Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

L’Affaire Edwards

There has been so much said the last few days about the snake John Edwards that there didn’t seem much left to say, but this story by Newsweek’s Jonathan Darman is breathtaking, for what it indicates about what a nutcase this Hunter woman is, how silly a person Edwards must be, and how clueless a reporter Darman must be not to have seen this coming.

Almost makes you long for the good old days of comprehensible sex scandals, like Gary Hart and Bill Clinton.

UPDATE: It gets weirder: Apparently there are psychics and astrologers involved in the story.

Free Frank on the Russian Invasion of Georgia

Warner thinks the Europeans have plenty of reason to worry, given their dangerous dependence of Russian oil.

When Bad Things Happen to Bad People

The morning-after consensus is that John Edwards’ political career is over. Few NLT readers are shattered. As for Elizabeth Edwards, however, her status as “one of the more sympathetic figures on the national stage” may be, if anything, enhanced by the interview her husband gave ABC. It shouldn’t be. Being married to a cheating husband is a bad thing, and having terminal cancer is a really bad thing, but neither precludes the possibility or erases the considerable evidence that she, too, is a hyper-ambitious, lying hypocrite.

David Bonior, the campaign manager for John Edwards’ 2008 presidential run, said yesterday, “Thousands of friends of the senator’s and his supporters have put their faith and confidence in him and he’s let [them] down. They’ve been betrayed by his action.” The biggest reason the respectable press gave for treating the Edwards adultery as a non-story for as long as possible was the need to protect the brave and beleaguered Mrs. Edwards from further indignities.

The reality, however, is that as far as the Rielle Hunter story affected the John Edwards presidential campaign, Elizabeth Edwards was not a victim but an accomplice. In separate statements yesterday, both John and Elizabeth say he confessed his affair to her in 2006. That means they both spent the entirety of 2007, when he was running for president, lying about it. The Edwards-for-president volunteers, donors and staffers who were betrayed by him were betrayed by her, too.

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but the inescapable conclusion is that Elizabeth Edwards behaved far less honorably than Hillary Clinton did in similar circumstances. In the famous “60 Minutes” interview Bill and Hillary gave together in 1992, in the aftermath of the Jennifer Flowers story, they offered a carefully phrased discussion of “problems” in their marriage, making clear that they would be going no further in the direction of nationally televised marital counseling. Then Hillary said, “And you know, if that’s not enough for people, then heck, don’t vote for him.”

By contrast, “both John and Elizabeth Edwards cynically used their marriage as a means to help John Edwards win an election,” according to Lee Stranahan, an embittered Edwards fan. “They made a conscious decision to make their relationship a focus throughout the campaign. . . . Then when the rumors first surfaced, they made the worst decision of all; they decided to lie about it and to keep lying about it for months.”

It’s beyond pathetic that Sen. and Mrs. Edwards were so desperate to join the ultra-exclusive POTUS/FLOTUS club. Elizabeth Edwards now says that that she wanted their private matter to stay private because “as painful as it was I did not want to have to play it out on a public stage as well.” Running for president, however, is an unorthodox way to shun the limelight. Reasonable people can disagree about how much of a presidential candidate’s private life is of legitimate interest to voters and journalists. The reality our age, however, is that a couple cannot spend 16 months telling everyone who’ll listen that they can get an idea of what a good president he would be by reflecting on his exceptional virtues as husband and father, and then insist that the interior of their marriage is nobody’s damn business.

Even now, after the central part of their elaborate and desperate fabrication has been demolished, and their dreams of political glory smashed, Mrs. Edwards believes she can still score integrity points by lashing out at the “voyeurism” and “string of hurtful and absurd lies in a tabloid publication.” As Stranahan notes, however, “both John and Elizabeth Edward are calling the people who caught him the liars.” A supermarket tabloid turned out to have much smaller credibility problems than a presidential candidate and his wife. Exhibitionists forfeit the right to complain about voyeurs.

An Announcement from Steve

. . . on my return to regular blogging (after I catch up on surfing). Here’s why:

Mahoney Has the Answers

...when it comes to Solzhenitsyn

Coming Soon: Amy Winehouse Speaks Out on the Importance of Sobriety

From The Independent, two days ago.

Save the Secret Ballot

George McGovern lashes out at his fellow Democrats for supporting "card check" legislation:

As a congressman, senator and one-time Democratic nominee for the presidency, I’ve participated in my share of vigorous public debates over issues of great consequence. And the public has been free to accept or reject the decisions I made when they walked into a ballot booth, drew the curtain and cast their vote. I didn’t always win, but I always respected the process. . . .

That is why I am concerned about a new development that could deny this freedom to many Americans. As a longtime friend of labor unions, I must raise my voice against pending legislation I see as a disturbing and undemocratic overreach not in the interest of either management or labor. . . .

Instead of a private election with a secret ballot overseen by an impartial federal board, union organizers would simply need to gather signatures from more than 50% of the employees in a workplace or bargaining unit, a system known as "card-check." There are many documented cases where workers have been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards that have led to mandatory payment of dues. . . .

Some of the most respected Democratic members of Congress -- including Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, George Miller and Pete Stark of California, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts -- have advised that workers in developing countries such as Mexico insist on the secret ballot when voting as to whether or not their workplaces should have a union. We should have no less for employees in our country.

George McGovern the right wing of the Democratic party?

Thirty years ago

As a young graduate student, I attended the panel discussion recorded on the DVD pictured here, and soon to go on sale on Amazon.

Bloom, Gadamer, Voegelin, and others--should be interesting, and will certainly jog my memory.

Hat tip: our friend, John von Heyking, to whose latest book project I’m pleased to have contributed an essay.

Northern Lights for a New McCain Narrative?

Jonah Goldberg is cruising Alaska and argues that the 49th state holds a combination of black gold, Republican whipping boy, and an intriguing (not to mention attractive) young governor that--when combined--could set the McCain narrative on sorely needed new arc . . . or should we say, "ark."

"America is no longer what it could be, what it once was."

. . . "And I say to myself, I don’t want that future for my children." This is what Barack Obama told a 7 year-old in response to the question, "Why do you want to be President."

There are so many things one could say about a remark like that and, yet, I am trying contain my anger. As a mother, my first reaction is to think of the little girl to whom he is speaking. Do you tell a little kid that their country is damaged goods and expect that to inspire the child (or anyone else within earshot)? These are not the words of a statesman--they are the words of a crank.

And notice that he is (as usual) vague about the terms up for discussion. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s winging it. We are not "what [we] could be, what [we] once [were]"? Well . . . that’s certainly true. We no longer have slavery. We no longer have segregated lunch counters. We no longer sit in perpetual fear of an evil empire with a nuclear arsenal pointed in our direction. We no longer watch helplessly as crippling diseases like Polio ravage through our communities. We no longer watch small businesses crumble as they pay the confiscatory tax rates of the late 1970s. So, yes, there are a good number of ways in which we have changed . . . and, I suppose, there’s an equal number of ways in which our country has changed that would not inspire my enthusiastic approval. So what? On balance, what reasonable American can deny that this is still--for all her flaws--the greatest country in the history of the world? If we can be better, Barack Obama is not the man to show us how.

What, exactly, is it that Senator Obama imagines cries out for his divine intervention? In what ways were we better before and in what ways are we worse now according to "Him." And what hubris must he have in order to imagine that the mere election of a "community organizer" and part time politician to the highest office in the land would, somehow, reverse all of America’s ills and create a future that is suitable for the Obama girls?

It is an outrageous statement and it exposes him--not only as a pompous, silly little man deserving of no serious consideration--but as an ungrateful, uninformed and unimaginative political rookie.

Hear Her Roar

Here’s a question from a devoted NLT reader: Who’s the greatest WOMAN of the 20th century?

All Roads Lead to Ohio . . .

. . . and the Obama campaign knows it. The reporter from this piece does not appear to think that this is good news for Mr. Obama--nevermind his dismissive remarks at the end where he speculates that their less than adoring reception of Obama stems from a lack of melanin and college degrees. I hope that the Obama campaign continues to think like this reporter and that it continues to act accordingly. No wonder people are tired of him.

Now, it seems that he is having a particularly rough time in the Southeastern part of the state (Zanesville, especially) where people just aren’t buying whatever it is that Obama seems to be selling. On the other hand, that section of the state is not a Republican stronghold--just ask Deborah Pryce. This is Bob Ney’s old district and Jack Space’s current one. There is room for McCain to make some inroads there among the undecideds.

One thing McCain should remember to do when he does go there is to make sure that as many people who want to attend his event can do so. And he should speak about energy or something that people in that area actually care about. I discovered while visiting a couple weeks ago that Obama’s big speech delivered in Zanesville on his version of the "Faith Based Initiative" was an invitation only event and included all of 25 people. Moreover, people in Zanesville (at least those who were not among the 25) are about as interested in a faith-based initiative as they are in salt on Mars. There’s nothing wrong with doing an invitation only event and, of course, there’s nothing wrong with a sensible response from the government to faith-based charity efforts . . . but Zanesville isn’t Columbus and a visit from a Presidential candidate is no small thing. It was a big deal to them and Obama blew it. After his big speech, there was a sense in Zanesville that they had been used to showcase an issue that isn’t even on their top 20 list. McCain would do well to correct and profit from Obama’s mistake.

Timing is Everything

An otherwise clever ad campaign demonstrates this truism with tragic irony. McCain’s otherwise silly use of Britney and Paris in his campaign ads last week appears, now, to look wise. But that’s only because Obama is doing everything he can to help McCain in this by attacking the ad and giving the appearance (whether founded or not--and I guess that depends on when you ask him) that he agrees with critics who think the ads were racist.

In the meantime, this news cannot be good for Obama. With almost half of America claiming to be sick of hearing about you, the time may not be ripe for a whiz-bang spectacle of a convention in a football stadium.

Speaking of timing . . . with Congress now out of session for their five-week vacation (returning just in time to go out and campaign for a couple weeks) and the energy issue sitting in limbo, now might be a very good time for Republicans to remember that while the President’s approval ratings hover somewhere around 30%, the approval ratings for the DEMOCRATIC controlled Congress are only half as good. Wouldn’t now be a very good time to go for broke, double down, and bring it home? If Obama thinks he’s going to tie John McCain to George W. Bush and make hay with that, why not tie Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid? Why not tie every Democrat running for Congress to them? After all, unless a Democrat plans to vote against Pelosi or Reid in the leadership a vote for that Democrat is tantamount to an endorsement of the record of this failed Congress.


The busy part of the summer is over since the MAHG program has come to an end. I slept most of two days, then started reading, one for pleasure, one for duty, two for both: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake; Robert H. Ferrell’s Grace Coolidge; John Stauffer’s, Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln; and Mark Stein’s How the States Got Their Shapes.

Random Observations

1. I’m writing from DESTIN, FLORIDA at BAD ASS COFFEE. Destin is very, very overbuilt and might cause someone to become an environmentalist. But the beaches and the water remain pretty pristine, showing both the resilence of nature on the Redneck Riviera and reason for concern about offshore drilling in this beautiful part of the world.

2. Thanks for all the wonderful Solzhenitsyn posts. I got a couple of private emails asking: What are we to make of Solzhenitsyn’s support for Putin?

3. I liked Julie’s post below on postmodern Barack. But in my opinion his intense self-orientation is really hypermodern. Genuine postmodernism would be a return to realism, as I explain in POSTMODERNISM RIGHTLY UNDERSTOOD.

The New Catalog of Sins

Thanks to Ken for passing along this very amusing essay by Stanley Fish in which he catalogs all of the near occasions of sin against the environment he cannot seem to avoid and the reasons, therefore, he is obviously going to go to hell. He should be a Catholic. If he were, it sounds like the time he’s spending doing penance with that wife of his might buy him time out of purgatory.

Of Tire Gauges and Energy Sages

A few weeks ago, before Barack Obama came down from the heavens to enlighten us peasants about the wonders of tire inflation, my husband and I bought a new car. Well . . . let’s just say that it is "new" to us. It’s actually a 2004 model but it has low miles, was an amazing deal, and is a top-of-the-line Eddie Bauer edition Ford Expedition. More important (from my point of view, of course) is that it’s a beautiful shade of RED. I know everyone is probably shocked to learn that I drive a great-big dirty SUV and I feel no particular compulsion to defend myself on moral grounds. But with gas at close to $4 a gallon, I will defend myself on intellectual and economic grounds, by saying that we need the big engine to pull our travel trailer and, beyond that, I very rarely drive more than 10 miles a day.

Now, we were used to the gas-guzzling ways of this particular kind of vehicle (having traded in a 1997 model in order to buy this one) but our ’97 model, though thirsty, had a smaller 4.6 engine and so it was a little less demanding on our wallet. After about a week’s worth of driving, we discovered that the new car was only getting around 10-11 miles to the gallon. So guess what my genius husband did? He added more air to the tires! Imagine that! He didn’t even need a friendly Democrat to give him instructions . . . he came up with that idea all by himself!

But Barack Obama is still angry (or should I say showing himself to be thin-skinned) over the antics of some Republicans who are showing up at his rallies with tire-gauges imprinted with the slogan, "Obama’s Energy Plan." Obama complains that the attack is thick-headed and out-of-touch first, because it is not a comprehensive understanding of his total plan (as so many of the Obama attack slogans have been cerebral and fair in response to McCain) and second, because inflating your tires is actually a good idea.

“It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant. They think it’s funny that they’re making fun of something that is actually true.”
Talk about thick-headed! Perhaps they don’t teach humor at Harvard or, more likely, they do teach their graduates to engage in a form of "noblesse oblige" and condescension that, after awhile, they can’t even recognize in themselves. Memo to Barack: No one is laughing at the idea of properly inflating your tires . . . we’re laughing at the idea that you think you’ve stumbled upon some hot tip there. Inflate your tires to the proper levels? Are you kidding me?! The fact that you apparently think this is some great revelation tells us more about you (and what you think about us) than almost anything you’ve ever said. Next we’ll all be learning that brushing your teeth prevents tooth decay.

The Wizards of Denver

I link to this from Breitbart for the headline alone. Wizardry is a good word in this context.

Is Barack Obama a Post-Modernist?

Jonah Goldberg thinks Obama’s Messianic impulse might better be explained as a kind of Postmodern impulse. Since it’s probably a toss-up, I’ll leave it to others to call the matter. But this paragraph from Jonah is priceless and bears repeating:

The Obama campaign has a postmodern feel to it because more than anything else, it seems to be about itself. Its relationship to reality is almost theoretical. Sure, the campaign has policy proposals, but they are props to advance the narrative of a grand movement existing in order to be a movement galvanized around the single idea of movement-ness. Obama’s followers are, to borrow from David Hasselhoff--another American hugely popular in Germany--hooked on a feeling. "We are the ones we have been waiting for!" Well, of course you are.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but it reminds me of the time when, as a teenager, I realized I wasn’t really as heartbroken over an unrequited crush as I imagined. I hadn’t really been in love with the boy, I realized, but in love with the idea of being in love. That, and probably I was suffering from a healthy bit of wounded vanity. What will the voters do when they realize that their crush on Obama is similarly unfounded? Here’s hoping that it is more his vanity and less theirs that suffers the blow.


Francis Fukuyama loses a bet.

Letter to Obama

The Nation publishes an open letter to Obama, a warning shot, if you will, from the Left. The letter includes this paragraph:

"Since your historic victory in the primary, there have been troubling signs that you are moving away from the core commitments shared by many who have supported your campaign, toward a more cautious and centrist stance--including, most notably, your vote for the FISA legislation granting telecom companies immunity from prosecution for illegal wiretapping, which angered and dismayed so many of your supporters."

Signers include: Barbara Ehrenreich, Tom Hayden, Eric Foner, Studs Terkel, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, et al.

Harmonizing Europe

This George Will piece, deftly moving from Alexander to Brussels, reminds us--perhaps unintentionally--what an accomplishment the United States of America is, and even why it is worth the keeping. Will’s penultimate sentence--again with a different intent--is worth noting regarding our, essentially, healthy condition. Annuit Coeptis.

Skip Caray, RIP

Terry Eastland appreciates the late Skip Caray, as did I.

But there’s just one thing: how can he not say that Harry Caray broadcast for the Cubs (after the Cardinals)?

There are still two other Carays in the broadcast business--Skip and Josh, the latter a former student of mine ( a couple of classes, at least) now working the Braves’ affiliate in Rome, GA.

Kristol VP Gossip

Here it is. Let’s hope Mac is intrigued by YOUTH, but not by BIPARTISANSHIP.


He was, of course, the greatest MAN of the 20th century.

Impeachment lite

Jeremy Rabkin bemusedly describes his experiences testifying before John Conyers’s House Judiciary Committee. Entertaining, to say the least.