Thursday, December 11, 2008


Why Chris Matthews' show on MSNBC isn't laughed to scorn just for the absurdity of its name is one of the peculiar mysteries of this political year. The last thing Matthews does with his guests is play "Hardball", unless, of course, the guest is a Republican. On last night's show his guest was Bill Ayers and all Matthews did was pitch marshmallows at him. Watching it, I couldn't help feel that Ayers may have been giving Matthews one of those tingly feelings he's become famous for:

Here's a man whose wife celebrated Charles Manson's murders, was herself implicated in the murder of two policemen, and who is a friend of Michelle Obama. He's a man whose organization (and his wife) set fire to the house of the judge presiding over the trial of black panthers while the judge's wife and young son were inside. He's a man whose organization blinded an innocent man with acid at JFK airport and which included people who spoke blithely of executing as many as 25 million Americans if their revolution ever proved successful. He's a man who as late as 2001 said that he wished he had done more during his terrorist years. He's a man who once sang that he was guilty as sin and free as a bird. And Matthews asked him about none of this.

Nor did the "journalist" Matthews ask Ayers why he hosted Obama's political christening in his home, or what the nature of his relationship with Obama was on the various boards on which they served together. Nor did he ask him about what kind of "educational reform" he's working on in Chicago.

Matthews, the host of the risibly named Hardball, asked not a single question that would make Ayers uncomfortable, not a single question that would enlighten the public on why Ayers' association with Obama is potentially significant. The interview left me puzzling over why he even bothered to have Ayers on the show in the first place. No wonder people tune into talk radio and Fox News rather than MSNBC if they want to actually learn anything.


Restless Natives

Jason directs us to Politico where it looks as if liberal discontent with our new President is already stirring, and the man hasn't yet served a day in office. The lefties are growing restless with concerns that Obama is backing away from the positions that won him their support in the first place:

Obama insists he hasn't abandoned the goals that made him feel to some like a liberal savior. But the left's bill of particulars against Obama is long, and growing.

Obama drew rousing applause at campaign events when he vowed to tax the windfall profits of oil companies. As president-elect, Obama says he won't enact the tax.

Obama's pledge to repeal the Bush tax cuts and redistribute that money to the middle class made him a hero among Democrats who said the cuts favored the wealthy. But now he's struck a more cautious stance on rolling back tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year, signaling he'll merely let them expire as scheduled at the end of 2010.

Obama's post-election rhetoric on Iraq and choices for national security team have some liberal Democrats even more perplexed. As a candidate, Obama defined and separated himself from his challengers by highlighting his opposition to the war in Iraq from the start. He promised to begin to end the war on his first day in office.

Now Obama says that on his first day in office he will begin to "design a plan for a responsible drawdown," as he told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. Obama has also filled his national security positions with supporters of the Iraq war: Sen. Hillary Clinton, who voted to authorize force in Iraq, as his secretary of state; and President George W. Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, continuing in the same role.

The central premise of the left's criticism is direct - don't bite the hand that feeds, Mr. President-elect. The Internet that helped him so much during the election is lighting up with irritation and critiques.

To be sure most of the left is holding their fire to give him a chance, but they do seem to have their safeties off and their hammers cocked (or is a gun metaphor a little inappropriate for lefties?). Mr. Obama's honeymoon may be one of the shortest ever, and the irony is that it looks like it won't be his political opponents who'll find themselves most at odds with him but rather those who raised all the money and did all the legwork to get him elected.

They're wondering where all the hope and change went.

P.S. Glen Beck said this morning that he saw a bumper sticker in Seattle that read: Obama Is My Co-Pilot. I don't know whether to laugh at the stupidity of this or to tremble at the implications of people investing a complete unknown with Messianic attributes.


The Perfect Gift

It's long been the case in the U.S. that different groups of people choose to celebrate different aspects of the Christmas story. Merchants, of course, celebrate the giving of gifts by the Maji to the Christ child because the symbolism encourages shoppers to knock themselves out making the cash registers ring.

Secular humanists celebrate the notion of good will toward men even though they're hard-pressed to articulate a cogent reason why anyone should feel all warm and tingly toward anyone, much less complete strangers, in a godless, empty universe.

Christians celebrate the wonder of the creator of the universe becoming one of us in order to sacrifice himself for us in our lostness.

Yet, until now, there's been one aspect of the Christmas story that never gets celebrated - the slaughter of the innocents. King Herod, you'll recall, exercised his sovereignty over the children of Bethlehem by having everyone under the age of two put to the sword so that he wouldn't have to suffer a competitor to his throne.

Now comes word that in what certainly appears to be a celebration of Herod's exercise of his right as sovereign king to choose the deaths of those children, the Indiana Planned Parenthood affiliates are selling gift certificates this Christmas season which can be used for, inter alia, procuring an abortion.

It happens that lots of people are disgusted by this, but I think it's the perfect gift to celebrate that part of the Christmas narrative, Herod's infanticide, which rarely gets much positive recognition. Think for a moment of the happiness these certificates will bring in the days following Christmas. Young, expectant mommies who need to unburden themselves of an unwanted or inconvenient pregnancy will delight in the gift, as will young men on the verge of panic at having sired a child. Abortionists whose skills at ending nascent lives are inversely proportional to the compunctions of their consciences will continue to enrich themselves plying their ugly trade, and Planned Parenthood itself, a business which profits handsomely from dismembering children, will continue to rake in the cash. It won't have been such a happy Christmas for the child itself, but as anyone can tell you, the child is just a blob of tissue and doesn't count.

Indiana Planned Parenthood should be lauded for doing their part to make this an especially blessed and meaningful holiday season and for carrying on a wonderfully Herodian Christmas tradition.