posturing, you see. Or Ahmadinejad doesn’t really count. (Okay, that’s a little hard to believe after the events of the past few months.) He says that, but this is just “diplomatic talk,” part of the dance that goes on with these sorts of things, the spinners will tell us.

This is the fallacy and the danger of the “deadline” imposed by the administration. There will always be those, most especially at Foggy Bottom, unwilling to take Iranian leaders at their word. If they cup their hands to their ears and squint, they can divine a “deal” in the offing. But of course Iran has no interest in giving up their nuclear ambitions. They have told us repeatedly that they aren’t about to forfeit their ticket to the nuclear club. This is certainly more true than it has ever been, as the regime attempts to stamp out the embers of revolt and assert itself both domestically and on the world stage.

At some point, even the Obama team may recognize that diplomacy, however “smart,” isn’t paying off. What then? Well they might have to do something. They might need to take a breather from hollering at Israel over East Jerusalem apartments and begin to rally international opinion to take some meaningful action in an attempt to dissuade Iran from going down this path.

Now, you may think that’s not likely — because the Obama team lacks the ability or the will to get tough with any power (well, other than Honduras and Israel), or because it’s getting to be too late for economic sanctions. And then we arrive at the real choice: military action or a nuclear-armed Iran. You can see why so many would rather not take “no” for an answer.

September is the month we’re supposed to hear the Iranian regime’s response to Obama’s engagement proposal. This report suggests that the breathless anticipation is over:

His statements came as the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog warned of a “stalemate” over Iran’s nuclear program. Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency began meetings in Vienna that could set the stage for a toughening of sanctions against Iran.

Ahmadinejad also said Iran will present a package of proposals for talks to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany but rejected any deadline for such talks.

He said the package would “identify challenges facing humanity . . . and resolve global concerns.”

But he said that “from our point of view, Iran’s nuclear issue is over. We continue our work within the framework of global regulations and in close interaction with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” But “we will never negotiate over obvious rights of the Iranian nation,” he said.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday Iran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights but is ready to sit and talk with world powers over “global challenges.”

No, he doesn’t really mean it, we’ll be told. This is posturing, you see. Or Ahmadinejad doesn’t really count. (Okay, that’s a little hard to believe after the events of the past few months.) He says that, but this is just “diplomatic talk,” part of the dance that goes on with these sorts of things, the spinners will tell us.

This is the fallacy and the danger of the “deadline” imposed by the administration. There will always be those, most especially at Foggy Bottom, unwilling to take Iranian leaders at their word. If they cup their hands to their ears and squint, they can divine a “deal” in the offing. But of course Iran has no interest in giving up their nuclear ambitions. They have told us repeatedly that they aren’t about to forfeit their ticket to the nuclear club. This is certainly more true than it has ever been, as the regime attempts to stamp out the embers of revolt and assert itself both domestically and on the world stage.

At some point, even the Obama team may recognize that diplomacy, however “smart,” isn’t paying off. What then? Well they might have to do something. They might need to take a breather from hollering at Israel over East Jerusalem apartments and begin to rally international opinion to take some meaningful action in an attempt to dissuade Iran from going down this path.

Now, you may think that’s not likely — because the Obama team lacks the ability or the will to get tough with any power (well, other than Honduras and Israel), or because it’s getting to be too late for economic sanctions. And then we arrive at the real choice: military action or a nuclear-armed Iran. You can see why so many would rather not take “no” for an answer.

Read Less

Clear, but Not Too Clear

The White House spinners are hitting the airwaves and filling news columns as background sources to explain the president’s upcoming health-care speech. He’s going to “draw lines in the sand” but not threaten vetoes. He’s going to be very positive about the public option but not say it’s essential. Lots of ideas are still on the table. But people will “know where he stands.” Well, not if he gives us double-talk like this. The problem, it seems, is that the president and his spin squad don’t know what they want — or what they can get. So they are vamping.

That’s fine for the Sunday talk shows, but the president — who’s given dozens and dozens of speeches, press conferences, and interviews and conducted more dog-and-pony shows than we can count on his views on health care — runs the risk of, once again, leaving Americans bewildered as to what he wants. He’s still going to bend the cost curve — or are we going spend a trillion or more? Are we going to have a public option or not? Does he want Medicare slashed or not? These are straightforward questions, but if his aides are any indication, he’s not ready to give us direct answers. And of course he can’t — since he doesn’t know what he can get out of Congress. Dana Perino doesn’t think much of all this either, commenting:

I follow this issue every day and still I’m confused — no wonder Americans can’t get behind the president’s healthcare reform when apparently even the White House is still trying to figure out what the President is for.

I am puzzled by the strategy to call a Joint Session of Congress, which should be a pivotal, final moment before the big show, and then participating in articles where they admit they’re still hashing all of it out, and not just on which adjectives to use, but on the policy issues, in particular whether a public option is in or out.

This raises the question: why is Obama giving a speech now? Well, he’s panicked about his political standing and desperate to change the media narrative. So he returns to his crutch — a big-time event, a campaign-style gambit like the Philadelphia race speech. But this is governing, not campaigning. And to govern means to choose — what goals to pursue, what allies to offend, what risks to take, and what political capital to use up. If he’s going to save his agenda, he better figure that all out by the time he steps to the podium.

The White House spinners are hitting the airwaves and filling news columns as background sources to explain the president’s upcoming health-care speech. He’s going to “draw lines in the sand” but not threaten vetoes. He’s going to be very positive about the public option but not say it’s essential. Lots of ideas are still on the table. But people will “know where he stands.” Well, not if he gives us double-talk like this. The problem, it seems, is that the president and his spin squad don’t know what they want — or what they can get. So they are vamping.

That’s fine for the Sunday talk shows, but the president — who’s given dozens and dozens of speeches, press conferences, and interviews and conducted more dog-and-pony shows than we can count on his views on health care — runs the risk of, once again, leaving Americans bewildered as to what he wants. He’s still going to bend the cost curve — or are we going spend a trillion or more? Are we going to have a public option or not? Does he want Medicare slashed or not? These are straightforward questions, but if his aides are any indication, he’s not ready to give us direct answers. And of course he can’t — since he doesn’t know what he can get out of Congress. Dana Perino doesn’t think much of all this either, commenting:

I follow this issue every day and still I’m confused — no wonder Americans can’t get behind the president’s healthcare reform when apparently even the White House is still trying to figure out what the President is for.

I am puzzled by the strategy to call a Joint Session of Congress, which should be a pivotal, final moment before the big show, and then participating in articles where they admit they’re still hashing all of it out, and not just on which adjectives to use, but on the policy issues, in particular whether a public option is in or out.

This raises the question: why is Obama giving a speech now? Well, he’s panicked about his political standing and desperate to change the media narrative. So he returns to his crutch — a big-time event, a campaign-style gambit like the Philadelphia race speech. But this is governing, not campaigning. And to govern means to choose — what goals to pursue, what allies to offend, what risks to take, and what political capital to use up. If he’s going to save his agenda, he better figure that all out by the time he steps to the podium.

Read Less

The Meaning of Van Jones

Not since Bob Irsay packed up the Baltimore Colts in the dead of night has a high-profile retreat in darkness gotten so much attention. Van Jones was shoved under the Obama bus, as everyone knew would occur, with an announcement coming at midnight. The Wall Street Journal enumerates his baggage, enough to fill a small commuter plane:

Mr. Jones has been in the center of a maelstrom on conservative radio and television talk shows since a video surfaced last week showing him calling Republicans a vulgar epithet. Since then, other controversies have emerged, such as Mr. Jones saying black students would have never committed a massacre such as the one at Colorado’s Columbine High School. His name also appeared on a 2004 petition calling for the government to investigate its own culpability in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. None of those issues happened after Mr. Jones joined the administration.

There are a number of story lines percolating here: the mainstream media’s refusal to report on the incident until he left; the mystery as to how such a figure wound up in the White House; the ham-fisted performance of late by an administration that allowed a story to build and its critics to claim victory; and the substantive issue concerning the proliferation of czars who evade congressional confirmation and oversight — and apparently get a lesser level of vetting. And then there is the familiar White House reaction — no apology, no explanation, and no remorse.

Some of the punditocracy — Juan Williams, for example — are peeved we are spending any time on this. And true enough, if the White House had a near perfect vetting record, or if the president did not have a reputation for hanging out with the likes of Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright, whose worldview bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Jones, this might be a nonstory.

Unfortunately for the White House, this turn of events seems to confirm many of the criticisms, even those from sympathetic Democrats who want Obama to succeed with his liberal agenda. There are at least a couple of problems that we have seen before.

First, there is apparently no one outside the ultra-liberal bubble who can spot a mistake and understand how those not part of the netroot fan base might take offense. No one to say, “Let’s not give the nation’s highest civilian honor to Mary Robinson. She presided over Durban, for goodness sakes!” No one to caution against smearing ordinary citizens as lackeys of the insurance industry or kooks. No voice to suggest, “Maybe we shouldn’t attack the voters — they, um, vote.” And no one to question the selection or  quickly raise the red flag once Jones’s “truther” background and other offenses came to light. Maybe there is a brave soul trying to save the White House from itself, but if there is, no one is listening. And that gets it into trouble again and again.

Second, because the mainstream media doesn’t report or underreports “bad” news ( i.e., news that isn’t helpful to Obama), the administration operates under the misconception that bad news is just Glenn Beck ranting or a “fake” news story. The White House then goes to spin mode, attacks the messengers (e.g., conservative news outlets), imagines “real” Americans couldn’t possibly care, and allows the issue to fester. The result is to elevate the conservative outlets that did the reporting and to further erode the credibility of the “friendly” nonnews media. As Politico’s headline aptly put it: “Glenn Beck up, left down, Jones defiant.”

Jones isn’t the biggest story going on — clearly the war on the CIA, the loss of support for the Afghanistan war, the health-care debate, the “deadline” (who believes that?) for Iran to make a substantive response to the U.S. on its nuclear ambitions, and the rising unemployment rate have longer term implications. But unless the White House deals with the judgment, personnel, and execution problems that the Jones fiasco highlights, the president will have a hard time regaining his footing and dealing with all these, and other, pressing issues.

Not since Bob Irsay packed up the Baltimore Colts in the dead of night has a high-profile retreat in darkness gotten so much attention. Van Jones was shoved under the Obama bus, as everyone knew would occur, with an announcement coming at midnight. The Wall Street Journal enumerates his baggage, enough to fill a small commuter plane:

Mr. Jones has been in the center of a maelstrom on conservative radio and television talk shows since a video surfaced last week showing him calling Republicans a vulgar epithet. Since then, other controversies have emerged, such as Mr. Jones saying black students would have never committed a massacre such as the one at Colorado’s Columbine High School. His name also appeared on a 2004 petition calling for the government to investigate its own culpability in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. None of those issues happened after Mr. Jones joined the administration.

There are a number of story lines percolating here: the mainstream media’s refusal to report on the incident until he left; the mystery as to how such a figure wound up in the White House; the ham-fisted performance of late by an administration that allowed a story to build and its critics to claim victory; and the substantive issue concerning the proliferation of czars who evade congressional confirmation and oversight — and apparently get a lesser level of vetting. And then there is the familiar White House reaction — no apology, no explanation, and no remorse.

Some of the punditocracy — Juan Williams, for example — are peeved we are spending any time on this. And true enough, if the White House had a near perfect vetting record, or if the president did not have a reputation for hanging out with the likes of Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright, whose worldview bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Jones, this might be a nonstory.

Unfortunately for the White House, this turn of events seems to confirm many of the criticisms, even those from sympathetic Democrats who want Obama to succeed with his liberal agenda. There are at least a couple of problems that we have seen before.

First, there is apparently no one outside the ultra-liberal bubble who can spot a mistake and understand how those not part of the netroot fan base might take offense. No one to say, “Let’s not give the nation’s highest civilian honor to Mary Robinson. She presided over Durban, for goodness sakes!” No one to caution against smearing ordinary citizens as lackeys of the insurance industry or kooks. No voice to suggest, “Maybe we shouldn’t attack the voters — they, um, vote.” And no one to question the selection or  quickly raise the red flag once Jones’s “truther” background and other offenses came to light. Maybe there is a brave soul trying to save the White House from itself, but if there is, no one is listening. And that gets it into trouble again and again.

Second, because the mainstream media doesn’t report or underreports “bad” news ( i.e., news that isn’t helpful to Obama), the administration operates under the misconception that bad news is just Glenn Beck ranting or a “fake” news story. The White House then goes to spin mode, attacks the messengers (e.g., conservative news outlets), imagines “real” Americans couldn’t possibly care, and allows the issue to fester. The result is to elevate the conservative outlets that did the reporting and to further erode the credibility of the “friendly” nonnews media. As Politico’s headline aptly put it: “Glenn Beck up, left down, Jones defiant.”

Jones isn’t the biggest story going on — clearly the war on the CIA, the loss of support for the Afghanistan war, the health-care debate, the “deadline” (who believes that?) for Iran to make a substantive response to the U.S. on its nuclear ambitions, and the rising unemployment rate have longer term implications. But unless the White House deals with the judgment, personnel, and execution problems that the Jones fiasco highlights, the president will have a hard time regaining his footing and dealing with all these, and other, pressing issues.

Read Less

Making Friends

While we edge closer to Obama’s declared deadline for getting really serious about Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian regime is making friends. This report explains that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez are “pledging to deepen their ties and stand together against the United States and world powers the two perceive as imperialistic.”

Chavez is a busy despot:

Chavez is on an 11-day tour that has taken him to Libya, Algeria, Syria and Iran. The leftist Venezuelan leader is also to visit Belarus, Russia and Spain in the trip he has described as a bid to build a “multi-polar world” and counter U.S. influence. After landing in Tehran late Friday — his eighth visit to Iran so far — Chavez said Iran is “a true strategic ally, a staunch ally” to his country and defended Iran’s right to a nuclear program.

Now keep in mind that the administration, as Rick has pointed out, is doing all it can to aid Manuel Zelaya — Chavez’s eager student. And if Obama “succeeds” in forcing Zelaya’s return over the wishes of the Honduran legislature, Supreme Court, Catholic Church, business community, and Honduras’ middle class, what will he have achieved? Why, bolstering Chavez’s reputation as someone who can force America’s hand — no matter what mere national constitutions or popular opinion have to say about it.

It is incomprehensible that Obama seems blissfully unaware of the larger implications of his Honduran policy. One can only assume that, as with his Syrian policy, he is now in the business of trying to ingratiate America with the strongmen while averting his eyes from their more disagreeable conduct. The result, of course, will be only to enhance our adversaries’ prestige — not to mention their contempt for the U.S.

While we edge closer to Obama’s declared deadline for getting really serious about Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian regime is making friends. This report explains that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez are “pledging to deepen their ties and stand together against the United States and world powers the two perceive as imperialistic.”

Chavez is a busy despot:

Chavez is on an 11-day tour that has taken him to Libya, Algeria, Syria and Iran. The leftist Venezuelan leader is also to visit Belarus, Russia and Spain in the trip he has described as a bid to build a “multi-polar world” and counter U.S. influence. After landing in Tehran late Friday — his eighth visit to Iran so far — Chavez said Iran is “a true strategic ally, a staunch ally” to his country and defended Iran’s right to a nuclear program.

Now keep in mind that the administration, as Rick has pointed out, is doing all it can to aid Manuel Zelaya — Chavez’s eager student. And if Obama “succeeds” in forcing Zelaya’s return over the wishes of the Honduran legislature, Supreme Court, Catholic Church, business community, and Honduras’ middle class, what will he have achieved? Why, bolstering Chavez’s reputation as someone who can force America’s hand — no matter what mere national constitutions or popular opinion have to say about it.

It is incomprehensible that Obama seems blissfully unaware of the larger implications of his Honduran policy. One can only assume that, as with his Syrian policy, he is now in the business of trying to ingratiate America with the strongmen while averting his eyes from their more disagreeable conduct. The result, of course, will be only to enhance our adversaries’ prestige — not to mention their contempt for the U.S.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

A Washington Post reporter slips: a 20-year-old thesis isn’t enough to sink the chances of Republican Bob McDonnell in the Virginia gubernatorial race (despite the Post‘s best efforts). It turns out that his opponent Creigh Deeds doesn’t have much to say or a signature campaign issue. (And Deeds, he confesses, seems bent on drudging up social issues of little interest to voters.) Well, I suppose the voters could be interested in actual issues and what the candidates are planning to do once elected.

Speechwriter Matt Latimer has it half right on his advice for the ailing president. He’s correct that Obama is horribly overexposed. He’s wrong about firing the speechwriters. Then we’d have more off-the-cuff red pill/blue bill gibberish.

Dana Perino on the inevitable but too-long-in-coming resignation of Van Jones: “Curious how he made it that far into the administration when a google search could have told you he believed that the Bush Administration had allowed 9/11 to happen. It’d be like the Bush White House having a former clansman or Holocaust denier in the West Wing. So, good decision — it was a distraction the Obama team didn’t need.”

The administration and the media enablers can’t bring themselves to say a bad word about cop-killer activist, “truther,” foul-mouthed, anti-America ranter Van Jones. But you see, the media can’t really explain it now — not after ignoring the entire story. It might look like they had been covering up bad news for The One. It also prevents further conversation about how on earth such a person came to work at the White House. (And might lend credence to those who warned about the types of extremists the president pals around with.)

On how Jones wound up in the White House, Stephen Hayes: “I mean, remember, at the beginning of the administration, the transition, there was this lengthy questionnaire that nominees or appointees were forced to fill out by the Obama administration, separate from the FBI questionnaire. And on that, question number 61 has to do with this very issue. ‘Have you been associated with any groups that would cause us embarrassment, that people could use to impugn your character?’ I’d be very interested to see from the most transparent administration in history what his response to that was. Maybe he didn’t list that. I suspect he probably didn’t. But if he did, why wasn’t he — why wasn’t he gone, you know, 48 hours ago?”

And then Bill Kristol adds this little bit of information: “Valerie Jarrett is one of President Obama’s closest friends and one of his closest, most senior White House advisers. She gave a speech earlier this year boasting about recruiting Van Jones for the White House. He was not an obscure person that President Obama and Valerie Jarrett didn’t know. He was someone they went out of their way to bring into the White House, and they still need to explain why they did that.”

Mickey Kaus explains that the New York Times shielded their readers from the story — until Jones left. Like the success of the Iraq surge! Or the unpopularity of health-care reform. They always seem to be in catch-up mode.

We haven’t even gotten to the president’s big address, and already the White House is tied up in knots: do they support the public option or not? Hard to tell. This is pathetic and risks making the administration, and the president specifically, look even more inept — which is a hard task.

Bet you didn’t think that the Obamas’ renting a mammoth estate in Martha’s Vineyard was a “quintessentially middle-class thing to do.”

A Washington Post reporter slips: a 20-year-old thesis isn’t enough to sink the chances of Republican Bob McDonnell in the Virginia gubernatorial race (despite the Post‘s best efforts). It turns out that his opponent Creigh Deeds doesn’t have much to say or a signature campaign issue. (And Deeds, he confesses, seems bent on drudging up social issues of little interest to voters.) Well, I suppose the voters could be interested in actual issues and what the candidates are planning to do once elected.

Speechwriter Matt Latimer has it half right on his advice for the ailing president. He’s correct that Obama is horribly overexposed. He’s wrong about firing the speechwriters. Then we’d have more off-the-cuff red pill/blue bill gibberish.

Dana Perino on the inevitable but too-long-in-coming resignation of Van Jones: “Curious how he made it that far into the administration when a google search could have told you he believed that the Bush Administration had allowed 9/11 to happen. It’d be like the Bush White House having a former clansman or Holocaust denier in the West Wing. So, good decision — it was a distraction the Obama team didn’t need.”

The administration and the media enablers can’t bring themselves to say a bad word about cop-killer activist, “truther,” foul-mouthed, anti-America ranter Van Jones. But you see, the media can’t really explain it now — not after ignoring the entire story. It might look like they had been covering up bad news for The One. It also prevents further conversation about how on earth such a person came to work at the White House. (And might lend credence to those who warned about the types of extremists the president pals around with.)

On how Jones wound up in the White House, Stephen Hayes: “I mean, remember, at the beginning of the administration, the transition, there was this lengthy questionnaire that nominees or appointees were forced to fill out by the Obama administration, separate from the FBI questionnaire. And on that, question number 61 has to do with this very issue. ‘Have you been associated with any groups that would cause us embarrassment, that people could use to impugn your character?’ I’d be very interested to see from the most transparent administration in history what his response to that was. Maybe he didn’t list that. I suspect he probably didn’t. But if he did, why wasn’t he — why wasn’t he gone, you know, 48 hours ago?”

And then Bill Kristol adds this little bit of information: “Valerie Jarrett is one of President Obama’s closest friends and one of his closest, most senior White House advisers. She gave a speech earlier this year boasting about recruiting Van Jones for the White House. He was not an obscure person that President Obama and Valerie Jarrett didn’t know. He was someone they went out of their way to bring into the White House, and they still need to explain why they did that.”

Mickey Kaus explains that the New York Times shielded their readers from the story — until Jones left. Like the success of the Iraq surge! Or the unpopularity of health-care reform. They always seem to be in catch-up mode.

We haven’t even gotten to the president’s big address, and already the White House is tied up in knots: do they support the public option or not? Hard to tell. This is pathetic and risks making the administration, and the president specifically, look even more inept — which is a hard task.

Bet you didn’t think that the Obamas’ renting a mammoth estate in Martha’s Vineyard was a “quintessentially middle-class thing to do.”

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.