Re­ally, re­ally out­raged by the bonuses

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Are you out­raged by th­ese AIG bonuses? No, no. For Pete’s sake, you’re an A-list con­gres­sional bigshot. Try to get a bit of feel­ing into “out­raged.” The pres­i­dent’s teleprompter puts it in ital­ics, bold, cap­i­tal­ized and un­der­lined — OUT­RAGED!

That’s bet­ter. Don’t for­get to fur­row your brow and fume. No, not like a camp waiter when you send back the arugula salad driz­zled in an aubergine coulis. We’re looking for pri­mal, righ­teous anger: You’re out­raged, OUT­RAGED that bonuses are be­ing handed out at com­pa­nies the Amer­i­can tax­payer is bail­ing out.

Yes, to be sure, the bonuses were specif­i­cally pro­vided for in the leg­is­la­tion, but, like all busy se­na­tors and con­gress­men, you don’t have time to read ev­ery footling tril­lion-dol­lar bill be­fore you vote in fa­vor of it.

And yes, true, the spe­cific pas­sage ad­dress­ing th­ese par­tic­u­lar bonuses was, in fact, added to the bill in your name, but that was noth­ing to do with you. You just did that be­cause the White House asked you to. And just be­cause their peo­ple called your peo­ple and some in­tern in your of­fice drafted some boil­er­plate with your name on it is no rea­son for you to be de­nied 10 min­utes of grand­stand­ing on MSNBC. It’s an out­rage to sug­gest you’re any­thing other than out­ra­geously out­raged!

To his credit, the Hopey- changer-in-Chief has had some dif­fi­culty do­ing the out­rage kabuki with a straight face. In the mid­dle of his press con­fer­ence the other day, he got a tickle in his throat and de­parted from his telepromptered script to joke: “Ex­cuse me, I‘m choked up with anger here.” How the as­sem­bled hacks laughed! Why, it was al­most as funny as his gag on “The Tonight Show.” Re­fer­ring to his 129 score at the White House bowl­ing al­ley, the pres­i­dent cracked that “it was like the Spe­cial Olympics.”

Ha-ha! What a card Barack Obama is when he un­plugs the prompter and kicks loose a lit­tle. Maybe next time he can toss in that the Dow Jones has “Down” syn­drome — ged­dit? Oh, come on! Don’t be so up­tight and po­lit­i­cally cor­rect! Be­sides, any­one who says the pres­i­dent shouldn’t tell such jokes is a racist.

Frank James of the Chicago Tri­bune crit­i­cized the pres­i­dent’s bon mot more in sor­row than in anger: “Obama seems to be a fairly sen­si­tive and com­pas­sion­ate man who wouldn’t pur­posely set out to of­fend the dis­abled.”

Are you sure about that? He might be “a fairly sen­si­tive and com­pas­sion­ate man.” Al­ter­na­tively, he could be a mean, self­ab­sorbed sonofa­gun who re­gards any­one other than him­self as in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled. The truth is we don’t know, be­cause in the course of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign the press de­clined to do even the most ele­men­tary due dili­gence on him. And, like Congress with the stim­u­lus, the elec­torate didn’t bother to find out what’s in there be­fore they voted for it.

Still, on the ba­sis of its first 60 days, this is a very odd pres­i­dency. In be­tween ap­pear­ances on Jay Leno and his “March Mad­ness” picks, Barack Oprompta also found time to com­pare AIG ex­ec­u­tives to sui­cide bombers:

Even though it makes you an­gry be­cause you’re think­ing I was re­spon­si­ble, and th­ese folks are ir­re­spon­si­ble, and some­how I’m pay­ing for them, it was the right thing to do to step in. The same is true with AIG. It was the right thing to do to step in. Here is the prob­lem. It’s al­most like they’ve got, they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trig­ger. You don’t want them to blow up, but you’ve got to kind of talk them, ease that fin­ger off the trig­ger.

Right. It’s like you’re at the Jay Leno post-show party and sud­denly you no­tice this AIG vi­cepres­i­dent has wan­dered in, with six fig­ures of bonus strapped to his waist and he’s yelling “Al­lahu Ak­bar!,” which is Ara­bic for “I’d like to de­posit this in my Cay­man Is­lands ac­count.”

Maybe Mr. Obama’s teleprompter had a wild night on the tiles, and in­serted his ter- ror­ism speech into the mid­dle of his bonus out­rage. But, if not, we now know why the White House an­nounced it will no longer use the term “en­emy com­bat­ants” for the Gitmo crowd. They’re re­serv­ing that des­ig­na­tion for AIG ex­ecs, most of whom will shortly be ex­traor­di­nary-ren­di­tioned to Saudi Ara­bia where a touch of the old elec­tric cat­tle-prods should soon have their bowl­ing scores head­ing south.

Any sen­tient be­ing dumb enough to fall for this AIG huf­fin’ an’ a-puf­fin’ from Barry, Bar­ney, Doddy and the gang is a fool who de­serves the va­por­iza­tion of his as­sets that the na­tional po­lit­i­cal class is lin­ing up for him.

As Charles Krauthammer pointed out, the $165 mil­lion in bonuses is less than 1/18,500 of the $3.1 tril­lion bud­get. The mas­sive ex­pan­sion of gov­ern­ment the pres­i­dent plans is for­ever, and will en­sure you that you end your days in what Peggy Noo­nan calls “post-pros­per­ity Amer­ica.” More im­me­di­ately, what mes­sage do you send to the world when le­gal con­tracts can be ab­ro­gated by ret­ro­spec­tive con­fis­ca­tory bills of at­tain­der? You think that’s go­ing to get any­one in­vest­ing in Amer­ica again?

The in­vestor class in­vests in ju­ris­dic­tions where the rules are clear and sta­ble. Right now, Wash­ing­ton is telling the planet: In our Amer­ica, there are no rules. Got a legally bind­ing con- tract? We’ll tear it up. Refuse to sur­ren­der the dough? We’ll pass a law tar­geted at you — yes, you, Mr. Beau Nuss of 27 Plu­to­crat Gar­dens, Fat­catville. If you want a ba­nana repub­lic on steroids, this is great news.

So cheer on thug­gish grand­stand­ing by in­com­pe­tent leg­is­la­tors-for-life like Bar­ney Frank, if you wish. But, in any bat­tle be­tween the po­lit­i­cal class and the busi­ness class, you’re only fool­ing your­self if you think it’s in your in­ter­est for the lat­ter to lose.

The first two months of the Age of the Hop­ey­change have been an eye-opener. I ex­pected it to be ide­o­log­i­cally dis­taste­ful to me, but I didn’t ex­pect it to be so in­ept. Not be­cause I had any ex­pec­ta­tions of Pres­i­dent Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive skills. But I as­sumed he would have folks around him who could take care of de­tails like gov­ern­ing, while he pranced around as the smi­ley-face hop­ey­change front­man.

But the bench is still empty save for a hand­ful of medi­oc­ri­ties. And the dis­con­nect be­tween the smoothly scripted mush and what is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing makes the telepromptered cool look even more ridicu­lous.

Mark Steyn is the au­thor of the New York Times best-seller “Amer­ica Alone” and is an in­ter­na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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