Monday, April 14, 2008
Personal Asides: As the P. R. Fog Sweeps Away We Glimpse the True Obama Joel Weisman is Not a Wise Man as Chicago Week in Review Follows the True Liberal LineMore Regulation for the Airlines with Nary a Word About the Politics of Airline Tie-Ups. .
The True Obama.
If these remarks had been made in a debate toward the end of the 2008 campaign they would have constituted the events, my dear boy, events cited by Harold MacMillan that can derail all but certain electoral victories. Since they were delivered early in April, they will not be fatal. But at the very least they are a healthful blast of cold air that wipes away the public relations fog that has surrounded the base of the Obama pedestal allowing us to imagine the lofty intellectual that stands thereupon.
Make no mistake, Columbias and Harvards Obama is a gifted man, a bright one and a rather suave prose stylist, having written his own two autobiographies. And an ivy league elitist. As one who went there to teach when I was nearly fifty, with philosophy formed, I was happily impervious even though I frequented the Harvard faculty lounge where the conversational lion was the cynical and epigrammatic John Kenneth Galbraith, he of the lifted eyebrow and acerbic phrases. Being impervious didnt blind me in 1977 to the fact that ivy league liberalism looks down its aristocratic nose at average American types. And still does. Look at Yales John Kerry and his wife, the heiress Theresa Heinz Kerry who went to Wendys on a campaign foray and was stunned to hear about chili. She asked what it was. Damn! Nobody told her about chili. She was actually rather sweet in her unaffected elitism whereas he was phony about trying to ditch it.
Dexter and Choate prep and Harvards John Kennedy worked his way around it by using self-deprecation, saying on the one occasion when he was a freshman senator after alighting from a taxi where the meter hit $20 he considered his two choices: one to give the driver a hefty tip and tell him to vote Democratic. Then he remembered what his father would advise. So he gave the driver no tip and told him to vote Republican. This took the sting out of his elitism. After Hubert accused him of trying to buy the West Virginia primary, he told the crowd to consider turning out heavily on election day but that he had a note from his father which he read aloud that said, JackI will not buy any votes more than necessaryDad. Dartmouths Nelson Rockefeller, campaigning in Minnesota with me as a gofer asked repeatedly that he wished to eat lunch at a place that served cheese blintzes, a staple among the Jews in lower Manhattan. Yales George H. W. Bush repeatedly let his elitism come through as did Yales Sargent Shriver when he bought a round of shots and beer at a working class bar full of labor union members. When the bartender asked what he would have, he said Couvessior which caused the group to view him dubiously. And we all remember John Kerry going wind-surfing and blaming a Secret Service guy for getting in his way so he fell down on skis.
By and large, Obama comes through winningly as a regular guy. But like Groton prep and Harvards FDR who was an elitist, in private moments his liberal snobbishness comes throughas it did before last week.
This came through clearly despite the p. r. shroud in remarks made by Obama last week in a closed-to-the-media session with well-heeled liberal donors in where else?...San Francisco. A blogger for Huffington.com attended because she ponied up $2,300. She brought a small tape recorder with her and captured his sentiments. Until she heard him she was convinced he is Destinys Tot. Who knows, maybe she still believes thisbut she was sufficiently disturbed to write up his remarks for the blog, to which we are indebted.
Lets parse the statement as we would do a Dante canto. First he sets the tone. There are small towns in Pennsylvania from which industry has retreated. Nothing unusual here except a belief that only government can regenerate communitiesa staple, unfortunately, in Democratic parlance since Hubert Humphrey:
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have gone now for 25 years and nothings replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and each successful administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
Interpretation: This is standard liberal Democratic boilerplate of old not new politics which we have come to expect from Obama. You mean to say that with all the federal initiatives that have been in the goody-bags of the federal government since Clinton and Bush indeed since John Kennedy came through in 1960 and proscribed the Area Redevelopment Act and the Economic Development Administration since Lyndon Johnson came through with his specialized War on Poverty and worker retraining programs in 1964 and NOTHING has revived them that they require even MORE? He does not quantify. This gives the drift that here we have a purer socialist candidate than we have ever had heretofore. But then Hillary Clinton emits the same palaver. But she is smart enough not to look down her nose at common folk who go to church and revere the 2nd amendment.
And its not surprising, then, that they get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who arent like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Parse. And its not surprising, then, that they get bitter.
Rather like looking at average Americans through a microscope. Ah, how very interesting.
They cling to guns
This is the snob version of gun ownership. If they were smart like us Harvard people theyd support the confiscation theory. The Founders made a place for guns in the Constitution [Amendment II) as this one-time lecturer at the University of Chicago law school should know. Small town America likes to hunt. They dont live in gated communities (as does Jeremiah Wright) and, the poor dear things, believe they should have recourse to their own defense with guns. Fancy that! They cling to guns is unworthy of a serious presidential candidaterather like a bumper-sticker. His support of all extreme anti-gun ownership measures in two Senate chambers makes this not a simple misstatement. Here he chides the yahoos with a thumb in their eyes.
Religion, particularly traditionalist religion, is such a boring opiate, really. Most of the Founders were pro-religion. They opposed an established church so as to remove a threat to the free exercise of religion. This too is a snob version of liberal agnosticism i.e. we rationalists are unlike the, implicitly in his view, poor slobs in the rural towns who resort to religion and prayers. Good stuff for delivery in ultra-secularist San Francisco.
or antipathy to people who arent like them
The duplicitous, many-sided phrase that makes it sound like these implicitly in his view uneducated slobs are hate-filled. But few have been more hate-filled than Jeremiah Wright from whom Obama has resolutely refused to be dissociated, saying that to disown him would be to disown the black community.
or anti-immigrant sentiment
Meaning one can say those who oppose issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants which after much hemming and hawing in a TV debate Obama came down as being undecided.
or anti-trade sentiment
This is highly hypocritical since Obama has been a leading voice against NAFTA and other free-trade devices approved by the Clinton administration and who attacks Hillary Clinton for not having sufficiently objected to her husbands enactment of it.
as a way to express their frustrations.
We must really pity these poor things. They have to find some primitive way to express their alienation; unlike us who go to Harvard seminars.
Chicago Week in Review and Conventional Wisdom.
Lets just say Joel Weisman is very liberal-predictable. He breathes in unison with conventional wisdom. Everything he touches is pre-formed by the liberal bias. Friday night he asked his Chicago Week in Review panel to analyze the American Airline tie-ups. The unanimous answer: the airlines are sickeningly culpable. One reporter, Bob Reed of Newsweek, said that while he entertains libertarian thought as a consumer he would have to grudgingly admit more regulation by Big Daddy Feds is required.
Not a word about the fact that the tie-up is due to Minnesotas Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation committee who put on a show for his constituents causing the FAA to put on a show for Oberstar and the airlines to put on a show for the FAA. While airline passengers loll in the airports and media shakes their head and say aha! The airlines are culpable! The story on WTTW-TV sorely needed Dan Miller to explain but Miller has left the Sun-Times as business editor to go to Heartland where he is a top level executive. But is he ever missed giving the free-market side of the story. The Tribunes business reporter, a no-name, did a predictable liberal job of either ignoring the underlying story or not understanding it.
The story is this.
After the FAA, doing its job, found Southwest derelict and fined it more than $10 million for inspection lapses, Oberstar (whom I knew when he was a gofer for his old boss Rep. John Blatnik who was chairman of Public Works) made a specialty of raising hell. The regulatory process works but Congress wants to take the credit so he dragoons all the cringing executives of FAA and the airlines, finger-points and gets lots of face time on TV. No moderation, no balance to the hearings and the National Transportation Safety Boards report that accidents in all segments of civil aviation in 2006 were less than in 2005 with general aviation recording the lowest number of accidents in the 40 years of NTSB record keeping. No what happens is a special congressional show put on for the constituents back home, showing fearless lawmakers jabbing angry accusatory forefingers at timid airline executives and regulators.
What happens then is predictable and has been a regular congressional ploy since James Madison first thought of the committee system. The FAA with its credibility on the line and a Bush nominee awaiting confirmation has to put on an act to show the congressional leaders they mean business. So it puts on the very special show. The airlines have to look good so they examine every individual nut and bolt. And of course Weisman hasnt a clue and his panel of trained seals all agreeing with each other: more regulation-more regulation-more regulation rounds out yet another week of predictable land-of-nod agreement posing as commentary with the taxpayers who bear a financial brunt of public TV getting hoodwinked..