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Observations from the Cheap Seats

  • Can’t help but being struck by stinging irony in yesterday’s tragedy at the Holocaust Museum.  In reporting on this despicable act, the major news media rightfully focuses in on the assailant’s crazy, hateful views on Jews and his incredible disavowal of the Holocaust – declaring him to be nothing short of a madman.  Yet tomorrow, that same media, carrying the pail of appeasement, will be right back at it – urging U.S. engagement and dialogue with Iranian President Ahmadinejad (presuming he remains in power) without precondition, supposing him to be mildly reasonable, despite him being every bit the madman as the now infamous, James von Brunn.
  • In another touch of irony, thankfully less stinging and more humorous – as the Obama Administration catapults our country towards socialism, liberal newspapers throughout America should be thriving, enjoying their heyday. Instead, many are sending out termination notices.  For those conservatives who grew up in the People’s Republic of Ann Arbor, like National Review’s Jay Nordlinger or me, we do take some measure of humor in the thought that Pravda West, also known as the Ann Arbor News, won’t be around to report on Obama’s foray into universal healthcare.
  • Obama’s speech in Cairo was aired as an overture to Muslims – designed to increase understanding and reduce the effects of violent extremism, including the prospects for further terrorism here and abroad.  It occurred to my wise father-in-law, and I think he’s right, that Obama’s speech will likely do just the opposite.  First, extremists don’t listen to reason – in fact, the audience which might positively respond to Obama’s overture is already disinclined to engage in any terrorist act and understands that our opposition to terrorism is not reasonably construed as principally a challenge to Islamic theology.  In other words, Obama was largely preaching to the choir. But, further, by attempting to ostracize Islamic terrorists from the communities which they have typically infested and by challenging their status within the broader Islamic world, Obama may likely have forced them to expedite and enhance their planned attacks against Israel and the West, as a declaration of relevance if nothing else – such declarations, however, are deadly – ah, the sage advice of a father-in-law.
  • Speaking of the aforementioned National Review , Rich Lowry and Romesh Ponneru have recently written a piece, “Beyond ’No’ ” (June 8, 2009), challenging the GOP to provide common sense, reform solutions in order to build a robust middle class. While I don’t disagree with the notion that connecting with a strong, prosperous middle class will prove helpful in re-establishing the GOP’s relevance in national politics, I get the “heeby jeebies” every time I hear conservatives, whom I have traditionally admired, start preaching the mantra of reform. And, yes, I am prompted to retort with my typical response – the GOP’s problem hasn’t been the message, it’s been that the messengers forgot the message. And, with due respect to Messieurs Lowry and Ponneru, please stop telling me that the simple message of limited government isn’t and won’t be of “interest” to a majority of prospective middle-class voters.  It meant enough to my middle-class father in 1980 to prompt his vote for Ronald Reagan, against the backdrop of Carter liberalism, and it will soon mean enough to my daughter to prompt her vote for a conservative ten years hence, after years of disastrous Obamaism. Conservatives, like Lowry and Ponneru, do an admirable job identifying worthy targets for our conservative message, but they need to remember that in an era where the contrast with liberal, big government largesse could not be more starkly drawn, we need not reinvent, or “re-form,” the conservative wheel to bring back the GOP.
  • A couple other comments about so-called reform conservatism.  First, I have written that reform conservatism is ultimately neither.  But apart from that, let me make one other observation – while it is one thing for David Frum and his cohorts to argue the merit of reformist proposals on issues from a green economy to tax changes encouraging small business growth, it is quite another thing to persuade voters to your cause.  Voters want straightforward messages – not esoteric, “wonk speak” to wade through in evaluating candidates, whom are less likely to adequately articulate such reform as might Frum et al.  Intending no disrespect, there is some electoral merit to “keeping it simple, stupid.”
  • Hillary . . . Hillary?!! Where are you, Hillary?!!

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