Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Victor Davis Hanson has a point: “Much is recently made of Barack Obama’s evocation of the ‘Best and Brightest’ Kennedy coterie, as he draws heavily on so-called ‘smart’ people from the Ivy League. But the media’s current heavies in the financial meltdown–President George Bush, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, SEC head Chris Cox, former director of Fannie Mae Franklin Rains, and Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Barney Frank all have in common only Harvard degrees, which apparently are requisites to have overseen financial disaster rather than tools to have prevented it.”

Approaching “leg tingling” excess, Andrea Mitchell jumps to the aid of Caroline Kennedy. (Is there a sign-up sheet at MSNBC for reporters angling to be the chief defender of their favorite needy Democrat?)

Not everyone feels so warm and fuzzy toward Kennedy or so enamored of hereditary senate seats (h/t Hot Air). Kind of like Murray Rembrandt, says Rep. Gary Ackerman. Murray Rembrandt? (No one ever said New York politicians weren’t funny.)

Kennedy is supposed to be an education maven? “The problem is, she hardly left a vapor trail. Kennedy, who sent her three children to one of Manhattan’s most exclusive private schools, sat out the epic legal battle to secure billions in state funding for low-income students, and played an ambiguous role during her 22 months as the only city educational bureaucrat routinely harassed by the paparazzi.” But she did work three hours a day for the city schools, which sounds about right for the Senate.

And of course princesses don’t need to disclose anything: “But Ms. Kennedy. . .is declining to provide a variety of basic data, including companies she has a stake in and whether she has ever been charged with a crime. Ms. Kennedy declined on Monday to reply to those and other questions posed by The New York Times about any potential ethical, legal and financial entanglements. Through a spokesman, she said she would not disclose that kind of information unless and until she becomes a senator.” And they only speak when they please and to whom they please: “So far, on her tour, Ms. Kennedy has taken just 11 questions from reporters, has granted no interviews, and responded only in writing to inquiries about her positions on significant issues.”

The New York Times reports: “A growing number of employers, hoping to avoid or limit layoffs, are introducing four-day workweeks, unpaid vacations and voluntary or enforced furloughs, along with wage freezes, pension cuts and flexible work schedules.” Someone should tell the the car companies and the UAW.

When Barney Frank is the realist in the Democratic party you know the landscape is changing: “I believe that he (Obama) overestimates his ability to get people to put aside fundamental differences.” Well if he can’t get gays and Rick Warren on the same page I suppose that’s right. Reality is such a drag.

 Andy McCarthy socks it to the White House. I think it’s just time for everyone to move on — like any bad relationship, the conservative-George W. Bush dynamic isn’t helping either one at this point.

The New Republic asks “Is Biden’s star fading?” What do you think was the first clue — when he insisted he was downsizing his own job or when he had no public appearances for three weeks?

Others have noticed that Biden has disappeared as well — beginning on Election Day. We can only hope, despite all the talk of how valued his counsel would be, that this is a sign of things to come: “Then again, it’s also possible that Obama will just listen to Biden politely, nod his head and then do whatever he was planning to do all along. And the specific tasks Biden has been assigned don’t really amount to much. As [George]Stephanopoulos noted, the middle class commission he’ll be running won’t have any formal powers, and his ‘baseline’ study essentially overlaps with the work of the National Security Advisor – who will be working in the West Wing and meeting with Obama daily. And, as we’ve seen these past six weeks, life in the Obama administration probably means that Biden’s days of pontificating on Sunday morning shows will be sharply curtailed.” You wonder whether the Obama team didn’t realize Biden was an embarrassing gasbag when they selected him, or whether they did and took him anyway. In any event, they deserve credit for figuring it out soon enough.

Lots of reasons why 2010 might be a good year for Republicans, but “political malpractice” has been their defining characteristic lately so I wouldn’t be counting victories quite yet.

Mayor Bloomberg tells Governor Paterson to get the lead out: “I think the governor should make a decision reasonably quickly because this is just getting out of control and everybody’s focusing on the wrong things.” What wrong things might those be — how unqualified Kennedy is? How dynasty politics has gotten out of hand? Seems like the right concerns are getting some ink.

Funny how Politico’s “top ten media blunders” didn’t include their own breathless misreporting of John Edwards’s decision to drop out of the race because of the recurrence of his wife’s cancer. But it did include ABC’s tough moderating of the Democratic primary debate in Philadelphia — perhaps the only time then-candidate Barack Obama was questioned sharply in the campaign. “Blunder” must mean “mess up the reporter’s chances of getting a spot in the Obama administration.”

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