Way back in 1968, in the age of real-life Mad Men, an advertising team led by David N. Martin and George Woltz of Martin and Woltz Inc coined the now-famous tourism slogan "Virginia is for Lovers." Originally, the pair had pitched a series of ideas - "Virginia is for Mountain Lovers" or "Virginia is for History Lovers" - that were meant to lure potential tourists to the Commonwealth. Eventually, however, Martin and Woltz had their "Don Draper" moments and realized that instead of catering to the specifics of all the various sub-groups of travelers, why not just go after all travelers?
If Virginia was the great state to visit they knew it to be, if everyone would find something they liked about the place, why not sell the whole kit-and-caboodle as one shiny package?
Representative Paul Davis Ryan of Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District is for lovers.
Rep. Ryan made a two-day stop in my newly adopted hometown of Los Angeles this week and I had the chance to see the most energizing, substantive conservative politician since The Gipper up-close and in action. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: and the answer is "no." I'm not praising the man like this only because there are rumors (that I started) of a possible appearance on my podcast (The RJ Moeller Show at AEI's ValuesAndCapitalism.com). To be fair, I'm also shamelessly motivated by the speech-writing job I desperately hope to be given when this guy's president some day.
Tuesday evening Rep. Ryan delivered a rousing address to the 1,000+ crowd that gathered at The Ronald Reagan Memorial Library in which he proclaimed, "We face not just a failed president, but a failed ideology."
"We face a pessimistic mood in the nation's capital. A belief that our best days are over and the only thing left to do is to manage the nation's decline. But, we have the same opportunity today to reject this defeatist attitude and to embrace a positive reform agenda possible to kick start a new era of prosperity, an American renewal, a comeback."
"Americans have always rejected those with nothing to offer but cynicism and the politics of division. And right now, that's all they are getting from the president...He has become what he said he'd never be: just another Washington politician."
You can watch the entire speech and Q&A right here:
This is unbelievably articulate, important, pithy stuff here, folks. I'm not telling you that you have to watch the whole hour, but if you'd like to be telling the truth some day when you tell your kids, "I always knew Paul Ryan would be president!", then you probably should.
But on to the important stuff: namely, my encounter with the Congressman this afternoon. In front of an intimate crowd, not far from the site of George Clooney's $15 million "Come donate and feel important" dinner for President Obama a few weeks ago, Paul Ryan laid out the stakes for the upcoming election and reminded those in attendance of the key turning points in every nation's life.
Citing the great British statesman Winston Churchill's address to the people of Great Britain after taking over as Prime Minister, Paul Ryan made it clear that he has one over-riding mission as a public figure: to tell the truth.
To tell the truth about our crushing debt. To tell the truth about our out-of-control spending. To tell the truth about an utterly unsustainable entitlement system.
To tell the truth about our nation's rich history and tradition of things like self-determination, personal responsibility, civic duty, private charity, and entrepreneurial activity.
Winston Churchill was one of the only leaders in Europe who was willing to soberly face the reality that, without a radical change of course as a government and nation - and without the intervention of their "New World" allies in Washington D.C. - the people of England would be defeated. The land of the Magna Carta would fall to Hitler's war machine. Not because the Germans were superior, but because no one had done anything about the Germans until it was almost too late.
Politicians in Europe in the 1930's had either covered up or denied what was going on in The Fatherland. Winston Churchill, in May of 1940, stood in front of the House of Commons and addressed the British people with the warning few others had the guts to even whisper to their wives.
Churchill didn't ask for this task. He wouldn't have wished it on his worst enemy. But because he - as G.K. Chesterton put it - loved what was behind him more than he hated what lay ahead, Winston Churchill "spoke truth to power."
Paul Ryan, not just in his speeches out here in Los Angeles, but in every public appearance he makes, sounds the warning bells of impending economic collapse with that same courage and conviction. But, and this point must be stressed, he doesn't delight in having to point out we're on a fast-track to Greece.
Rep. Ryan is an optimistic, affable man. He cracked jokes. He fielded the sillier questions from the audience with grace and care. He grinned from ear to ear when talking about the decency and charitable nature of the American people. The love he has for his family and his neighbors back in Wisconsin shone through.
And the substance! Oh, the substance!
This guy can talk at astounding length about anything under the sun that has to do with fiscal policy. He knows it inside and out. And not in a "my team of writers filled me in on some Paul Krugman talking points, peppering them with extra 'everyone deserves a fair shot' references" kind of way that President Obama talks about the economy in. It's real with Ryan because he knows the numbers. He's studied the math. His ideology (free market capitalism) is the result of careful study of economic realities and a humble willingness to acknowledge that there are natural laws written on the hearts of man that can't simply be tossed aside because Ivy League graduates pass new regulations.
Paul Ryan has the looks. He has the rhetorical skills. And he actually has something to say that couldn't have been said by President Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact.
He's attractive to religious/social conservatives and as a practicing Irish Catholic, is legitimately interested in making the moral case for traditional values. He's attractive to the fiscal conservatives who, despite always finding something wrong with any plan presented by any human, know that this man is serious about spending cuts. And I believe he's attractive to Independent (a.k.a. people who don't pay attention) voters for some of the very same superficial reasons they voted for Barack Obama. (This last point shouldn't rule our way forward, but it certainly helps!)
Most of you will know the name Paul Ryan already. Many of you probably have seen him on cable news or read an Op-Ed or two of his in The Wall Street Journal. All of you who care about the fate of this nation should be thankful there are watchmen on the walls of the city like Rep. Paul Ryan.
And be praying (and voting) for more.
I leave you with the conclusion of Churchill's address to Parliament (May 1940):
We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory; victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, "Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength."
Happy Labor Day, everyone! What better way to celebrate a day off from work then by discussing Ayn Rand and William F. Buckley, am I right?
Rand's two classic works, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), are engaging, insightful novels that remain must-reads for any proponent of de-centralized government and economy. Atlas remains the best-selling novel of all time, but I actually personally prefer The Fountainhead.
In recent years, and due in large part to the waning confidence most Americans have in their ever-increasing-with-power-and-control government, Rand's writings and philosophies have found their way into the consciousness of a whole new generation of Americans. Although an unapologetic atheist and fierce critic of religion, Rand still has many important things to teach all those willing to wade through her massive epochs.
The late, great William F. Buckley had this to say (on The Charlie Rose Show) on Ms. Rand a few years ago:
There's no reason for a religious conservative to run and hide from Ayn Rand; but there's also no theological or moral ground for a one to embrace her ideology. Taken to their logical conclusions, objectivism and compulsive individualism are no better than the secular collectivism of Marx, Mao and (unfortunately) many others.
Liberals - especially religious ones - enjoy lumping all "limited government" conservatives and libertarians in with the cold, calculating, selfish Rand, but this is not the case. For most Center-Right Americans, the definition for a statement such as "pursuit of one's own self-interest" does not exclude things like God, charity, compassion, etc. as Ms. Rand's does.
For more on this important subject, check out these two excellent resources:
- The late Whittaker Chambers' column (mentioned by Buckley in the video clip above) from National Review in 1957: "Big Sister Is Watching You"
- My friend Joseph Sunde's recent treatment of it on his website Remnant Culture.com.
Enjoy the day off, folks!
By: R.J. Moeller
Bill Maher: It’s Sarah Palin’s birthday today – do you have any special wishes for her?
[Sarcastic laughter and snickering from the audience and Real Time with Bill Maher panel]
Hooman Majd: I don’t think we can say it. Even on HBO.
Matthew Perry: Do you think she even understands that it’s her birthday?
[Raucous laughter from the audience, grins from the panel]
Bill Maher: I don’t. I think they said, ‘Sarah, it’s your birthday,’ and she thought her water broke.
[More approving laughter]
And thus began the “Ask the Panel” portion of the most recent episode of HBO’s political talk-show Real Time with Bill Maher. Straddling the same “It’s a comedy show when I want laughter and applause (or when I get in trouble for going too far), but I really want to subversively promote an ideological agenda the rest of the time” line that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert walk every night on Comedy Central, Real Time offers the hard-hitting analysis one can only find anywhere two or more liberals are gathered in President Obama’s name.
To say that the banter I printed above is childish and petty is a slight against all children and petty people everywhere.
But it’s a “comedy” show, dude. Why take it so seriously?
It is my belief that politically-involved public figures are who they really are when no one is voting – when elections are not imminent, politicians and pundits become increasingly loose-lipped.
I am a student of the culture, as we all should be, and I know (as we all do) that there is more than a hint of truth in any joke. More people under the age of 40 get their information about current events from fake news and political talk shows like Real Time and The Daily Show than anywhere else. The opinions offered on these mediums matter. It wasn’t my decision to make these shows and these comedians the gatekeepers of information in this country, but for (far too) many they are.
And I think it more than fair to say that after watching the clips I’ve included in this column, you will see that the smokescreen-like attempts by people on the Left to dismiss the importance of these shows simply because comedians host them is either misguided or purposely misleading. The Left want students and young adults to watch these shows and lap up the ideas and values streaming off their television and computer screens. They want parents to remain where (far too) many of them are: oblivious, out of the picture, and utterly disengaged from the ideological development of their child’s worldview.
Now, if a show like Maher’s Real Time or Stewart’s Daily Show simply had actors, actresses and entertainers on as their guests, they might be able to get away with the “We’re just joking around, bro” excuse. But the cavalcade of intellectuals, politicians, and influential members of the mainstream media that grace the sets of these shows reveals the deeper intent: they want to promote a specific, progressive, liberal-Democratic understanding of everything from foreign policy to the abortion debate.
Alright, enough with the (valid) generalizations. Let me show you what I mean when I say that not only are these types of shows actively pursuing the hearts and minds of as many Americans as they can, but that what you hear on such shows is typically how the guests and their host truly feel about the matter being discussed.
After bravely mocking Sarah Palin’s intellect, raising the level of civil discourse in this country by complaining that the Republican Party is merely the party of “insane people,” claiming that Abraham Lincoln would not be a Republican if he were alive today, and insisting that the French and Russian revolutions were each hijacked by “right-wingers,” Bill Maher opened a discussion with his panel of experts on the topic of Barack Obama’s personal and religious convictions:
So much to say about what you just saw, but let me quickly introduce the players involved in this little drama. First there is Bill Maher himself. Most of you are familiar with him, but for those who aren’t, all you need to know is that stand-up comedian Maher is an outspoken far-Left atheist who despises religion, Judeo-Christian morality, conservative politics, and not being able to use profanity and coarse sexual humor (which is why he had to leave network television for HBO).
Going from right to left on the panel you had MSNBC political correspondent Norah O’Donnell, Iranian-born author Hooman Majd, and Professor Cornel West of Princeton University. Oh, and next to Maher was, of course, actor Matthew Perry (aka Chandler, from Friends). O’Donnell works for MSNBC, so I’ll let you do the math on where she’s coming from politically. Mr. Majd writes books and articles for publications like The New York Times and Huffington Post, and loves playing the moral equivalency “they’re bad, but we’re not great either” game between the dictatorial regime in his native Iran and the republican democracy known as the United States of America.
Last, but certainly not least, is Professor Cornel West. A practicing Christian, and outspoken Socialist, West is an “expert” on racial issues in this country. He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. This group’s founder, and someone West holds in high regard, Catholic-turned-atheist Michael Harrington, once explained the organization’s political ideology like this:
“Put it this way. Marx was a democrat with a small d. The Democratic Socialists envision a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning...and racial equality. I share an immediate program with liberals in this country because the best liberalism leads toward socialism.... I want to be on the left wing of the possible.”
With the introductions out of the way, let’s tackle the actual words spoken – and valuable insights revealed – in the YouTube clip above.
Commenting on the president’s insistence that he is a “Centrist” politically, Maher said, “I think [Obama] is a Centrist the way he is a Christian…He’s pretending to be a Centrist.”
I applaud Mr. Maher for his candor in recognizing what any casual observer ought to clearly see in our president (and, to be fair, a large number of politicians): an unnatural comfort-level with presenting yourself as one thing, when you really you are nothing of the kind. To the issue of his politics, it is without a doubt true that the president often tries to cover up his true ideological leanings. We on the Right see right through this and are disappointed, both by the fact that he is a progressive liberal to begin with, and also by the fact that so many people buy the moderate rhetoric he has peppered throughout a decidedly far-Left political career.
As to his faith in God – no one can know another man’s heart, and it is not my place to speak to the nature of a personal relationship one has (or does not have) with their Maker. We generally take someone at their word about such matters.
But Bill Maher is insinuating what we all know to be true: actions speak louder than words. What about the president’s actions since taking office point to a real, energetic faith in God? We all knew George W. Bush was a Christian, in large part because the media never shut up about it. They mocked President Bush for being honest and direct about his prayer life and faith in Jesus Christ. With President Obama, in between the times it is convenient to reassure Americans that he is a Christian, the media goes out of its way to downplay the man’s faith.
The only way someone would know President Obama is a Christ-follower is if he or she has read either of his two memoirs. But those are the books that also tell us about the radical nature of the president’s political ideology and worldview, as well as his deep affection for (and connection to) people like Jeremiah Wright. If we’re supposed to look at the president’s own words about his own beliefs, we find an affinity for the Marxist rabble-rouser Saul Alinsky and his radicalizing manifesto Rules for Radicals (which Obama believed so much in that he took action and taught classes on the text to up-and-coming community organizers in Chicago for more than a decade).
Please hear me: I do not stand in judgment of President Obama’s heart. Only his actions. In this case, however, even Bill Maher can read through these lines.
The conversation continued:
Bill Maher: His mother was a secular-humanist, and I think he is too…It’s like when he (Obama) says ‘I struggle with the issue of gay marriage.’ You don’t struggle with it. You’re fine with it.
Professor West: He supports gay marriage, of course.
Maher: No, he says he struggles with it…that he doesn’t like it.
West: Yeah, but that’s the political answer…
[Panel concurs with knowing glances]
When a conservative or Republican, say, Rush Limbaugh, for example, attempts to analyze the president’s track-record and make pronouncements about his actual stance on the issues they are scoffed at and accused of having partisan blinders on. When one of the most respected liberal professors in the country comes to the same conclusion that Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity have about the president’s disingenuous position on the redefinition of marriage, it is affirmed as a fact that everyone ought to already know.
This, of course, says something less-than-favorable about President Obama’s character, but it also speaks to the minimal importance that modern liberalism puts on the subject of character and integrity in its leaders. Neither Right nor Left, Republicans nor Democrats, hold the moral high ground in the sense that one side or the other are literally “better” people. We’re all sinners. But the comfort-level that the Left has with morally-questionable (or out-right immoral) behavior on the part of their leaders is worth noting.
To the majority of Americans, traditional marriage is held up and recognized as a sacred institution – the building block of society. It is a massively important issue. In order to garner votes in 2008, the president and vice president claimed to be on the side of history, biology, 6,000 years of religious teaching, and the will of the American people when it came to keeping marriage one man-one woman. But again I ask: what actions have these men taken to solidify and strengthen the institution of marriage? Heck, what words have we heard from either of them in 2 years on the matter (other than their enthusiastic support for the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy)? With a heavy heart, I must admit that I think Professor West speaks the truth in this matter.
Admittedly, one episode of Bill Maher’s show is not a comprehensive or exhaustive representation of all Center-Left thought – but it is a fair one. It is fair because it is common. You can hear such things any night of the week on everything from The Daily Show to The Rachel Maddow Show to TBS re-runs of The Steve Harvey Show.
If you only get your news and information about politicians and the issues they represent from skimming newspaper headlines or Katie Couric’s nightly reports on CBS, you will assume that Maher and his panel are joking. With even a minimal effort to investigate the people you lend power to, and the issues that are impacting your jobs, schools, and families, you will learn that the joke has only been on you. (And that the Left has been laughing us all the way to Western Europe for 40 years.)
It is said that a nation gets the leaders it deserves. If West and Maher are correct in their appraisals of President Obama, what does that say about us?