About Me

Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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  • Finita La Commedia

    By kyle | November 9, 2012

    I’m not normally given to hyperbole, but it’s all over for the Republican party as we know it and hence all over for the United States of America as we know it. The Reagan period now looks like a blip. Only once has a Republican presidential candidate won the popular vote in 24 years.

    We’ve lost when we were the incumbent party and the economy was perceived to be doing badly; we’ve lost when we were the challenger party when the economy was doing even worse.

    In future, our elections will be like those in Britain or New York. We will be presented with a choice between a statist liberal and an out-there uber-liberal. And with the uber-liberal enjoying the full backing of the media and Hollywood, it’ll by no means be an easy win for the ordinary Mike Bloomberg or David Cameron-style liberal, who will be portrayed as a heartless plutocrat if he happens to come from money, or as a hopeless rube if he happens to come from nowhere.

    Liberalism multiplies and reinforces its own mistakes. As liberalism’s failures pile up, they will inevitably inspire more liberalism as solutions. As Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal points out, blacks have not only suffered in absolute terms under Barack Obama, with unemployment rising and incomes declining, but they have suffered relative to whites, with the gap between white unemployment and black unemployment actually widening. Recognizing all this causes the black voter not to take an interest in the mighty wealth and job-creating abilities of the free market, but to wish even more fervently for more government programs to alleviate the pain. Today 95 percent of blacks, it appears, believe the federal government should provide them with a job if they are otherwise unable to secure one. (At least that’s how I read this NAACP press release, but it’s vague.) Calling for the federal government to serve as the employer of last resort strikes me as a pretty radical idea, but just as yesterday’s luxuries become today’s necessities, yesterday’s radicalism is today’s progressivism is tomorrow’s legislation.

    To take merely one measure of the catastrophe: The Supreme Court is now permanently liberal. Roe v. Wade will never be overturned, a right to have your gay marriage recognized in every state will be discovered in the due process clause, and so on, but these are relatively minor issues. The progressive project can never be satisfied, so the Supreme Court will start behaving like courts in places like New Jersey and New York, where completely routine questions of budgeting and hiring get yanked out of voters’ hands and resolved to the satisfaction of liberal judges. The federal courts will fill up with Harvard Law School-type professors who will pour gasoline on the fire of liberal legislation, but if legislation stalls the bench will simply grant liberal presidents the power to do whatever they want with no input from Congress. If somehow a conservative policy slips through, judges will reverse it. No dispute will ever be over until the left has won. Just as a for instance: After George Zimmerman walks, there will be riots and he will then be railroaded on federal civil rights charges. The school choice movement will be killed off as “draining resources from public education,” which really means it harms a core Democratic interest group, the teachers’ unions. The simple matter of requiring voters to supply I.D. will be forbidden, not because it doesn’t make sense, the voters don’t want it or because it’s unconstitutional, but because it harms Democratic party interests. The two parties will fall all over each other in their efforts to mollify illegal immigrants. The new health-care entitlement will become increasingly onerous and costly, with all discussion limited to how best to “save” it, until one day employers’ efforts to work around it cause a frustrated government to convert it to a full-on single-payer Socialist scheme.

    I didn’t expect this would ever happen to my country, and certainly not so fast, but we are now a decadent European social welfare state, sure to be accompanied by European levels of economic stagnation, taxation, welfare rolls, unemployment and perpetually misallocated resources such as subsidies to favored companies. Military irrelevance will soon follow as the staggering costs of the cradle-to-grave socialist state grow exponentially. Iran will soon have nuclear capability, to be followed in short order by its Middle Eastern neighbors, folllowed shortly by widespread proliferation of nuclear arms to terrorist groups.

    I do not think Americans fully educated by the media on the pros and cons would have voted to turn into declinist Britain (where even working class people pay 40 percent income tax and where thanks in part to hidden value-added taxes everything costs double what it does here, except gasoline which costs triple). But Americans have chosen to allow themselves to be fooled by irrelevant chatter about caring or birth control or the DREAM act or gay marriage or “investing in our children” or whatever shibboleths were necessary to cover up the fact that we’re taking in $2.5 trillion while spending $3.6 trillion, with millions of Baby Boomers set to retire and all forms of entitlement spending set to skyrocket. The president has said repeatedly that middle class taxes won’t have to go up to pay for all this government, but even at the level of government we have today, this is a gigantic lie. And today’s government is tiny compared to what it’ll be in a decade.

    There is no good news. Yesterday was a dark day in American history. As dark as I’ve ever seen.

    UPDATE: Do not despair, says Jonah Goldberg. I say no, go ahead. Though I do agree that we must “work in despair,” in accordance with the Burkean injunction. Meaning: anti-Obama books are going to continue to sell. Maybe I’ll do one myself.

    UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg is taking another look, and thinks despair isn’t such a bad option after all. He says, “I proceeded to write this column on the Europeanizing tide in America that Obama rode to victory. It’s upbeat in the same way Schindler’s List was a feel-good romp of a comedy.”

    Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Politics | 113 Comments »

    The Mud-Slinger vs. The Optimist

    By kyle | November 4, 2012

    In my final thought on Campaign 2012 (I hope), I contrast the character assassination of one side vs. the sober sunniness of the other. More in my Sunday column.
    Come on, Mitt. Win this thing.

    Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney | 5 Comments »

    It’s On Like Donkey Kong!

    By kyle | October 26, 2012

    Yankeefan (pictured above shortly after disposing of Qaddafi) wants to know if I’m willing to bet on this election. When last we wagered, it was over the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare: He predicted it would be upheld (6-3); I said it would be rejected (5-4). Basically it was a push. But I was happy to treat him to a luxurious bottle of Rioja and concede defeat like a gentleman.

    Now Yankeefan, who has professional ties to a company that says Romney is winning this election by five points, stares into the abyss once more, and laughs like Howard Roark. I am happy to seize the moment and celebrate his upcoming plunge into despair. I accept the honor of an honorable bet and wager that, indeed, the better man will be elected president of these United States on Nov. 6 or I’m buying the next evening of drinks. And yes: The better man in every way is Willard Mitt Romney. I foresee the American voters returning to their senses. And if not I am going to need some good long drinks anyway.

    Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney | 1 Comment »

    The Enthusiasm Gap

    By kyle | October 14, 2012

    In my Sunday column, I look at the enthusiasm levels of Democratic and Republican voters and conclude that Republicans have a real edge.

    Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney | 1 Comment »

    Winners and Losers

    By kyle | October 11, 2012

    I’ve grown tired of the “Obama blew it” meme about the debate. This idea comes from 2 places: 1) Ultra-liberal policies are so awesome that any self-respecting college grad should be able to defend them; and b) by not showing up, Obama sealed Romney’s victory. The facts are otherwise. Obama was lackluster and mediocre, I agree — but then, he pretty much always is. A better way to look at this debate is: Romney blew away Obama by being the superior candidate, making better arguments, having a superior philosophy. There wasn’t just a loser in this debate. There was a winner.
    If Obama thinks he’s going to turn the tables by being a colossal jerk in the next debate, well….I certainly hope that’s what he’s thinking, and I do believe he is.

    Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney | 11 Comments »

    Presidential Rebate Tonight!

    By kyle | October 3, 2012

    I stole that line from someone on Twitter, can’t remember who. I’ll be livetweeting the proceedings later on tonight, Inshallah.

    Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney | 5 Comments »

    Lefty Blasts Media Coverage of Romney

    By kyle | October 1, 2012

    John Cook of Gawker (a snarky, lefty, massively pro-Obama website) is due a bit of praise for this temperate and reasonable analysis of the coverage of Mitt Romney. I noted about one year into my journalism career (19 years ago) that you can make someone look really bad if you simply transcribe him precisely rather than smoothing over the rough edges. Cook astutely points out that one report:

    had the added bonus of featuring his stilted fake laugh—”ha, ha.” (That laugh, by the way, has been repeatedly transcribed in news reports for no reason other than to make Romney seem wooden. Imagine if Obama’s every “heh” or “uuuhh” made it into his quotes.) It also had nothing to do with anything. It’s only value was as a gratuitous little grace note making Romney seem weird for the perfectly routine political maneuver of dodging a question.

    About the airplane windows non-gaffe:

    There are two interpretations of that statement. One is that it was a little off-hand nonsensical joke unworthy of further comment. The other is that Romney is really weird and doesn’t understand fundamental truths about aviation. To anyone reading or listening with a reasonable sense of detachment, it was quite obviously the former. But to too many reporters and producers—including people, like the Atlantic’s James Fallows, who ought to know better—it became more fodder for the “Romney keeps screwing up” narrative. The Telegraph’s lede for its story on the matter says all you really need to know: “Mr. Romney, who has a track record of verbal gaffes….”

    I might add that even “conservative” London papers treat Romney about as fairly as the New York Times does. It goes beyond politics to a fear/hope that Americans, though our standard of living is amazingly and frustratingly high to our Socialist cousins across the sea, must be knuckle-dragging fundamentalist loons who somehow lucked into our circumstances rather than sensibly government-leery individualists who chose a limited state as the surest path to personal freedom and wealth creation.


    Likewise, when Romney tried to get a crowd at a rally in Ohio add his running mate’s name to a chant they had started—”Romney! Ryan!” instead of “Romney! Romney!”—even nominal Republican Joe Scarborough stubbornly misinterpreted it as a hamfisted attempt to change the chant from Ryan’s name to his own. This is not because Joe Scarborough supports the candidacy of Barack Obama. It is because he supports the primacy of the Romney-is-a-Loser narrative, and wanted to hold up another shining example of that loser-dom for the rest of the political press to giggle at. Which they did, even though it was obviously based on a falsehood to anyone who took time to listen to the audio.

    Cook says, “I loathe Mitt Romney.” Okay, and so does virtually everyone at, say, The Times. Cook at least is transparent. I’d rather read this than a fake-neutral report. And I might read The Times more if its reporters frankly acknowledged their bias. People like Cook are the reason institutions like The Times are becoming decreasingly relevant.

    Topics: Mitt Romney | 4 Comments »

    Mitt Romney: A Brave and Decent Man

    By kyle | April 11, 2012

    I think it’s kind of genius that Mitt hasn’t talked up his considerable achievements in the field of random acts of kindness and altruism. The fact is, the media (eventually) get tired of reporting the same story over and over again, so you won’t to get the bad stuff out of the way fast. This stuff is still fresh because it hasn’t been publicized. I suspect the campaign has been saving all this for the general election, on the theory that people don’t really pay attention until after Labor Day and anything before then is essentially for fund-raising purposes. Says the WaPo:

    By now, many voters have heard that Mitt Romney once put the family dog, Seamus, in a crate and strapped him to the roof of a station wagon. But far fewer have heard that Romney and his sons once raced across a dark, placid lake on Jet Skis, “Baywatch”-style, to rescue strangers and their dog, McKenzie, after their boat capsized.

    Or that Romney once temporarily closed the Boston headquarters of his private-equity firm to round up his co-workers, accountants and lawyers and fan out across Manhattan to search for Melissa Gay, his Bain Capital partner’s missing 14-year-old daughter.

    Topics: Mitt Romney | 1 Comment »

    Mitt Victory 98.6 Percent Certain

    By kyle | January 31, 2012

    So says this economist about tonight’s results. I find it odd that people apparently keep switching their votes between two very well-known quantities. What substantive information has emerged about either of them in the last couple of weeks? And yet Mitt went from plus 20 in South Carolina to losing by 12; then was losing in Florida and is now going to win easily. A Florida victory means that Romney will then inevitably vault over Gingrich, who holds a narrow lead in national polls. It’s almost like voters mark their ballots in accordance with the most recent impression made on them.
    The outcome isn’t seriously in doubt here, is it? Newt is hurting the party, and maybe himself, by fighting so fiercely in a race he initially entered as a lark. As a direct result, Romney’s negatives have skyrocketed, but there might be time for them to settle down a bit after primary season winds up. Newt should drop out, soon.

    Topics: Mitt Romney | 4 Comments »

    Newt, Tu me fais chier

    By kyle | January 13, 2012

    Newt dis que savoir parler une langue etrangere, c’est un defaut. Selon moi, autrefois Newt etait rigolo. De nos jours, il dit n’importe quoi. Ce qu’il dit c’est deguelasse. Vas-t’en, Newt.

    Allez, Mitt.

    Topics: Mitt Romney | 4 Comments »

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