Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Charles Murray wrote this in April for an NRO symposium on Obama's first hundred days:
One of Lyndon Johnson’s press secretaries, George Christian, once said that no one should be allowed to work in the West Wing who has not suffered a major disappointment in life — the atmosphere is too intoxicating and the power too great for callow young things who do not know from personal experience how badly things can go wrong.Two hundred (or so) days later we can see how sensible Murray's fear was. Obama's shown his instinctive reaction when faced "with no good option, only a choice among bad options": paralysis. Deeply worrisome in a chief executive.
Unlike George Christian, we don’t have to worry about just a few special assistants. We have a president who, from the time he entered Honolulu’s Punahou School as a teenager, has lived a magical life. Everything has gone right for decades now. Nor are any of his aides crouching beside him in the chariot whispering, “You too are mortal.” On the contrary, if we are to judge by Larry Summers, even his most astute advisers suppress what they know to be true to accommodate Mr. Obama’s wishes.
Down the road, the president’s economic policy will engender a new crisis that, to be met, will require him to reassess his assumptions and to defy his political base — and we haven’t a shard of evidence that he is able to do either of those things. Down the road, a hostile world will require him to make a foreign-policy decision with no good option, only a choice among bad options, in the face of horrific consequences if he is wrong — and we haven’t a shard of evidence that he is able to do that. Worst of all, he will come to those pivotal moments serenely confident that whatever he decides will work out.
How do I think about the Obama presidency as I look ahead? I’m scared stiff.
Nice anecdote via Terry Teachout:
Dostoevsky said it: "Man gets used to everything--the beast!" It's been a long time since I got a charge out of seeing my name in print. Even so, I have yet to reach the level of detachment attained by Paul Hindemith when he decided that he was too busy to attend the world premiere of his Symphonia Serena in Dallas in 1947. "Why should I go to hear my own works?" he said to a friend.
Geoffrey Skelton, Hindemith's biographer, tells the rest of the story:In the end he did consent to go, though only because he had a certain musical problem on his mind and thought that he could best work it out in the train, where he would be undisturbed. Carl Miller, who gave me the clearest account of this episode which is one of the favourite and most widely recalled ones at Yale, said that his students were amazed when he came into the classroom, grinning from ear to ear. "Why aren't you in Dallas?" they asked. "Because I had solved my problem by the time I got to New York," he said. "So I got out of the train and came back home."
Monday, November 23, 2009
David Pryce-Jones on Herman van Rompuy, Europe's new (and first) president:
In photographs, van Rompuy has the looks of a rarely observed humanoid insect. Here are a couple of samples of the haikus which apparently he jots down whenever he can: “A fly zooms, buzzes/ Spins and is lost in the room/ He does no one harm,” and “Hair blows in the wind/ After years there is still wind/ Sadly no more hair.” Perhaps this sounds less trite in its original Flemish, but it ought to disqualify him from any responsible office.Alas . . .
Theodore Dalrymple, prompted by this story:
No one, I think, would take me for an admirer of Gordon Brown, much less an apologist for him; but in the matter of the letter that he wrote to Mrs Janes, mother of the soldier killed in Afghanistan, I feel sorry for him. He has become a victim of the ideological sentimentality so assiduously promoted by his odious predecessor, and now so fully a part of our national character.
From WSJ.com's Photo Journal:An Emirati man watched cheerleaders perform on the beach at Jumeira on the first day of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai on Monday. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)
Meteors streaked past stars in the night sky near Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday. (Ali Jarekji/Reuters)
A billboard stood against the backdrop of San Cristobal hill in Lima, Peru, Thursday. (Mariana Bazo/Reuters)
A priceless start to this column by Jonah Goldberg:
In [Slate magazine's] reader forum, The Fray, one supposed Palinophobe took dead aim at the former Alaska governor’s writing chops, excerpting the following sentence from her book:What I'd like to know: how many who fell for the prank claimed beforehand to have read Obama's book? And were they lying, or are they just very bad at remembering what they've read?
“The apartment was small, with slanting floors and irregular heat and a buzzer downstairs that didn’t work, so that visitors had to call ahead from a pay phone at the corner gas station, where a black Doberman the size of a wolf paced through the night in vigilant patrol, its jaws clamped around an empty beer bottle.”
Other readers pounced like wolf-sized Dobermans on an intruder. One guffawed, “That sentence by Sarah Palin could be entered into the annual Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest. It could have a chance at winning a (sic) honorable mention, at any rate.”
But soon, the original contributor confessed: “I probably should have mentioned that the sentence quoted above was not written by Sarah Palin. It’s taken from the first paragraph of ‘Dreams From My Father,’ written by Barack Obama.”