Tuesday, May 30, 2017


National Review's Kevin D. Williamson doesn't think it's fair that we're giving Tiger Woods a hard time for being caught under the influence of four prescription drugs, including Vicodin, while at the wheel of his Mercedes. (Woods apparently drank no alcohol before the incident.) In Williamson's view, it's hard out here for a rich athlete -- especially one past his prime:
Having a life that is focused on the One Big Thing is fine when you are at the apex of your career, when the money just keeps coming in and the magical bubble of fame protects you from all manner of consequence.

But when the One Big Thing is gone, there is a double loss — the thing that defined your life is now in the past, and, at the very moment when your income and public profile both are likely to be heading south, you face the real crisis: You have done something extraordinary, but it is finished, and now you do not know what to do. The lucky ones have great marriages and happy families, faith, community, and friendship to take the place of being in the movies or playing basketball. The ones who don’t have that will try to fill up the great empty hole in the middle of their lives with other things: alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity, recklessness in personal and public affairs, including financial ones....

We love a celebrity comeuppance. This is in part an ugly species of envy....
Cut the guy a break! He's not a god anymore and it hurts!

I shouldn't mock Williamson. I think there's a bit of truth to what he says. But I see that when he's writing about people who aren't rich, his message is: Suck it up and come to terms with the breaks life has dealt you, and don't expect much sympathy from society:

Here's Williamson last fall, writing about people who don't have the money or talent of Tiger Woods:
Whoever wins the election on Tuesday, conservatives will be in our customary unhappy position: explaining to people who are unhappy with the state of their lives that there is not really very much that we can do for them, because they are adult human beings with particular responsibilities of their own rather than livestock or pets to be cared for out of self-interest or sentimentality....

A great deal of what happens in your life is going to be determined by factors beyond your immediate control. You have certain natural gifts and talents, and those are not going to change very much no matter what you do. You can develop them, but there are real limits on that development. It isn’t true that anyone can become a concert pianist or a chess grandmaster or a Fortune 500 CEO if only he wants it enough and is willing to put in the work. You do have to want it, and you do have to put in the work, but those are necessary, not sufficient, conditions. If you were going to dance with the Bolshoi or play in the NFL, you’d probably know it by now.

Beyond your own endowments, a great deal of your happiness and advancement in life is going to be influenced in one way or another by the family in which you are raised....

None of that is fair. But most of the unfairness — the vast majority of it — is working in your favor. Modern human beings have existed for about 200,000 years, and you, as a 21st-century American, are a member of a blessed minority....

Poverty of the sort that existed in the United States less than a century ago has been all but extinguished....

I myself recently was criticized as personifying an “unfeeling” conservatism; if by “unfeeling” we mean “unsentimental,” then I do hope so.... This is the way things are. It is not the case that you are on your own — we have families, and communities, and social-welfare programs that ensure you aren’t — but that you are your own, an autonomous individual with responsibility for, and to, himself.
If you're poor and downtrodden, you need a kick in the ass to remind you that you're ultimately responsible for your own well-being. Yes, you'd have a better life if you had extraordinary talent or a strong, supportive family, but if it's obvious that you don't, it's high time you grew up and learned to live with that fact.

But if you used to have extraordinary talent, Williamson is ready to shed tears for you. It's okay if you screw up. You were an ubermensch, and if, sadly, you're not one of "the lucky ones" who "have great marriages and happy families, faith, community, and friendship to take the place of" success, then Williamson's tears will be copious, and he'll set out to shame anyone who criticizes you. Because, yes, Americans need to learn personal responsibility ... just not elite Americans.


There's a lot of this going around. Hot Air's Jazz Shaw, responding to Williamson's piece on Woods, tells us that what Woods did is no big deal:
In the end, what did Tiger Woods really do? Even in the worst case scenario where the original [drunk-driving] suspicions were true, he would have been one more guy who exercised bad judgement and got behind the wheel after drinking too much. Not admirable and potentially a danger to others in his community, but even that would have been a tiny story which impacts almost nobody in the larger scheme of things.
Right, because driving under the influence kills only 28 people a day in America. Nothing to see here. Move along.

And we also have today's David Brooks column about Jared Kushner:
Jared Kushner deserves a bit of sympathy. All his life he’s been serving his father or father-in-law. All his career he’s been thrust into roles he’s not ready for. His background has ill prepared him for national government. Now he is in a realm where his instincts seem to lead him astray and where there’s a chance he will end up in disgrace and possibly under indictment.
I can't top Yastreblyansky's hilarious takedown of this column, so I'll confine myself to Brooks's first paragraph: Kushner deserves sympathy? For being "thrust into roles he’s not ready for"? Who held a gun to his head and forced him to join his father-in-law's administration? Eric and Donald Jr. didn't. Tiffany didn't. Melania doesn't even live in the White House.

Jared Kushner owes Trump nothing. He wasn't "thrust into" this situation -- he freely chose it. I'd have no sympathy for him even if he weren't a stone-hearted skinflint landlord and, in all likelihood, a guy who sought to sell out his country for money -- the latter not because his "instincts seemed to lead him astray" but because he as an adult with free will apparently chose to engage in illegal behavior. But I forgot -- we're not supposed to hold rich people accountable for their actions.

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