Ben Stein is too easy to kick around anymore. His views on politics, science, and general public policy have inflated so much above the troposphere that he really cannot speak about life on the ground at all. The movie mockumentary “Expelled!” provided the early signs of pundit dementia.
At the same time, he’s a friend of dogs. One of his tributes to his old dog literally brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me much of the old saying that heaven has no room for those who don’t like dogs. That also raised the horrible vision of spending eternity in a heaven with dog-lovers who also happen to be political idiots.
Stein won’t kick dogs, but he’ll kick scientists, and poor people, and anyone in the middle class. Maybe heavens don’t take people solely on the basis of their affection for dogs.
At the remains of the American Spectator — a once-great, nearly revolutionary and smart journal of conservatism slipped on the slime to twitchy, bumper-sticker politics — Stein’s every-issue column turned to his vacation in an exclusive and expensive home in Sandpoint, Idaho, his distaste for undeveloped land and and outright fear of wilderness, friends, and the birth of his granddaughter, nicknamed Coco:
I feel so worried about Coco, She is only a tiny infant with eyes barely open. What do I want Coco to know? To do her best. To love her parents. To forgive. To be a lot more prudent about money than I am. To be grateful for this, our America, the best place in the universe. To turn her will and her life over to God and turn to Him for help in every situation.
But I wish my parents and Alex’s parents were here to help. And I wish my sister lived closer so she could help. And that Mr Nixon were still alive to give the leaders of this nation some clue about how to lead a nation. I am excited about Coco, but I am scared.
Right emotions, wrong thoughts. We need Lyndon Johnson, with a concern for eliminating poverty among the aged (something he did!), not Richard Nixon. With the possible exception of his trip to China, nothing Nixon did couldn’t have been done better by Johnson with another four years, or Humphrey, had we had the sense.
But that’s Stein. He’s human on the family front, full of emotion, loving dogs, getting a cold treat for his ill wife, worrying about the future his granddaughter faces, especially from his privileged palace in Sandpoint, a nice nearly-wild area unfortunately become home of right-wing militias, Aryan-loving neo-Nazis and Keystone Kops-style militias — then switching to his brain-driven mode from emotion-driven, and doing everything he can to make sure anyone who lacks a few million dollars in the bank courtesy of the Old Man will be unable to rise above the fears. Stein luckily led a charmed life, dependent on the kindness of family, friends and strangers, and he cannot understand why others don’t do the same. Stein’s solutions stand magnificently out of reason: Out of work? Take a tax cut. Need money to go to college? Your father needs a tax cut, if he’s rich. Health care tough to find because you can’t pay for it? Tax cuts for the owner of the company you wish to work for. And stop your
arguing for more practical or workable solutions whining.
Stein stands in such sharp contrast to the Nepali prince Siddhartha, whose views of real life led him to forsake his princely heritage and seek spiritual enlightenment. One hopes for a Stein-like character with the conscience of Siddhartha, but the practicality of Ross Perot who once noted that what America really needs is a political leader who will fill some potholes, and then, instead of holding a press conference about it, fill some more potholes.
Ben Stein’s road of life has been stripped of most potholes. It’s so smooth, he can’t understand why everyone doesn’t drive that way, going to fancy school’s on Dad’s big money, hobnobbing with Republicans at the country club and occasionally taking the opportunities they toss your way. Wouldn’t such a life be divine?