In the FT, Gideon Rachman argues that yesterday’s conference walkout during Ahmadinejad’s speech will be bad for Ban Ki-Moon:
Rather than walking away from a conference that was obviously turning into a farce, Ban Ki-Moon – the UN secretary-general – has thrown his prestige behind the meeting This looks like a bad mistake. With the Obama administration in power, the US is clearly keen on the idea of re-engaging with the UN. Obama has made Susan Rice, one of his closest aides, ambassador to the UN – and given her a cabinet position. But the Geneva conference will play into the hands of all the UN-haters in America.
So how have the UN-haters reacted? By pretending the walkout didn’t happen. Take the National Review’s coverage. Steven Groves and Brett D. Schaefer, from the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, are sending back dispatches from Durban II, reflecting the importance of the event to the American right.
Yesterday, Groves and Schaefer reported that Ahmadinejad “rose to great applause from many of the government delegates and, shamefully, from some of the NGOs. Some protestors did rush the stage wearing clown wigs, but they were removed.” They then provide a brief account of the Iranian President’s speech and note that he “concluded his remarks to great applause among a portion of the delegates.”
That’s right. The bit in the middle – a classic piece of summit drama, with Europe’s delegates storming out – doesn’t even get a mention! Mark Steyn, meanwhile, argues that the conference marks the “mainstreaming” of Ahmadinejad, an act that exceeds Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler:
It is in the face of far more public and more explicit eliminationist threats. And, unlike Chamberlain’s generation, this crowd will not be able to plead that what was being planned was so unprecedented it was beyond their capacity to imagine: Every time Ahmadinejad denies the reality of the last Holocaust, he reminds the Merzes [the Swiss President] of the world that the apologists for those planning its sequel won’t have the excuse that they didn’t know it was coming.
Steyn, who sees his role as “explaining” Europe’s decline to the American public, delights in weaving a sick fantasy for his audience. European countries are overrun by immigrants. They are thus desperate to abase themselves to any Muslim leader, whatever the cost.
When the facts – a noisy European boycott, for example – don’t fit. He, like Groves and Schaefer, simply airbrushes them out. As the saying goes: if the facts don’t fit the story, change the facts.
Update: For those of your interested in a primer on Steyn’s world view, see Jules in the comments below, or this post from last year…
Update II: I should note that Groves and Schaefer have now acknowledged the EU walkout. I still can’t understand how they missed it from their contemporaneous post on Ahmadinejad’s speech, but there is a reference to it in their latest dispatch.
Update III: Welcome, visitors, from Mark Steyn’s website, where he has bestowed on me the honour of ‘reader of the day’. To pay back the favour, I’ve collected together some of the greatest hits from a man who dreams of Europe in flames, ‘darker forces’, and ‘white flight’. Read the whole thing.
You have to admire his chutzpah, but former Global Dashboard Hack of the Year, Grover Norquist has concluded (okay, okay – is pretending he believes) that the financial crash was caused by the US’s Democrats:
The economy began to collapse when the Democrats captured the House and Senate and we then knew that the lower tax rates on individuals, capital gains, and dividends would end after 2010.
We are in the early stages of the Reid/Obama/Pelosi recession and nothing they are even talking about doing will help.
George Bush? Never heard of him.
In the National Review, Grover G. Norquist (slogan: “Getting the Government’s Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives”) wonders why Warren Buffet opposes the abolition of America’s inheritance tax (or ‘death tax’ as Norquist prefers):
At first blush, you might expect “the Oracle of Omaha” to be a big proponent of death-tax repeal. The CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is the third-richest person in the world (according to Forbes magazine) and is worth about $52 billion. Yet Buffett is one of the biggest proponents of the death tax.
It’s an interesting question. So what’s the answer? According to Norquist, it’s because Buffet is a ‘leach’, driven by pure cynicism and self-interest:
Buffett has major investments in companies that sell life insurance. The death tax has helped make him rich while it has made other families poor. What’s sad and ironic is that it takes families with the resources of the Buffetts (and the Hiltons and the Kardashians) to set up the trusts and life-insurance schemes that are necessary to avoid paying the death tax.
And yet, nowhere in the article does he even mention that Buffet is so opposed to kids inheriting money that is he giving away most of his:
Buffett does not believe that it is wise to bequeath great wealth… Having put his two sons and a daughter through college, the Omaha investor contents himself with giving them several thousand dollars each at Christmas. Beyond that, says daughter Susan, 33, ”If I write my dad a check for $20, he cashes it.”
Buffett is not cutting his children out of his fortune because they are wastrels or wantons or refuse to go into the family business — the traditional reasons rich parents withhold money. Says he: ”My kids are going , to carve out their own place in this world, and they know I’m for them whatever they want to do.” But he believes that setting up his heirs with ”a lifetime supply of food stamps just because they came out of the right womb” can be ”harmful” for them and is ”an antisocial act.”
To him the perfect amount to leave children is ”enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.” For a college graduate, Buffett reckons ”a few hundred thousand dollars” sounds about right.
Buffet plans to donate $44bn to charity over the next few years – with most of it going to help the Gates Foundation fight poverty around the world. It’s the biggest philanthropic gift the world has ever seen.
You’d think Norquist might have wanted to mention this as he lays into Buffett. After all, he has a reputation for rectitude and honesty to protect… Oh wait, it’s that Grover Norquist, the one who stuck his trout into the trough provided by disgraced (and jailed) lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The one a Senate committee exposed as a money-launderer. I suppose he can distort Buffet’s motives as much as he likes then…