R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief ofThe American Spectator.
Latest from R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.
It seems to me that our government had vastly more intelligence on what was going on in Obama bin Laden's ghastly hideout before sending SEAL Team 6 in last week than they are telling us. President Barack Obama told CBS that the odds in favor of bin Laden being in the compound were "at best" 55 percent. My guess is that they were closer to 100 percent.
We know that from satellites overhead, our intelligence officers thought they had bin Laden spotted in the complex. A man that they concluded was bin Laden was seen pacing regularly inside the compound grounds. Called "The Pacer," he was tall, and they figured he might very well be the 6 foot 4 terror leader. So the order was sent to our SEAL team to go in.
I in my innocence was, in the aftermath of SEAL Team Six's disruption of Osama bin Laden's bucolic life in posh Abbottabad, reading editorial comment by the great newspapers of this republic. As always, the Wall Street Journal was superb, pausing to congratulate President Barack Obama for "ordering a special forces mission rather than settling for another attack with drones or stand-off weapons from afar."
The Washington Post was, likewise, informative and appreciative of the president's prudent decision to let SEAL Team Six do its thing, skirting the laws of a sovereign nation and acting unilaterally to put a bullet hole in Osama's head.
While inspecting the body politic, one encounters one clear sign that liberalism is dead. It is the condition of our political discourse. Polite commentators note that the dialogue is "rancorous." Some say toxic. Actually, it is worse than that. It is nonexistent.
From the right, from the sophisticated right, there is an attempt to engage the liberals. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan just did it by presenting a budget that cried out for intelligent response. President Barack Obama's response was to invite Ryan to sit in the front row for his "fiscal policy" speech at George Washington University. There Obama heaped scorn on an astonished Ryan and his work. He did not even mention Ryan's name. This is what Obama calls an "adult" debate?
Why is it that Donald Trump is a creditable candidate with a significant segment of Republican voters? In some polls, he runs ahead of all Republicans save Mitt Romney, and all I have heard him say is that he wants to see our president's birth certificate. Imagine if he would ask to see budget cuts from the president or revenue enhancements.
Frankly, I would like to see President Barack Obama's birth certificate, too. But on the other hand, I have in hand a copy of a notice of our president's birth printed Aug. 13, 1961, from The Honolulu Advertiser. That has to count for something, no? According to the notice, he was born Aug. 4, 1961, but there are a lot of other things about him I would like to know. For instance, I would like to see those aforementioned budget cuts and the revenue enhancements.
Last week was the culmination of a process begun years ago. A bill was introduced to Congress that could end American dependence on foreign oil. What is called the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act — more simply put, the NAT GAS Act — was introduced to Congress on April 6. It has bipartisan support. It ought to pass and pass promptly. It could be called the Boone Pickens bill.
The process began with the Pickens Plan for global energy security in 2008. Authored by legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens, who put some $80 million of his own money into promoting it, it called for the development of all sources of energy, even wind and solar. Boone recognized that as long as America is dependent on foreign oil, America has a national security problem. We import 70 percent of our oil, an amount that can only go up unless something is done. The oil comes from unfriendly countries in the worst scenarios, unstable countries in slightly better scenarios. Canada is the best scenario but cannot provide all the oil we need.
I see that President Barack Obama has filed as a candidate for re-election in 2012. I previously suggested that he get to work early on his presidential library and forgo the race, but he is insistent. Well, I tried.
Though some in the media are covering for him, his announcement is the earliest of any modern president's. It continues a trend that began in 1972. That was when then-Sen. George McGovern captured the Democratic presidential nomination, though he lost in the autumn of that year in a squeaker. Richard Nixon stole the election, 47,169,911 to 29,170,383. Tricky Dick got 60.7 percent of the vote, the largest in history except for Lyndon Johnson's 61.1 percent. Watergate changed history.
Monday night, I attended a public policy discussion sponsored, not surprisingly, by The American Spectator; I say not surprisingly because I have been attending these meetings for roughly 30 years and always come away with fresh ideas. They are meant to ventilate ideas, and now that a presidential election is drawing near, we are inviting presidential candidates as our special guests to float their ideas by our assembled luminaries. At any rate, Monday night, while President Barack Obama was addressing the nation on the causes and consequences of his involvement in Libya, I listened to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty cross that very same terrain. The dinner was off the record, but I do not believe that I betray any confidences when I say Pawlenty's discourse was very different from that of our president.
He is proud and confident of America's role in the world, unlike our president. The former governor began speaking of American national security. At times, we must project force on behalf of American national interests, and Pawlenty was proud of our military's professionalism, competence and readiness. He continued, speaking about "American exceptionalism." He sees America as blessed, a shining city on a hill. We have obligations in the world. Pawlenty says we need to get rid of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, but Obama will not get rid of him.
Well, it is official. The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has asked the Norwegian Nobel Committee to take back President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize owing to Obama's missile strikes in Libya. The head of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, also has weighed in, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is really in a snit. This is the best news Col. Moammar Gadhafi has had in weeks.
President Obama, who ordered airstrikes against Libya and then took his wife and the girls on a sightseeing and official junket to South America, probably took little note of the Bolivian's and Russians' actions, but it does show how difficult it is to get "world opinion" behind the use of force, even against a fla fla dictator such as Gadhafi. There is more unease in the "world community." Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, at first was for enforcing a "no-fly zone" over Libya. Now he is not so sure. The next thing you know, he will be on Gadhafi's side. World opinion can be volatile.
There are finally some rustlings on the hustings; you will pardon my attempt at poetry. Republican presidential hopefuls are moving about in Iowa and New Hampshire; does that clarify my admittedly amateur attempt at rhyme? I simply could not resist.
It was rather quiet out on the hustings a few weeks ago, and frankly, for me, it was a little gloomy. I have been saying for months that President Barack Obama is dead in the water. He will lose in 2012. He has no experience as a chief executive, and every day in every way, he is proving it. He is the most left-wing president in our history, and he is sedulously engaged in proving that left-wing politics are ill-suited for America or for any country that wants to prosper. Our president was a perfect inspirational speaker when there was something to be inspired about — for instance, the prospect of his presidency — but Americans have experienced it. He will lose in 2012 if the Republicans put up a plausible candidate. But even an implausible candidate has a chance, which, I suppose, is why Newt Gingrich is running.
It is a bloodbath over at National Public Radio. First the pinhead Ron Schiller resigns after initially being defended by NPR and then, by the end of the day Tuesday, being given the Shuffalo to Buffalo. Then Vivian Schiller, no relation to Ron Schiller, resigns the next day as chief executive officer and president of NPR. Ron Schiller was caught on tape saying NPR did not need its subsidy from the federal government to survive, but I guess the board of directors of NPR is taking no chances. Off with both of the Schillers' heads.
Actually, NPR and its affiliates are among the most overstaffed and extravagant operations in media. In the 1990s, when I did "The Editors" — a television show from Montreal that appeared on public television stations (because of my presence, one had to be an insomniac to catch the show in Washington on WETA, a lamentable situation insisted on by Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the president of WETA and a Public Broadcasting Service board member) — the Montreal production company did the show for a pittance of what public television paid. I believe a Washington production would have outspent us by a 10-1 ratio. NPR is no different. Ron Schiller, who was NPR's fundraising chief, said it would survive the cuts, and doubtless it could. I say cut its subsidy. It has been in more scandals of late than Charlie Sheen. Off with all their heads.
A frotteur is someone — usually male — who takes aberrant pleasure in rubbing his fully clothed groin area against someone else — usually female — generally in a public place, say, a subway, perhaps a funeral parlor. The frotteur is a pretty weird duck. The word is obviously French in derivation, and it unsurprisingly has an arty origin. Frottage is "the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "to form the basis of a work of art."
Frankly, I did not think of Chris Matthews as an episodic apologist until I watched his MSNBC documentary this week, "President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon." The episodic apologists are a familiar fixture of the Clinton administration, much as the court historians are a fixture of the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Whereas the court historians always could be relied upon to spin history FDR's heroic way, the episodic apologists always end up slobbering all over the Clintons — albeit with a twist.
The court historians were always pretty straightforward. They adored FDR from the beginning to the end. The episodic apologists' lives are endlessly more complicated and melodramatic, as the Clintons are more complicated and melodramatic. There seems to be a script prepared for them. The apologists begin with high hopes and admiration for Bill and Bruno. Then Bill and Bruno fail them. The Clintons lie before grand juries or filch White House property while exiting for Chappaqua, or they are caught in Troopergate, in Travelgate, in Filegate or renting the Lincoln Bedroom. Of a sudden, the apologists suffer blighted hopes. First they become indignant. Then they feel used and abused. Some cry in public. Finally, hope springs anew.
Now the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has joined the chorus. The other day, he said, "My answer is clearly yes, it is a failure." The "it" was multiculturalism, and he was on French national television. In pronouncing multiculturalism defunct, the French president joins German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia's former prime minister John Howard, Spain's former premier Jose Maria Aznar and, most recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron in heaving a failed policy into history's dustbin. The question is, What will replace it? Or actually another question, How did multiculturalism ever become a policy of these European countries, anyway?
The other night while watching the Super Bowl, I became increasingly aware that the Angry Left might have a point about the Giant Corporations. Not that the game was not exciting. It was. Those quarterbacks can really heave the ball. Suddenly it is in their hands, and suddenly it is in a receiver's outreached arms, having passed through a forest of opposing players' arms. Both teams were composed of players who apparently were made of rubber. They hurled themselves at one another and occasionally at the hard turf and simply bounced. Occasionally they did not. Sometimes they were injured, occasionally rather badly. But for the most part, they seemed amazingly resilient. It was a hell of a battle, and doubtless the better team won, but I cheered for both teams. They were great.
Had I only to watch the game, I would have been happy, though even happier had I lowered the volume of the inane commentary. Possibly the networks have an agreement to hire garrulous, loud, excessively male commenters who have very little to say but say it repetitiously. Unfortunately, it hardly adds to the excitement of the game. Rather, it adds to the confusion of the programming, and there was a great deal of confusion Sunday night. For whole stretches, I sat there stupefied by the confusion, most of it provided by the ads and by the garrulous commentators. Not much can be done about the ads, which seem to get more stupid and incoherent every year, but something can be done about these excessively virile loudmouths.
My guess is that U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson is an amateur zoologist. Vinson is the federal judge who ruled Monday in Pensacola, Fla., that those who confected Obamacare cannot compel the citizenry to buy health insurance. Moreover, he found that because the 2,600-page bill was created without any "severability clause," the entire law is unconstitutional. The authors of Obamacare declared that without mandatory insurance, the whole bill would have been unworkable. Mandatory insurance was not severable from the law. Hence Judge Vinson, because of the way the bill was constructed, threw the whole law out. Now it is up to the Supreme Court to breathe life into this legislation or to bury it. I say R.I.P.
As learned as Vinson indubitably is — in the course of his meditations on Obamacare, he reread the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, James Madison's notes at the Constitutional Convention, certain cogitations of former Chief Justice John Marshall and more — the erudite judge surely noted a zoological curiosity. Conservatives and liberals are so different as to be drawn from distinct species of political animals. To me, the conservative always has appeared to be some form of mammal. The liberal is reptilian. I could be wrong. I wonder what Judge Vinson might say.
Ah so, every day, in every way, it becomes ever clearer that Rahm Emanuel's campaign for mayor of Chicago and mine have striking similarities. Rahm went off to Washington two years ago to pursue politics on the national stage. I left Chicago about 40 years ago to pursue politicians on the national stage, particularly huckster politicians. Two of my targets were Rahm's old boss Bill Clinton and the president's boss, Hillary.
This fall, we returned rather recklessly, both to run for mayor. I immediately had major newspapers supporting me and at least one national figure, Sean Hannity, on his estimable TV show. Rahm flummoxed around in the city. His ill-considered campaign was attacked as that of a "carpetbagger" after it became clear that he had not lived in his home for the past two years. His house was in possession of one Rob Halpin, who refused to leave. It was the gesture of a patriot. Critics have hardly questioned my Chicago residency. His friendship with Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced former governor, has been raised. Anyone who has looked into the matter knows I am clean as a hound's tooth. Yet Rahm and I do have the nagging question of our residency. Two judicial panels have taken it up, and this week the second, an appeals court, rejected him. Now his fate is with the Illinois Supreme Court. The courts have not dealt with me yet.
The other day, I received a call from a very agreeable lady at C-SPAN, asking me to do a show with them called "In Depth." It will take a lot of time, as they want to interview me on all the books I have written. Also, it will last three hours! That is a marathon. I can hardly listen for three hours, much less talk. Yet I have been a fan of C-SPAN for years, so I could hardly say no. Also, I am an advocate of the printed word. I want it to survive. It seems to me the printed word has been under assault for decades. The Internet is the latest threat against it. First there was the camera. Then came TV. Now there is the Internet, on which everyone writes and no one reads. In a world where everyone is a writer and no one a reader, how long can the printed word last? We live in a blizzard of words, but no one is reading seriously.
The first question I have been asked before appearing on C-SPAN's "Book TV" Feb. 6 is what my favorite books might be. They have changed over the years, but I think today there are at least a score of books that I return to every few years. Let me share them with you.
The evidence mounts that liberalism is dead.
The liberal wizards, working their wonders at The New York Times and its clearinghouses in the major networks, cannot even dupe the American people with an absurd conspiracy theory anymore. In Dallas back in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, a pious communist awash in the Marxist-Leninist bilge, shot President John F. Kennedy. In no time, the liberals had the nation focused on the "dangerous right-wing atmosphere" supposedly pervading Dallas. Soon all the talk was of "the paranoid style" of American politics. Oswald was almost forgotten. Doubtless, today there are fervent liberals living in haunts in Massachusetts and in Berkeley, Calif., who believe in their heart of hearts that the president was felled by Texas Republicans.
New Year's Day in Washington dawned gray and wet — and cold. It was a perfect day for sightseeing, so my wife and I decided to sightsee. We went to Mount Vernon, George Washington's home — named, incidentally, after a British admiral, Adm. Edward Vernon, by George's elder half brother. Upon inheriting the mansion, George never saw any reason to change the name, despite the British army's many acts of rudeness to him. George was a big enough guy not to bear a grudge.
We arrived just as the estate opened, at 9 a.m., and we were about the only tourists in the place for the first hour. The very agreeable woman who sold us our tickets, noting our enthusiasm, inquired as to where we came from. "Twelve miles up the road," said my wife. "We don't get out much." Actually, we do, but not to sightsee. We both have been reading a lot about George Washington, so we visited Mount Vernon for the first time in years. Our reasoning is that with the tea party's arrival in Washington, we had best familiarize ourselves with the Founding Fathers, a goodly number of whom lived in Virginia. We started with George. Marx is out.
Last week, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit set himself up as both judge and jury and found Conrad Black, once the head of one of the most illustrious publishing chains in the world, guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice in running his newspapers. That is somewhat of a comedown for our criminal justice system. Years ago, the Department of Justice had arrayed some 13 charges against him, including tax evasion, racketeering, various types of fraud and that lonely obstruction of justice. Black beat them back on nine of 13 charges, leaving only three fraud charges and the obstruction charge against him. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. Then sanity intruded.
This past summer, the Supreme Court decided to take up the so-called "honest services" law at the request of Black's lawyer. The law as it was applied to Black was, in the view of the court, unconstitutional. It further found the law unconstitutionally vague, except when bribes or kickbacks are involved; there were no allegations of bribes or kickbacks in Black's case. The court's judgment was unanimous. It sent Black's case back to Posner for further adjudication. Posner and his associates unanimously threw out two of Black's fraud counts but stood by one and also that obstruction charge.