NewsBusters Columns

There are a lot of things, large and small, that irk me. One of them is our tendency to evaluate a presidential candidate based on his intelligence or academic credentials. When Obama threw his hat in the ring, people thought he was articulate and smart and hailed his intellectual credentials. Just recently, when Newt Gingrich announced his candidacy, people hailed his intellectual credentials and smartness as well.

By contrast, the intellectual elite and mainstream media people see Sarah Palin as stupid, a loose cannon and not to be trusted with our nuclear arsenal. There was another presidential candidate who was also held to be stupid and not to be trusted with our nuclear arsenal who ultimately became president — Ronald Reagan. I don't put much stock into whether a political leader is smart or not because, as George Orwell explained, "Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them."



I had the honor of speaking last weekend at the Faith and Freedom Conference, at which most of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination were the star attractions. The conference, led by Ralph Reed, brought together the nation's leading (what is called) social conservatives.

Politico's reporting of the two-day event typified the tone. "The day after Haley Barbour implored the crowd not to put ideological purity over pragmatism for the general election as they pick a 2012 GOP candidate, Rick Santorum took to the podium at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington to make a different case. In a strong pitch to the mostly evangelical crowd on Saturday morning, the former Pennsylvania senator cast social conservative issues as the defining ones for the country — and for the Republican Party."



Official motto of the White House economic team: Those who can, do. Those who can't, fantasize in the classroom, fail in Washington and then return to the Ivy Tower to train the next generation of egghead economic saboteurs. Life is good for left-wing academics. Everyone else pays dearly.

Take Austan Goolsbee, please. President Obama's "fresh-faced" University of Chicago econ professor arrived in Washington in December 2008 to fill two slots: chief economist/staff director of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and member of the Council of Economic Advisers. In September 2010, he replaced CEA head and fellow academic Christina Romer, who retreated to the University of California at Berkeley last August when unemployment hit 9.5 percent. (She infamously projected that the Obama stimulus would hold the jobless rate below 8 percent.)



BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- The extinct political slogan "As Maine goes, so goes the nation," may be supplanted by what is happening in the United Kingdom. There is a form of functional political illiteracy here that does not bode well for the United States should it follow Britain's very bad example, particularly on matters involving immigration and health care.

For several years, the British media have been full of horror stories about failures in the National Health Service (NHS). "Thousands of Elderly at Risk in Care Crisis" screamed the front-page headline in the Times of London last week. This is nothing new, because a headline in The Daily Telegraph nearly two years ago warned, "Cruel and Neglectful Care of One Million NHS Patients Exposed." Is anyone listening?



The liberal media's most recent effort to turn Sarah Palin into a dolt over her version of Paul Revere, on which historians are now defending her, has prompted me to share with you some confusing points of European history I have recently re-encountered in my lay study of the subject.

With apologies in advance to professional and amateur historians, here are a few fun "facts."



In the classic movie "The Great Escape," a cluster of Hollywood manly men from yesteryear (including my friend Steve McQueen) played Allied POWs who escape from a German camp during World War II.

Today the great escape may be played out by more than 33,000 incarcerated inmates in California who don't escape the state's 33 prisons but are released by a computer error and the U.S. Supreme Court itself.



IF WE ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE NEXT THING U KNOW PEOPLE WILL BE MARRYING GOLD FISH, Miley Cyrus tweeted.

She was protesting news that the president of Urban Outfitters has contributed to former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, and taking some liberty with arguments Santorum's made about the importance of protecting traditional marriage.



Born blocks from the NBC soundstage in 1984 to parents in the entertainment industry, Ben Shapiro is a natural choice to write a book about Hollywood. For his new book "Primetime Propaganda," Shapiro has studied decades of television content and interviewed a bevy of powerful Hollywood producers to document the degree to which they have created a political and cultural revolution of permissive leftism.

The project gets off to a harsh start. In his introduction, Shapiro attacks "traditional" TV critics on the cultural right for being "worse than useless," suggesting some unnamed conservatives are insisting TV should not be watched. “When conservatives treat television as the Golden Calf, they leave no choice but to lay low the unbelievers -- and most of us continue to continue occasionally glancing at the offending cow."



The latest Social Security Trustees Report tells us that the program will be insolvent by the year 2037. The combined unfunded liability of Social Security and Medicare has reached nearly $107 trillion in today's dollars. That is about seven times the size of the U.S. economy and 10 times the size of the national debt. Those entitlement programs, along with others, account for nearly 60 percent of federal spending. They are what Congress calls non-discretionary spending. About half of discretionary spending is for national defense. Each year, non-discretionary spending consumes a higher and higher percentage of the federal budget.



How long before Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner conducts his next meltdown press conference flanked by two adult-movie "goddesses" a la Charlie Sheen? Like the delusional bad-boy actor, Weiner actually thinks his self-destructive act is winning, too.

The tweetaholic congressman spent the week dodging and deflecting questions about what he called a "randy" image that appeared in his official, verified Twitter account last Friday. The Fruit of the Loom torso shot in his social-networking stream was addressed to a 21-year-old Seattle college student. She's an ardent fan of the cable TV-hopping lawmaker and a member of the fawning generation that unabashedly asks its political idols "boxers or briefs"?

Curiously, one of Weiner's non-deleted tweets made reference to the Seattle time zone the same night the junk photo turned up. Weiner wrinkled his nose at a question on Wednesday about that inconvenient allusion, dismissing it as "pure, pure coincidence." He refused to explain why he gave Seattle of all places a Twitter shout-out. Weiner, if I may helpfully point out, represents New York's 9th District, not Washington State's.

"Frankly" — (red flag!) — he protested, he had "no idea." He then segued into relentless self-promotion of his "feisty" Twitter messages and started braying about the debt limit and health care reform.

It worked on cowed CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. But did it work on his wife? Would it work on yours?

Sending creepy photos to another adult on Twitter is not a crime, of course. But it is abjectly embarrassing for Democrats to be caught with their double-standard pants down — especially given how liberals hyperventilated over former GOP New York Rep. Christopher Lee's shirtless Craigslist photo. As always, it's the cover-up that's worse than the original transgression.