The Magazine

Julia’s America

From The Scrapbook

May 14, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 33 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Gullible voters are supposed to get all wound up about the GOP “war on women,” but it seems to us that the Democratic stance that women are helpless creatures who must be coddled by an all-consuming government is far more pernicious. If you think that’s an unfair characterization of Democrats, we kindly direct you to the Obama campaign website, where you can take a gander at an interactive slide show, “The Life of Julia.” 

Image of Julia

Ostensibly, it’s an examination of “How President Obama’s policies help one woman over her lifetime—and how Mitt Romney would change her story.” For those of you who haven’t seen it, imagine Obama’s social policies explained in paper doll form for idiots. It’s almost literally a cradle-to-grave vision of how a woman’s life would be totally unmanageable without the aid of government. Starting with, well, Head Start, on through high school, college, work, childbirth, and retirement, Julia is sheltered from life’s slings and arrows by the intervention of allegedly omnicompetent and benevolent federal bureaucrats. 

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is portrayed as Snidely Whiplash, tying Julia to the railroad tracks. Did you know that Mitt Romney would repeal “health care reform so insurance companies could go back to charging women 50 percent more than men”? Neither did we.

As a matter of politics, this strikes The Scrapbook as both tone deaf to real problems and condescending to women. Not to mention being a caricature of liberalism: “After years of contributing to Social Security, [Julia] receives monthly benefits that help her retire comfortably, without worrying that she’ll run out of savings. This allows her to volunteer at a community garden.”

Seriously? We’re supposed to delight in younger workers’ toiling and sweating to bankroll an actuarial blackhole so Julia can volunteer in a community garden? The reality is that without Social Security reform, which Obama has steadfastly avoided, Julia will see Social Security benefits that help her “retire comfortably” about the time hell becomes a skating rink for disadvantaged youth.

Then there’s the total obliviousness as to what this says about the Obama campaign’s conception of their hero and the federal government he presides over. Reason magazine’s Peter Suderman aptly compared the Obama ad to that treacly “Footprints” poem:

One night Julia dreamed she was walking along the beach with the POTUS.

Many scenes from her life flashed across the sky.

In each scene, she noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.

Other times she only saw one set of footprints.

This bothered Julia because she noticed that during the low points of her life,

when she was suffering

from underemployment, student loan debt, and excessively high insurance copays,

she could only see one set of footprints.

 

You know the rest—Obama was chivalrous enough to carry Julia through the tough times. But we think a sensible voter is aware that, unlike the original subject of that poem, Obama is not omnipotent, nor does he possess unlimited beneficence. As such, we’re inclined to think women might be aware of the risks that dependency on these policies pose for their welfare and that of their children. (In case you were wondering, no husband or any other sort of partner besides the federal government makes an appearance in the life of Julia.)

The Obama campaign, on the other hand, seems to think that women are easily snowed by brightly colored PowerPoint
presentations. If the Obama team wants to continue to patronize women like this, we’ll see how well that works out for them in November.

Al Qaeda ♥ Olbermann

The Scrapbook, in a channel-surfing mood, stumbled upon one of those Washington chat shows, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the other day. There was George, the ex-Clinton confidant, with his flawlessly tousled hair; and there was the other George, Will, wearing his wire-rimmed spectacles; and there was Keith Olbermann. Which, The Scrapbook confesses, shook us out of our morning torpor. 

Now, The Scrapbook has no expectations about the major news networks, and takes some small comfort in the presence of people like George Will and Peggy Noonan on the George Stephanopoulos gabfest. But Keith Olbermann? Even by the standards of opinion journalism, Olbermann, late of MSNBC and Al Gore’s Current TV, is not so much a “broadcast journalist” as a televised rage machine, specializing in cooked numbers, doctored video, relentless name-calling—and a manner and delivery that suggests internal disturbances.

How inappropriate is Keith Olbermann for a seat on George Stephanopoulos’s panel? Well, both MSNBC and Al Gore’s Current TV have divested themselves of Olbermann’s services, not because of his hard-left views or embarrassing obsessions, but because of ethical lapses, petulant on-air behavior, and a habit of picking public fights with his employers. 

Which suggests to The Scrapbook that there may, in fact, be a place in the media universe for Olbermann’s services—and we’re not the only ones to think so. In recently declassified messages between the late Osama bin Laden and his American-born “media adviser,” Adam Gadahn, we find the two speculating about how best to get the al Qaeda message across. CBS is “close to being unbiased,” suggests Osama helpfully, but Gadahn reminds him that the major networks employ “cunning methods” to mislead Muslims, although ABC is “all right.” CNN is too close to the government, Gadahn believes, but potential outlets for al Qaeda’s viewpoint do exist: Robert Fisk of London’s Independent and Al Jazeera, for example. And Keith Olbermann.

“I used to think that [the] MSNBC channel may be good and neutral a bit,” Gadahn complains to Osama, “but it has lately fired .  .  . Keith Olbermann.” 

Indeed, The Scrapbook has no doubt that Adam Gadahn and his patron Osama bin Laden savored the tone and tenor of MSNBC; how could it be otherwise? Nor are we surprised to learn that, among all of MSNBC’s various on-air personalities, Keith Olbermann should strike Osama bin Laden and his sidekick as the fairest and most appealing.

In the end, the two terrorists decided that it was probably best to deliver their message far and wide, distributing material to as many outlets as possible, “so that there will be healthy competition between the channels in broadcasting the material. .  .  . It should be sent .  .  . to ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN and maybe PBS and VOA.”

To which was added an ominous postscript, one which could just as easily have been pronounced by Keith Olbermann: “As for Fox News, let her die in her anger.”

Warren Remembrance

When Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren began running for the Senate in Massachusetts, The Scrapbook surmised it was only a matter of time before she started to get the comeuppance she deserved. Being a liberal darling means a lot of fawning press—the actual headline of her New York Times magazine profile was “Heaven Is a Place Called Elizabeth Warren”—but a candidate who has grown accustomed to fawning reporters will often be caught flat-footed when she first encounters a fusillade of opposition research.

The Boston Herald recently reported that Harvard had publicly touted Warren’s heretofore unknown Native-American heritage in the 1990s, when the school came under fire for not having a minority female professor at the law school. Warren claimed she had no recollection of this, but also countered that “family lore” had it that she was of Cherokee and Delaware Indian descent, and that she had never personally benefited from any claims of minority status. 

It was then pointed out that she had listed herself in academic
directories as being Native American, which would suggest she was at least trying to trade on her alleged ethnicity. Warren asserted that she listed herself as Native American “because I thought I might be invited to meetings where I might meet more people who had grown up like I had grown up.” Warren’s “family lore,” by the way, suggests she’s at most
3.125 percent Cherokee.

And speaking of Elizabeth Warren’s upbringing, this is not the first bit of seemingly fanciful biography. In the New York Post, the Boston Herald’s Howie Carr also noted:

When the campaign began, the Boston Globe saluted Warren for her “rise from poverty” as a child in Oklahoma City. Since then, as the truth has trickled out, the narrative has evolved. Goodbye poverty, hello to “the jagged edge of the middle class.” .  .  . By 1965, Elizabeth’s family had three cars, including a white MG that the hard-scrabble Native American drove daily to her tony high school. Still, the Globe insisted, the MG was “beat up.”

The deafening silence about Warren’s revelations from the progressive left speaks volumes. Conservatives have long pointed out that academia’s multicultural mania undermines real notions of equality and merit. For them the revelations about Warren only confirm what they already knew about ivory tower chicanery. If you truly believe racial preference policies are necessary to help struggling minority students and professors, wouldn’t a liberal, middle-class, white person exploiting these policies to get a leg-up at America’s most elite academic institution be the worst sort of betrayal? So far, though, Warren’s supporters are not disheartened. Elizabeth Warren still is a candidate for the Senate, and for the left, wielding power has always been more important than noticing the glaring flaws of their paladins.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers