Commentary Magazine


Topic: Madonna

Cravenness Unlimited

Arlen Specter is never one to get hung up on principles. Or demonstrate that he has any. In his new quest to out-liberal the liberal Democratic competition in his newfound party’s primary, he’s come out against the Afghanistan surge. Yes, the president wanted Specter on “his side,” and this is what it looks like. The pleasant surprise is his opponent, as Politico reports:

[Rep. Joe] Sestak, Specter’s more progressive-minded opponent, supports the surge however — and he has come out guns blazing, deriding Specter in an interview with POLITICO this week as a flip-flopper for “vot[ing] for the war in Iraq — and now he’s against a troop increase.”

“Sestak has routinely argued that Specter is not a real Democrat and his roots with the Republican Party run deep. He can add now the argument that Specter really has no principles here, and is just opposing the war surge for votes,” said Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

Sestak is a retired admiral who’s chosen not to run from the president on this one: “President Obama has presented a plan that will allow us to finally complete a mission that is as indispensable today as it was eight years ago: the elimination of the Al Qaeda terrorists who struck us on 9/11,” he declared. I suspect Sestak will suffer not at all from his position and gain some support from many former GOP voters who may have changed party registration in 2008. If so, it will be a lesson that politicians — the president included — should do the right thing and trust the voters to reward those who advocate smart national-security policy.

Arlen Specter is never one to get hung up on principles. Or demonstrate that he has any. In his new quest to out-liberal the liberal Democratic competition in his newfound party’s primary, he’s come out against the Afghanistan surge. Yes, the president wanted Specter on “his side,” and this is what it looks like. The pleasant surprise is his opponent, as Politico reports:

[Rep. Joe] Sestak, Specter’s more progressive-minded opponent, supports the surge however — and he has come out guns blazing, deriding Specter in an interview with POLITICO this week as a flip-flopper for “vot[ing] for the war in Iraq — and now he’s against a troop increase.”

“Sestak has routinely argued that Specter is not a real Democrat and his roots with the Republican Party run deep. He can add now the argument that Specter really has no principles here, and is just opposing the war surge for votes,” said Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

Sestak is a retired admiral who’s chosen not to run from the president on this one: “President Obama has presented a plan that will allow us to finally complete a mission that is as indispensable today as it was eight years ago: the elimination of the Al Qaeda terrorists who struck us on 9/11,” he declared. I suspect Sestak will suffer not at all from his position and gain some support from many former GOP voters who may have changed party registration in 2008. If so, it will be a lesson that politicians — the president included — should do the right thing and trust the voters to reward those who advocate smart national-security policy.

Read Less

Worth Studying

Richard Cohen in a bile-filled column asserts, “The Palin Movement is fueled by high-octane bile, and it is worth watching and studying for these reasons alone.” Uh, not exactly. It seems the bile is flowing from one side these days. Clue: it’s the crowd that refers to her as Eva Perón, Madonna, and “the empty vessel,” as Cohen does. (As opposed to Barack Obama, who was the blank slate upon whom voters could project their every desire.)

Cohen’s column uses the conceit that former President George W. Bush should be setting up an Institute for the Study of Sarah Palin. Well, let’s stipulate that something is worth studying here.

For starters, how does Palin induce Cohen and crew to adopt such loopy, self-defeating arguments? When Cohen howls at the prospect of her “meeting with the Chinese or, for that matter, conducting a protracted policy review about Afghanistan,” he’s not helping his case. I am confident that months ago, she would have sized up Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recommendation and given the go-ahead after observing that not a single military commander (domestic or allied) disagreed with McChrystal’s take and that “light footprint” alternatives had been tried and failed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I think it’s safe to assume that she wouldn’t be in the unfortunate position of having snubbed the Dalai Lama before a China trip, thereby signaling our abject weakness.

Now in fairness to Cohen, he gets one thing right: he thinks the McCain camp, which picked her, is deserving of scorn for having imagined they’d bottle her up and then embarking on a campaign of character assassination. But the rest of Cohen’s tirade is something to behold. Her selection, he pronounces, was the “exact moment important Republicans gave up on democracy.” I bet that escaped your notice. (Or maybe you thought the moment some folks gave up on democracy might have been when a campaign adopted creepy iconography and devoted followers started referring to their leader as a deity, not a mortal running for a constitutionally circumscribed office.) Whatever causes Cohen to go around this bend is indeed worth a seminar or two.

Now here’s a killer argument: the fine folks who run the Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal wouldn’t hire her as an editor but would want her as president, Cohen snorts. Yes, because we all know that what it takes to be a great president is exactly what it takes to put out a good magazine or newspaper. Really, if you can’t cut a 3,000-word column by a third, how are you going to balance the federal budget? (Cohen does know that politicians hire people to write things for them, right?) This is what happens when critics become irrational — they make arguments that confuse “editor” with “commander in chief.”

And then Cohen meanders over to the “death panels,” shouting “Demagogue!” Well, the provision for end-of-life-counseling panels was stripped from the bill once Palin issued her Facebook critique, and her argument on government-induced rationing was a prime mover in generating opposition to ObamaCare. But Cohen’s on the side of rationality, and Palin’s the demagogue, so let’s not let facts get in the way.

What’s important to keep in mind is that she’s a salesgirl, a celebrity starlet (“Like most celebrities, she is a vehicle for the sale of something: a book, a magazine, a TV program or a diet regime”). And this is why Cohen concludes that her popularity among Republicans is evidence of hatred: “What they mean is that she will act out their resentments — take an ax to the people and institutions they hate.”

Axes? Hate? My, it seems there is a group of the unhinged marauding around the political landscape. But it’s rather apparent that it isn’t the “Palin Movement.” (Does she have a movement all to herself?) Whatever you think of Palin, you do have to marvel at the frenzied antagonism she induces in her critics. And yes, that’s worth looking into as a political and social phenomenon — and, as people like Cohen’s colleague Kathleen Parker (another victim of Palin-induced rage) remind us, we really are short on civility these days.

Richard Cohen in a bile-filled column asserts, “The Palin Movement is fueled by high-octane bile, and it is worth watching and studying for these reasons alone.” Uh, not exactly. It seems the bile is flowing from one side these days. Clue: it’s the crowd that refers to her as Eva Perón, Madonna, and “the empty vessel,” as Cohen does. (As opposed to Barack Obama, who was the blank slate upon whom voters could project their every desire.)

Cohen’s column uses the conceit that former President George W. Bush should be setting up an Institute for the Study of Sarah Palin. Well, let’s stipulate that something is worth studying here.

For starters, how does Palin induce Cohen and crew to adopt such loopy, self-defeating arguments? When Cohen howls at the prospect of her “meeting with the Chinese or, for that matter, conducting a protracted policy review about Afghanistan,” he’s not helping his case. I am confident that months ago, she would have sized up Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recommendation and given the go-ahead after observing that not a single military commander (domestic or allied) disagreed with McChrystal’s take and that “light footprint” alternatives had been tried and failed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I think it’s safe to assume that she wouldn’t be in the unfortunate position of having snubbed the Dalai Lama before a China trip, thereby signaling our abject weakness.

Now in fairness to Cohen, he gets one thing right: he thinks the McCain camp, which picked her, is deserving of scorn for having imagined they’d bottle her up and then embarking on a campaign of character assassination. But the rest of Cohen’s tirade is something to behold. Her selection, he pronounces, was the “exact moment important Republicans gave up on democracy.” I bet that escaped your notice. (Or maybe you thought the moment some folks gave up on democracy might have been when a campaign adopted creepy iconography and devoted followers started referring to their leader as a deity, not a mortal running for a constitutionally circumscribed office.) Whatever causes Cohen to go around this bend is indeed worth a seminar or two.

Now here’s a killer argument: the fine folks who run the Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal wouldn’t hire her as an editor but would want her as president, Cohen snorts. Yes, because we all know that what it takes to be a great president is exactly what it takes to put out a good magazine or newspaper. Really, if you can’t cut a 3,000-word column by a third, how are you going to balance the federal budget? (Cohen does know that politicians hire people to write things for them, right?) This is what happens when critics become irrational — they make arguments that confuse “editor” with “commander in chief.”

And then Cohen meanders over to the “death panels,” shouting “Demagogue!” Well, the provision for end-of-life-counseling panels was stripped from the bill once Palin issued her Facebook critique, and her argument on government-induced rationing was a prime mover in generating opposition to ObamaCare. But Cohen’s on the side of rationality, and Palin’s the demagogue, so let’s not let facts get in the way.

What’s important to keep in mind is that she’s a salesgirl, a celebrity starlet (“Like most celebrities, she is a vehicle for the sale of something: a book, a magazine, a TV program or a diet regime”). And this is why Cohen concludes that her popularity among Republicans is evidence of hatred: “What they mean is that she will act out their resentments — take an ax to the people and institutions they hate.”

Axes? Hate? My, it seems there is a group of the unhinged marauding around the political landscape. But it’s rather apparent that it isn’t the “Palin Movement.” (Does she have a movement all to herself?) Whatever you think of Palin, you do have to marvel at the frenzied antagonism she induces in her critics. And yes, that’s worth looking into as a political and social phenomenon — and, as people like Cohen’s colleague Kathleen Parker (another victim of Palin-induced rage) remind us, we really are short on civility these days.

Read Less

Like It’s Still 2008

The unhinged Palin haters are back. And they haven’t deviated from the familiar plotlines. She’s a sexed-up tabloid star, you see. (“Why be Evita, when you can be Madonna?’) Get it ? She’s a slutty celebrity. And she’s a Christian whack job with no public-policy views: “Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime.”

Yes, this is where they left off when Palin was still running for office and Joe Biden was regarded as the serious vice-presidential candidate. It matters not if much of the claptrap (she banned books, she doesn’t want evolution taught, etc.) has been debunked by the meticulous work of Matthew Continetti (whose book about Sarah Palin is actually a devastating critique of the mainstream media and the very people who are now back frothing at the mouth). It matters not that she seized the floor in the health-care debate and has a million followers on Facebook who can read her views on energy policy and other issues without the media filter. The Palin-attack machine is good business and earns the approving nods of cable-news-show bookers and magazine editors.

We left the realm of facts and decency many, many months ago when it came to coverage of Palin. The question now remains whether once again the Palin haters will manage only to endear her to the conservative base – and even those not entirely sold on her political prospects.

The unhinged Palin haters are back. And they haven’t deviated from the familiar plotlines. She’s a sexed-up tabloid star, you see. (“Why be Evita, when you can be Madonna?’) Get it ? She’s a slutty celebrity. And she’s a Christian whack job with no public-policy views: “Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime.”

Yes, this is where they left off when Palin was still running for office and Joe Biden was regarded as the serious vice-presidential candidate. It matters not if much of the claptrap (she banned books, she doesn’t want evolution taught, etc.) has been debunked by the meticulous work of Matthew Continetti (whose book about Sarah Palin is actually a devastating critique of the mainstream media and the very people who are now back frothing at the mouth). It matters not that she seized the floor in the health-care debate and has a million followers on Facebook who can read her views on energy policy and other issues without the media filter. The Palin-attack machine is good business and earns the approving nods of cable-news-show bookers and magazine editors.

We left the realm of facts and decency many, many months ago when it came to coverage of Palin. The question now remains whether once again the Palin haters will manage only to endear her to the conservative base – and even those not entirely sold on her political prospects.

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.