TIMOTHY P. CARNEY writes: Republican disarray and infighting ate up most conservative commentary in the first few weeks of October. What was Ted Cruz thinking? Will John Boehner show some backbone? Can anyone lead this party?
But the Right’s most prominent commentator kept his eye trained on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. “For all the hyped indignation over GOP anarchism,” Charles Krauthammer’s Oct. 10 Washington Post column began, “there has been remarkable media reticence about the president’s intransigence.”
Krauthammer isn’t a Ted Cruz cheerleader — he’s knocked Cruz and his allies as the “Kamikaze Brigade.” Krauthammer also isn’t above intra-Republican fighting — he spearheaded the 2002 campaign to oust Trent Lott from the Senate majority leader job after Lott’s offhand praise for Strom Thurmond’s segregationist presidential campaign.
Krauthammer just believes that President Obama deserves more scrutiny and criticism than he’s getting — that Obama’s leftward pull on the country poses real danger. And nobody is in a better position to provide that criticism than Krauthammer.
The Intellectual Elite’s Doomed Romance with Barack Obama
Wesley Pruden writes: This is the question that confounds everyone; some intellectuals most of all. The late William F. Buckley Jr., a certified egghead, once said he would rather be governed by the first 50 names in the Boston telephone book than by the professors at Harvard.
Another wit observes that an intellectual is someone who so prefers theory over experience that he would sit down on a red-hot stove, twice. You can be too smart for your own good, and have the blisters on your bottom to prove it.
The intellectual romance with the clever Barack Obama continues. Having invested so much in candy and flowers, they must ignore all the evidence of being dumped.
His cultivated demeanor and carefully applied patina of synthetic sophistication, fraudulent as it may be, is what attracted the adoration of intellectuals from across the political spectrum in 2008, says Charles Murray, the social scientist and an intellectual with impressive books, studies and learned papers. He admits that he’s a dumpee.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it,” he tells an interviewer for the website Daily Caller, “but I responded in part to his rhetoric because he talks just like me.”
“It’s his whole way of presentation of self … of a little self-deprecation in the argument and picking out a nuance here, which is all the ways that we overeducated people have been socialized in the same way. It’s the way we carry on discourse. Along with [seeing] what was a very engaging personality, I kind of ignored things which … a lot of working-class people glommed onto right away.”
“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it, but I responded in part to his rhetoric because he talks just like me.”
Working-class stiffs, the people an earlier generation of political scientists called “Joe Sixpack,” having earned their blisters and calluses by heavy lifting, are too smart to take a seat on the red-hot stove even once.
Having been to some big towns and heard some big talk, they were too smart by miles to be taken in by a smooth-talking butter and egg man from Chicago.
(Stop the presses: Butter and egg man? What? I had to look this up. “Big Butter and Egg Man” is “a free spender or wealthy investor , a naive prosperous businessman”. Okay. But the source is a 1926 jazz song written by Percy Venable. Venable was a record producer at the Sunset Cafe and wrote the song for Louis Armstrong and singer May Alix. The song is often played by Dixieland bands, and is considered a jazz standard. Why Wesley Pruden chose this obscure reference, who knows. Either I’m not as culturally hip as I’d like to think I am–and this phrase is commonly known–or Wesley Pruden is intentionally screwing with us. I am inclined to believe the latter. It prompted me to visit the song on YouTube, listen here. It swings, baby, I recommend it! “Butter and egg man“? Go figure. Okay, back to Pruden‘s rant…)
“It’s not that I think he is not a patriot,” says Mr. Murray, “but remember the line, he said, ‘You didn’t build that.’ No American is going to think you can say that, no matter what your political views are, because it’s just disastrous to say that. He is clueless about this country in some profoundly disturbing ways.”
The U.S.’s economic future may not be as bright as its past.
Michael Barone writes: Some bad news for America, not on the political front this time, but in what corporate executives call human resources.
It’s from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report on adult skills, based on 166,000 interviews in 24 economically advanced countries in 2011 and 2012.
The verdict on the United States: “weak in literacy, very poor in numeracy, but only slightly below average in problem-solving in technology-rich environments.”
On literacy, just 12 percent of U.S. adults score at the top two levels, significantly lower than the 22 percent in largely monoethnic and culturally cohesive Japan and Finland. American average scores are below those in our Anglosphere cousins Australia, Canada, England, and Northern Ireland.
One-sixth of Americans score at the bottom two levels, compared with 5 percent in Japan and Finland.
On numeracy the United States does even worse — only 8 percent at the top levels and one-third in the lowest.
Since 2009, the Fair Labor Standards Act has dictated that the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Some people think that’s too low; others think it’s too high. But it turns out that, in 35 states, it’s a better deal not to work—and instead, to take advantage of federal welfare programs—than to take a minimum-wage job. That’s the takeaway from a new study published by Michael Tanner and Charles Hughes of the Cato Institute.