“Almost from the beginning,” writes Bret Stephens, “there was something amiss in the case of People v. Dominique Strauss-Kahn. This was the very specific way in which the managing director of the International Monetary Fund was alleged to have forced himself upon a maid in his pricey Times Square Sofitel suite. More than a few people must have pondered the one-word question — really? — that might have cut short the prosecution’s case before it got rolling.” This guy’s point is: What if somebody had just said, “Really?” The maid comes out and says this guy from the IMF did this, and nobody said, “Really?”
He says, “[W]ho would have dared ask this in print or on air? And who really wanted to, anyway? Let me confess: I was pretty much delighted by the way L’Affaire DSK seemed to be playing out. When the news broke last Thursday that the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn was falling apart — that his accuser was a serial liar, a prostitute according to the New York Post, with a $100,000 bank account and ambitions (caught on tape) to turn her supposed tragedy into a get-rich-quick scheme — my immediate reaction was: how disappointing.” Aw, gee! This is the guy writing the story. “Not that I ever took any joy in the thought that a presumably vulnerable woman had apparently been raped by a man with a reputation for promiscuous and predatory appetites.
“But I did enjoy the thought of this mandarin of the tax-exemptocracy being pulled from the comfort of his first-class Air France seat and dispatched to Riker’s Island without regard to status or dignity.” Now, I have to step in here. I understand a lot of people… This is the old class envy thing: A lot of people took great satisfaction in that; and a lot of people started heralding, “My, what a great country,” and of course while this was going on, the French were over there scratching their heads, saying, “What in the world? How does this happen? How did some maid accuse somebody of something and the authorities, without any other evidence, head to the airport and yank the guy off the airplane in chains?”
The French wanted to know how that happened. Here in America there were a lot of people going, “Yeah, baby! Right on, right on, right on!” What puzzled me about it is that this is a Ruling Class guy. This is the kind of guy that gets away with this. This is a Ted Kennedy kind of guy, and I know that they would never have pulled Ted Kennedy off the airplane this way had somebody made an accusation. So then I started thinking, “What is it they hate about this guy?” I’m talking about the Ruling Class. What do his own class members hate about this guy? Because Ruling Class does not teach each other this way. They do not treat themselves this way. In the Ruling Class, if some lower class maid (particularly of color) comes along and makes an allegation like this, guess what? The maid becomes the target.
Now, I know we got a rich white guy — I know we got a rich French white guy — but this guy ran the IMF, and that is a privileged Ruling Class establishment. It’s like it’s the same as the World Bank or some other highly placed organization like Fannie Mae or whatever. This is a very prestigious organization. So I’m thinking if they pull this guy off, the Ruling Class must have a problem with him. Somebody must have it in for him. Somebody must want to embarrass him, or — or — somebody wants his job. Somebody wants him out of there, and this is convenient. Honest to God, folks, it was my first thought on this, ’cause this is not how the Ruling Class treats themselves, and this guy is a member of the Ruling Class.
Now, Mr. Stephens here says he enjoyed the thought of this Ruling Class member “of the tax-exemptocracy being pulled from the comfort of his first-class Air France seat and dispatched to Riker’s Island without regard to status or dignity. And,” he says, “I admired the humble immigrant who would risk so much for the sake of justice. And I smiled at the spectacle of France’s Socialists finding their would-be savior exposed by American prosecutors when they had been hypocritically observing a code of silence about his habits. And I liked seeing the IMF red-faced for whitewashing DSK’s previous escapades.” He says, “I doubt I was alone in feeling this: People generally, and columnists especially, want news that has the qualities of a parable — the surprise that turns out to be no surprise at all.
“With a story like DSK’s, the temptation of a tidy moral tends to overwhelm whatever doubts might be cast upon it by a countervailing point of data. … Blame it on old-fashioned discomfort, so out-of-step in our culture of sexual hyper-frankness, when it comes to discussing the nature and details of an alleged rape. Or blame it on political correctness that rarely accords alleged rapists the usual presumption of innocence and had, in a working single-mother African immigrant, a near-perfect caricature of the perfect victim.” You see where this is headed? He’s got a point. But still, what stunned me, they pulled the guy off the airplane. The Ruling Class did it to one of their own. (interruption) Don’t… You disagree with me on this? (interruption) Well, no, I don’t think the Roman Polanski thing had anything to do with it.
BREAK TRANSCRIPTRUSH: All right, now, if I may, and I think it might even relate a little bit now, ’cause everybody had this Casey Anthony woman guilty simply on the basis of the horrible nature of the crime and that she was the mother and left in a bag and so somebody had to do it, but they never produced any evidence. The Duke lacrosse case, though not really comparable to this one at all, still the Duke lacrosse case you had all the elements for the ruling class to believe, without evidence, that these white lacrosse players were totally guilty. Here in the Dominique Strauss case, Strauss-Kahn, it’s the Duke lacrosse case but it’s a member of the ruling class, a highly ranked member of the ruling class, a beloved socialist at the head of the IMF, and they yank this guy off the airplane simply on the basis of an allegation made by a maid. It turns out the maid was totally lying. This story in the Wall Street Journal asks, “Why did nobody question the maid?” Why did nobody say, when she made her allegations, “Really?” Why was there, in unison, full belief the allegations made by the maid? And this is the piece in the Wall Street Journal by Bret Stephens. He says, “People generally, and columnists especially, want news that has the qualities of a parable — the surprise that turns out to be no surprise at all. With a story like DSK’s, the temptation of a tidy moral tends to overwhelm whatever doubts might be cast upon it by a countervailing point of data. “Blame it on old-fashioned discomfort, so out-of-step in our culture of sexual hyper-frankness, when it comes to discussing the nature and details of an alleged rape. Or blame it on political correctness that rarely accords alleged rapists the usual presumption of innocence and had, in a working single-mother African immigrant, a near-perfect caricature of the perfect victim. Or blame it on the idea that, since Mr. Strauss-Kahn is well-known as a philandering rogue, he must perforce also be a brute. Or blame it on the political calculations of a Manhattan district attorney with a less-than-sure touch who might well have been reluctant, when it came to the question of whether to rush DSK’s case to a grand jury, to be seen siding with the powerful against the powerless.”Still, the fact that I and so many others wanted this story to be true was only half the problem. There are, also, the habits of mind that seem to have prevented prosecutors and journalists alike from quickly following the threads of what ought to have been a common-sense suspicion. … Blame it on all of the above. In the case of People v. Dominque Strauss-Kahn, each of us — inveterate Francophobes, knee-jerk victimologists and so on — had a reason to idle our brain. So this is as good an opportunity as any to ask where else we might be committing similar blunders. The climate change obsession, with its Manichean concept of polluting corporations versus noble eco-warriors? The Wall Street obsession, with its belief the boardroom boys were criminally guilty of the financial crisis?” We know now that it wasn’t the boardroom boys other than the boardroom boys at Fannie Mae, the boardroom boys in the Clinton administration and the Obama administration. In that case, we know it now, but even to this day Wall Street board members are blamed for this. And this is what Mr. Stephens’ column is about, despite the facts, despite what is now known, there are still people who believe what is not true about the housing crisis, the subprime mortgage crisis and what it led to. Despite all of the evidence that manmade global warming is a hoax, there are still a majority of journalists and academics who believe that it is true. There is the ChiCom obsession. That view is that the ChiComs are destined to overtake the United States in global economic and political clout. It is destined to happen, probably has, they believe. There is the Israel obsession, with its notion that if only Jewish settlements were removed from the West Bank peace would break out throughout the Middle East.Mr. Stephens here is saying that these things become templates, they become narratives, which we’ve pointed out. I guess I’m really fascinated by the story because it validates that which I have been saying for years on this program about how the media operates. I think that we also need to include the Obama obsession. There is an obsession about Obama, first black president, historic in nature, messianic, smartest guy we’ve ever had, has all the solutions, has all the answers, they just aren’t working yet.
“In each of these cases, the media (broadly speaking) has too often been guilty of looking only for the evidence that fits a pre-existing story line. It doesn’t help that in journalism you can usually find the story you’re looking for, whether it’s record-breaking heat in some corner of the world, or malicious Israeli settlers making life miserable for their Palestinian neighbors, or evidence of financial chicanery in Manhattan, or of economic prowess in Shanghai.
“But anecdotes are not data — which happens to be the world’s most easily neglected truism. Also true is that sloppy moral categories like the powerful and the powerless, or the selfish and the altruistic, are often misleading and susceptible to manipulation. And the journalists who most deserve to earn their keep are those who understand that the line of any story is likely to be crooked. Which brings me back to DSK. Whatever his future brings — let’s hope it’s not the presidency of France — it’s hard to escape the conclusion that he’s a sleaze. But not every sleazy character is a criminal, a fine distinction of the sort that might keep us from going astray on stories that, unlike this one, really do matter.”
I’m sure you’re saying, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this?” Because this is what we all believe. I’ve had this as a theory for years. It’s reflected, folks. Now in the Wall Street Journal it’s actually being discussed in the media. Progress. That’s why. Victor Davis Hanson has a piece here that I would almost call a companion piece. And it’s fascinating. Listen to this pull quote before we go to the break: “We live in an age in which advocates do not believe in their own advocacy.” A “planet is doomed” Algore refuses to cut back on his use of greenhouse gases. Algore who believes the planet is doomed, refuses to fly economy, refuses to move to a smaller house, refuses to reduce his carbon footprint. “A statist John Kerry won’t pay taxes on his yacht unless he is caught; an anti-war Barack Obama won’t honor the War Powers Act he once deified; and the liberal congressional and media establishment will not put their children in the D.C. schools that are the reification of their own ideology.”
And, boy, is this a great point. Everything they believe in they refuse to live. You don’t see them cutting back on their carbon footprint. You don’t see them doing what they are requiring all the rest of us to do. You don’t see them leading. You don’t see all of these liberal activists showing us what must be done. You don’t see a bunch of elected officials running out, getting in line to buy a Chevy Volt, for example. You don’t see ’em using mass transit. You don’t see ’em on buses, outside of New York, subways, you don’t see ’em. You don’t see all these global eco-warriors giving up their private jets and flying coach, as Mr. Hanson points out. They do not live their own advocacy. Victor Davis Hanson calls them liberal frankensteins.
“From Greece to California, the liberal dream is dead. Fourth of July, what remains is the Founders’ vision of a limited government; the idea of a population united by common values, themes, and ideas; a republican form of checks-and-balances government to prevent demagoguery, factions, and tyranny of the majority; the sanctity and autonomy of the nation-state; and individual freedom and liberty as protected through the Bill of Rights. Everything after and against that has proved a failure. Indeed, what makes this Fourth different from recent celebrations is the ongoing repudiation of almost everything antithetical to the Founders’ views — the redistributive, all-powerful welfare state, the therapeutic arrogance that believes human nature can be altered by an omnipotent well-meaning government, the postmodern notion that nationhood and borders are passe and the utopian idea that war can be declared obsolete and the need for defense transcended. From Greece to California such dreams are dead.
“The European Union is unwinding for two very simple reasons. First, it is not a constitutional state, but a loose conglomeration of nations run by elites who are not responsible to the people. … Second, Mediterranean countries were allowed to cook their books in such a way that northwestern European money would continue to be loaned to the siesta cultures that had not produced goods and services to justify the influx of foreign capital. … In short, EU elites have done what the half-century-long threat of Red Army tanks and missiles never could: destabilize Europe to the point of anarchy.” Socialism has done what communist weapons and tanks never could.