Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Some on the left are getting nervous about Terry McAuliffe’s financial background. You don’t think a guy with myriad connections to the S&L debacle who got out of Global Crossing just in the nick of time might run into problems in the general election, do you?

A pirate apology from Obama? “For too long, America has been too dismissive of the proud culture and invaluable contributions of the Pirate Community. Whether it is their pioneering work with prosthetics, husbandry of tropical birds or fanciful fashion sense, America owes a deep debt to Pirates.” (Yes it is a joke — and worth reading in its entirety.)

A reminder that elections have consequences: “North Korea’s rocket launch demonstrates the need for investment in missile defense systems, Sen. John McCain said Friday.North Korea launched a rocket Sunday that it says was used to send a satellite into orbit. The U.S., Japan and other countries have said the launch was actually a test for missiles that could carry nuclear weapons, which North Korea has tested in the past.’I believe there is no more compelling argument for missile defense capability than what just happened with the North Korean launch,’ McCain told reporters at a news conference in Tokyo.”

The flap over “the bow” goes on: “[T]he president of the United States does not bow to kings. He is not only the chief of government, he’s our head of state — the equal of any monarch. The White House says Obama didn’t bow, that he ‘grasped (Abdullah’s) hand with two hands and he’s taller than King Abdullah.’ Sorry, but a videotape on YouTube doesn’t quite back that up. Obama clearly bends his body toward the Arabian monarch, and Obama doesn’t grasp both the king’s hands until he’s standing straight up. As for the he’s-taller argument, the 6-foot-1-inch Obama towers over a lot of people, so we’d have seen him bowing during handshakes many times if that were the explanation. Furthermore, the king had his hand extended, so Obama didn’t have to reach down an inordinate amount to grab it.” It is the fibbing that keeps the story going.

As New York Magazine explains: “Surely, once the White House had time to reflect on the fact that we have actual video of the moment in question, they would admit that the president had indeed bowed as a simple show of respect to an international counterpart, blamed the “shaking hands” excuse on a well-meaning White House aide, and moved on. But instead Gibbs stuck to the far-fetched story, even sassily dismissing [CNN reporter Dan] Lothian for asking about something that happened a whole week ago and that Americans weren’t even concerned about because they were too busy losing their jobs. Of course, it wouldn’t still be a story if Gibbs and company weren’t insulting our intelligence with outlandish fairy tales.”

And Kathleen Parker gets in on the act: “I’ve now watched the tape of Obama’s bow a dozen or more times. It is simply not possible to accept an anonymous White House official’s insistence that Obama was merely reaching down to take the king’s hand and had to bend over because of the height difference.” She does raise a good question — where is the Letitia Baldrige of this administration to police manners and cut down on the faux pas quotient?

Arlen Specter says he won’t run as an independent.

Paul Volker is being ignored by the administration. Apparently his only value was as window dressing in the campaign to convey a sense of economic sobriety. So if they asked him now for advice he might suggest they not rove around the economy threatening to seize businesses or that they stop spending so much. No reason to ask if you don’t want to hear the answer.

Mom-and-pop investors in GM’s bonds are getting squeezed. Too bad they didn’t give millions, like the UAW, to help elect Obama.

Megan McArdle explains of GM: “Unlike Argentina, it can’t just default and flip off the bondholders.  When it defaults, its creditors can put it into bankruptcy.  The administration seems to be trying to prevent that in order to preserve stakeholder value–but the recovery in bankruptcy is essentially the floor of what the creditors will accept. Or maybe this is all some elaborate Kabuki ritual, where the government pretends to be talking tough in order to placate Big Labor, while quietly waiting for the inevitable.  Either way, it seems like a giant waste of time.” I think the government is trying to get creditors to blink and if they don’t Big Labor has no real recourse. So it is only a “waste of time” if you think the bondholders won’t blink.

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