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NYT: Obama Lacks an Economic Narrative The Mom and the One

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The Day America Stopped Poncing Around

by Christopher Chantrill
September 06, 2008 at 2:23 pm


AFTER A week of watching the Democrats ponce around in the Denver Temple of O, Republicans couldn’t believe it when John McCain—who’s done his share of poncing around over the years—delivered up Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) as his running mate. As Nina May wrote:

Women were crying, men were high-fiving, everyone was hugging and celebrating because now... they had a ticket they could get behind[.]

Talk about “the one we’ve been waiting for!”

Look, Gov. Sarah Palin, (R-AK) is a politician, just like every other politician. She’s made her way by being good with words, good with people, and good at sticking in the knife at the opportune moment.

But you cannot accuse her of “poncing around.”

For you folks still a bit confused, here is the definition from the Urban Dictionary.

Poncing: Often used in the British phrases ’poncing about’ or ’poncing around’, indicating that a person is acting childishly, dangerously or not being serious about the activity at hand.

Nobody could say that Sarah Palin was poncing around when she resigned from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in order to go public with accusations of corruption. Nobody could say she was poncing around when she ran for governor against the Don Corleone of Alaska politics, Frank Murkowski, and won. Everybody knows what happens when you do stuff like that. You risk an immediate trip to the political graveyard, or maybe something worse.

That is what makes Sarah Palin nothing less than political kryptonite for the Democratic ticket. The life of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is a narrative of non-stop poncing around. His life begins with the embarrassing question: What was his mother, 18-year-old Ann Dunham, doing poncing around with a foreign student just off the boat? (We know the answer, of course. Liberal white girls back in the Sixties were guilt-tripped into demonstrating to the world how non-racist they were.)

Then we have the poncing around South Chicago as a “community organizer,” the poncing around for twenty years at Reverend Wright’s black racist church, the poncing around with a “search for identity” autobiography at the age of 33. We have the poncing around for years as chairman of Bill Ayers’ Chicago Annenberg Challenge, the poncing around in the Illinois State Senate with the lives of infants born alive.

But let’s be fair. Obama’s not the only one. There’s Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) who’s been poncing around in the US Senate for 35 years playing “Do you know who I am” when he wasn’t otherwise engaged taking the train home to Delaware and tag-teaming with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for a couple of rounds of Borking.

And what do you call Sen. John McCain’s sponsorship of campaign finance “reform” and amnesty for illegal immigration?

The great social themes of the modern era, according to Charles Taylor in Sources of the Self, are equality, dignity, and creativity. Our liberal friends have had much of the running with these ideas with their vast schemes of government-sponsored equality, their top-down mandates to advance the dignity of diversity, and their radical cult of autonomous creativity.

But the conservative subculture has had rather a different notion on all this. In the conservative view these themes arise in organic fashion out of the affirmation of ordinary life—of work as a calling, of marriage and family as a covenant and a safety net, of creativity as a giving back to society.

Equality for conservative means that there is no table of ranks, that everyone can rise with talent and hard work. Dignity means that the production worker is just as worthy as the CEO, and the stay-at-home mother just as much as the career woman. Creativity celebrates the inventive spirit of democratic capitalism.

Our liberal friends define themselves in opposition to this organic conservative view, and they rank themselves on how completely their lives challenge the traditional affirmation of ordinary life. To them equality is achieved by affirmative action and Supreme Court ukases. Dignity is achieved by top-down diversity seminars and speech codes. Creativity is demonstrated not by Joseph Campbell’s hero returning sadder and wiser from the Hero’s Journey ready to serve his community, but by the anti-hero who stands against society in an act of creative defiance.

Measured against the manufactured identity of Barack Obama, the lifelong struggle against ordinary life of Hillary Clinton, and the blowhard triviality of Joe Biden you can see why Sarah Palin has electrified the conservative base.

In the conservative faith all good things arise out of the affirmation of ordinary life. You work hard, you support your family, you pitch in to help, and good things happen.

There is no poncing around, in other words. No time for it, either.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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