Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Last month, the Oxford English Dictionary named “selfie” the word of the year. If you are blissfully unaware, a “selfie” is a photo taken of yourself by yourself, holding a smartphone at arm’s length pointed towards your face. It is then typically shared on a social media site such as Facebook, perhaps with a brief comment or caption, as a means of letting your friends and followers know that you are, say, attending some fabulous event (which they aren’t), are looking particularly fine, and are perhaps surrounded by a fun-loving group of attractive people (ideally of the opposite sex).
If you think this trend is symptomatic of the malignant narcissism infecting our culture, you’re not alone. One brave American recently started a blog called “Selfies at Funerals,” documenting people who use this uniquely postmodern expression to put themselves inappropriately at the center of an important event that is not about them, or otherwise act inappropriately at a somber occasion.
Like most social media trends, selfies—let alone selfies at funerals—are predominantly taken by teenagers, teenagers-at-heart, and those who have a particularly exaggerated sense of self-regard. Regular readers of The Scrapbook should not be surprised to learn that the president of the United States falls within the latter category, most recently evidenced by the fact that Obama was caught posing for a selfie with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark and her U.K. opposite number, Prime Minister David Cameron, at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. In fact, Obama generally appeared to be smiling and laughing a lot in the presence of Thorning-Schmidt, who happens to be very attractive. The New York Post called the photos of Obama and Thorning-Schmidt “flirty,” a judgment that casual observers might be inclined to agree with. Adding to the human drama is that in many of the photos, Michelle Obama appears to be giving her husband a serious case of stinkeye.
It may be too much to assume that the president was flirting with Thorning-Schmidt—pictures can be deceiving—but the photos do seem to convey a first lady none too happy that her husband is not exhibiting the sense of decorum one would expect of a head of state at a funeral. And if that’s the case, The Scrapbook is pleased just this once to affirm its solidarity with Michelle Obama.
The Danish prime minister has since announced that she will not be releasing the selfie she took. Perhaps it dawned on her that it was not a good idea for three important world leaders to draw attention to themselves while everyone else reflected on the death of a head of state whose accomplishments will dwarf theirs.
There’s also another unflattering sub-text to the unfortunate tableau vivant at Mandela’s funeral. As it happens, Thorning-Schmidt is the daughter-in-law of Neil Kinnock. As you might recall, Kinnock was the British Labour party leader whose tale of a hardscrabble childhood in Welsh coal-mining country was plagiarized by Barack Obama’s vice president in 1987 during the first of Joe Biden’s embarrassing presidential campaigns. If we lived in a world where shame and honor meant anything, that would have put the kibosh on Biden’s career. Instead, the Mandela selfie seems to neatly encapsulate how our political elites grow more shameless with each passing year.
Following the Mandela service, the “Selfies at Funerals” blog was shuttered with a post headlined “Obama has taken a funeral selfie, so our work here is done.”
Alas, our Sisyphean, if self--assigned, task of chronicling the other missteps of the narcissist-in-chief will no doubt keep this page occupied for a few more years.
Dec 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 14 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Seduced and then disappointed by a hipster who turned out just to be another solipsistic boomer, now chastened yet still hopeful for change (if no longer swept away by the promise of Hope and Change), young Americans are ready to ditch Barack Obama. Things had been getting rocky for a while, but seeing the dawning of the Age of Obamacare in its full glory seems to have been the final indignity.
The Iranian bomb is all that matters.Dec 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 13 • By LEE SMITH
Last week’s interim agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear weapons program offers the regime sanctions relief even as U.S. lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, are demanding more and stricter sanctions. The White House counters that more sanctions will only narrow diplomatic channels, drive the Iranians away from the negotiating table, and lead to war. Critics of the deal argue that by providing sanctions relief Obama is simply feeding an Iranian beast hungry for more concessions.
A mind is a terrible thing to change. Dec 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 13 • By FRED BARNES
"There are some things I really believe in,” President Obama said last week. He was putting it mildly. Actually there are some things he really, really, really believes in—whether they work or not. Either way, he’s sticking with them. And Obama is one stubborn dude.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:45 PM, Nov 27, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with executive editor Fred Barnes on the President, Obamacare, and his (shocking!) favorite Thanksgiving side dish.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:05 PM, Nov 18, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with executive editor Fred Barnes on the foibles of the Obama administration and whether the president can dig his administration out of its second-term hole.
Nov 25, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 11 • By LEE SMITH
On November 20, negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program recommence in Geneva. The last round two weeks ago ended with egg on the Obama administration’s face after Secretary of State John Kerry failed to clear “bracketed text” with his own side in the talks. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius is rightly credited with saving the day and stopping the White House from making a deal that would have given the Iranians virtually everything they wanted for nothing but empty promises.
Nov 25, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 11 • By FRED BARNES
When in trouble, presidents have ways to escape the hubbub, deflect attention from what’s causing the problem, and wait for the whole thing to pass. In 1974, as Watergate was engulfing his presidency, President Nixon traveled to Egypt. A million people lined the roads to see him. Nixon aides quipped that “a million Egyptians can’t be wrong.” But they were wrong, and Nixon resigned a few weeks later.
Bring the ‘clerkship’ back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By JAY COST
At the start of last month’s government shutdown, a mostly overlooked message emanated from the Twitter account of Michelle Obama, informing her followers: “Due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, updates to this account will be limited.” The conventions of American governance typically exclude the first lady from the rough-and-tumble of politics, yet it does raise an important question: Why is America paying a staffer good money to publish Tweets under Michelle Obama’s name?
Advance Editorial From Our Forthcoming 10/21-10/28 IssueOct 21, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 07 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
“We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around.”
The conduct of the National Park Service over the last week might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration. This is an expansive claim, of course. Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the NSA, the HHS mandate—this is an administration that has not lacked for appalling abuses of power. And we still have three years to go.
Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL AND MICHAEL MAKOVSKY
In the midst of media coverage of the government shutdown (it’s the Republicans’ fault!) and the glitch-filled rollout of Obamacare (it’s not Obama’s fault!), Americans may not have noticed the October 1 speech by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United Nations General Assembly. But Netanyahu’s declaration that Israel was prepared to act alone to prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons may well prove of more lasting significance than the developments in Washington that overshadowed it.
Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
All politics is local, the late Tip O’Neill is alleged to have said. The Scrapbook isn’t quite sure if that’s true. But it has certainly been true during the “shutdown” of the federal government, in which President Obama has used metropolitan Washington, D.C., as a stage on which to dramatize his talking points.
How the House speaker rallied his restive troops.Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By FRED BARNES
After the reelection of President Obama, House speaker John Boehner was disappointed, dispirited, and wary of a new round of clashes with the president. House Republicans had planned a fresh effort to repeal Obamacare, but, he told NBC News, “the election changes that.” He negotiated with Obama to raise taxes and spending by $1 trillion each before backing off. And with the Bush tax cuts about to expire and plunge the nation over a “fiscal cliff,” Boehner endorsed a deal to limit higher tax rates to those making more than $400,000.