[Music clip: Sentry's song from Iolanthe]
01 — Intro. Indeed. It's been a very political week, so I thought I'd start us off with a political song. This is of course Radio Derb, your infallible source for news and commentary, and these are the dulcet tones of your operatically genial host, John Derbyshire.
Well, it was certainly an interesting week. I spent Tuesday evening sitting around with a bunch of National Review staffers watching the returns. We were cheerful enough, but not really dancing in the aisles. Our disappointments were your disappointments: Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Delaware … The Illinois governor's race is still officially undecided, but that's disappointing in itself.
Sharron Angle was the biggest disappointment for me. She was in New York a few weeks ago and stopped off at Buckley Towers to give us some face time. Charming, sensible, personable lady with good conservative policies. Ah well.
And then Christine O'Donnell. I spent the early part of Tuesday evening hoping that Christine would rack up some decent numbers just so that I could say to the room: "It looks like Christine O'Donnell is holding her own …" but alas, the opportunity was not vouchsafed to me.
We did get Rand Paul in Kentucky: a thoughtful candidate who's right about most things, but unfortunately a squish on immigration. And sad to say we won't have Alvin Greene to kick around any more. We're going to miss you, Alvin … Alvin? … [Clips: "A-a-a-lvin!" … "DeMint caused the recession …"] Oh shut up.
Well, let's take a closer look at those election results.
02 — Major lessons of the election. If there was a lesson from these midterms it's a banal and familiar one, that we none the less keep forgetting. The lesson is, that nothing works like strong candidates. Conversely, nothing does you in like a weak candidate.
One Sunday evening in 1777 James Boswell had an argument with Dr. Johnson about whether there is any skill or merit in acting. Surely, said Boswell, we should respect a great actor, as a person who can conceive lofty sentiments and express them gracefully. Johnson: "What, Sir, a fellow who claps a hump on his back, and a lump on his leg, and cries 'I am Richard the Third'?"
I disagree with Dr. Johnson there. There is such a thing as great acting. Not anybody can do it, and most of us would be unwise to try. Similarly there are people who, however sound their views and however sincere their desire to serve, shouldn't go into politics. They just don't have the style, the gift, the knack, the je ne sais quoi. It's unfair, but there you are. It's unfair that Zhang Ziyi doesn't respond to my emails, but that's life.
If I were to clap a hump on my back and say "I am Richard the Third" people would just assume I was drunk. Same with politicking, which, let's face it, has a lot in common with acting. By custom and tradition Americans have come to prefer a certain manner, a certain style from our politicians. We want seriousness and good manners, a respectable résumé and a certain quality of ordinariness, of mediocrity even, of the ability to phrase whatever the guy wants to say in comfortable clichés with all the sharp spiky bits smoothed down — we don't want any surprises.
Some of this week's candidates violated those rules in obvious ways. Carl Paladino missed the seminar on manners. Christine O'Donnell's résumé wasn't substantial enough to get her a job at Dunkin' Donuts. Tom Tancredo still has a few spiky bits in need of attention from the power sander.
I did think Sharron Angle would be acceptable to the Nevada electorate, though, and her loss is really a big disappointment, and I must say something of a bafflement to me.
03 — Turnout. The first thing I always want to know about any election is, how many people turned out to vote? The election pundits always tell you "The American people decided this" or "The American people have shown they want that," but what I always want to know is, just how many of us they're talking about.
Well, you don't get really big turnouts in midterms — percentage-wise, high thirties to low forties. Nationwide turnout this time seems to have been 42 percent, which is the high end of the range for midterms. It cuts differently by state, though. Utah had a low turnout, 33 percent, while next door Nevada had a sensationally high one, 65 percent, nearly twice the Utah rate. It wasn't just the Reid-Angle factor in Nevada, either: Nevada got 59 percent turnout at the last midterms in 2006. Nevadans just like voting. Perhaps pulling down on a handle at the side of a machine just comes naturally to them.
It cuts differently by other social factors, too. Young voters and minority voters disproportionately stayed home on Tuesday; older voters disproportionately turned out, and so on.
Bottom line here is that the sort of political enthusiasm you get on websites like NRO isn't actually that widespread. Most people — at least four out of seven — don't bother to vote in midterms. Even in presidential elections, three out of seven of us stay home.
It's always salutary to remember that a great many Americans, perhaps a majority, go from one year's end to the next without ever thinking about politics. Most of them I'm sure live useful, healthy, and productive lives. They pay taxes, fight in wars, raise their families, and obey the laws. They just don't care about politics. Quite a lot of the time, I find myself wishing I were among them.
So let's go ahead and look at some results, but not without a nod to the four out of seven Americans who thought the whole thing was a waste of time. Hey, they're Americans, too. Which, given the level of corruption in the Democratic Party, is probably more than you can say for some of the people who did vote.
04 — Boehner takes the House. Well, we got the House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi's out, John Boehner's in. It could hardly help but be an improvement, but if you find John Boehner inspirational, all I can say is, you inspire easy.
As I said, Americans like a certain quality of dull mediocrity in their politicians, but Boehner takes it much too far. His performance on Tuesday night, that whole lip-trembling act, turned my stomach. When I see a politician blubbing, it brings out the Don Corleone in me. You know, that scene in The Godfather where Johnny Fontane breaks down and cries because he can't get a film part. [Clip: "You can act like a man …"]
And all that whining about how he'd had to do crappy jobs like bartending before he could get into heaven, which is to say Congress. You know the kinds of jobs he meant: the kind that us non-congresscritters have to do to make a living. Bartending? I was a bartender for a couple of years in Liverpool. It was pretty good work and I liked it. I don't know what gives these congressroaches the right to sneer at honest work. There's several million Americans right now who'd be glad of a job tending bar, or doing anything for an honest wage. I'd be happy to go back to bartending myself, if that's what I had to do to support my family.
Well, here's John Boehner, 20 years warming a seat in the House of Representatives, six years on the House Education Committee pushing through George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, possibly the stupidest piece of legislation since Prohibition. That's the law mandating that by 2014, every child should be above average — the law that's turned education administration into a book-cooking art form.
It's nice that leftist lunatics like Barney Frank no longer control the House, but with John Boehner in charge I'm guessing I'll need to have the phrase "Stupid Party" set up as a one-stroke keyboard macro.
05 — Coastal-stan and Inlandia. It's clearer than ever after Tuesday's results that the U.S.A. is two countries: Coastal-stan and Inlandia. At this point we could pretty much rename the two big political parties. Instead of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, why not the Coastal Party and the Heartland Party? It would make more sense.
New York and California both declined to ride the Republican wave. They didn't just decline, in fact; they reached back into the mythic past for Democratic governors. California elected Jerry Brown, who was governor thirty years ago and the son of a previous governor, and New York elected Andrew Cuomo, who has not been governor before in spite of having never strayed more than 100 yards from the state capitol in his entire adult life; and he is also the son of a previous governor. Both these new governors-sired-by-governors are left-wing Democrats. Both have states with humongous budget deficits.
I should just add that the New York State Senate might yet tip Republican — they're still counting. This won't help our state, though. The New York State Republican Party is terminally dysfunctional, as witness their selection of the Rick Lazio robot instead of listening to Radio Derb and going for Steve Levy. Lazio was so awful, GOP primary voters flocked to Carl Paladino from sheer revulsion, and the result followed. In the rest of the country you have RINOs. We New Yorkers have ROVLBs — Republicans of Very Little Brain.
There's some hopeful talk about Democrats being the best people to get in state-level office right now, as they can take an axe to public spending in a way Republicans dare not — the Nixon-to-China principle. I don't believe a word of it. Brown and Cuomo are both stooges of the public-sector unions. Neither of them is a Chris Christie. In fact if you put the two of them together in one suit, you wouldn't even have a Chris Christie.
These guys will just jack up taxes and inveigle the administration into shovelling more money into their decrepit, corrupt, worthless states. Then they'll issue some bogus bonds for the Treasury to buy, and pass sanctuary laws to bring in even more Democrat voters.
That last is, in fact, the heart of the matter. California and New York are both full of immigrants, legal and illegal. Because of our crazy rules on legal immigration, two-thirds of legal immigrants come in on family reunification visas, and this isn't restricted to spouses and dependent children, as it should be. You've got elderly parents and unskilled siblings, and the elderly step-parents of step-siblings, ad infinitum, all signing right on to the welfare rolls. Illegal immigrants are mainly uneducated and unskilled, not a great recipe for living without public benefits in the modern U.S.A.
The demand for public services in these states is therefore huge and growing. If the state taxpayers can't pick up the tab, the heartland will have to. Some way will be found. The alternative would be to curtail both legal and illegal immigration, and that is utterly unthinkable. Why, if we did that, we'd be no better than Nazis.
These coastal states are lost. If we ever get a conservative administration in Washington they should just be sold off to countries that would manage them better. Somalia, perhaps, or North Korea.
06 — The National Question. Having wandered into the National Question there, let's take a look at the election's effect on that topic. If you're interested in the National Question — matters of immigration, citizenship, assimilation, and so on — there were big pluses and big minuses in the election results.
First the pluses. Lou Barletta, former mayor of Hazleton, Pa., got elected to the House from Pennsylvania's 11th district. Barletta was the mayor who back in 2006 pushed through local ordinances against landlords renting to illegal immigrants or businesses hiring them. Hazelton had become a center for illegals and they were destroying the town's quality of life. Usual suspects — the ACLU, La Raza, the federal Justice Department, and the rest — have stalled these ordinances in the courts, but Barletta took a good stand for American citizens there. Congratulations, Lou.
Same to Jan Brewer, who scored an easy win in Arizona's gubernatorial, surely in part because of voters' anger at the federal government's arrogant determination to prevent Arizona acting against illegal immigration. The Arizona law in question, SB1070, was originally sponsored by State Senator Russell Pearce; Pearce was re-elected on Tuesday, and his party, the Republicans, increased their majority in the State Senate. For a trifecta here, Kris Kobach, the guy who drafted the Arizona law, was elected Secretary of State for Kansas. I've met Kris a couple of times and I can tell the good people of Kansas: you couldn't have a smarter guy, or a firmer patriot, as your Secretary of State. Whatever it is the Secretary of State for Kansas does — negotiate non-aggression treaties with Nebraska and Missouri, I suppose.
Perhaps most hopeful of all, Iowa Representative Steve King will chair the immigration subcommittee in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. Rep. King is strong on border security and enforcement of immigration laws [Shriek]. Can you imagine? — A chairman of the House Immigration subcommittee who favors enforcement of federal law. Amazing!
Of course Steve King will be up against John Boehner, who never saw a boat he wanted to rock and who will lend a friendly ear to the cheap-labor lobbies; but perhaps Steve can sneak stuff through when Boehner's off at the tanning salon.
Heading up the bad news on the National Question is Tom Tancredo's defeat at the hands of Denver mayor John Hickenlooper in the Colorado gubernatorial. I wasn't that surprised. Colorado's generally classified with the rest of the mountain West as don't-tread-on-me libertarian living wild on bear stew and wild honey, but in fact the Centennial State contains huge numbers of loopy liberals. They won't let you in to Boulder if you're not sporting a pony tail, wearing Birkenstocks, and preferably riding a mountain bike …
So this isn't too suprising, but still a shame. The more so as Tom was on a third party ticket, polling well ahead of the GOP candidate, a bland establishment type. Establishment Republicanism is never any more than a fair-weather friend to conservatives, so there's always a sneaky satisfaction in seeing them get a finger poked in their eye, and Tom at least did that.
The other big disappointment here was Sharron Angle's defeat, which should keep Joy Behar gloating for a month. National Question enthusiasts will take what we can get, though, and we've gotten more from this election than from any for a very long time.
07 — Tim Wise's head explodes. The real pleasure of watching and reading about these election results has been seeing liberals' heads explode.
My favorite in this line was Tim Wise on the Daily Kos website. For those of you who don't know, Tim Wise bills himself as an "anti-racist activist." He makes a living going around to colleges and companies telling them how to purge themselves of racism. Tim Wise himself is a white guy, but he's quite vituperatively anti-white. He takes his cue from the late Susan Sontag, the lady who opined that, quote, "the white race is the cancer of human history."
Well, here was Uncle Tim venting about the election results on Daily Kos. You really have to read the whole thing to get the full flavor, but here are some sample quotes. Bear in mind, please, that this is a guy who has made a career out of preaching against "hate." Bear in mind also that when a person like this is driven to insensate fury, a lot of four-letter words come out. There's nothing that says universal love, respect, and mutual understanding like a [Bleep] and a [Bleep]. I've avoided these taboo words as best I can, and bleeped when I couldn't.
OK. The heading of Tim's piece: "An Open Letter to the White Right, On the Occasion of Your Recent, Successful Temper Tantrum."
Quote: "For all y'all rich folks, enjoy that champagne, or whatever fancy [bleep] Scotch you drink. And for y'all a bit lower on the economic scale, enjoy your Pabst Blue Ribbon, or whatever [bleep] [bleep] beer you favor." See, Tim makes no distinctions of class. He hates all white people, rich and poor alike. The champagne-swilling WASP and the stump-tooth hillbilly, they're all the same to Tim. He's an equal opportunity white-hater.
Quote: "Party while you can, but mind the increasingly loud clock ticking away in the corners of your consciousness. The clock that reminds you how little time you and yours have left." I guess what Tim is telling us there is, in the words of a much greater thinker and writer, that We Are Doomed.
Quote: "I know, you think you've taken 'your country back' with this election — and of course you have always thought it was yours for the taking, cuz that's what we white folks are bred to believe, that it's ours, and how dare anyone else say otherwise — but you are wrong." So who does the country belong to, Tim? Quote: "In about forty years, half the country will be black or brown. And there is nothing you can do about it." What, nothing at all? It's just like the wind and the tides, just a force of nature?
Quote: "In forty years or so, maybe fewer, there won't be any more white people around who actually remember that Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Opie-Taylor-Down-at-the-Fishing Hole cornpone bull-[Bleep] that you hold so near and dear to your heart." Well, yeah, those fifties sitcoms were pretty good shows. It was wrong of us to like them? Come on. After all, we didn't have any Joy Behar or Keith Olbermann to watch, so what were we supposed to do?
Quote: "Do you hear it? The sound of your empire dying? Your nation, as you knew it, ending, permanently? Because I do, and the sound of its demise is beautiful."
Hoo boy. You know, listeners, I have occasionally used the word "ethnomasochism" in this kind of context, and had people email in to ask me what I mean by it. Go to Daily Kos and read Tim Wise's piece. Then try to tell me you don't know what "ethnomasochism" means.
08 — Rally for genteel liberal irony. The weekend before the election there was a strange sort of rally in our nation's capital, staged by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
What was it all about? Beats me. It was called "Rally to Restore Sanity." The main idea seems to be that if you disagree with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and the smug liberals who watch their shows, you are insane.
What else does it mean? If Jon and Steve need to restore sanity, when did they think sanity was lost? Two years ago when we elected Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress? Good grief, no! Sanity was lost when the Tea Party movement came up. Sanity was lost when Obama started sliding in the polls. Sanity was lost when Arizona voted to assist enforcing federal law. Sanity was lost when it looked as though Republicans would win big in this week's elections. To restore sanity, you have to vote for liberals — Democrats and RINOs — just as all sane people do, just as Jon and Stephen and all their smirking, tittering followers do.
If you're a Stewart-Colbert fan, sanity is what you read on the op-ed page of the New York Times or hear on NPR. Sanity is what you hear from Rachel Maddow and Katie Couric. Everything else is insanity.
Well, I'll confess I didn't watch the Rally to Restore Sanity in real time, I just viewed a few clips on YouTube after the event. It all looked pretty lame. Jon and Stephen were speaking their lines from memorized scripts, in a way that left me more than ever convinced that Dr. Johnson was wrong about actors. Neither of them was much used to moving around on stage. Both looked as if they were terrified they might break a nail or get their hair mussed.
So far as the Rally to Restore Sanity had any discernible theme, it was the elites mocking the great unwashed. Here are the moussed, designer-clad, wine-of-the-month club, bottled-water-and-Birkenstocks, oh-so-ironic lords of the realm sneering at us peasants. I don't think they want to hustle us into gas chambers as Tim Wise obviously does — after all, with no-one to sneer at, these guys would be out of a job. They just want their supporters to know how right they all are to detest us.
The ralliers' pretensions of moral superiority unfortunately suffered a mild setback when a photograph of the crowd went circulating round the internet. The photograph, taken looking down from some platform or tower, showed the faces of four hundred people, of whom just five were black — a tad more than one percent. The average Tea Party rally is blacker than that: yet the Tea Partiers are denounced as "racist," while the Stewart-Colbert rally was infused with the purest, most high-minded liberal universalism.
See, our liberal elites are not just smug liars, they are smug lying hypocrites. But you knew that.
09 — Miscellany. The briefest of brief miscellanies this week, boys and girls, as I am over my time allowance. Let's just glance at the non-election news.
Item: As noted by Radio Derb last week, the President is off to India this weekend, apparently taking most of the federal government with him. Good riddance, I say, though of course there's not much hope they'll stay there. Estimates of the expenses for the trip run up to $200 million a day, which would be more than the cost of the war in Afghanistan. The White House has pooh-poohed that number, saying that the president's trip will cost nothing like that, probably not even as much as the Korean War.
Item: The oldest person in the world has died: Eugenie Blanchard, a native of St. Barts in the Caribbean, 114 years old. Born in the second Grover Cleveland administration. That Caribbean climate will do wonders for you — that, and a very quiet life. Ms. Blanchard was a nun, never married, no kids. The new oldest: Eunice Sanborn of Louisiana, also born in 1896.
Item: Radio Derb would like to make it clear that we have no connection with Thomas Derbyshire, the financial adviser currently being sued in a Manhattan court by Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei. The Prince claims his advisers diddled him out of $7 million in the sale of his house here on Long Island. It's not clear to me why the Prince is bothering with this lawsuit. He is infinitely rich — his brother the Sultan of Brunei, who is even richer, once accused the Prince of embezzling fifteen billion dollars. Seven million is just dinner and a movie to this guy. The house in question has 23 bedrooms, and it needed them when Prince Jefri owned the place, as he is quite the ladies' man: 17 children by seven women, and a major customer of the kind of outfit that got Eliot Spitzer in so much trouble. What's got everyone's attention is the claim by the defending attorney that the house also contains six life-size bronze statues of the Prince engaged in congress with a lady. The Prince is trying to get photographs of the statues excluded from the court case. I note that Prince Jefri is a Muslim — a Muslim who could give Charlie Sheen a run for his money. CAIR should hire him as an image consultant.
Item: Today, Friday, is November 5th, when English people celebrate the foiling of Guy Fawkes's Gunpowder Plot. Back in a.d. 1605, Guy and his fellow conspirators stashed 36 barrels of gunpowder below the Houses of Parliament in order to blow up the King and his ministers. "The only honest man that ever got into Parliament," according to my Dad. It was an attempt at what we nowadays call terrorism. There is nothing new under the sun. Remember, remember, the Fifth of November: gunpowder, treason, and plot.
10 — Signoff. There we are, listeners: a tumultuous week in politics, and let us hope a turn for the better in our national affairs. I'm still upset about Sharron Angle and Tom Tancredo, though. What's the matter with those people out there in Colorado and Nevada? Such good candidates. It's very upsetting … [sob] … I don't know what I'm going to do … [Godfather: "Act like a man …"] Right, sorry. Thanks, Godfather. To see us out, here's the President addressing all those people who voted for hope'n'change two years ago.
[Music clip: You've lost that lovin' feeling …]