Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 7, 2013

Sorry, Chris, Your Health Is Our Business

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to undergo gastric band surgery is something that should engender sympathy for him from most Americans. In a country that is divided between those of us who are overweight and those who worry about that prospect, the Republican star’s struggle with obesity is the sort of thing that humanizes a tough-as-nails politician. We should also be prepared to take him at his word that his choice to take this step was about his health and the future of his family rather than in making him a more marketable presidential candidate in 2016.

But when Christie told a press conference today that he kept the news of his surgery secret since February because it was “none of your business,” he was dead wrong. The health of governors and potential presidential candidates is very much the public’s business.

Read More

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to undergo gastric band surgery is something that should engender sympathy for him from most Americans. In a country that is divided between those of us who are overweight and those who worry about that prospect, the Republican star’s struggle with obesity is the sort of thing that humanizes a tough-as-nails politician. We should also be prepared to take him at his word that his choice to take this step was about his health and the future of his family rather than in making him a more marketable presidential candidate in 2016.

But when Christie told a press conference today that he kept the news of his surgery secret since February because it was “none of your business,” he was dead wrong. The health of governors and potential presidential candidates is very much the public’s business.

The Christies, like all political families, are entitled to more privacy from the press and the public than they get. But that right to privacy does not extend to details about the office-holder’s health, especially when it comes to surgery.

As a man running for re-election to the governorship of New Jersey as well as a highly touted prospect for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, anything that might impact his ability to carry out the duties of his office should be a matter of public record. While the all-consuming nature of the 24/7 news cycle has created an intrusive, even prurient taste for extraneous details about the lives of our politicians, information about serious health problems are not gossip. It’s not just that the grueling pace of the campaign trail really is a threat to the health of someone with a serious weight problem, but that a person who aspires to the presidency can’t have medical secrets.

Whatever impact his surgery has had on his weight and his health—and I pray that it proves beneficial for the governor and helps prolong his life—it clearly has not altered his irascible personality. Many of his fans find the sort of brusque in-your-face contempt for those who question him to be part of his charm, and perhaps it is a refreshing change from the milquetoast, content-less palaver we hear from most of his fellow pols. But he’s wrong to tell the press they have no right to press him about his health. They have every right, and he owes them honest and timely answers rather than his usual invitation to take a long walk off a short pier.

Read Less

Hollywood Plays “Let’s Make a Deal” with Chinese Communist Censors

In 2007, Cracked devoted one of its beloved lists to “The 7 Least-Faithful Comic Book Movies.” Given the proliferation of comic book adaptations to the big screen, and the famously high standards of the fans of each graphic novel, competition was no doubt fierce. The piece opens: “Look, Hollywood, we understand that film is a different medium than comic books. We realize that changes must be made, storylines streamlined, art design massaged.”

“But,” the author adds, “there are some films that we cannot forgive.” Indeed, high standards for authenticity are one thing, the understandable desire of fans to see a film that shares more than a title with its namesake is quite another. And so some artistic alterations in one version of the new Iron Man film are sure to raise eyebrows among viewers. Even more notable, however, is why those changes were made. The Washington Post reports:

Read More

In 2007, Cracked devoted one of its beloved lists to “The 7 Least-Faithful Comic Book Movies.” Given the proliferation of comic book adaptations to the big screen, and the famously high standards of the fans of each graphic novel, competition was no doubt fierce. The piece opens: “Look, Hollywood, we understand that film is a different medium than comic books. We realize that changes must be made, storylines streamlined, art design massaged.”

“But,” the author adds, “there are some films that we cannot forgive.” Indeed, high standards for authenticity are one thing, the understandable desire of fans to see a film that shares more than a title with its namesake is quite another. And so some artistic alterations in one version of the new Iron Man film are sure to raise eyebrows among viewers. Even more notable, however, is why those changes were made. The Washington Post reports:

Even the nerdiest comic-book fan would be surprised to learn what cutting-edge technology secretly fuels “Iron Man’s” action-packed heroics: a milk-grain drink called Gu Li Duo from China’s Inner Mongolia.

That’s according to the Chinese version of the new blockbuster, which was released here complete with other surprising (read: odd and, at times outright nonsensical) footage inserted by producers to win the favor of Chinese officials.

If aesthetically jarring, the gambit has paid off handsomely. “Iron Man 3” raked in more than $64 million in its first five days and broke Chinese records with its May 1 opening-day haul of $21 million.

It’s a sign of how eager Hollywood has become to court China’s Communist Party leaders, who maintain an iron fist over the country’s booming movie market.

No fan of the film industry will be overjoyed at Hollywood selling its soul to the Communists for some imperialist-capitalist cash, but if it’s just Iron Man drinking some Mongolian milk, where’s the harm, right? Well, the Post continues:

This is how an invading swarm of Chinese soldiers in last year’s “Red Dawn” suddenly became North Koreans. And how Bruce Willis’s character mysteriously came to spend much more time in Shanghai than Paris in last year’s “Looper.” And why the outbreak sparking the zombie apocalypse in Brad Pitt’s “World War Z” this summer has been rewritten to originate from Moscow instead of China.

U.S. producers often spin such tweaks as an attempt to appeal to Chinese viewers. But experts say their more crucial target is the Chinese government’s 37-member censorship board, which each year approves just 34 foreign films for Chinese screens and reviews all their content. With China becoming the world’s second-largest box office market last year, failing to make that list can mean the loss of tens of millions of dollars.

U.S. film executives have described a process that involves heavy negotiation and wooing as they try to win approval. To please the authorities, studios have been willing to add Chinese actors, locations and elements to their cast, adjust release dates and tweak plot points to flatter or at least avoid offending Chinese officials.

So it’s not just a few minor changes for a few bucks. It’s an all-out garage sale of souls for gobs and gobs of money. “Tweak plot points to … avoid offending Chinese officials” is a pretty mellow way of saying “change the whole point of the movie because the Chinese Communists are offering us so much money that we honestly forgot American audiences even existed and c’mon what would you do and don’t be so naïve.” Which is the real message from studio execs.

And in fact it draws attention to something about the entertainment industry that has been impossible not to notice lately: purely in terms of entertainment value, movies are being not just outrun by television, but lapped and left in the dust. And one aspect of this may have something to do with it: television series, especially on cable and certainly on premium channels, treats their viewers like adults. I don’t mean with sex and violence, or the creepy objectification of teenagers that unfortunately shows no signs of abating. But in terms of intellectual engagement, these days films treat viewers like they’re idiots while television shows treat viewers like they already understand the world.

Long before Red Dawn’s Chinese invaders morphed into North Koreans, the Arab terrorists in the original Sum of All Fears–released in 2002–were dropped in favor of neo-Nazis after objections from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Yet over on network TV, before Sum of All Fears was released Americans were already watching 24, which depicted Islamic terrorists as Islamic terrorists–a fact which CAIR was none-too-happy about either. Accusations of “Islamophobia” were lobbed at the current Showtime hit Homeland, which also portrays Islamic terrorists as Islamic terrorists, and doesn’t blame America for everything that happens. As such, it’s infuriated some on the left. But the show rolls along.

Of course the obvious difference here is money. Film studios have much to gain from appeasing Communist censors, whereas television shows just don’t have the same market. How ironic that in pursuit of the almighty dollar, Hollywood and the Communists embrace censorship, and each other.

Read Less

Netanyahu Won’t Get Credit for Freeze

The narrative of the Middle East peace process according to the international media has pretty much been set in stone for the last 17 years since the first time Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister of Israel: the “hard line” leader’s intransigence is the primary obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. Ever since then, we have been endlessly told that his ideology has prevented the Jewish state from making efforts to negotiate with the Palestinians. The fact that Netanyahu signed peace deals during his first term and has called for a two-state solution that would allow for an independent state for Palestinians, and even froze building in the West Bank to entice Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table, hasn’t altered this. Nor will the prime minister’s latest attempt to bend over backwards to accommodate the Obama administration.

According to Haaretz, “senior Israeli officials” are confirming that Netanyahu “promised U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ‘to rein in’ construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until mid-June.” In doing so, Netanyahu will be depriving the Palestinian Authority of its standard excuse for not returning to peace talks four and a half years after fleeing them in the wake of Ehud Olmert’s offer of a state that included parts of Jerusalem as well as almost all of the West Bank. But don’t expect anyone in the liberal Western media that treats Netanyahu like a piñata to give him credit for playing ball with Kerry’s hubristic effort to achieve a deal that has eluded all of his predecessors. Even worse, this very far-reaching concession is unlikely to coax the leaders of Fatah, let alone the Hamas terrorists who rule the independent state in all but name that exists in Gaza, to negotiate.

Read More

The narrative of the Middle East peace process according to the international media has pretty much been set in stone for the last 17 years since the first time Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister of Israel: the “hard line” leader’s intransigence is the primary obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. Ever since then, we have been endlessly told that his ideology has prevented the Jewish state from making efforts to negotiate with the Palestinians. The fact that Netanyahu signed peace deals during his first term and has called for a two-state solution that would allow for an independent state for Palestinians, and even froze building in the West Bank to entice Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table, hasn’t altered this. Nor will the prime minister’s latest attempt to bend over backwards to accommodate the Obama administration.

According to Haaretz, “senior Israeli officials” are confirming that Netanyahu “promised U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ‘to rein in’ construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until mid-June.” In doing so, Netanyahu will be depriving the Palestinian Authority of its standard excuse for not returning to peace talks four and a half years after fleeing them in the wake of Ehud Olmert’s offer of a state that included parts of Jerusalem as well as almost all of the West Bank. But don’t expect anyone in the liberal Western media that treats Netanyahu like a piñata to give him credit for playing ball with Kerry’s hubristic effort to achieve a deal that has eluded all of his predecessors. Even worse, this very far-reaching concession is unlikely to coax the leaders of Fatah, let alone the Hamas terrorists who rule the independent state in all but name that exists in Gaza, to negotiate.

Let’s understand that by even informally freezing building in Jerusalem as well as the West Bank, Netanyahu is tacitly agreeing to a measure that undermines Israel’s very legitimate legal claims in these areas. The freeze, which will not prevent Arabs from building in these areas during this time, is an indication that the prime minister accepts the right of Americans to dictate, even for a short period and for symbolic purposes, where Jews may live in their ancient homeland. While Netanyahu’s futile 2010 freeze was only in the West Bank, this appears to include parts of Jerusalem. As such, it is a very significant measure that ought, along with his recent reaffirmation of his support for “two states for two peoples,” convince both the Palestinians and the world that he is ready to deal if they are prepared to talk.

Understandably, the move has already generated considerable pushback from the Jewish right with even, as Haaretz reports, members of Netanyahu’s own government saying that he has gone too far. But the problem that this episode illustrates is not just that the prevailing narrative about Netanyahu is false but that his latest attempt to give the administration the room it says it needs to promote peace will boomerang against him when it inevitably fails.

That Abbas won’t bite on Obama and Kerry’s invitation for direct peace talks without preconditions is almost a certainty that Netanyahu’s quiet acceptance of a very important precondition won’t alter. The political culture of Palestinian society still regards any deal that would recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn as impossible. Nor can Abbas give up on the Palestinian “right of return” and definitively end the conflict and survive. Even if he wanted to do so, the threat of Hamas means that he can’t.

Thus when June comes and goes and there are no negotiations and no prospect of any in the foreseeable future, Netanyahu will understandably lift the quiet freeze and allow building in areas that Israel would keep even in the event of a peace deal. But once he does so, the Palestinians will scream bloody murder about his “provocation” and pretend that this is the real obstacle to talks, secure in the knowledge that most of the international media would revert to their “hard line” Netanyahu narrative and echo their lies.

Would Netanyahu and Israel be better off skipping this farce by not making this concession? Maybe. But Netanyahu understands that his job is to keep the U.S.-Israel alliance intact and must harbor the hope that after four years of being stiffed by the Palestinians, President Obama will understand who the real obstacles are. Hopes such as these spring eternal, but like those he may have about the press changing its tune about him, that’s probably not a realistic scenario.

Read Less

Beck Crosses the Line Again

The dynamic in contemporary American political warfare tends to treat any offenses by those figures that we consider to be on “our side” on many of the great issues of the day as insignificant while treating those of our opponents as earth-shaking crimes. There are conservatives who may overcompensate for this by joining in the liberal demonization of some of the left’s favorite targets, but that kind of disappointing appeal for the respect of the mainstream media ought not prevent us from holding the right accountable for bad behavior.

That’s why Glenn Beck’s appearance at last weekend’s National Rifle Association convention is the sort of thing that cannot go without comment here. In his remarks to the conclave, Beck denounced New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for financing campaigns against politicians who defend Second Amendment rights. Placing it in the context of Bloomberg’s nanny state style of governing New York, which has led to soda bans as well as a myriad of other measures designed to tell people how to live, Beck put forward a critique of the mayor that rightly painted him as an opponent of individual liberty. But then, as he has often done in the past, Beck went too far.

It wasn’t enough for Beck to depict Bloomberg as a nanny state petty dictator. Instead, he spoke in front of a large backdrop that photo-shopped Bloomberg’s face into what appears to be a famous photo of Adolf Hitler with his arm extended in the infamous Nazi salute. This is more than merely unacceptable political commentary. It is an offense that diminishes the horror of the Holocaust and casts a dark light on both Beck and those who thought his little joke was funny.

Read More

The dynamic in contemporary American political warfare tends to treat any offenses by those figures that we consider to be on “our side” on many of the great issues of the day as insignificant while treating those of our opponents as earth-shaking crimes. There are conservatives who may overcompensate for this by joining in the liberal demonization of some of the left’s favorite targets, but that kind of disappointing appeal for the respect of the mainstream media ought not prevent us from holding the right accountable for bad behavior.

That’s why Glenn Beck’s appearance at last weekend’s National Rifle Association convention is the sort of thing that cannot go without comment here. In his remarks to the conclave, Beck denounced New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for financing campaigns against politicians who defend Second Amendment rights. Placing it in the context of Bloomberg’s nanny state style of governing New York, which has led to soda bans as well as a myriad of other measures designed to tell people how to live, Beck put forward a critique of the mayor that rightly painted him as an opponent of individual liberty. But then, as he has often done in the past, Beck went too far.

It wasn’t enough for Beck to depict Bloomberg as a nanny state petty dictator. Instead, he spoke in front of a large backdrop that photo-shopped Bloomberg’s face into what appears to be a famous photo of Adolf Hitler with his arm extended in the infamous Nazi salute. This is more than merely unacceptable political commentary. It is an offense that diminishes the horror of the Holocaust and casts a dark light on both Beck and those who thought his little joke was funny.

In writing this, I can already hear the complaints of conservatives who will say those of us who oppose Bloomberg’s politics should not attack Beck since that undermines the cause of defending gun rights as well as the cause of liberty that Beck said in his remarks was his sole motivation. But anyone who doesn’t understand the difference between an anti-Semitic mass murderer and a liberal American Jew need not bother deluging my email inbox with their pointless criticisms. Calling liberals Nazis doesn’t hurt liberalism. It hurts conservatives. Making such comparisons is not just a manifestation of a lack of good taste or an unwillingness to treat the Holocaust as a singular historic event. Resorting to attempts to delegitimize the other side is a sign of an inability to make reasoned arguments.

It should be stipulated, as Ron Kampeas noted at his JTA blog yesterday, that this is not the first time Beck has crossed the line when it comes to the Holocaust. As I wrote here in November 2010, his attack on leftist financier George Soros as a Nazi collaborator was just as inappropriate. Soros is a scoundrel, but Beck had no business pontificating about what a teenaged Jewish boy trapped in Nazi-ruled Hungary might have done. Similarly, Beck mischaracterized Soros’s efforts to undermine Communist governments when he was one of the good guys in that struggle.

As I wrote then:

Political commentary that reduces every person and every thing to pure black and white may be entertaining, but it is often misleading. There is much to criticize about George Soros’s career, and his current political activities are troubling. But Beck’s denunciation of him is marred by ignorance and offensive innuendo. Instead of providing sharp insight into a shady character, all Beck has done is further muddy the waters and undermine his own credibility as a commentator.

By depicting Bloomberg as a Nazi, he has repeated that offense. And the fact that he is generally on the same side on many issues as me and is a warm supporter of Israel doesn’t render him exempt from the criticism he richly deserves about this.

As for those who will dismiss this as just a joke, I’m afraid I have to point out there are some topics that just aren’t funny. It is an axiom of political combat that the first person to call someone a Nazi always loses. Call Bloomberg what you like, but to portray him as a Nazi simply crosses a line that no responsible person should even approach. That Beck finds it impossible to engage in political debate without behaving in this manner tells us all we need to know about him.

Beck owes Bloomberg an apology. So does the NRA. Just as important, they owe supporters of Second Amendment rights an apology for debasing the debate and undermining their cause in this manner.

Read Less

Which Lives Matter to the Media

Last month, the American media had a brief moment of accountability when many in the press and broadcast networks acknowledged that they had largely ignored the case of Kermit Gosnell. The trial of the murderous Philadelphia abortionist flew below the radar for weeks. But some journalists were willing to fess up to the fact that their lack of interest in a sensational crime had something to do with their lack of comfort in discussing a case that might throw a shadow on an issue most in the media see as pitting an enlightened advocacy of “choice” against an unreasoned support of “life,” even when it comes to late-term procedures. But after a brief spurt of interest in Gosnell, the broadcast networks and the newspapers have reverted to form, and with the wait for the verdict in Philadelphia have once again lost their interest.

Perhaps that is understandable. But anyone who watches a lot of cable news, as I do, can’t help but contrast the Gosnell blackout with the enormous coverage accorded to other criminal trials. The Jodi Arias murder case has pretty much taken over CNN’s Headline News channel and has gotten the lion’s share of attention on most of the other networks as well. The publication of a new book by Amanda Knox, who was convicted and then exonerated in an Italian murder case, has also garnered for her efforts to fight a retrial and potential extradition the sort of attention Gosnell never received.

Why should that be? The answer is obvious. Both of these murder trials involve sex and young white women. Gosnell’s crimes were committed against African-American women—the one he is accused of killing was an African immigrant—and defenseless babies just plucked from the womb, not unfaithful lovers. The networks understand that the Arias and Knox cases will attract viewers while they fear too much about Gosnell will turn them off. But before we let the media off the hook for bias and merely indict it for profiteering, it’s important to think about what this preference says about both them and their audience.

Read More

Last month, the American media had a brief moment of accountability when many in the press and broadcast networks acknowledged that they had largely ignored the case of Kermit Gosnell. The trial of the murderous Philadelphia abortionist flew below the radar for weeks. But some journalists were willing to fess up to the fact that their lack of interest in a sensational crime had something to do with their lack of comfort in discussing a case that might throw a shadow on an issue most in the media see as pitting an enlightened advocacy of “choice” against an unreasoned support of “life,” even when it comes to late-term procedures. But after a brief spurt of interest in Gosnell, the broadcast networks and the newspapers have reverted to form, and with the wait for the verdict in Philadelphia have once again lost their interest.

Perhaps that is understandable. But anyone who watches a lot of cable news, as I do, can’t help but contrast the Gosnell blackout with the enormous coverage accorded to other criminal trials. The Jodi Arias murder case has pretty much taken over CNN’s Headline News channel and has gotten the lion’s share of attention on most of the other networks as well. The publication of a new book by Amanda Knox, who was convicted and then exonerated in an Italian murder case, has also garnered for her efforts to fight a retrial and potential extradition the sort of attention Gosnell never received.

Why should that be? The answer is obvious. Both of these murder trials involve sex and young white women. Gosnell’s crimes were committed against African-American women—the one he is accused of killing was an African immigrant—and defenseless babies just plucked from the womb, not unfaithful lovers. The networks understand that the Arias and Knox cases will attract viewers while they fear too much about Gosnell will turn them off. But before we let the media off the hook for bias and merely indict it for profiteering, it’s important to think about what this preference says about both them and their audience.

It should be conceded that the focus on Arias rather than Gosnell stems in no small measure from the fact that her trial is being captured on camera in Arizona while his is not being filmed. As for Knox, her tale is the sort of saga that resonates with the vast majority of Americans who know little of the world and fear being subjected to foreign jurisdictions.

But as both the Arias and Gosnell trials wind up, with Knox waiting to see if she is re-tried, let’s understand that the obsession with the plight of young white women and the disdain that is accorded the fate of black women and babies tells us a lot about our national culture as well as the mindset of our media.

It may be that more TV viewers or even readers care about Jodi Arias or Amanda Knox than about Gosnell and his victims. If so, it says something about our attitudes about race as well as about our national appetite for titillating stories, and perhaps would lead some to say condemnations of the Gosnell near-blackout is simply a function of broadcast economics. But let’s be honest. If the media had invested a fraction of the energy it has invested in telling the story of Arias or similar stories into Gosnell, they might well have generated a surge of interest in the case and related issues.

Fear of going outside the audience’s comfort zone has not prevented many network shows from focusing on obesity or global warming or any other issue that isn’t about white women and sex. What the Gosnell case lacked was a commitment on the part of journalists to telling the story of his victims that has not been absent elsewhere. That’s why the claim that the decisions of producers, reporters and news readers on many stations are solely motivated by their audience’s preferences aren’t entirely credible. Maybe a lot of Americans don’t care much about the Gosnell victims because of their race and would prefer to fixate on accounts of crimes of passion. But don’t let anyone in the media who has ignored Gosnell, as most have, tell you that they don’t have the same mindset.

Read Less

Harry Reid’s Pathetic Attack on Ted Cruz

Pity the poor majority leader. When Harry Reid welcomed the 111th U.S. Congress in January 2009, his party was on the verge of having a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and control of the White House. The Democrats already had control of the House of Representatives, and in July they would get their 60th vote in the Senate as well. The sky was the limit.

Yet it turned out to be, for Reid, a curse more than a blessing. The Democrats had spent most of the previous decade smearing George W. Bush, attacking American troops fighting overseas, and indulging in base conspiracy theories. When given the chance to make their case to the American people that they should be given control of the White House, they ran easily the most vapid presidential campaign in recent memory, built around the Barack Obama personality cult and promising to control the ocean tides. As a result, they were completely unprepared to govern when finally given the chance.

Read More

Pity the poor majority leader. When Harry Reid welcomed the 111th U.S. Congress in January 2009, his party was on the verge of having a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and control of the White House. The Democrats already had control of the House of Representatives, and in July they would get their 60th vote in the Senate as well. The sky was the limit.

Yet it turned out to be, for Reid, a curse more than a blessing. The Democrats had spent most of the previous decade smearing George W. Bush, attacking American troops fighting overseas, and indulging in base conspiracy theories. When given the chance to make their case to the American people that they should be given control of the White House, they ran easily the most vapid presidential campaign in recent memory, built around the Barack Obama personality cult and promising to control the ocean tides. As a result, they were completely unprepared to govern when finally given the chance.

They used their broad majority in Congress to pass sweeping health care reform that was expected to force millions of Americans off their insurance plans, increase unemployment, and explode the federal debt. Because Obama didn’t want to pass immigration reform, they ignored the issue, and because the president’s spending plans were almost nonsensical, Reid’s Senate had to find a way to avoid passing a budget–a basic responsibility of governance–to keep the public from realizing the mistake they had made in putting Reid and Obama in charge.

In tandem with those tactics, Reid perfected the art of obstruction and minority exclusion because Republicans had good ideas that clashed with the Democrats’ deeply unpopular ones. Enabled by a compliant media, Reid kept the minority party–and the broad array of Americans they represented–from even having input into the legislating process, deconstructing Senate precedent and procedure and abusing the rules in place.

But yesterday, Harry Reid used his time on the Senate floor to make the case that he is the victim here. Sometimes, Reid complained, some Republicans object to the subversion of the democratic process and utilize Senate procedure to participate in the political process. That may be to the benefit of the American public, and certainly to the benefit of the voters represented by Republicans, but Reid thinks it’s mean. And Reid has set his sights on a familiar antagonist, Ted Cruz:

“My friend from Texas is like the schoolyard bully,” Reid said. “He pushes everybody around and is losing, and instead of playing the game according to the rules, he not only takes the ball home with him but changes the rules. That way no one wins except the bully who tries to indicate to people he has won. We’re asking Republicans to play by the rules and let us go to conference.”

Reid was referring to the fact that Senate Democrats would like to go to conference over the two chambers’ budget resolutions. But Republicans have refused. A week ago, the Nevada Democrat tried to move a resolution to create the conference anyway — over GOP objections.

Cruz, of course, was elected not to waste his time “playing the game,” in Reid’s terminology. And of all the reasons Democrats have been complaining about Cruz, chief among them is that he has no interest in “playing the game,” which is an indictment as much of the GOP old guard as of Reid and the Democrats.

But it’s also worth pointing out that “playing the game” used to mean a tacit agreement by both parties not to filibuster circuit court nominees–until the GOP put forward an impressive Hispanic candidate destined to continue rising all the way to the Supreme Court eventually, so Reid broke the unwritten rules to railroad the career of Miguel Estrada. It also used to be acceptable for the minority party to offer amendments to legislation, so Reid perfected the tactic known as “filling the tree” to make it impossible for Republicans to offer amendments. These examples are high up on the troubling list of procedural traditions Reid has made a policy of violating to ensure that the democratic process doesn’t weaken his power.

The intellectually vacuous Democratic Party agenda is threatened by the dynamic Cruz, so they call him a bully. What they mean, however, is that Cruz has the temerity to challenge Reid on behalf of his constituents, a time-honored aspect of democracy virtually unrecognizable to Reid and his status-quo caucus.

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.