In the 12 months we have to steel ourselves for the next State of the Union spectacle, let us count the ways that this spawn of democratic Caesarism -- presidency worship -- has become grotesque. It would be the most embarrassing ceremony in the nation's civic liturgy, were the nation still capable of being embarrassed by its puerile faith in presidential magic.
So it turns out Chris Christie is fat. If, somehow, that fact had escaped you before, surely it came slamming home recently after he appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman." There was the 50-year-old governor of New Jersey jokingly snacking on a doughnut as the talk-show host -- who has taken a jab or two at Christie's weight -- gently asked him about his girth. The bit was in keeping with how Christie usually deals with weight-related humor. He seems to feel the best defense is a good fat joke.
PASS CHRISTIAN -- Four different groups have ventured to our new holiday home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. One found it. I've carefully typed out the same detailed instructions for all travelers, giving the benefit of my considerable experience finding the shortest route. All four carloads ignored my directions and relied on some kind of global positioning gadget in their computers, telephones or cars.
Before Ronald Reagan traveled the 16 blocks to the White House after his first inaugural address, the White House curator had, at the new president's instruction, hung in the Cabinet room a portrait of Calvin Coolidge. The Great Communicator knew that "Silent Cal" could use words powerfully -- 15 of them made him a national figure -- because he was economical in their use, as in all things.
"Obama says he's going to make middle-class jobs," the breakfast room troubadour bellowed at the Holiday Inn Express to those who wanted to listen -- and to those who didn't. "Did he make your job?" he went on, cornering a female employee. "Private companies make jobs." The commentary was not entirely wrong.
The following is a crashing generalization, but here goes: When it comes to how we dress, there are serious gender inequities -- in standards of comfort and in body exposure. Valentine's Day underscores a third that rankles just as much: inequality of effort. Go to any romantic restaurant on Valentine's Day, and observe. The girls are dressed for festivity, and the boys are dressed for walking the dog.
With his chronically gravelly voice and relentlessly liberal agenda, Sherrod Brown seems to have stepped out of "Les Miserables," hoarse from singing revolutionary anthems at the barricades. Today, Ohio's senior senator has a project worthy of Victor Hugo -- and of conservatives' support. He wants to break up the biggest banks.
We may never know exactly what happened in Benghazi, Libya, the night Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, but it's becoming increasingly clear that our response was short of optimal.
PASS CHRISTIAN -- The week I became 60, I was on the Gulf Coast, the weather was balmy and life definitely seemed worth living.
This year, for the State of the Union address, Democrats and Republicans (those who can find "dates," anyway) will be sitting together. It is supposed to be a signal to the nation of bipartisanship -- at least the kind that allows people from opposite parties, as we used to do decades ago, to put their differences aside at the end of the day.
While all the figures aren't in and almost certainly never will be, the Center for Responsive Politics has estimated that roughly $6 billion was spent on the 2012 election, including $2 billion on the presidential contest and something on the order of $4 billion on congressional and state races. This gives us, I suppose, the best government money can buy -- which is certainly not the best we could have.
I'm looking forward to the year 2040, because that is when we won't be debating anymore whether birth control belongs in a basic health plan.
Rush Limbaugh thinks John Lewis should have been armed.
Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term last week. I mention that only because there's a good chance you missed it. That news, after all, was overshadowed by an apparently more important story out of Washington.
Happy days are not here again, but they are coming for conservatives. Barack Obama -- with the lowest approval rating (according to Gallup, 50 percent, four points lower than that of the National Rifle Association) of any reelected president when inaugurated since World War II -- has a contradictory agenda certain to stimulate a conservative revival.
It must be true what they say about women -- that they are smarter, stronger, wiser and wilier than your average Joe. How else could one explain the magical thinking that apparently has prompted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to abandon all reason and lift the ban on women in direct combat?
You are missing the point. Or at least, you are if you're one of the bazillion people following the Manti Te'o story, dutifully trying to determine whether the Notre Dame football star was the victim or the perpetrator of a bizarre hoax. Granted, the story is irresistible as one of those 15-minutes-of-fame-kitten-stuck-in-the-well fables without which people who gather around the water cooler wouldn't have anything to talk about.
It was in 1981 that the United States Supreme Court, in a decision I still have trouble explaining to my students when I teach it, held that it was constitutional for the Selective Service, acting under the authority of Congress and the president, to require all men -- but not women -- between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for a potential draft.
The Obama administration initially billed France about $18 million to cover U.S. military support for its mission in Mali, while Canada offered similar services at no cost. Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens expressed shock at this alleged nickel-and-diming, noting that $18 million is pocket change to a Washington spending over $10 billion a day.
My inner Pollyanna was basking in blissfulness, rolling in the hay of righteous rhetoric, backstroking through the sunny sibilance of aspiration. Drunk, apparently, on alliteration.
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