Scoundrels

Maybe it’s a reflection of my mood, but most of the actors in today’s news stories strike me as scoundrels, to one degree or another. Starting at the top, we have Iran’s mullahs. They are upset about the movie Argo, and are planning a rejoinder:


The Iranian government is planning to finance a film that it says will correct the historical inaccuracies of the movie “Argo,” The New York Times reported. …

The Oscar-nominated film reveals the story of the CIA-backed mission to rescue six American diplomats who had sought refuge from enraged Iranian mobs in the home of the Canadian ambassador, following Iran’s Islamic revolution.

Following its release, the movie was condemned by Iranian officials as anti-Iranian, with others accusing Affleck of promoting “Islamophobia.”

So, how exactly will the Iranian film correct the record?

According to Fox News, “This Iranian tale is expected to portray cowardly U.S. diplomats who are treated well by their captors and eventually safely returned by their Iranian hosts.”

I’m sure it will be a hit. Scoundrel number two is Piers Morgan, who is trying to parlay mass murder into higher ratings and respect on the Left. Morgan has been pontificating about guns, a subject of which he knows approximately nothing, like so many in the media. Twitchy documents the Twitter dialogue in which Dana Loesch corrected Morgan’s misuse of the term “assault rifle,” exposed his ignorance of the caliber of the Adam Lanza’s Bushmaster, and provoked this howler from Morgan:

How many errors can you pack into a mere 140 characters? I do want to add one more error to Morgan’s catalog. Another tweeter asked, “Do you even know what the AR in AR-15 means??” Morgan retweeted with the answer, “Armalite Rifle.”

Actually, “AR” stands for Armalite. Thus, my Armalite is an AR-24, and it’s a pistol.

Do you need to be knowledgeable about firearms to have opinions on gun control? Not necessarily. But if you want to argue for banning certain guns, you have to be able, at a minimum, to describe correctly the guns you are trying to ban.

Finally we come to the “No Labels” movement. Or committee. Or whatever it is. It probably isn’t fair to call the “No Labels” people scoundrels, but they, too, leave me with a sour feeling on a Sunday afternoon. Why are they in the news, given that they have no discernible importance? They have decided they aren’t centrists after all. Of course, we could have told them that:

Despite a splashy New York launch, No Labels lacked a clear agenda and grassroots support and was largely dismissed as irrelevant. But with new leadership and a sharper focus, the group, which is redeploying with another New York conference on Monday, has shed some of its early idealism in favor of a more pragmatic acceptance of the partisanship that has divided the country and embroiled Washington in recent years.

“We started off thinking there was a broad group in the middle, but quickly realized that wasn’t productive. People have very different notions of what the middle is,” said Mark McKinnon, a longtime adviser to former President George W. Bush and a No Labels founder. “So we grew beyond that, and now have strong conservative and strong liberal partisans who want to participate.”

In other words, McKinnon says, our venture was hopelessly misguided from the start. And if the group now encompasses people who are candidly described as “strong conservatives” and “strong liberals,” the No Labels label would seem to be obsolete. (A digression: an analogy is MoveOn, so named while the Clinton impeachment was in progress, which became a permanent left-wing pressure group that has never moved on from anything since.) So, what’s it all about?


That perspective is shared by the group’s new co-chairs — West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and former Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who gave their first joint interview to Yahoo News since taking their new roles.

“It’s not about centrism, it’s about a new attitude toward the realities we face. It’s about finding Democrats and Republicans who will check their egos at the door,” said Huntsman, whose decidedly centrist run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination flamed out early in the primary process.

HaHaHaHaHa! If Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign had to do with anything other than ego, what was it? And it is hard to imagine a lonelier caucus in Washington than one composed of the non-egotistical. But this is all awfully vague. What does No Labels propose to do?

Huntsman and Manchin told Yahoo News they envision a more aggressive agenda for No Labels, like improving the group’s small donor fundraising, using digital tools to broaden its grassroots operations and recruiting more lawmakers to team up with with the organization and embrace its goals.

Let’s be clear: so far, No Labels has no small donor fundraising and no grassroots operations whatsoever. To date, it has been a movement (or organization, or whatever) that exists only in the minds of its founders and newspaper reporters.

To that end, No Labels has helped launch a congressional “Problem Solvers’ Group” — 12 Republican lawmakers, 13 Democrats — who have begun holding meetings and working on some reform measures. Several members of the group are attending the New York conference.

Sounds like the Gang of 14.

Manchin, who served as his state’s governor for five years before winning a Senate seat in 2010, said the group may also begin a broader effort to endorse and contributed to candidates after getting involved in just a few races in 2012. He also said he expected to see elected officials to seek and proudly display the No Labels moniker.

“If you carry the No Labels brand, that says something – it means you’re bragging about problem solving, not just bragging about yourself,” Manchin said. “I think you’ll see people climbing aboard and wanting to become part of this.”

I sincerely doubt it. Politics is an arena of conflict, like war and litigation. If people didn’t disagree, passionately and even violently, and if important interests were not at stake, then it wouldn’t be a political issue. By definition, topics on which consensus reigns, or on which compromise is easy, are not political issues. There are always a few people who just don’t get this, and who fall for the idea that all we need to do, as Ross Perot used to say, is “get under the hood and fix it.” Thankfully, there aren’t very many.

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