We got word today that the president will be joy-riding on Air Force One again. This time to Copenhagen, Denmark on a self-indulgent trip to convince the International Olympic Committee to grant the 2016 Games to his hometown of Chicago. Joining the Bama will be the First Lady, top adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Chicago's most famous resident, Oprah Winfrey. For anyone who might criticize the trip, the Bama has a handy excuse: NOBODY turns down a chance to hang with Oprah.
The economy remains in the tank. Unemployment is at a staggeringly high 9.7%. Home foreclosures are still setting records. Iran is going nuclear any minute now. Israel's options on survival are dwindling. Our troops in Afghanistan are dying every day while awaiting the Bama's "new strategy." Iraq bubbles with renewed violence. North Korea is preparing another nuclear test. Venezuela is getting Russian help on nuclear capabilities. Russia prepares to extort Eastern Europe of its winter energy supply. Pakistan teeters. Al Qaeda's top two terrorists---Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri---have both put out new and menacing messages.
And the commander-in-chief has time for David Letterman, five hours of golf every Sunday, and entertaining J. Lo at the White House.
Well, I guess he can be forgiven for the Copenhagen trip. It involves, after all, Oprah.
So said Bill Safire to me in 1994. It was shortly after former President Richard Nixon had passed away, and Safire had invited me to lunch in Washington to share memories of the man for whom we had both worked, although at vastly different times.
Safire had been a crack rookie reporter and a PR maven before he met Nixon and fell in love politically. Born in New York, he attended Syracuse University but dropped out to work with the legendary early TV and radio host, Tex McCrary. I'm sure Safire didn't regret his choice when he ended up interviewing Mae West. In 1952, America called, and the young patriot Safire answered: he organized an "Eisenhower for President" rally at Madison Square Garden, and then served in the Army for two years. When he returned from Europe, he got into public relations, ultimately running the 1959 display of American products in Moscow in that caught the eye of visiting American Vice President Nixon. That famous photo of Nixon and Khrushchev arguing the virtues of capitalism and communism in the "Kitchen Debate?" Taken by Bill Safire.
In 1968, he sold his PR agency and joined the Nixon White House, later becoming a star among stars on the speechwriting team. When Nixon needed what he called "conservative red meat" in his speeches, he turned to either Safire or a young Pat Buchanan (who was thrilled to oblige).
As Watergate unfolded, he remained loyal to Nixon, even when he learned that the president had taped him, along with many others in the White House. That loyalty extended until the end of Nixon's life, and beyond. When I worked for Nixon in the early 1990s, Safire was always there for him, ready with a warm personal note or supportive policy column in "The New York Times." It was a relationship that both men valued, and protected.
When Nixon died in April 1994, Safire didn't wait long to reach out to me. "So, kiddo" (he always called me "kiddo"), he said over Navy bean soup at the Washington Army-Navy Club. "What are you going to do now?"
I had no idea.
I began recounting my daily working life with Nixon and mentioned in passing that I had been keeping a daily diary in which I had reconstructed every single conversation I ever had with him. Hours of daily talks. Four years' worth.
When I looked up, Safire was in stunned silence, his soup spoon suspended halfway to his mouth, which was agape.
That's when he said: "Well then, you must write a book." And then: "You owe it to history to share with the world the Nixon you knew. Be honest. Report the man as you had found him, warts and all."
He reminded me of what an extraordinary opportunity I had had: witnessing such a towering and controversial figure up close and personal during the last years of his life. I had seen triumphant and dark final moments, moments of tremendous geopolitical influence and searing personal pain. In short, Safire told me, I had seen one of the biggest figures of our time in ways few others had, and I had a duty to share him.
I took Safire's advice and ultimately wrote two bestselling books about the Nixon I knew: "Nixon Off the Record" (1996) and "Nixon In Winter" (1998). As I tackled the lonely job of writing, I'd receive little notes of encouragement from him, telling me to "keep swinging, kiddo." I made sure Safire got early galley proofs of the manuscripts, and each time, held my breath waiting for his verdict. To my great relief and delight, Safire loved them both: "Two of the most honest accounts of Nixon I have ever seen," he wrote to me. Bill Safire? Cheering me on? It was, perhaps, the highest compliment I received about those books.
Bill Safire passed away today from pancreatic cancer at the age of 79. The world knew him as a Nixon speechwriter, PR master, author, columnist, and raconteur. I knew him as all of those things, and something more: a friend. He enriched my life simply by believing in me.
Members of the Senate, like their counterparts in the House, are, by Constitutional design, supposed to represent the people of their states, and more broadly, the American people at large.
And yet, what we witnessed this week in the Senate Finance Committee was a slap in the face of the Founding Fathers of yesterday and the American people of today.
As they debated the debacle of health care reform proposed by the Democrats, Republicans offered several amendments.
One would have required the public posting of the bill on the internet for at least 72 hours. Another would have required that members of the Finance Committee spend those 72 hours reading the bill and thinking about it before voting. Another would have required that the true cost of the bill be posted. Yet another would have protected Medicare benefits. And another would have certified that no more than 1 million people would lose their current health plan under the bill.
The Democrats voted them all down.
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office won't even have the budgetary score on the bill done before the Democrats schedule a vote on it.
Common sense question: how are our representatives supposed to vote on something that will effect every American and remake nearly 20 percent of the economy without knowing what's in it, and how much it will cost?
In any other context, this would be a dumb question. In the context of a Democratically-run Congress, it's par for the course.
In their hyperactive sprint to "get this done," they don't care about the law, the Constitution, your tax dollars, your health care, or you.
They shame their positions. They are unworthy of their high offices. They bring dishonor to this great country.
From above, the Founders cringe watching these villians. They will cheer us when we dispose of them.
The president took time out from his busy schedule of having no strategy for Afghanistan to go to the United Nations and blather on incessantly while luxuriating in moral equivalency as he sat mere feet from the Iranian terrorist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Libyan terrorist Moammar Khadafi.
His speech yesterday was a riot of Wilsonian collective action pipe-dreams and Carteresque naivete. Of course, the result of Woodrow Wilson's "can't we all just get along" idealism was World War II and 100 million people slaughtered. And the result of Jimmy "My Name is Earl" Carter's childlike innocence was Americans taken hostage in Iran and Soviet troops marching through Afghanistan.
Our enemies smell a president's weakness from miles away. And they certainly all saw the Bama coming.
They must have loved one particular thing he said in his address yesterday. The Bama slipped it in, and it largely went unnoticed. But it is the most profoundly disturbing thing I think I've heard from this president, or frankly, any president:
"In an era where our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game," he began. And then the money line: "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed....That is the future America wants."
Those words should make your blood run cold.
What he is saying is not "what America wants" but what HE wants: America taken down a notch or two. Brought low. Humbled. No longer the world's superpower. Turned into just another state. Made to be one of many. Equalized with Myanmar and Chad.
No longer unique. No longer special.
No longer superpower-ful.
Destroying America's standing in the world, along with our exceptional power and influence: it's hard not to believe that this is his deliberate objective when you hear him say exactly that. Particularly since it's not the first time he's said it: he said the EXACT same thing when he was in Europe earlier this year. It's a pattern for him, and the pattern is belief.
For the Bama, the United States is the villian. We've created most of the world's problems with our greed and our bullying. So now, we need to make it up to the world by downgrading ourselves to the level of Bangladesh.
According to the Bama and his Alinsky-esque band of radicals, American exceptionalism is so 20th century. It's so uncool. It's not worth preserving, because we're not worthy of it.
Yesterday, he gave the rest of us our marching orders: Because he won't fight for America's exceptional strength and values and history and greatness and goodness, we must.
1. President Obama claimed yesterday morning that he wasn't "following" the ACORN scandal "that closely." Really? Anybody buying that bridge? Obama has been deeply involved with ACORN since the early 1990s; the group gave political birth to him. He was knee-deep in its activities, serving as its lawyer for a while, partnering with them on his "Project Vote" in Chicago, working with them through the Woods Foundation (of which Bill Ayers was a big part), and serving as a trainer for new ACORN recruits. ACORN, of course, infamously engaged in massive and widespread voter fraud on his behalf last year, and is now under investigation in 20 states for it. And Obama isn't following the story? Doesn't know much about it? He's either not telling the truth, or he doesn't watch the news or read a paper. Didn't the Left make fun of President Bush as someone who didn't pick up a paper?
2. In case you missed it: last week, the House Ethics Committee put off the investigation into Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. as to whether he tried to buy Obama's newly vacant Senate seat. This is the same scandal that ensnared impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and new Senator Roland Burris. The Ethics Committee, under direction from Bat Crazy Pelosi, just put the investigation into Jackson on ice.
3. In case you missed it #2: the Massachusetts legislature moved last week to change the law to get Ted Kennedy's replacement into the Senate a lot faster. The Senate Democrats, you see, need a warm Democratic body in there if they are going to have any hope of reaching 60 votes to pass their radical health care plan. Ironically, Kennedy himself had the current law enacted to deny the then-Republican Governor, Mitt Romney, a chance of replacing John Kerry in the Senate, if Kerry had won the presidency. Democrats don't seem to think about the voters much: if they want something political done, they just change the law on a whim.
4. In case you missed it #3: Congressman Charlie Rangel is still bobbing and weaving as the House Ethics Committee hems and haws about his massive tax problems. The guy who writes the nation's tax laws didn't pay taxes on millions of dollars of property and assets? No problem! Sister Pelosi will see to it that all of the bad things just go away.
And the beat goes on.
Next year, every member of Congress is up for re-election, as well as a choice collection of Senators. Throw the bums out? Yes. All of them.