July 27, 2005 - July 20, 2005
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Sometimes men really are as stupid as women tend to think they are.
This is especially true when men try to understand things that are
principally intended for women. I've spent most of the day reviewing
blog reactions to last night's convention speakers, something I
normally don't do. What got me started was the (to me) puzzling
reaction of Brit Hume's panel to the performances of the Twins and the
First Lady. Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, and Mara Liason were mostly
faint in their praise of Laura Bush and from mildly to severely
critical of the girls. Only Chris Wallace -- memorable for his
immediate pan of Teresa Heinz-Kerry's speech -- continued to bolster my
respect for his acumen by praising both. I was curious to see what the
rest of the geniuses out there had to say, hence the hours of blogging.
Mostly, the bloggers and columnists agree with Fred and Mort. The Twins
were terrible, an embarrasment, "cringe-inducing," a Republican
mistake. Laura Bush was solid and likable but a letdown after Arnold
and far from a homerun. These views are represented to one degree or
another by such normally acute observers as Jonah Goldberg, Roger L.
Simon, Glenn Reynolds, and many many more bloggers and blog-responders.
Mostly men, of course. And there's the rub. They weren't the target
audience and they're not quite imaginative enough (at least today) to
understand what they witnessed. Bush's weakest major demographic is
women. All of the months of Democrat demonizing of Bush have taken
their toll with women, who may be great at trusting their own instincts
but are also prone to believing gossip, especially oft-repeated gossip.
What have they been hearing from the malicious Democrat grapevine? That
Bush lied. That he recklessly went to war and continues to seek out
opportunities to put the lives of American youngsters at risk on the
battlefield. That he's a spoiled power-elite rich kid with an
irresponsible past and a tendency to let others do the hard work for
him. That he's a whacked-out fundamentalist Christian. That the
"compassionate conservative" of the first campaign was a sham and a
disguise for the rabid right-wing ideologue underneath. That he is
somehow sinister, conspiratorial, and not to be trusted.
Last night, the Twins and Laura Bush blew all of that claptrap out of
the water for millions of American women who aren't going to be
persuaded by the logic or factual arguments of John McCain and Rudy
Giuliani. The Twins are clearly not
the spawn of some dynastic clan which sits at table with the
Illuminati. They are just like millions of other American girls their
age -- awkward, corny, goofy, a bit lascivious, intentionally
disrespectful, and full-time flirtatious. But they also evidently love
their parents, both of them, and their performance was not the one we
would have expected if they had a cold and distant father for whom they
were doing a public family duty. Who would make sex jokes at a party
convention if you had the kind of dad who was going to land on you like
a ton of bricks afterwards? The Twins were a HUGE plus for George W.
As to the First Lady, I can't even begin to understand how so much
pundit brainpower could fail to perceive the immense impact of her
speech. She was, by her mere presence, an eloquent and elegant takedown
of the pretensions of Teresa Heinz-Kerry. Mrs. Bush is mannerly,
intelligent, warm, and modest, yet confident and beautifully clear
eyed. Her smile is the kind that delights both the spouse and the
children. She is the kind of woman that women like (unlike
Heinz-Kerry), which is far less common than most men understand. Women
who look at her kno
w that she
is good and strong, and they know
that she really does love and admire her husband. Therefore, they know
that he must possess sufficient virtue to have earned that love and
admiration. Her low-key descriptions of her husband walking in the
garden, wrestling with issues of war and terror, cannot be contrived. A
false word would cloud such pure eyes and diminish the beautiful smile.
She is a completely genuine person, and by her association with George
W. Bush, she washes away from him much of the dung that has been
slopped on him. Her speech may be the single most important one of the
convention. It was a grand-slam homerun -- with her two daughters and
husband on base..
To those who think it presumptuous for a man to speak so confidently on
such matters I will say only that I have made a determined effort, over
many years, to understand the deep differences between men and women. I
have done so during an epoch when such differences have been dismissed
as politically incorrect nonsense or twisted into pro-feminist
propaganda (the only permitted sex differences are those which favor
women; e.g., the nicer, more perceptive, more cooperative spiel). I
have used my conclusions many times to make fun of feminism, female
mental processes, and women generally. Now there is a positive use for
what I've learned, and I offer it in all humility. But if you suspect
that I am wrong, search the Internet for reviews of the Twins and their
Mother by female pundits. If you read carefully past the partisan
posturing, you will discover that I am right about this. Even fanatical
Democratic women are going to have a hard time criticizing Laura Bush,
and if they seem to underrate her impact on voters, look for the fear
behind the words.
George W. Bush's wife is the most potent weapon in his arsenal.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Showdown in the
Communists for Kerry versus
Billionaires for Bush
RETURN OF THE IDEALISTS
Sure, we could talk about important things, such as the big
speeches by John McCain (good) and Rudy Giuliani (better), but USA
Today has hired
to analyze those for us, so why engage in superfluous
chit-chat? Besides, it looks like the real action at the Republican
Convention is happening outside Madison Square Garden, where a hundred
thousand (give or take a few) mostly unwashed and unkempt young
deadbeats are acting out their hatred of George W. Bush in a kind of
mass tantrum. Absolutely nothing they do or say is important unless a
handful of anarchists succeeds in committing an act of real violence,
like the burning of a float that reportedly occurred yesterday.
Otherwise, they couldn't be any more dreary to look at -- in person or
in photos -- a near exact reproduction of the loutish hippie-radicals
of John Kerry's salad days. The attire is a throwback to the sixties,
as are the signs and slogans, many of which are frankly plagiarized
from the decades-old signage of SDS. Their demeanour is equally
derivative, hostile to clean-looking strangers, loud and laden with
obscenities. An old, tired, drab and humorless imitation of the drab
and humorless original.
But there are exceptions, which we note with pleasure. At least three
smallish groups we know of have dared to inject the exhausted protest
tradition with a sense of fun and satire. All three are present for the
festivities in New York. All three have websites. They are the
Billionaires for Bush
(BFB), Communists for Kerry
(CFK), and the
right-wing group with ties to CFK. In the
website competition, the right-wing groups appear to have less funding
but funnier art
for sale. The BFB site is
slicker, better written (spelling counts, boys, even on the righthand
side of the aisle), but its attempts at spoofing the news
with too much detail, as if the liberal mentality can't resist trying
to instruct its readers even if humor escapes in the process.
Yet if press accounts are to be trusted (I know, I know), when it comes
to live demonstrations, BFB has crafted a witty and highly entertaining
approach to conveying its ideas to the public. A writer named Emma
Chastain observed a confrontation between BFB and CFK in New York the
other day and offered a kind of review in the New
As Sunday's protest march approached
the Flatiron Building, right-wingers dressed as left-wingers screamed
at left-wingers dressed as right-wingers--while staying in
character--to the delight of the marchers passing by. As a billionaire
might say, "It was too meta, darling!"
Billionaires for Bush, a merry band of
pranksters, aims to undermine
the right wing by impersonating its cruelest and greediest members.
Communists for Kerry, which hopes to be the Billionaires' bęte
satirizes the left by advocating a ban of the GOP and Christianity.
Both groups trade in irony. But only one has been to charm school.
According to Ms. Chastain, the BFB crew stayed superbly in character,
with light-hearted and spontaneous responses to their environs:
was hot and muggy, but the
Billionaires were unfazed. Men wore
wool blazers, hats, and velveteen smoking jackets. A few members wore
head-to-toe seersucker. The women wore satin gloves and cupcake ball
gowns; some were brave enough to march in high heels....
As the Billionaires began their march down Fifth Avenue, they smiled
and chanted, "Four more wars! Four more wars!" "Reappoint Bush!" and
"Hands off Halliburton!" At posh landmarks, witty remarks were made and
picked up by the rest of the marchers. Trump Tower appeared on the
left, and someone cheered, "Trump--one of us!"... A van full of cops crawled alongside the
protest, its passengers grinning and waving. "Thank you for working
without a contract!" one billionaire said to an amused policeman. "Move
it along," said a cop, "no one's making money standing still." "We make
money standing still!" protested a Billionaire.
The CFK contingent, on the other hand, did not rise to the occasion of
encountering the BFBs.
tainted the fizzy
atmosphere of the march when the
Billionaires collided with Communists for Kerry. The Communists wore
great outfits--red shirts, clumping boots, and fake beards--but their
satire lacked punch. The wittiest they could manage: "Foreign Policy?
Ask France First." The Communists, unlike the Billionaires, haven't
figured out that people will willingly listen to any message, even one
they disagree with, as long as it is delivered through smiling lips.
Unlike the effervescent Billionaires, they tried to get laughs by
shouting angrily and insulting their audience, a tactic the most
amateur comedian at Caroline's knows to avoid. "Bush-haters of the
world, unite!" bellowed the Commies, and "Viva la revolución!"
Still, Ms. Chastain acknowledged that the CFKs had the tougher role to
majority of Sunday's crowd...
was less interested in
observing faux Fidel Castros than in chuckling at a passing Billionaire
who remarked, "It's all about trickle down. I overtipped my sommelier
last night." By the time the Billionaires broke into choruses of, "Let
them bow, let them scrape / Let them peel us all a grape / The election
is paid for by us," the Communists for Kerry had clearly been bested.
Their unequivocal defeat suggests that a decades-old piece of
conventional wisdom about American politics--that the left takes itself
too seriously and that the right is better at projecting sunny good
humor--holds even when left and right are being played by each other.
Another problem for the CFKs is that their true mission is to serve as
an unsettling mirror for more traditional leftist protesters. In
future, the organization might benefit from carrying a few signs and
wisecracks aimed directly at the billionaires. "Greetings from the
politburo to our generous comrade Ms. Heinz-Kerry." "Please convey our
socialist good wishes to our ally George Soros." "Where is our great
partner in revolution Marc Rich?" And even neo-communists should be
able to remember that icons like Fidel love to rub shoulders with rich
and famous Americans who come to bow and scrape before him. Fidel
should be delighted to see a whole troupe of leftist billionaires. Good
manners need never be dispensed with. The Kremlin in the glory days of
Soviet communism was fully capable of high hospitality and politesse
when entertaining American politicians, diplomats, and, yes,
billionaires (See the career of Armand
Practice makes perfect. No doubt the CFKs will do better in their next
encounter. Revolutions aren't won overnight, you know.
Friday, August 27, 2004
charge against William Kennedy Smith. What would it be? Rape
Surprised? How about bored? How tired are we of hearing about the
antics of America's "royal" family? Oh. You're not
tired? Sorry. We forgot how cool it is that these offspring of
multi-millionaire, Germanophile bootleggers get to do whatever they want,
whenever, just because they're adequately equipped with cash, thick
black Irish hair, millions of idolatrous Democrat apologists, and the
moral sophistication of a gang of acquitted sociopaths. The current
mess can't help but remind us of this pair of entries from Who's Who in
Shuteye Nation (where all
the names are changed just because) four years ago:
Up-and-coming star in Ameria's most famous political°
Schwartz first came to the
public's attention when he got charged with rape at a party hosted by
Teddy. Many otherwise savvy political advisers, including some members
of the family, considered this an unpromising start to his political
Teddy was so upset about the whole thing that he asked for a family
to designate Schwartz the stupidest member of the Schwartzenkennedy
clan*. However, there was good stuff in Schwartz and he understood long
before the rest of the country did that it was okay to lie°
under oath, especially if
you did it on TV in the brand new amusement medium called celebrity law°
It was his trial, in fact, that made the new medium popular and thus
to the blockbuster successes of the Ojay Simpson
trial and the Presdent's empeachment°
trial. In this way, Schwartz also gave rise to the careers of numerous
Van Cistern, who got famous explaining that just because you had a
big dot on your face didn't mean you got raped on the beach, especially
if you took off your pantyhose in the car beforehand. Schwartz has been
biding his time for a few years, waiting for his pioneering efforts to
bear fruit, but don't be surprised if there's a blazing dark horse in
2004 race for the Democratic°
nomination. Ameria might be ready by then.
*The answer was no. Teddy wasn't officially relieved of
this title till Armhold Schwartzenkennedy°
a few years later wormed his way into the family by marriage.
Gretel Van Cistern
of CTN's daily law talk show, elevated to fame as a TV lawyer°
by her broadcast commentary on the William
Kennedy Schwartz rape trial. (See Loyerz Station, Shuteye
It's funny how quickly Greta leaped onto this story in her Fox
News Channel show. She didn't quite know how how to play it. She kept
referring to the sordid past of the accused. She made no mention of the
fact that her own television career dates to the commentary she gave in
support of a Kennedy acquittal in the old rape case. Does 'objective'
mean never having to acknowledge the personal benefit you've received
from a story you once covered as a journalist°
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Does the president deserve to wear
this uniform? Yes.
A GREAT BIG MESS
seems as if the world has narrowed down to just two topics: swift boat
vets and the Olympics. There have been some nice moments in the latter,
but not very many in the former. So as to be on the record, InstaPunk
has a few observations to make about the unseemly Kerry circus. First,
we think Kerry has brought this controversy on himself in several ways.
He thought he could play both ends against the middle, which is always
a dicey proposition but almost suicidal in a case like this one. He
believed he could appeal to defense-minded patriots with his combat
record in Vietnam while retaining the support of the peaceniks with his
anti-war activism in the 1970s. The divide between these two groups is
not a fuzzy gray area but a cultural cleavage that has festered in this
country for 30 years. When you play such ends against such a middle,
the natural result is that you fall into a very deep chasm. That's
where he is now. He has also, over the years, seemingly gone out of his way to make
his vulnerabilities in the current controversy worse. Unlike every
other combat veteran we've met, Kerry has not
been modestly taciturn
about his wartime exploits. Instead, it appears that he has been
continuously garrulous about his heroism in every mass medium he has
access to: speeches on the floor of Congress, television and radio
shows, books, and even 8 mm film (directed by himself). Before the
current blow-up, we had already formed a picture of Kerry as a man who
would buttonhole strangers at parties, on airliners, and in doctor's
waiting rooms to tell them about his service in Vietnam. Now he seems
befuddled that the whole case being made against him rests on his own
abundant written and recorded verbiage on the subject. He reminds us of
the hopeless bore who is suddenly dismayed that anyone has ever
listened to him long enough to take issue with what he says. Well, it
can happen, particularly when a big bore runs for the Presidency.
We are also struck by the Democrats' reaction to the swift boat vets.
Yes, they have to defend their candidate, but their strategy looks
silly on two counts. Trying to smear 250 combat vets because they are
(perhaps) smearing one combat vet seems a bit elitist, recalling the
anecdote from Kerry's Massachusetts critics which depicts him as
constantly asking inconvenient others, "Do you know who I am?" It turns
out that smearing a combat vet is unacceptable only when the vet is
named John Kerry. The simultaneous effort to pin the whole affair on
the Bush administration seems equally arrogant. At the Democratic
convention, John Edwards essentially dared the world to seek out
Kerry's wartime compatriots to find out who Kerry is. When a bunch of
them step forward with a less than pretty picture of who Kerry is, why
are the Republicans expressly at fault? If we're to accept the whole
mythic ethos of "band of brothers," how are we supposed to believe that
any of the brothers would betray one of their own at the behest of a
presidential campaign operative? Unless Kerry actually regards the
whole "band of brothers" thing as a useful fiction. Even so,
accusations of partisan dirty tricks can do nothing whatsoever to
conceal the one fact that is
clear in this whole mess: most of the men who served with Kerry in
Vietnam do not like or respect him. Karl Rove and George W. Bush did
not create that fact, and they cannot make it go away.
Kerry's whining demand that Bush make the swift boat vets shut up would
have more resonance if he had forthrightly condemned the endless
Democrat bashing of Bush's record in the Texas Air National Guard (ANG). He didn't.
He was -- and still is -- fully prepared to accept the benefits of
lefty smearing of Bush. He didn't object when Moveon.org compared Bush
to Hitler, and his objection to the renewed smearing of Bush's ANG
service is a transparent ruse. Make sure that the ad runs and then
condemn it as if the same charges hadn't already been made and refuted
over and over and over again.
Finally, we can't forget that the Democrats launched the first
official party attack in the arena of military service. It was
Bill Clinton whose convention speech lumped George W. Bush in with himself and Dick Cheney
as men who sought to avoid service in Vietnam. Since Clinton is a
confessed draft dodger, it's a mite much for him to claim President
Bush as a comrade-in-non-arms. This kind of loose talk makes us
want to revisit Bush's military service in the context of the swift
Some of us are old enough to remember the Vietnam War era. We knew
people who tried to avoid service in Vietnam. Whatever other motives
they had, number one on the list was this: they did not want to get
killed. One of the worst ways we can think of to avoid getting killed
is volunteering to fly fighter jets. Yet how often has this point been
made by any commentator on either side? Even Republicans act as if
Bush's ANG service were somehow less than brave and honorable and needs to be excused in some way. InstaPunk knows something of fighter pilots. We reject the notion that a fighter pilot needs to be excused for anything, regardless of whether he served in a zone of war or peace. If you
have participated in any of this derision yourself, then provide an
honest answer to this question: what would it take for you to strap
yourself all alone into a 600-mph chunk of metal, sit on a couple
thousand gallons of explosive jet fuel, and fly by instruments at night
with another piece of equipment just like yours hurtling along beside
you, no more than a few feet away? Would you feel safe doing that, as
if you had somehow outsmarted the military's great big death machine?
Not sure? Here's what WorldNet Daily reported way back in February
2004, when the lefties were doing their best to bring down George W on
the basis of his shameful ANG service:
Flying the F-102, a one-seater jet, was
no cakewalk. In fact, it was downright dangerous.
"I was glad to serve, but I just carried
a clipboard around; and I tell you, George had a much riskier
occupation there in the Guard than I did," said David Perry, who played
junior-high school football with Bush at a private academy in Houston.
He says the F-102, weighing in at more
than 15 tons at takeoff, was a "flying rock." And it carried just two
hour's worth of fuel, with no chance for midair refueling, which meant
pilots had to get up and back down relatively quickly or risk running
out of fuel.
"That's a risk-taker right there, just
going up in that flying rock all the time," said Perry, a staff
sergeant who served from 1968 to 1974. "I admire him just for that."
"You risked your life going on any
mission in that airplane," he said. "It had some engine problems. It
had a gear, called a bull gear, that came apart, and that happened a
couple of times to our unit. You lose your fuel control, your
hydraulics, your electronics, and it flames out and you're basically a
glider, because you can't restart it."
Liles, who worked on the flight line,
says he had to ground Bush one night after discovering hydraulic fluid
leaking from his plane.
There was also a malfunction in the
F-102's ejection system that could cause a pilot's chest to be crushed
when the seat and parachute were deployed, noted Roome.
The supersonic Convair F-102 Delta
The gentleman named Roome quoted above flew with Bush. He didn't
join an organization called 'F-102 Pilots for Truth' and appear in a TV
excoriating Bush's qualifications to be commander-in-chief. He did have this to say, though, in the understated tone we have learned to expect from Chuck Yeager and professional military pilots trained in the U.S.:
"We flew a lot of night missions. We flew
in weather together," he said. "Our stock-and-trade was formation
(flying). We deployed in elements of two, and we'd have to target in
the stratosphere, where we had to snap up to (the target) up above
40,000 feet, or we might have one in the weeds, where we'd have to go
down and shadow (it)."
As a wingman, Bush tucked in closely and
flew smoothly, he says.
"He was one of my favorite people to ride
formation with, because he was smooth. He was a very competent pilot,"
Roome said. "You sort of bet your life on each other in some of those
formation missions, and to me it was always a pleasure to fly with
George. He was good."
Bush, who logged more than 625 hours in
the cockpit, ranked in the top 10 percent of his squadron, according to
his performance evaluations.
There's more information here than meets the eye. Now we know that
the F-102 carries two hours worth of fuel (apparently, the F-102 was the Harley Sportster of fighter jets). If Bush flew 625 hours,
that's more than 300 takeoffs and landings. Compressed into, say, a
one-year tour, that would be six flights a week. Even without an enemy
shooting at you, that's more risk than most of us would accept. It
takes guts to be a fighter pilot. Imagine your first solo in an F-102.
You're all alone in a plane you have never flown before. If you screw
up, you may very well die. But there's no other way to learn, which is
unlike virtually every other form of transportation anyone learns to
operate: cars, boats, tanks, helicopters, and most other kinds of planes. Think about it. It beats the first release of the clutch on a motorcycle by about a hundred miles. Put yourself in that moment, then stand up and declare that your president is a cowardly draft dodger for whom you can summon no respect. With the sole exception of his father, George W. Bush is the closest we have ever had in reality to the president fantasized in "Independence Day; The Fourth of July," the movie that drew standing ovations as it earned Hollywood (those guys) a $100 million payday.
Is Bush justified in wearing that flight suit on the deck of the USS
Abraham Lincoln? You bet he is. And shame on those who sneer at any
fighter pilot ever.
There's more in the original
article, which wades through all the various allegations about
Bush's service record and disposes of them pretty convincingly. A few
highlights: he was generally liked, by both officers and enlisted men.
He sought admission to an ANG program that would have sent him to
Vietnam but his application was turned down.
This is the last time -- barring some outrageous legal brouhaha --
that we'll comment on the swift boat thing. There's enough information
out there for people to make up their own minds what they think. That's
as it should be. But we hope that with the arrival of the Republican
Convention, the press and the public can get back to the real issues
that should dominate the campaign. To help this prospect along, we
offer a link to a very lengthy essay by Norman Podhoretz
which takes us all the way back to the Nixon administration and then
through every subsequent administration to the present for the purpose
of helping us understand the nature of the conflict we are now engaged
in -- you know, the one that's happening now, not 30 years ago, and
represents the reason commander-in-chief has become such an important
job title. As we said, the article is long, but it's worth reading
every word. Honestly. (For a capsule characterization of the Podhoretz
essay and another endorsement for reading all of it, look at this.)
And now for a footnote. The pundits keep clamoring about the
irony of a 2004 election campaign that is somehow obsessed with the 30
year old war in Vietnam. It may be unfortunate, but it is not ironic. Vietnam is the
beginning of the schism in our culture that has torn this country into
bitterly hostile camps. It ended but it was never resolved in the
nation's mind. For the first time in its history, the United States
chose to be defeated, to give up, to abandon an ally in extremis.
Giving up is one of those things that can get to be a habit. Oh, it's
too hard... we've given up before... let's just forget about it. It's
also easy to come up with a million good reasons for giving up... why
the objective might not be worthwhile... why our cause might not be
spotlessly pure... why the enemy might not be wrong... why there might
be an easier, less costly, more popular way to achieve approximately (or sort of, kind of) the same
objective. As you read Podhoretz's essay, count the number of times
our country has given up or failed to act vigorously in our own interest since we walked
away from Vietnam a generation ago. And think of the interesting
identities of the two men who are now competing to be
commander-in-chief -- the decorated combat veteran who became a
champion of defeat and the non-combat vet who didn't fight then but is
determined to fight now. Don't these two reflect us in illuminating
ways? Yes, maybe we didn't fight hard enough or for exactly the right things back
then, but we still must decide for certain whether that failure should
prevent us from ever fighting hard and unflinchingly again. Both
candidates face this decision -- if and how to put Vietnam behind us as a
relict of history. We all face exactly the same challenge. Which
candidate we pick will say a great deal about how willing we are to be
controlled by the past.
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