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Hasidic Diamond Merchants, Hillary & The Price of Gas

Hasidic Diamond Merchants, Hillary & The Price of Gas

Associate Editor

Monday, November 17th, 2008

With Rahm Emanuel in the news, let’s catch up with some of the other Clintonistas.

There’s been much discussion over the oddity of Bush advisor Karl Rove suddenly being a member of the media (Fox News), to the extent that an analyst is. (Some analysts are, indeed, journalists, but too many are “homers,” as predictably devoted to their home team as Phil Rizzuto was in the Yankee both).

Actually, Rove’s switch and partisanship is exactly akin to old Clinton hands Paul Begala (CNN), James Carville (CNN), and to a lesser extent George Stephanopolous (ABC), crossing from dark side to another. Of course, there was consternation in some quarters when Nixon hands William Safire and Pat Buchanan turned into newspapermen, and all of the above have been valuable and insightful, in their way. (As was Rizzuto).

But what’s with Paul Begala and chasidic diamond merchants?

It’s not quite as bad as John McCain repeatedly saying “my friends,” but James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal noticed a strange repetition by Begala:

“George Bush is about as much a rancher as I am a chasidic diamond merchant.” — Paul Begala, CNN, Oct. 8, 2004.

And, “If McCain is a maverick reformer, then I’m a chasidic diamond merchant.” — Paul Begala, CNN, Sept. 5, 2008.

Now, really, what’s that about? Imagine the roasting if Sarah Palin or Pat Buchanan said, “then I’m a chasidic diamond merchant” even once, let alone repeatedly spilling out the idea that chasidic diamond merchants would be the ultimate in absurd analogies. Wouldn’t Palin or Buchanan, were they to have said what Begala said – at least twice — be psychoanalyzed by every Democrat in America? Surely, Begala meant no harm but it is odd, isn’t it?

2: The price of gasoline, you might recall, was edging past $4.75 not that long ago. While working the Democratic convention (Aug. 25), Carville complained to Anderson Cooper, “I haven’t heard anything about gas prices” from the convention speakers, and everyone — at least on the Upper West Side — knows that the Weimer-like inflation of gas prices was Bush’s fault. (Do I even have to add “allegedy”?)

Way back, when John Edwards was still lying to his wife and running for president, he said high gas prices were the result of “corporate greed.” It was a sentiment widely echoed at Upper West Side Shabbos tables.

This past Sunday, Nov. 16, I pulled into a service station in Hackensack, N.J. and filled up my car at $1.91 a gallon, almost a 40 percent decrease from earlier this year.

If Bush was damned and responsible for high gas prices in June, how can he not be praised and responsible for low prices in November? And are ExxonMobile and Sunoco executives really less greedy? Or maybe the price of gas, always, and always was, the commodity whose pricing is most reliant on international rather than domestic politics and economics.

It never was really Bush’s fault in the first place. Could a president as “incompetent” as Bush really have reduced gas prices 40 percent? If he was so clever to do so as an election-eve manipulation, why are gas prices still dropping? And does anyone think, for even a second, that ExxonMobile executives are any less greedy now than they were in June?

Maybe Carville, and a lot of other people, are either completely cynical or completely ignorant as to any president’s ability to set the price of gas. (Surely, Obama will not be blamed if gas prices triple by 2012). Bush’s failures as a president are not a license for serious analysts to blame him for everything and anything. There ought to be a forensic examination of the last eight years, but not a senseless free-for-all, more partisan than cerebral.

3: There are late notes to the principal and then there are late notes worthy of framing. Here’s one, dated Nov. 4, to Rabbi Binyamin Krauss of the Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy (SAR).

Dear Rabbi Krauss,

Please excuse Joseph and Isaac Block for being late to school today. They came to watch me vote.


Hillary Rodham Clinton

Joseph, a third-grader, said, “I saw her vote and got her autograph. I also saw Bill Clinton. She thought signing this letter was funny.”

According to Isaac, Hillary said “she recognized me from the last time she saw me.”

Isaac is in kindergarten. He believed her. But that’s what’s beautiful about Election Day in America. It’s a reason to believe.

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