The sense of relief and joy and accomplishment and completion we are all feeling in response to the news that American special forces finally, finally, finally got him—another dazzling achievement by American personnel fighting the war on terror, who have set a new historical standard for patriotic sacrifice and excellence—makes this one of the great days of my lifetime. Do we know what changes the killing of Osama bin Laden will effect? We can’t know. We believed that the capture of Saddam Hussein would bring the resistance in Iraq to its knees, and then, of course, the resistance not only continued but deepened. But even as the talking heads filling time awaiting the president’s speech fill time by attempting to decipher the political and spiritual and moral effects of Bin Laden’s killing, the truth is that the killing of Bin Laden is important not because of what it will do for us going forward but what it does for us looking backward. It provides this still-wounded country a rare moment of simple, pure, unambiguous justice. Evil has been met, and defeated.
Posts For: May 1, 2011
Jonathan doesn’t seem to think much of the Americans who got out of bed early to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday morning. Well, I was one of them and I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it.
I don’t believe in the divine right of kings (and neither does anybody else, that’s a red herring of cetacean proportions). I couldn’t care less about “celebrities.” I don’t even read People Magazine while standing in line at the checkout counter. (Indeed, at my age, I often haven’t the faintest idea who the supposed celebrities on the covers of those magazines are.) I don’t want the Queen restored to the rule of those lands her great great great great grandfather lost in 1776. I am a loyal and proud citizen of the Great Republic those lands became.
But I do care about the British monarchy. I care about its long and wonderful history, so intertwined with that of the country it symbolizes as to be inseparable from it. That was not just a handsome young man getting married on Friday. That was, in a very real sense, England getting married, that sceptered isle, that green and pleasant land who saved the world in 1940 by being British, not rational.
And that, of course, is what intellectuals object to about monarchy in general and the British monarchy in particular. It’s not “rational” to vest the office of head of state in a family, and therefore, in a breathtaking leap of illogic, it shouldn’t be so vested. To be sure, no one establishing a government for Britain today would do so. But no one ever established a British government at all. Instead, it evolved over the course of a thousand years and thus is shot through with accidents of history. The most prominent of those accidents is the monarchy. And the British would have to be very irrational indeed to abolish it, which is why they won’t.
You have to give ABC’s Christiane Amanpour props for her aggressive effort to push the media narrative that Rep. Paul Ryan is facing a “backlash” from constituents over his budget plan.
“[T]own halls across America erupt in anger over a plan to slash spending,” the host of This Week began her program on Sunday.
But the rest of the show–which had Amanpour visiting Ryan’s town hall meetings–debunked her entire premise. She went to Wisconsin and found what many others have already reported. The crowds are largely friendly, despite dishonestly-edited videos from left-wing groups that purport otherwise.
“This is the tail end of the marathon series of town halls for Ryan, who seems wholly unconcerned with the heat he’s taking these days,” said Amanpour. “Though the crowds we saw in Wisconsin were mostly friendly, some of his town meetings have been contentious.”
Later she admitted that there were, “Some boos, but mostly cheers. The crowd is largely supportive.”
Despite the reality on the ground, Amanpour resiliently stuck to her narrative. “Congressman Ryan is at the center of the storm,” she insisted. “It’s his plan, of course, that has sparked the outcries. Across the country, the anger is palpable.”
Clearly it’s not palpable enough for a crew of ABC reporters and cameramen to catch it. Or for it, you know, to make a mark on the opinion polls for Ryan’s budget plan, which have remained steady despite a forceful fear-mongering campaign from the left.
Donald Trump is catching some heat today, after he reacted badly to being mocked by President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last night. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the real estate mogul can’t take a joke. People who are so delusional about their own greatness usually can’t.
Which brings us to President Obama’s comedy routine. The audience seemed to have lapped it up, but once again the president showed that he’s not great at self-deprecation. Most of his act focused on the low hanging fruit—Trump, Michele Bachmann, Fox News. But here’s the president’s brief attempt at self-mockery:
Yes, I think it is fair to say that when it comes to my presidency, the honeymoon is over. (Laughter.) For example, some people now suggest that I’m too professorial. And I’d like to address that head-on, by assigning all of you some reading that will help you draw your own conclusions. (Laughter.) Others say that I’m arrogant. But I’ve found a really great self-help tool for this: my poll numbers.
Haha! Get it? He’s professorial and arrogant. Is this seriously the hardest he can be on himself? Those aren’t even new criticisms, much less the serious complaints that many Americans have about him.
David Axelrod may have been hoping to give Jon Huntsman the proverbial kiss of death when he spoke to the Washington Post of the former Utah governor’s praise for President Obama while he served as the administration’s man in Beijing the last two years. The president’s top political advisor said Huntsman “was quite complimentary of what the president was doing” while serving the administration in Beijing and was “willing to buck the tide of his own party” on a number of points.
The fact that Huntsman worked for Obama was already enough of a handicap as he competes for the votes of Republicans who largely despise the president and all his administration has done. If he is perceived as a loyal servant of Obama, it’s hard to imagine how he can win the GOP nomination.
The strategy of damning Huntsman with praise fits in neatly with the idea that the former ambassador to China is the most formidable Republican candidate in November because of his supposedly moderate stances. But that idea, like the notion that Republicans hate Huntsman because of his recently concluded diplomatic gig, is a strictly inside-the-beltway piece of conventional wisdom that may not have much to do with actual voter sentiment.
Those who lament the decline of republican values—and by that I mean the devotion to the principle of republican government, not the triumph of the Republican Party—may be dismayed by the attention paid to the wedding of the grandson of the British queen.
The celebration of monarchy in our own day has more to do with our celebrity-oriented culture than a belief in the divine right of kings. I don’t begrudge the Brits their devotion to the monarchy and acknowledge that the pomp and ceremony of the affair makes for good television. Such weddings are excellent marketing for tourism to the United Kingdom and we need to understand that when seen in that light the marriage of Will and Kate is little different than the Disney Corporation’s highlighting of the romance of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Donald Trump’s traveling circus is overshadowing the rest of the Republican presidential field, and some GOP operatives are worried. Fergus Cullen, a former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party summed up this sentiment when he told the New York Times, “The race needs more responsible adults who can actually do the job.”
If you are one of those who actually believe that Trump is the current GOP frontrunner, you may agree with Cullen. If the field is so lackluster that a buffoon like Trump can vault to the top of the polls, then maybe a whole new roster of sober presidential wannabes is needed. But though the comments in same Times story from such pundits as Charles Krauthammer (who termed the field “split and weak”) and our own Peter Wehner (who lamented the “lack of fizz” that created a vacuum that the clownish Trump is filling) cannot be disputed, there is no need for Republicans to push the panic button.