OpinionJournal – Best of the Web Today – November 19, 2007

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Best of the Web Today – November 19, 2007

    By JAMES TARANTO



    Today’s Video on WSJ.com: Brendan Miniter on the AARP’s latest political campaign and Mary O’Grady on Argentina’s return to the international credit markets.

    Giuliani to America: Get Real
    WASHINGTON–This column makes no secret that we are favorably disposed toward Rudy Giuliani (although we value our independence and thus are grateful to Ramesh Ponnuru for leaving us off his list of pundits who are in the tank for the former mayor). Friday found us at the Federalist Society’s annual National Lawyers Conference, where Giuliani delivered a 45-minute address. His speech has drawn a fair amount of commentary, but what most struck us was something he said toward the end:

    I get very, very frustrated when I . . . hear certain Americans talk about how difficult the problems we face are, how overwhelming they are, what a dangerous era we live in. I think we’ve lost perspective. We’ve always had difficult problems, we’ve always had great challenges, and we’ve always lived in danger.

    Do we think our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents didn’t live in danger and didn’t have difficult problems? Do we think the Second World War was less difficult that our struggle with Islamic terrorism? Do we think that the Great Depression was a less difficult economic struggle for people to face than the struggles we’re facing now? Have we entirely lost perspective of the great challenges America has faced in the past and has been able to overcome and overcome brilliantly? I think sometimes we have lost that perspective.

    Do you know what leadership is all about? Leadership is all about restoring that perspective that this country is truly an exceptional country that has great things that it is going to accomplish in the future that will be as great and maybe even greater than the ones we’ve accomplished in the past. If we can’t do that, shame on us.

    This is exactly right, and we hope Giuliani keeps hammering home the point. In the conservative circles in which we usually travel, we hear far too much depressive, alarmist talk.

    And the left is much worse. They are so scared of terrorism that they have constructed an elaborate system of denial. They lash out at anyone who takes the terror threat seriously (see Glenn Greenwald‘s silly attack on the Giuliani speech for an example), but their complacency is obviously phony, as evidenced by their lurid and obsessive fantasies about torture, tyranny, global warming and all other manner of unreal horrors.

    Giuliani also made what appears an effort to evoke Ronald Reagan:

    Every single problem that I solved in New York City that people thought were impossible to solve, I solved it because I’m an optimist, because I refuse to accept defeat, because I refuse to accept that intelligent people with the kind of advantages we’ve been given can’t solve any problem that we’re faced with.

    Reagan was frequently described as an optimist, in contrast with those who thought that America was on the decline and that communism was both invincible and not really all that threatening. But Reagan’s “optimism” turned out to be realism, as did Giuliani’s, at least in New York City.

    Gay-Baiting Giuliani–II
    Last week we noted that opponents of Rudy Giuliani have been reduced to falsely describing the former mayor as a “cross-dresser.” Last Thursday, CBS’s “The Early Show” provided a forum for another homophobic line of attack. This is from a “report” in which Mo Rocca, whom co-host Harry Smith describes as a “political satirist, blogger and contributor to CBS News,” interviews Sam Chwat of the New York Speech Center:

    Rocca: Is America ready for a president with a lisp? Rudy Giuliani has a lisp. . . . What kind of a lisp does Rudy Giuliani have?

    Chwat: His is more of the dentalized type where his tongue comes too close to the front teeth, sort of like this. . . .

    Rocca: If a lisp also connotes weakness, is that something that can be a detriment to someone who’s trying to become the leader of the free world?

    Chwat: Absolutely. And if you’ve got an enemy, he will use whatever you’re using against him, you know, any part of a signature style he will use to mock you or make into a caricature of you.

    Rocca: So he can call Kim Jong Il despicable but Kim Jong Il can say, “Baby talk, baby talk, it’s a wonder you can walk,” and tease Giuliani, and that’s humiliating.

    Chwat: Exactly.

    (Excerpt from cartoon featuring Daffy Duck)

    Rocca: I have here the oath of office. If Rudy Giuliani is elected, this is going to be a very important moment, a first impression for many around the globe of President Giuliani. I, Rudolph Giuliani, do solemnly swear, that I will faithfully executive [sic in transcript] the office of president of the United States.

    Chwat: Try it like this. I, Rudy Giuliani, do sholemnly shwear.

    Rocca: I, Rudy Giuliani, do sholemnly shwear.

    It is unimaginable that a mainstream network would give this sort of treatment to, say, Barney Frank or John Edwards. We’re not going to feign outrage again; the truth is that we find this all sort of amusing. But it is a reminder of just what a sham left-wing political correctness is. People who claim to oppose “homophobia” or other forms of prejudice often turn out merely to want a monopoly on it.

    Two Papers in One!

  • “House and Senate Democrats have made some rookie management mistakes in their first year of combined Congressional control. They have angered Republicans with occasional heavy-handed treatment, as well as repeated and fruitless votes on the war.”–news story, New York Times, Nov. 17
  • “Democrats say they will continue to push the president and his Republican allies to concede their failed war policy and change course. They must keep at it.”–editorial, New York Times, Nov. 17

House-of-Mirrors Journalism
Today’s Washington Post has an article that exemplifies why President Bush can’t seem to catch a break:

The war in Iraq seems to have taken a turn for the better and the opposition at home has failed in all efforts to impose its own strategy. North Korea is dismantling its nuclear program. The budget deficit is falling. A new attorney general has been confirmed despite objections from the left.

After more than two years of being buffeted by one political disaster after another, President Bush and his strategists think they may finally be getting back at least a bit of their footing. . . .

Yet none of this has particularly impressed the public at large, which remains skeptical that anything meaningful has changed and still gives Bush record-low approval ratings.

Today’s New York Times also has an article on how we’re winning in Iraq. But according to the Post, the news is that Bush’s approval ratings are still low–or rather, were still low in polls taken before these reports appeared. The facts are not allowed to overshadow the “narrative” that Bush is hopeless–and that narrative likely ends up influencing the next set of polls. It’s journalism as carnival fun house.

Mother of the Year
One “Devilstower,” writing at the Angry Left DailyKos Web site, explains why she no longer supports Chris Dodd for president:

Here’s an exchange from the Las Vegas debate.

Wolf Blitzer: Hold on. Hold on one second. Senator Dodd, I want you to weigh in. What is more important when they clash: human rights versus national security?

Dodd: [blah blah blah]

Blitzer: What is more important, human rights or national security?

Dodd: Obviously, national security, keeping the country safe.

Can you spot it in there? The moment when I moved on from Senator Dodd and started searching for another candidate?

It’s that point at the end, the one where Dodd says “obviously, national security.” . . . Here’s the reality. Even if it was sure to be lost in a terrorist attack today, my life is not worth the Constitution. The life of my child, is not worth the Constitution.

All we can say is, we’re glad Devilstower isn’t our mom!

Call Us Cynical . . .
Linda Gregory of Denver weighs in on the presidential election in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal:

I loved the story of the response of Mr. Obama’s father to the bigot in the barroom. Wouldn’t this be a different world if we could have responded in the same way to 9/11? It would have taken an extraordinary leader to persuade the American people at that tortuous time to not lash out, or seek revenge but to appeal to our higher selves. It was our chance to be a light to the rest of the world, and we blew it.

Here’s the anecdote to which she referred, from a Journal news story:

In his autobiography, written before he entered politics, Sen. Obama tells the story of his Kenyan father drinking with friends at a bar in Hawaii when a white man objects to being in a bar “next to a n-.”

“The room fell quiet and people turned to my father, expecting a fight,” Sen. Obama recounts. “Instead, my father stood up, walked over to the man, smiled and proceeded to lecture him about the folly of bigotry, the promise of the American dream, and the universal rights of man.” The white man ends up buying Sen. Obama’s father a round of drinks.

So if you think that the murder of 3,000 civilians is the equivalent of an obnoxious comment by a barroom loudmouth, Barack Obama is your man.

Life Imitates the Movies

  • Dr. Evil: “Oh hell, let’s just do what we always do. Hijack some nuclear weapons and hold the world hostage. Yeah? Good! Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that a breakaway Russian Republic called Kreplachistan will be transferring a nuclear warhead to the United Nations in a few days. Here’s the plan. We get the warhead and we hold the world ransom for . . . ONE MILLION DOLLARS!”–dialogue from “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” 1997
  • “Sen. John Kerry, whose 2004 presidential campaign was torpedoed by critics of his Vietnam War record, said Friday he has personally accepted Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens’ offer of $1 million to anyone who can disprove even a single charge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”–Associated Press, Nov. 16, 2007

Wannabe Pundits
Baseball great Barry Bonds* was indicted last week for perjury and obstruction of justice. He stands accused of lying to a grand jury about his use of anabolic steroids. Bill Littlefield, host of National Public Radio’s “Only a Game,” sees this, naturally, as an opportunity to take a swipe at the Bush administration. On “Weekend Edition,” he read an “original poem” about the indictment, which included these lines:

A man can’t drop the hammer
On anybody’s fastball
If he’s locked up in the slammer.
Now, that may all be premature–
He’s only been indicted–
And even under Bush, the rule
Of law must not be slighted

Of course, if “even under Bush, the rule of law must not be slighted,” what exactly is the complaint about Bush? Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Bonds’s own lawyer is trying to break into the pundit biz:

Defense attorney Mike Rains said he spoke briefly with Bonds but did not describe his reaction. At an evening news conference, he read a statement accusing federal prosecutors of “unethical misconduct” and declined to take questions.

“Every American should worry about a Justice Department that doesn’t know if waterboarding is torture and can’t tell the difference between prosecution on the one hand and persecution on the other,” Rains said.

Is Rains likening his own client to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? That does not seem the most effective strategy.

* “They gave me a cap. I have the cap to this day. I have the cap.”

Even He Fears Global Warming
“Ron Paul Collecting Fans, Big Money”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 15

Did Anyone Lose a Boy Band?
“Hamas Police Found ‘Boy Band’ in Gaza”–headline, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 14

At Least They Make the Trains Run on Tim
“German Train Strike Cripples Passenger, Freight Networks”–headline, Agence France-Presse, Nov. 15

In a Democracy, Someone Would Wash His Mouth Out With Soap
“Musharraf Swears in Caretaker Government”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 17

Or Maybe Not
“Poland Swears in New Government”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 17

It Takes Him Forever to Sign a Check
“Altogether, the census found six million surnames in the United States. Among those, 151,000 were shared by a hundred or more Americans. Four million were held by only one person.”–New York Times, Nov. 17

So Who Was the French Victor Hugo?
“[Kurt] Vonnegut was the American Mark Twain. He even looked liked him. Everybody loved Vonnegut, whereas Norman [Mailer] was a much more controversial figure.”–Mailer’s literary executor J. Michael Lennon, quoted by the Associated Press, Nov. 15

Sticks and Stones . . .
“Weird Dinosaur Was ‘Cow of the Mesozoic’ “–headline, Reuters, Nov. 15

‘Brokeback Mountain’ Sequel
“Idaho Ranchers Learn to Live With Wolves”–headline, Idaho Statesman, Nov. 18

Seasonal Affective Disorder Strikes Early
“Fall Hurts Zeeland Student”–headline, Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press, Nov. 16

Now That’s Thinking Big!
“Sun May Be Smaller Than Thought”–headline, NewScientist.com, Nov. 19

You Have No Chance to Survive Make Your Time
“Iowa’s Three Biggest Cities Are Fairly According to Analysis”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 18

News You Can Use

Bottom Stories of the Day

Won’t Some Niemoller Stop This Steamroller?
Fascism marches on in Mike Bloomberg’s Gotham, reports the New York Sun:

A bill that could make it illegal to glance at a naked neighbor is moving forward in the City Council. . . .

Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. said he introduced the bill to fight back against perverts, such as people who stand at the bottom of a flight of stairs and look up women’s skirts. . . . “The drafting of the language of this bill has to be done very carefully and we’re actively looking into ways to best limit its scope so it will still capture the perverts we want it to capture without endangering anyone looking out their own window.”

They came first for the smokers, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a smoker.

Then they came for the perverts, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a pervert.

Then they came for the brutes, buffoons, cads, carousers, clodhoppers, coots, creeps, degenerates, dimwits, drunks, eccentrics, flakes, fruitcakes, geeks, knaves, louts, mavericks, misfits, nonconformists, oafs, ogres, rascals, reprobates, rogues, ruffians, scamps, scoundrels, screwballs, simpletons, slime buckets, villains, weirdoes and yahoos, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a brute, buffoon, cad, carouser, clodhopper, coot, creep, degenerate, dimwit, drunk, eccentric, flake, fruitcake, geek, knave, lout, maverick, misfit, nonconformist, oaf, ogre, rascal, reprobate, rogue, ruffian, scamp, scoundrel, screwball, simpleton, slime bucket, villain, weirdo or yahoo.

Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

(Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to Tim Graham, Don Stewart, Bruce Goldman, Michael Segal, Scott Wright, Donnie Claxton, Dagny Billings, Daniel Goldstein, Joe Hopkins, Thomas Conway, Dorothy Olson, Jane Vawter, John Nernoff, Michele Schiesser, Greg Askins, Seán Fitzpatrick, William Golden, Bill Jones, Joel Goldberg, Glen Leinbach, Roger Gore, Jeff Stephens, Jim Moran, Ken McKenna, Rod Pennington, Scott Yenor, Tim Willis, Paul Parks, Justin Bartlett, Daniel Foty, Gary Long, Ed Jordan, Paul Gross, George Sturve, Erik Merkley and Heather Robinson. If you have a tip, write us at opinionjournal@wsj.com, and please include the URL.)

URL for this article: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=

Today on OpinionJournal:

  • Review & Outlook: The latest thing in political felonies: a petition drive.
  • John Fund: Nancy Pelosi tries to force the Salvation Army to hire people who can’t speak English.
  • The Journal Editorial Report: A transcript of the weekend’s program on FOX News Channel.


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