Have you heard of the Navy with the coiled solar panel? It wasn’t exactly Bob Hope and the USO when Kamala Harris tried the humor during an opening address to graduate Sailors and Marines at the Naval Academy last week.

Speaking to the next generation of American warriors, the VP quipped that they would love all that green investment that she and Joe Biden are planning: -up solar panel, and I’m sure she a solar panel will tell you – and so will he.

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Ms Harris’ attempt to create a non-sexist, eco-friendly comedy elicited a grateful, hoarse laugh, but only from her. The rest of the audience looked like they wanted to crawl under the nearest solar panel.

To be fair, it’s not easy to use culturally appropriate humor. The best humor is often counter-cultural, if not downright offensive. You can’t be awake and funny.

Picture the scene: a room filled with the vice president’s best young employees, all brandishing their critical theory degrees from Sarah Lawrence and Amherst, brainstorming for an unknown audience of courageous young fighters.

“They’re Marines, aren’t they?” Didn’t they fight some famous battles?

Quick Google search.

“OK. How about something about Montezuma or Tripoli?”

More research on Google. Embarrassed silence.

“Seriously? Wouldn’t that be incredibly offensive to Latinxes and Africans?”

” Ah yes. Sorry.”

No more silence.

Unsure, “How about a gag that combines a reference to our passionate commitment to green energy with a focus on gender equality?” “

“Awesome. I’ll get down to it.

Ms Harris’ face was no better than that of her boss a week earlier, during her speech at the Coast Guard Academy. At least Ms Harris didn’t try to break the awkward silences after the failed jokes by telling the audience they were “really boring,” as Mr Biden did.

Opening speeches are a difficult act; those odd occasions when professors, parents, and dignitaries grin uncomfortably across a generational chasm as their charges just want the party to begin.

But looking at the performances of the Commander-in-Chief and his future successor, it was hard to resist the suspicion that the young patriots who signed up for the service were not quite aligned with the reigning ideology preached by the brass and their democratic overlords. That they are perhaps not as enthusiastic as their senior officers cowardly awakened by cultural nihilism advancing like an invading army through the institutions of the country. Some generals and admirals give the impression that they are more concerned with microaggressions than those of a more macro and kinetic variety.

Something tells me that if you are filled with some sort of patriotic verve that drove you at 18 to stand up for defense and if necessary lay down your life for your country, you probably have some choice words for high paying costumes. responsible for forming the unconscious bias of you.

There were better graduation addresses this year that spoke of the values ​​that made this country great, rather than the hold drained on our hapless new young military officers.

I was at my own daughter’s graduation ceremony at the University of Notre Dame, where Mr. Biden, the second Catholic president, declined the invitation to follow most of his predecessors and give the traditional dispatch to graduates of America’s leading Catholic university.

It was not a loss. Jimmy Dunne, former head of investment bank Sandler O’Neill, spoke fondly of what he had learned from service and duty that day when nearly half of his staff were killed in the attacks terrorists of September 11, 2001. Then Carla Harris, a senior Morgan Stanley executive and perhaps the most successful black woman on Wall Street, gave a haunting speech on her reception of the University’s Laetare Medal that rocked the world. thunder from the sky in its burst of inspiration.

Best of all, however, could have been the speech given at Purdue University by its president, Mitch Daniels. The former governor of Indiana has denounced the timid and risk-averse state of mind that has captured much of the elite in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In their caution and mistrust, he told graduates, they failed this “fundamental test of leadership” by refusing to balance risks and obligations. “Certainty is an illusion,” Mr. Daniels said. “Perfect security is a mirage. Zero is always inaccessible, except in the case of absolute zero where, as you will remember, all movement and life itself comes to a halt.

It’s a very American sentiment – a sentiment that I suspect will long survive the spasm of the humorless, identity-obsessed piety forced upon us by our current generation of leaders.

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