by Victor Davis Hanson
NRO’s The Corner
Our Moments: Today’s Paradoxes
Various Norwegians are said to be miffed that Laureate Obama snubbed the traditional lunch with their King Harald. Are they surprised? Presidential bows these days are reserved for non-European royalty, whether the Japanese emperor or Saudi monarchs; Western kings and queens, whether Norwegian or British, get snubs as befitting various past European oppressions. (Did they ever really read Dreams From My Father?)
Very odd to see the outrage over the Washington Post‘s publication of Sarah Palin’s dissent on climate change and Copenhagen. It is one thing to refute it, but quite another for her critics to allege that a former vice-presidential candidate should have no right to express her political views in a major daily. If one were to argue that someone should not be allowed to opine, then the Left should have turned their animus on the Guardian, who published Charles Booker’s infamous 2004 “kill George Bush”: op-ed (e.g., “On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?”) I don’t remember any of Palin’s present critics saying much about that call for assassination.
The Trumanization of Bush? A Public Policy poll lists that an astounding 44 percent of those interviewed said they would now prefer George W. Bush to President Obama. Bush’s post-9/11 security protocols kept us safe, Iraq will probably work, and his regrettable deficits and big spending proposals like No Child Left Behind and the prescription-drug benefit, in comparison to the ongoing $1.7 trillion deficts and the $9 trillion more slated to come in the next few years, make Bush seem almost fiscally sound. Maybe the public also sees Bush’s post-presidential magnanimity quite in contrast with Obama’s tawdry whines about the prior administration. In other words, I think Obama will have to drop “Bush did it” — since it seems to be creating nostalgia in comparison to the current alternative of bows, deficits, apologies, and Chicago cronyism — and far more still to come.
Bankers: Obama and the Fat Cats
Obama’s reference to “a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street” might well signify our collective anger at those at AIG, Citibank, Bank of America, and the failed banks, who doled out large bonuses despite their failures — failures that hurt so many beyond their small circle. Yet the president’s latest Chicago-style populist attack raises several questions:
1) Is it wise to disparage people right before you beg them to start lending and help your economic-recovery plan? That is sort of like saying surgeons are tonsil-pullers and leg-loppers while you need their support for health care, or attacking the Chamber of Commerce even as you want it to encourage small-business hiring.
2) Does the condemnation include fat-cat Clintonite Robert Rubin (who earned nearly $115 million from Citigroup and served as a mentor to Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner) or the administration’s own Larry Summers (who collected more than $5 million for a year’s work at a hedge fund, and another Rubin protégé)? One could mention other liberals who cashed in at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, such as James Johnson, aide to former Democratic vice president Walter Mondale, Franklin Raines, budget director under Bill Clinton, Jamie Gorelick, deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration — and Rahm Emanuel, a Freddie Mac board member who did quite well, despite the implosion. And does Obama wish to talk about the fat-cat bankers’ relationship with Congress, as exemplified by the Chris Dodd case, or Charlie Rangel’s various tax shenanigans and shakedowns?
3) If fat-cat bankers are villains, then why did the Obama administration outraise John McCain on Wall Street? I don’t know whether his fat-cat benefactors consider the Obama charge a sign of hypocrisy or ingratitude — but it is certainly odd to receive tens of millions from Wall Street grandees and then call them “a bunch of fat-cat bankers,” especially after hiring quite a few of them.
Climate: A Perfect Storm
A satirist could not dream up Copenhagen. Icy-cold temperatures and snow descend on both Copenhagen and Washington at the time of the conference. It is preceded by one of the great scandals in recent academic history with Climategate and the fabrication of climate-change evidence. Al Gore has to cancel his pay-for-photo meet-and-greet session and then wildly misquotes one of his alleged experts. The world’s creepiest thugs like Mugabe and Chavez are given air time — and even applause for their anti-Western communist rants. Obama flies in to do an Olympic-lobbying-type quickie, and even his sudden fire-in-the-belly sermons are of no avail. More and more details leak about global warming’s international advocates and their green capitalist, conflict-of-interest profit-making. Carbon-spewing private jets dot the tarmac, while gas-guzzling limos line up outside the hotels. Who in their right-mind would give up any shred of autonomy to this bunch?
Five Green Commandments
Given the disturbing news about the growing green business empire of Gore, Inc., the private jetting by grandees into Copenhagen to harangue us about our incorrect lifestyles, and the expansive estates of prominent green advocates, it seems that the movement is in need of a formal code of conduct to restore the reputation of climate-change advocacy. Here are five simple commandments that all prominent global-warming activists need to embrace after the blowback from Climategate and various disclosures about the big money involved in green advocacy:
(1) No green public advocate shall have personal business interests predicated on climate-change remedies.
(2) No green public advocate shall fly in a private jet.
(3) No green public advocate shall ride in a limousine.
(4) No green public advocate shall live in a mansion.
(5) Every green advocate shall limit transcontinental jet trips to one per year.
Debt: Laugh or Cry?
It is quite surreal to see a U.S. president — after borrowing nearly $2 trillion this year, with a scheduled aggregate increase in the national debt of $8-9 trillion during his tenure alone — talk about borrowing more money to enact cap-and-trade transfers, as his secretary of state promises a $100 billion cash grant to poorer nations. And all this takes place in the aftermath of Climategate, at a summit whose attendees give the thuggish Hugo Chávez a rousing ovation, get lectured by the murderer Robert Mugabe, and also hear from multi-millionaire global-warming capitalist Al Gore.
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson