Boorish Biden

October 12, 2012

When the dust fully settles, very few people will remember anything about last night’s Vice Presidential debate except for the endless mugging and wildly rude behavior of the sitting veep. In that way it will be recalled similarly to the first Bush/Gore debate: no one remembers what was said that night, or even who “won”, but they remember that Gore spent the time sighing and rolling his eyes. Forget the substance of whatever was said that night, the impression was that Gore lost because he acted like an ass.

Biden has his fans, even on the Right. They may not like the policies he espouses, but Biden is by all accounts a good and decent man. Maybe so, but goodness and decency were not on display last night. What Biden demonstrated last night was complete and utter contempt for the young Congressman he routinely and, one would assume, sarcastically referred to as “my friend.” Well, with friends like that…

There were plenty of missed opportunities for Paul Ryan last night. He seemed nervous for the first half of the debate, repeated himself several times, got a little lost in the numbers, and failed to knock Biden off his heels. This could be because Ryan is new to a stage this large, but it is more likely due to the fact that nobody was expecting Biden to sit there raving like a drunk in the corner of the bar at three in the morning. My guess is that Ryan’s muted and tepid response to Biden was shock. Biden always seems affable, but last night he was giggling and snorting like Beavis and Butthead in Sex Ed class. Then, when challenged, he responded with something very close to rage. Ryan’s good at math, and he probably did some here: Rage + Huge Smile = Psychopath.

Many of Ryan’s responses were lukewarm, especially on foreign policy. But Biden’s responses were downright baffling. Sure he scored a few points here and there, but what conclusion can anybody draw when one candidate is discussing the very real possibility that a major terrorist force in the world is close to getting nuclear weapons and has stated the desire to destroy Israel and the other candidate is…giggling and laughing? If you’ve ever wanted to know what the Lloyd Bentsen/Dan Quayle debate would have sounded like if Bentsen had spent the afternoon drinking Kentucky mash liquor, you only need to see the clip of Biden barking, “Oh, so now you’re Jack Kennedy?!” Biden even snorted when Ryan was seriously, and touchingly, describing the ultrasound of his first child. Watching Biden was like watching the homeless man on Seinfeld who responded to every statement with a snappy salute and a non sequitur (“Potato salad!” “The government!”)

On substance, the debate was pretty much a draw. Biden held the edge in foreign policy, though some of his statements were, um, disingenuous. Ryan easily bested Biden on economic policies. But this is television and appearances matter so make no mistake: Despite the glee of the MSNBC crowd, Biden lost this debate. From the first minute to the last, it was clear that there was only one mature adult on that stage. His name was Paul Ryan.

A week from now all anybody will remember about this debate is the perception that the man currently a heartbeat away from the Presidency was loud, angry, rude, and contemptuous of his opponent who remained calm, unruffled, and serious. I doubt this will “move the needle” as the pundits say, but last night’s debate was like a slow release poison for Obama. They may not feel any effects now, but as time goes on Biden’s behavior will be looked at as unprofessional and childish, and that will not help Obama once people step into the voting booth and pull the curtain closed behind them.

UPDATE 10/13: The Magnificent Mark Steyn reminds us of what Clint Eastwood had to say about Joe Biden during the Republican convention: “Just a grin with a body behind it.”

I repeat: Who knew that Clint Eastwood was so prescient?

You Don’t Make It Possible, Barack

September 4, 2012

Time and events conspired against me when Barack Obama went off script and uttered the lines that have dogged him ever since. I figured that the time to write about this had passed, but now that the Republican Convention has wrapped up, using those very words as their theme, opportunity knocks again. Even better, because the theme of the Democratic Convention, which starts tonight, is “We Make It Possible.”

Talk about not getting it…

The Republican Convention was a mix of speeches both bad (Mitch McConnell, Rick Santorum, and everyone on night two until Mike Huckabee) and good (rising star Mia Love, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney). There were, by my estimation, four great speeches: Rand Paul, Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice (who really knocked it out of the park), and Paul Ryan. What almost all the speeches have in common is that they touched on Barack Obama’s now infamous words: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else built that.”

The Obama campaign has responded with sputtering indignation that the words are taken out of context. In the full context of the speech, those words mean something entirely different from the way they are being presented.

Obama’s right. The words are taken out of context. And that’s a good thing for Obama, because in context the words speak far more eloquently to the true nature of Obama’s Progressive mindset. Without further ado, the words in full context:

Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President—because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.

There’s the full context, and it is pernicious nonsense. What Obama is saying is that successful people are merely winners in the lottery of life. Luck and manipulation of the system are the real determinants in whether or not a business succeeds. In Obama’s world, the web developer with a degree in computer science is separated from Bill Gates only by fate. The key ingredient, however you want to look at the context here, is that it is the ability of some people to take advantage of government programs, tax credits, etc., that determines their success. Hard work and using the brains God gave you is simply not enough. To succeed, you first must reach out to government.

But look at the examples here: teachers, roads, bridges, capitalism, and the Internet. Obama says outright that businesses succeed because business owners had great teachers and access to roads and bridges:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

Say what? It was successful businesses and people that provided taxes that built the public education system, the roads, and the bridges. Where did government get the money to build the interstate highway system? From tax dollars provided by businesses and successful people. The very concept that businesses succeed because the government built a road is beyond ludicrous. It is a complete subversion of reality. Worse, it indicates that the President’s knowledge of how the economy works never moved on from his college days when he was hanging out at the Socialist conferences at Cooper Hall with his Marxist professors, as he wrote in Dreams From My Father.

Even when Obama veers within a country mile of the truth he gets it fundamentally incorrect. The Department of Defense created the Internet, but it was really no more than an extrapolation on ideas that came out of the free market. Long before the Department of Defense, people like Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell were creating methods for people to talk to each other over wires. But let’s give the government some credit. Beginning in the late 1960s, the government managed to network many of its different agencies through the use of what was then called “internetworking.” For about 25 years government sat on the technology before reaching the decision that it would end its management of the system. During that time, especially in the mid- to late-80s and early-90s, the Internet had been in use by universities, research laboratories, and government agencies. It was never designed to make money for companies and, in fact, most companies aren’t really making any money off the Internet. So how did “internetworking” become the Internet? Simple: government gave up control in 1994, turning it over to the private sector. Government sat on the technology for 25 years, doling it out to universities for research purposes before privatizing it in 1994. Since then, costs have dropped and the Internet has exploded, growing exponentially in ways the government never imagined.

The Internet, and the companies that use it, did not succeed because government built it. It succeeded because government got out of the way.

Obama has everything here completely backwards. He believes that private business can not succeed without government help, but he need only look to history for the reality of the situation. For years, the governing document of the United States was the Articles of Confederation. In 1787, this document was thrown out because it was unworkable. The government, under the Articles of Confederation, was so weak it was practically inert. It could make decisions but not enforce them. It was toothless, and doomed to fail for one major reason: to survive, it needed to ask the states for money. The Articles of Confederation did not allow the Federal government the power of taxation. Without tax money, taken from successful businesses and individuals, the government failed, forcing it to start over with the Constitution.

The lesson here is that businesses do not succeed because of government; government exists because of businesses. Barack Obama is just the latest in a long line of class warfare acolytes who try to convince you that the government is the great provider. He is just the most recent Progressive to use tax subsidies as both a benefit for favored industries and a rhetorical weapon. How often have we heard the Democrats screaming about tax subsidies to Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Banks, Big Coal, Big Pharma while at the same time offering tax subsidies to politically favored industries (solar power, wind power, hybrid automobiles)? The fact is that there is one industry that is entirely subsidized by taxpayers, that would not even exist if not for the tax dollars generated by successful businesses. That industry is government.

The DNC needs to understand that they did not “make it possible.” We, the people, made them possible.

The next time you’re driving over the bridge to get on the highway to go to the public school where the great teacher is using the Internet as a teaching tool, spare a thought for the people who made all of that possible: the hard-working, smart people who put in long hours of sweat equity and worry to build the business that employs you and helps you to pay your bills.

And, of course, your taxes.


August 13, 2012

One of the (many) knocks that Mitt Romney has had to endure is that he is unfailingly dull and cautious. Most of the talking heads on the news programs were convinced that Romney was going to pick either Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman as his running mate. The conservative base, meanwhile, was crying out for Marco Rubio and, to a lesser extent, Paul Ryan.

From the beginning, it was clear to me that Romney was going to have to choose a running mate who would meet with the approval of the Tea Party. A dull, safe choice like Pawlenty or Portman was going to neither inspire nor invigorate the conservative base of the GOP. It’s exactly why I feared those two choices. Portman is reliably conservative, and Pawlenty was a successful conservative governor but let’s face it: they’re as dull as dishwater.

To me, Rubio seemed the smartest choice. Young, handsome, Hispanic, from Florida, and completely Tea Party-approved. Rubio may still be where the future of the Republican Party lay. Right now I’m picturing him as the second half of the 2020 Ryan/Rubio ticket.

But Romney chose Paul Ryan, a lightning rod for the Democrats, a man who was accused of trying to destroy the social safety net, who has gone on record in great detail about cuts he wants to make to government, a man who has been visually represented in an advertisement literally throwing an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman off a cliff.

Bravo, Mr. Romney. Bravo.

Say what you will about Romney, the choice of Paul Ryan was the politically riskiest pick he could have made short of hauling Sarah Palin away from Sean Hannity for another attempt. Was it a smart choice? Time will tell. The Democrats are already blasting the choice, trying to paint Paul Ryan as an extremist right-wing nut. The hatchet job they are trying to pull off will make the character assassination of Sarah Palin look tame. I fully expect the lunatic Andrew Sullivan to write blog posts claiming that Ryan’s children are Midwich Cuckoos.

But Ryan’s place on the ticket proves one thing: Mitt Romney understands the stakes of this election. For a long time, I was unsure whether he fully appreciated the gravity in the black hole of debt with which Obama and George W. Bush have saddled us. Romney in the primaries talked a good game, but it seemed that he considered our rising debt and deficit as just another problem that needed solving, not an impending crisis of nation-shattering proportions.

Paul Ryan is the serious face here. There is nobody in Congress who understands the budget, the deficit, and the debt more than he does. And he has gone on record with his solution. What Paul Ryan does as Romney’s running mate is force this election to be about genuinely big issues. This is a debate the Left claims they want, but in fact they are terrified of this. Ryan has a plan. It is not a perfect plan, but it is an excellent starting point. Ryan is not a perfect conservative, either, having voted in favor of some of the debt he now is trying to curb. But that is in the past and Ryan has seemingly seen the error of his ways and emerged as a budget hawk without sliding into the fantasy fringe of Ron Paul. The Democrats will scream and point fingers, accusing Ryan of everything from trying to destroy Medicare to forcing old people to eat cat food. Ryan will counter as he always has: eloquently, with facts and figures, charts and graphs, and a smile. I’ve watched Ryan on news shows for years now and he has never come across as someone who is less than completely reasonable and rational. The liberal opposition, meanwhile, has no facts, no charts, no graphs, and only vituperation. Most telling, they have no opposing plan of their own. As Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Paul Ryan when asked about the debt: “We don’t have a definitive solution. We just don’t like yours.”

In their zeal to attack Ryan, the Democrats have moved away from their campaign strategy to keep this election about anything except economics. The Democrats have tried to make the election about birth control, about Mitt Romney’s taxes, about whether Romney put a dog crate on his car in the early 1980s. They have been loath to discuss anything to do with the economy because it is a losing issue for them.

By picking the poster child for entitlement and budget reform, Mitt Romney has shifted the focus of the election back to the issues that really matter. And while Romney is not comfortable with conservative speech, Paul Ryan makes the case for budget and entitlement reform with great eloquence.

The Democrats are falling all over themselves now in a rush to tell the world how happy they are that Romney has picked such a polarizing figure, that Romney’s choice is even worse than John McCain’s in 2008. This is a lie. The truth is they’re scared. They should be. Ryan is not some sort of monstrous ogre who wants to throw grandma into the snow. He is what the Left fears: a living, breathing rebuttal to the vapidity of their rhetoric and the absence of their ideas.

“This Is Not Who We Are.”

March 22, 2010

Paul Ryan is a rock star.

Repeal And Replace

March 22, 2010

I can’t help but be reminded of that scene in the movie The Omen, where the nanny shouts “It’s all for you!” before jumping off the roof with a noose around her neck.

Last night we watched that scene replayed 219 times.

The rubber is officially on the road now. Bart Stupak has proven to be the Profile in Cowardice I fully expected him to be (and has rightfully been stripped of the “Defender Of Life” Award he was to receive on Wednesday), and the “health care reform” bill has passed the House.

There are a few things to learn from this:

  • There is no such thing as a Blue Dog Democrat in Washington D.C. Fiscal and social conservatism is a gimmick that Democrats use in Republican-leaning districts to enhance their chances at winning elections. They don’t mean it, and should all be voted out.
  • The Far Left wing of the Democrat party, led by Obama and Pelosi, with Harry Reid standing on the sidelines begging to be allowed to play, will stop at nothing to advance their agenda of turning America into a European-style socialist state. That can’t be stated clearly enough. They will stop at nothing.
  • The Republican Party needs to recognize the first two items listed here and understand that there is no bipartisanship in Washington D.C. as long as the Democrat party is a Far Left party. Negotiations with the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, etc. will only lead to bad bills. The Republicans need to snap out of the Battered Wife Syndrome they currently embrace.

What’s done is done, as Shakespeare wrote. I am under no illusions that this bill can be repealed any time before January 2013. But that doesn’t mean that the Republicans should not run in 2010 on a campaign to repeal and replace the bill. C’mon, it’s even a good slogan: Repeal. Replace. Reform.

The Republicans can not continue to bad mouth the bill without providing a clear alternative. As much as I admire and respect Paul Ryan, he has a tendency to get deep into the weeds when he talks about policy. What the Republicans need is a simple 5-point plan that can be printed on a single page of paper.

  • Health-savings accounts. Allows people to put aside tax-deferred dollars for use in health care. This money will not be on a “use it or lose it” basis as it currently is. It can be kept, added to, and left to heirs just like a 401K and IRA.
  • Real, meaningful tort reform. Limit non-income damages in malpractice cases, and limit the amount of winnings that can be collected by lawyers. This has been done on a state level in Texas, and health care costs have dropped because doctors will no longer feel the need to order so many CYA tests.
  • Allow people to buy insurance across state lines. This is a no-brainer. Allow people to shop for their insurance needs wherever they need to. Allow real competition between insurance companies.
  • Eliminate Federal requirements for insurance. Right now, the government dictates what conditions must be covered by insurance. The more things that are covered, the more the insurance costs. Allow people to decide for themselves what they want covered, and allow people to choose from a wide range of deductibles. The only medical coverage people need from insurance is catastrophic coverage, or drug coverage over a certain amount per year. Let me decide if I want my coverage to include sex-reassignment surgery, not the government.
  • Eliminate the individual mandate. First off, it’s unconstitutional. Secondly, if people choose not to have health care insurance then those people need to take their medicine when they go to the doctor. Strengthen the position of hospitals and doctors to legally pursue people who skip out without paying the bill, rather than pass the cost on to those people who do have insurance.

The fine details of any plan must be worked out, and the five points I wrote above do not necessarily have to be the five points that they agree upon, but the public face of the plan must be something that the public can digest easily and quickly. The Republicans have many plans floating around. They need to get together in the local Capitol Hill watering hole, bash out a final plan with the best elements, and then put it into a language that be easily understood: a one-page summary and a bill itself that is no longer than 50 pages, with a non-lawyer translation available.

Nothing will be repealed until January 2013 because Obama holds the veto pen, but that doesn’t mean that a Republican majority in the House and, maybe, the Senate, can’t send the bill to the President as regularly as clockwork and force him to veto and then defend his action.

Last night Obama said, “This is what change looks like.” This November will give the Naked Emperor another example of what change can look like.

This fight is not over. It is just beginning.

Michelle Malkin has more here. Hot Air has an open thread here and video of Mike Pence’s stinging rebuke of Bart Stupak.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Rich Lowry for The Corner shoutout from the tongue-in-cheek email I sent him yesterday. I am truly honored.

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