Big government favors the powerful— and vice versa. Apr 27, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 31 • By JAY COST
In The Selling of the President, Joe McGinniss details how Richard Nixon’s handlers micromanaged every aspect of his public persona in 1968, to craft an image for a fickle public that had rejected the longtime politician eight years before.
It is an easy bet that Hillary Clinton’s top strategists have dog-eared copies of this book close at hand. Clinton has been running for president nonstop since 2000, but earlier this month she announced her candidacy—on Twitter, no less. She tweeted, “I’m running for president. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.” Nixon’s people would be impressed.
To be sure, every candidate nowadays is intensively stage-managed, but there does seem something special about Clinton’s handling this second time around. Nothing is being left to chance. One can imagine the debate over her Twitter announcement: Should it be “average Americans”? No, no! People don’t like to be told they’re average. How about “regular Americans”? No. That suggests that some Americans are irregular. Hmm . . . better go with “everyday Americans”!
Clinton’s Twitter announcement suggests she plans to rerun the 2000 campaign of Al Gore: the hard-bitten class-warrior fighting for average—sorry, everyday—Americans against the malefactors of great wealth. Under the Clinton banner, this premise is absurd and obscene in equal parts, but it may prove successful.
It is absurd because Clinton has little in common with everyday Americans. She is fabulously wealthy, but not because she built a better mousetrap, saved a foundering company, or pitched a no-hitter in the World Series. And not even because she is a politician; lots of politicians attain wealth, but few do so by charging exorbitant speaking fees or commanding eight-figure book deals. Clinton is wealthy because she is famous, something only a handful of Americans can possibly understand, which is what really separates her from her fellow citizens.
She has been hermetically sealed in the bubble of celebrity for a quarter-century. People are starstruck by celebrities, and they don’t talk to them as they do each other. For all this time, moreover, she has been surrounded, layer upon layer, by handlers, strategists, policy wonks, pollsters, financiers—the list goes on. Her interactions with everyday Americans are mediated by armies of paid assistants.
Really, the only claim Clinton can make to understanding the travails of everyday Americans is her party’s platform. Endorsement of that document is a kind of sacrament that bestows the power of empathy upon every Democratic pol. This is perhaps the most absurd premise of the Clinton candidacy. By this logic, Democrats could in theory nominate a robot who merely spouted DNC talking points and it would be more empathetic than a living Republican.
Her candidacy is obscene because Clinton represents the apotheosis of the Democratic party’s post-Great Society hypocrisy. It used to be that the Republicans were the party of big business and Democrats the party of organized labor. The GOP charged that the Democrats were a bunch of socialists, and the Democrats responded that the GOP was a pack of plutocrats. But about 40 years ago, things started to change; labor began to decline, and new campaign finance laws allowed business to subsidize politics more thoroughly. In the 1980s, the Democrats responded by courting business energetically—yet they never ditched their claim that the GOP alone is elitist.
No two Democrats have been better at this sleight-of-hand than Bill and Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign smashed all fundraising records; it also skirted the limits of campaign finance law, not to mention ethical propriety. One would think that the Clintons could not top that, but the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation seems to be operating on a more daring plane altogether. The details remain sketchy, but the foundation appears to be in part a slush fund collecting money from those looking to buy a piece of the Clinton restoration. And its donors are not the everyday Americans from whom Hillary Clinton is ordering Chipotle burritos. They are the heaviest of heavy hitters in finance, industry, and commerce, and they include foreign governments (the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, etc.) that have contributed millions of dollars.
8:15 AM, Oct 2, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
After nine years and $247 million, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) new high-tech disaster relief system may not work as intended, according to a new report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Resulting in … what exactly?12:00 AM, Aug 23, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Congratulations to you, Tom Montag, named sole chief operating officer of Bank of America this past Wednesday. And first thing Thursday morning asked to sign a check to the government for $16,650,000,000 to settle complaints that the bank sold flawed mortgage securities in the days preceding the financial crisis. But don’t feel too badly. Only $9.65bn will go to various regulatory agencies. Some, $7bn will go toward writing down the balances of homeowners struggling to meet mortgage payments, and to demolish foreclosed homes in blighted neighborhoods.
8:07 AM, Aug 7, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Biden's trip to Brazil in mid-June for the USA versus Ghana World Cup game and meetings the following day with the president and vice president of Brazil required rental of vehicles for Biden and his entourage costing over $900,000.
8:06 AM, Jul 29, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Publicly, President Obama loves to demonize insurance companies. But behind the scenes, Big Government and Big Insurance maintain a cozy alliance that the Obama administration actively nourishes, often at taxpayer expense. Indeed, as emails recently obtained by the House Oversight Committee show, Big Government and Big Insurance have worked together to promote Obamacare. They’ve also worked together to make sure taxpayers will help bail out insurance companies who lose money selling insurance under Obamacare — that is, unless Republicans stop this from happening. Moreover, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is among the prominent White House officials who’ve been in the middle of this collaboration between insurers and the administration — between those driven by the profit motive and those driven by the power motive.
1:18 PM, Oct 7, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Northern New England is in its glory; now and for the next week or so. The leaves are nearing peak color and until yesterday, there has been a big high pressure zone parked over the area so the weather has been what would once have been described as "heavenly." It has been raining now but in a few days, the sun will shine again and the leaves will still be there, in full. And for that, Washington can take no credit.
8:11 AM, Oct 7, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Only "essential" employees of the federal government are still working during the shutdown. And at the Federal Election Commission that means practically no one is coming one.
According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity, only 4 of the employees on the FEC's staff of 339 are working through the shutdown. That's because only those 4 are considered "essential."
9:03 AM, Sep 12, 2013 • By KEVIN R. KOSAR
Are you feeling impulsive? Well, if you are in the District of Columbia there is nothing to fear—the government is doing all it can to protect you from yourself. D.C.’s health department has issued draft regulations that would require anyone seeking a tattoo to wait 24 hours to be inked. A spokesperson for the agency, explained: “We’re making sure when that decision is made that you’re in the right frame of mind, and you don’t wake up in the morning... saying, ‘Oh my God, what happened?’”
8:24 PM, Jul 2, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
In a blatant exercise of arbitrary rule, the Obama administration announced this evening that it has unilaterally decided not to implement a key provision of Obamacare on schedule. By law, Obamacare’s employer mandate — its requirement that businesses with 50 or more workers provide federally sanctioned health insurance — should go into effect next year. By executive fiat, it won’t go into effect until 2015.
7:46 AM, Apr 2, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
As the sequester bore down on Washington, the dire warnings from the Obama administration gave the impression that wild horses couldn't drag another dime out of the treasury for a whole host of vital government services. Aircraft carrier refueling, the Head Start program, and White House tours were among the high profile victims.
Could it change public opinion on big government?4:04 PM, Apr 1, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on President Obama's bad sequester calculus. Hosted by Michael Graham.
8:36 AM, Mar 7, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
When it comes to deficit reduction, President Obama and the mainstream press seem to have a fascination with the figure of $4 trillion. During last year’s first presidential debate, Obama falsely claimed, “I've put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan,” even though he’d done nothing of the sort.
"It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth."6:04 PM, Feb 12, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The White House has released limited excerpts of President Obama's State of the Union Address:
“It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class.
Nearly double the cost of the first three years of Bush and Clinton combined.2:29 PM, Jan 30, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
As Adam White discusses in detail, there’s nothing moderate or incremental about the increase in federal regulations — and hence in centralized executive power — under President Obama. To the contrary (as White notes), according to figures published by the Obama White House (see table 2-1), the costs of regulations issued by this administration have dwarfed the costs of regulations issued by prior administrations.
1:40 PM, Jan 4, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It has been a long climb for NASCAR. The sport's beginnings were in bootlegging. One of its finest drivers, fiercest competitors, and most successful owners learned his craft hauling moonshine on the back roads of North Carolina.