On Wednesday, President Barack Obama held his first press conference since March — but columnist Mark Steyn, author of “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon,” said the White House press corps failed miserably to make the most of the opportunity.
On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Thursday night, Hewitt asked Steyn whether he thought the “Manhattan-beltway media elite” had improved since the presidential election campaign, now that tensions have escalated between Israel and Hamas.
“I don’t think they think about that at all,” Steyn said. “You can tell that at that press conference yesterday — the most stupid, ludicrous, embarrassing questions from the court eunuchs. The idiot from The New York Times asking a question on global warming? Some giggly little schoolgirl from Chicago wetting her knickers, saying she’s watched Obama win every time?”
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Apparently, Frank Sinatra served as Mitt Romney’s debate coach. As he put it about halfway through “That’s Life”:
“I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly . . . ”
That’s what Mitt did in Denver. Ten minutes in, he jumped right on Big Bird, and then he took off — and never looked back, while the other fellow, whose name escapes me, never got out of the gate. It takes a certain panache to clobber not just your opponent but also the moderator. Yet that’s what the killer Mormon did when he declared that he wasn’t going to borrow money from China to pay for Jim Lehrer and Big Bird on PBS. It was a terrific alpha-male moment, not just in that it rattled Lehrer, who seemed too preoccupied contemplating a future reading the hog prices on the WZZZ Farm Report to regain his grip on the usual absurd format, but in the sense that it indicated a man entirely at ease with himself — in contrast to wossname, the listless sourpuss staring at his shoes.
Yet, amidst the otherwise total wreckage of their guy’s performance, the Democrats seemed to think that Mitt’s assault on Sesame Street was a misstep from whose tattered and ruined puppet-stuffing some hay is to be made. “WOW!!! No PBS!!! WTF how about cutting congress’s stuff leave big bird alone,” tweeted Whoopi Goldberg. Even the president mocked Romney for “finally getting tough on Big Bird” — not in the debate, of course, where such dazzling twinkle-toed repartee might have helped, but a mere 24 hours later, once the rapid-response team had directed his speechwriters to craft a line, fly it out to a campaign rally, and load it into the prompter, he did deliver it without mishap.
Unlike Mitt, I loathe Sesame Street. It bears primary responsibility for what the Canadian blogger Binky calls the de-monsterization of childhood — the idea that there are no evil monsters out there at the edges of the map, just shaggy creatures who look a little funny and can sometimes be a bit grouchy about it because people prejudge them until they learn to celebrate diversity and help Cranky the Friendly Monster go recycling. That is not unrelated to the infantilization of our society. Marinate three generations of Americans in that pabulum and it’s no surprise you wind up with unprotected diplomats dragged to their deaths from their “safe house” in Benghazi. Or as J. Scott Gration, the president’s special envoy to Sudan, said in 2009, in the most explicit Sesamization of American foreign policy: “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries — they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes . . . ” The butchers of Darfur aren’t blood-drenched machete-wielding genocidal killers but just Cookie Monsters whom we haven’t given enough cookies. I’m not saying there’s a direct line between Bert & Ernie and Barack & Hillary . . . well, actually I am.
Okay, I may be taking this further than Mitt intended. So let’s go back to his central thrust. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives nearly half a billion dollars a year from taxpayers, which it disburses to PBS stations, who in turn disburse it to Big Bird and Jim Lehrer. I don’t know what Big Bird gets, but, according to Senator Jim DeMint, the president of Sesame Workshop, Gary Knell, received in 2008 a salary of $956,513. In that sense, Big Bird and Senator Harry Reid embody the same mystifying phenomenon: They’ve been in “public service” their entire lives and have somehow wound up as multimillionaires.
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I see the Obama campaign has redesigned the American flag, and very attractive it is too. Replacing the 50 stars of a federal republic is the single “O” logo symbolizing the great gaping maw of spendaholic centralization. And where the stripes used to be are a handful of red daubs, eerily mimicking the bloody finger streaks left on the pillars of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as its staff were dragged out by a mob of savages to be tortured and killed. What better symbol could one have of American foreign policy? Who says the slick hollow vapid marketing of the Obama campaign doesn’t occasionally intersect with reality?
On the latter point, after a week and a half of peddling an utterly false narrative of what happened in Libya, the United States government is apparently beginning to discern that there are limits to what even Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice can say with a straight face. The official line — that the slaughter of American officials was some sort of improvised movie review that got a little out of hand — is now in the process of modification to something bearing a less patently absurd relationship to what actually happened. That should not make any more forgivable the grotesque damage that the administration has done to the bedrock principle of civilized society: freedom of speech.
#The more that U.S.-government officials talk about the so-called film Innocence of Muslims (which is actually merely a YouTube trailer) the more they confirm the mob’s belief that works of “art” are the proper responsibility of government. Obama and Clinton are currently starring as the Siskel & Ebert of Pakistani TV, giving two thumbs down to Innocence of Muslims in hopes that it will dissuade local moviegoers from giving two heads off to consular officials. “The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video,” says Hillary Clinton. “We absolutely reject its content, and message.” “We reject the efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” adds Barack Obama. There follows the official State Department seal of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.
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On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Thursday night, National Review columnist Mark Steyn, author of “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon,” said President Barack Obama gave an embarrassing performance Wednesday during his campaign swing through Las Vegas, Nev., in the wake of attacks on U.S. diplomatic stations in Libya and Egypt.
“I thought that thing last night with the president saying he had ‘a tough day’ and comparing the dead Americans in Libya to campaign supporters, which he did — I thought was one of the most disgraceful, inept and embarrassing performances by a head of state or government that I have ever seen,” Steyn said. “Every American should be ashamed of their president.”
Steyn didn’t fault the president for going to Sin City, acknowledging that sometimes plans are in place and things have to move along. But the tone of Obama’s remarks set him off.
“He didn’t script his remarks,” Steyn said. “I mean, this is a man, for example, who doesn’t have, I think, great empathetic qualities at the best of times. But to slough it off in that bloodless language — you know, when he says, now I believe this is a direct quote, ‘Obviously, our hearts are broken today.’ If you say ‘obviously’ before it, your heart is not broken. He said, ‘Oh, it’s a tough day.’ It’s not a tough day [for him]. It’s a tough day for the families of the four people who were killed.”
Steyn told Hewitt, the author of “The Brief Against Obama: The Rise, Fall & Epic Fail of the Hope & Change Presidency,” that Obama should have prepared better for that situation, given all the tools at his disposal.
“Why can’t you — you’re spending $4 trillion a year, and you’ve got these 12-year-old speechwriters you’re so proud of, and you’re the king of the prompter, why couldn’t you on Air Force One, you’re the only head of state in any major country who has a plane to fly him around his own country, and a 40-car motorcade — while you were on the stupid plane, why can’t you actually take the trouble to learn some words that would mean something and are appropriate to the occasion?”
He compared Obama’s performance to those of former President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after tragedies, reiterating his charge that Obama’s remarks were something that should embarrass Americans of all political persuasions.
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According to Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, invited to address the Democratic convention and the nation, America faces a stark choice this November. “During this campaign, we’ve heard about two profoundly different futures that could await women in this country — and how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past,” she cautioned. “That future could become real.”
In one of those futures, women will be “shut out and silenced,” rape victims will be “victimized all over again,” pregnant women will “die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms,” and “access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it.” If you’re wondering where all that is on your ballot form, just check the box marked “R.”
“We know what this America would look like,” warned Miss Fluke sternly. “In a few short months, that’s the America that we could be. But that’s not the America that we should be. And it’s not who we are.”
Fortunately, the America that we could be that isn’t the America that we should be doesn’t have to be the America that we would be. The good news is that “we’ve also seen another America that we could choose. In that America, we’d have the right to choose,” said Miss Fluke. This would be “an America in which our president, when he hears that a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or his donors. And in which our president stands with all women. And strangers come together, and reach out and lift her up. And then, instead of trying to silence her, you invite me here, and you give me this microphone — to amplify our voice. That’s the difference.”
So, if you’re looking for an America where strangers lift up Sandra Fluke and amplify her voice, that would be the box marked “D.”
“I’ve seen what these two futures look like,” she said. “And six months from now, we’re all going to be living in one future, or the other. But only one.” Because you can’t have two futures simultaneously, even under Obamacare.
With respect to Sandra Fluke, I think there’s a third future looming. The paperback edition of my book comes out in a week or so, and you can pretty much get the gist of it from the title: After America. For me, the likely scenario isn’t that the Republicans will be terrorizing rape victims or that the Democrats will finally pass the necessary legislation to make contraception available for the contraceptively starved millions crying out for it, but that America will be sliding off the cliff — literally, as Joe Biden would literally say. And when America slides off the cliff it lands with a much bigger thud than Greece or Iceland. I’m not certain that the Republicans will be able to prevent that happening. But I know that the Democrats can’t. America owes more money than anybody has ever owed anyone in the history of the planet. But millions of Americans don’t see it, and millions of those who do see it don’t see it as a problem.
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I was traveling in a sleep-deprived state much of the day yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance to chime in here on the issue of Clint Eastwood’s speech act. I did write about it in the Goldberg File (after the bit about boob glitter and all that). Allow myself to … repeat myself to paraphrase Austin Powers:
Moreover, I think all of the people attacking Eastwood are doing Mitt Romney an enormous favor. The clips I’ve seen on the news aren’t incoherent, rambling, or even weird, as some of the talking heads are saying. By my lights they’re charming or funny. Chris Rock said on Twitter this morning something to the effect of “Clint Eastwood on phone with Obama this morning: Everything went as planned sir.”
I like Chris Rock, but his grasp of politics is ludicrous. Eastwood’s speech is going to be water-cooler talk all day today. If people don’t like what he said, they won’t hold Eastwood’s comments against Mitt Romney. If they like what he said, that’s bad for Obama. And lots of people who haven’t focused on the election will now hear about how Clinton Eastwood — a compelling American badass — thinks it’s time for Obama to go. I understand people who want to say Eastwood’s act wasn’t good for Eastwood or all that useful for Romney. But I’m baffled by the claim that there’s an upside for Obama in what Eastwood said.
But let them attack him. If the Democrats want to berate an American icon for being too old, let them (just please do it loud enough so they can hear you in South Florida). If you want to bleat about how it was inappropriate for an actor, please ask Alec Baldwin or George Clooney to make that case.
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While Rush Limbaugh cut right to the chase on Chick-fil-A, calling out the “Stalinist” tactics of several big-city mayors for their “direct assault on Christianity,” the inimitable Mark Steyn was busy with a fine-point pen.
Referring to a Chicago alderman’s opposition to Chick-fil-A opening a restaurant in his ward because the company president, who is a Christian, recently stated his support for traditional marriage and opposition to gay marriage, Steyn writes:
…in a city with an Aurora-sized body count every weekend, his priority was to take the municipal tire-iron to the owners of a chain of fast-food restaurants…
The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, agrees with the alderman: Chick-fil-A does not represent “Chicago values” – which is true if by “Chicago values” you mean machine politics, AIDS-conspiracy-peddling pastors, and industrial-scale black youth homicide rates.
But, before he was mayor, Rahm Emanuel was President Obama’s chief of staff. Until the president’s recent “evolution,” the Obama administration held the same position on gay marriage as Chick-fil-A.
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