All right, you’re in the Obama White House. You see that the monthly jobs report is terrible, worse than expected. The Federal Reserve is so worried about the economy that it proposes 24/7 pump-priming to jolt it out of the doldrums. A mob invades the United States embassy in Cairo, pulls down the Stars and Stripes, sets it on fire, and raises a jihadist banner in its place. The official response to this desecration is to apologize to the rioters for an anti-Muslim movie trailer that served as a pretext to attack the embassy.
A few hundred miles to the west, the U.S. ambassador to Libya is assassinated in Benghazi, along with three colleagues. American embassies are besieged in Tunisia and Yemen. The White House and the Israeli government trade barely concealed insults over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And the president insists publicly that Egypt—recipient of more than $1 billion a year in aid from the United States—is not an ally.
What to do? Well, isn’t it obvious? Attack Mitt Romney!
In The Scrapbook’s view, Governor Romney, who is running to replace President Obama in less than two months, was entirely correct to criticize the incoherent U.S. response to the Cairo debacle, to question the policies that have left us so dangerously vulnerable in the Middle East, and to suggest that the most urgent American requirement—apart from offering some semblance of leadership—is to retire Barack Obama at the end of his present term.
And yet, the primary concern of the Obama White House, and its friends and protectors in the press, has been to pretend that the bonfire of the Obama foreign policy was as nothing compared to Romney’s impertinent criticism. The New York Times was typical, accusing Romney of “dangerous ignorance” and “an extraordinary lack of presidential character.” And President Obama himself joined in to complain that “Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.”
Oh, please! This is not a case of diplomatic propriety, but of political damage control. It is, perhaps, understandable that the Obama White House would seek to distract attention from its numerous failures and to exhort its critics, in the name of national unity, to shut up. But that the press would join in this perversion of political etiquette is especially grotesque. Readers need only imagine what the Times would be saying if this series of mortifications, domestic and foreign, had occurred when George W. Bush was president.
For that matter, the notion that political criticism is “dangerously ignorant” when American lives have been lost on foreign soil is not only insulting, but dishonest. The Scrapbook has been searching diligently in its archives but cannot find any occasion when John Kerry or Nancy Pelosi or Al Gore or Harry Reid or John Edwards or Hillary Clinton—or then-senator Barack Obama himself—restrained themselves from rebuking the Bush White House, at a time when Americans were fighting and dying overseas, in the most violent terms.
AP / Carolyn Kaster
It’s pretty hard not to have some misgivings about the increasing government surveillance of citizens, though reasonable people can disagree to what extent this is necessary to keep us safe. However, The Scrapbook would like to think that we can all agree that when the surveillance state becomes just another means of raising revenue it’s entirely pernicious.
And so it is that traffic cameras have spread like a cancer across the land. It’s revealing that the proliferation of traffic cameras seems directly proportional to the corruption and mismanagement of the local governments erecting them. In March, Washington, D.C., mayor Vincent Gray made a disturbing promise to “cover the entire city” with traffic cameras. Gray justified this by saying, “I think we need to do everything we can to protect people in the District from the negligent and irresponsible actions of others.”
That’s an interesting sentiment coming from Gray, who’s been under federal investigation for running a crooked mayoral campaign. A Washington Post poll this past July revealed that 54 percent of D.C. residents think he should resign. Unlike taxpayers who might be driving 8 mph over a 25 mph speed limit, there’s actually a reason for law enforcement authorities to monitor Gray very closely.