When peo­ple in high places say dumb things

Ego and ig­no­rance can prove dan­ger­ous at the top of the lad­der

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Mark W. Hen­drick­son By R. Em­mett Tyrrell Jr.

Those of you past a cer­tain age may re­mem­ber the old Art Lin­klet­ter show “Kids Say the Darn­d­est Things.” The one I still re­mem­ber was when Lin­klet­ter asked a lit­tle boy if he looked like his daddy. “No,” replied the boy in­no­cently, “I look like the mail­man.”

Well, adults say the darnedest things, too. Some­times they give us a win­dow into their egos or their ig­no­rance. Some­times their com­ments con­tain im­por­tant truths. Other times, they don’t even make sense. Let me give you an ex­am­ple of each kind of state­ment, start­ing with an ex­am­ple of the lat­ter.

Many jour­nal­ists have du­ti­fully re­ported that the lat­est Greek bailout will re­duce Greece’s na­tional debt to a “sus­tain­able” level of 120 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (from more than 164 per­cent to­day) by the year 2020. The prob­lem is, they never ex­plain how Greece will be sus­tained through the next eight years of “un­sus­tain­able” debt lev­els un­til the level sup­pos­edly be­comes sus­tain­able. Sus­tain­ing the un­sus­tain­able for eight years is quite a trick.

At the op­po­site pole from such un­think­ing fa­tu­ity is a state­ment of blaz­ing clar­ity made by Rick San­to­rum at the Feb. 22 GOP de­bate. With re­fresh­ing can­dor, Mr. San­to­rum stated to a na­tion­wide au­di­ence, “I voted for that [No Child Left Be­hind Act]; it was against the prin­ci­ples I be­lieve in . . . and I made a mis­take.” Pol­i­tics is known as a busi­ness where prin­ci­ples rou­tinely fall by the way­side, but rare in­deed is the politi­cian who ad­mits to com­pro­mis­ing prin­ci­ples.

As an ex­am­ple of a state­ment that dis­plays a dis­turb­ing ig­no­rance of el­e­men­tary eco­nomic ra­tio­nal­ity, Pres­i­dent Obama’s friend and ad­viser Va­lerie Jar­rett re­cently as­serted that un­em­ploy­ment pay­ments are eco­nom­i­cally ben­e­fi­cial be­cause “peo­ple who re­ceive that un­em­ploy­ment check go out and spend it and help stim­u­late the econ­omy.” Those who ad­vance this the­ory never ex­plain how pros­per­ity can im­prove from putting more money into cir­cu­la­tion with­out any ad­di­tional goods or ser­vices be­ing pro­duced. If the key to eco­nomic progress is more money in cir­cu­la­tion, then let Fed­eral Re­serve Board Chair­man Ben S. Ber­nanke rain money down on us from the fig­u­ra­tive he­li­copter to which he once al­luded. In real life, boost­ing pros­per­ity is not that sim­ple.

It’s scary when one re­al­izes how many mem­bers of Team Obama, in­clud­ing the leader him­self, share Ms. Jar­rett’s faith in toss­ing money at a prob­lem. Ap­par­ently, they re­ally be­lieve in the mys­ti­cism that econ­o­mist John May­nard Keynes preached when he wrote in 1943 that in­creas­ing credit [or money] per­formed the “mir­a­cle . . . of turn­ing a stone into bread.” Fi­nally, if you want a supreme ex­am­ple of how a state­ment can pro­vide a re­veal­ing glimpse of a per­son’s ego, con­sider the pres­i­dent’s speech at the Na­tional Prayer Break­fast on Feb. 2. In it, he at­tempted to jus­tify tax in­creases and gov­ern­ment re­dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth by cit­ing Je­sus’ state­ment that “unto whom much is given, much shall be re­quired.”

I agree 100 per­cent with what the Lord said, but Mr. Obama tore it out of con­text and twisted its mean­ing. The state­ment, which is the punch line in Je­sus’ para­ble of the tal­ents, re­minds us that it is God, not gov­ern­ment, who has blessed hu­mans with the gifts of life and tal­ent and that we owe it to God, not gov­ern­ment, to use those gifts pro­duc­tively for His glory and pur­poses. For a hu­man be­ing, even one as pow­er­ful as the pres­i­dent of the United States, to seek to usurp the place and pre­rog­a­tives of the Cre­ator takes hubris to the high­est de­gree imag­in­able.

Yes, peo­ple do say the darnedest things. And those things can be quite il­lu­mi­nat­ing when we pay at­ten­tion.

Ilike to think of San­dra Fluke’s con­tretemps with the madly ad­mired Rush Lim­baugh as, well, a fluke. She ob­jected to his joke about her be­ing “a slut” and “a pros­ti­tute,” and, hesto presto, the part-time Ge­orge­town Univer­sity law stu­dent struck pay dirt. You ob­ject to my char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of her as “part-time”? How could she be a full-time law stu­dent and still be ap­pear­ing be­fore Congress ex­pli­cat­ing the plight of co­eds with $3,000 con­tra­cep­tive bills or oth­ers suf­fer­ing the heartbreak of be­ing re­jected pub­licly at the phar­macy for in­sur­ance cov­er­age of a birth con­trol pill? Then there was all the other me­dia at­ten­tion that came from Rush’s lit­tle joke. Yes, I see it as a fluke, de­fined by the Dic­tionary of Amer­i­can Slang as “a for­tu­itous ac­ci­dent.” Was not Ms. Fluke fe­lic­i­tously named years ago, be­fore any­one ever thought of talk ra­dio?

Surely Ms. Fluke will now be­come an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for con­tra­cep­tion, fight­ing the good fight for free birth con­trol five decades af­ter the de­vel­op­ment of the pill. Could any­one have imag­ined the birth con­trol pill’s abil­ity to en­gen­der con­tro­versy 52 years af­ter it be­came a sta­ple of Amer­i­can life? Surely Ms. Fluke will branch out, de­fend­ing all kinds of gy­ne­co­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions that trou­ble some, say, Catholics, South­ern Bap­tists or sec­u­lar hu­man­ists who are skep­ti­cal of Oba­macare. Per­haps she will be­come a cham­pion of the manly con­dom. Of course, she will pro­nounce on abor­tion what­ever her re­li­gious con­vic­tions. She will be­come a lat­ter-day Glo­ria Steinem. But my guess is her sea­son of splen­dors will be short-lived. I mean, who is go­ing to get ex­er­cised over birth con­trol or other gy­ne­co­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions in the 21st cen­tury? Once the elec­tion is over and the Democrats have no need to cor­ral the women who fall for this clap­trap, Ms. Fluke will be back at law school im­mersed in the mys­ter­ies of con­tract law. Her mo­ment of fame re­ally was a fluke.

Yet it did open my eyes, and prob­a­bly Rush’s, too. Ev­ery few days for more than two decades, he has been hazard­ing a reck­less joke and see­ing how it plays. I have, too. Now, how­ever, an au­da­cious woman, Kirsten Pow­ers, has shown us the ran­cor and ab­sence of stan­dards that di­min­ish our public dis­course. She says she is a lib­eral, and I shall take her at her word, but she seems to me to be a very old-fash­ioned lib­eral, one who does not flinch at the ev­i­dence.

Writ­ing for the Daily Beast, Ms. Pow­ers has come up with a lot of foul-mouthed me­dia per­son­al­i­ties far fouler than Rush. I was not aware of their ex­is­tence, and I doubt Rush was. They lack wit and hu­mor, and they have no ideas, just ir­ri­ta­ble one-lin­ers. In fact, af­ter the des­per­ate pur­suit of an idea, they set­tle for scur­ril­ity. Thus, the phys­i­cally dis­fig­ured Bill Maher calls Sarah Palin a “dumb t—-” and a “c—-.” He jokes about Rick San­to­rum’s wife us­ing a sex de­vice, noth­ing about the im­mensely more hu­mor­ous spec­ta­cle of his use of such de­vices or even a dirty book. Ms. Pow­ers quotes some slug by the name of Ed Schultz as say­ing Sarah Palin set off a “bimbo alert” and call­ing Laura Ingraham, can you be­lieve it, a “right-wing slut”? Then there is Keith Ol­ber­mann wish­ing that right-wing colum­nist S.E. Cupp had been aborted by her par­ents and de­scrib­ing Michelle Malkin as a “mashed-up bag of meat with lip­stick.” How very lit­er­ary.

This is the qual­ity of mind that holds forth on lib­eral cable tele­vi­sion. No one there ob­jects to the gut­ter talk, which is hurled at con­ser­va­tive women. No spon­sors threaten to pull their ad­ver­tise­ments. That prob­a­bly should not sur­prise me. I have been ar­gu­ing for months that lib­er­al­ism is dead. Here is proof that it is brain dead.

Yet I can­not be­lieve that this elec­tion is go­ing to turn on the ques­tion of whether the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is go­ing to pay for birth con­trol pro­ce­dures that have been around for 52 years. The Democrats are aim­ing at the moron vote, and let them have it. The real ques­tion here is re­li­gious lib­erty and the mat­ter of choice. Should churches and in­di­vid­u­als have to pay for med­i­cal pro­ce­dures they do not ap­prove of? Democrats, in the party of the strait­jacket, say yes. Repub­li­cans, in the party of choice and of per­sonal free­dom, say no.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY HUNTER

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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