Remembering a campaign slogan, &c.



Reading the news the last few weeks — the IRS scandal, etc. — I’ve thought of a line from the 2012 campaign. In Ohio, the Obama people ran an ad that said, “Mitt Romney. Not one of us.”

So true — truer words were never spoken. Not one of them at all. Nothing like them.

There is a view that set in on Election Night, a view instantly common among Republicans: Romney wasn’t good enough for the country. He did not draw sharp enough distinctions with Obama. The public, the great American public, had no choice but to vote for Obama once more. They did not have a good enough alternative.

I think this view is not only wrong but, in a way, tragic. And there is nothing — nothing — that can shake a person from it.

In the effort to reform Social Security, I thought President George W. Bush was better than his troops. Better than we Republicans and conservatives. We sort of sat and groused and sniffed. Every now and then, a leader is better than his troops.

Romney has honor, but does the country? I mean, enough of the country? Elections are reflections of a people, as I have said often (and will refrain from saying again for at least an hour).

The other day, President Obama summoned a Marine to hold an umbrella for him. I couldn’t help thinking, “At least Neville Chamberlain held his own umbrella.”

I will never be able to think of statesmen and umbrellas without thinking of Chamberlain.

When Van Galbraith was among us, I pumped him for Reagan stories, as I have long pumped people associated with Reagan. Van was the Gipper’s first ambassador to France. He was also a good friend of Bill Buckley, and a good friend of National Review.

Reagan visited the U.S. ambassador’s residence in France, and noticed a portrait of a lady. “Who’s that?” he asked. “Neville Chamberlain’s mother,” came the reply. Reagan paused for a second and said, “Where’s her umbrella?”

I am telling this story from memory, but I think it’s about right . . .

Several weeks ago, I looked into the Khmer Rouge trials in Cambodia. They have been pretty pathetic. And I sought a lot of opinion about what a country should do after genocide or other gross crimes. How the monsters should be handled.

I think I’ve swung to the view — however reluctantly — that prosecution is futile, or at least unsatisfying, and that a truth-and-reconciliation commission may be a better choice. You hate to see the monsters get off, but . . .

Now, I’m not comparing the IRS scandal to the Cambodian genocide. I’m really not. Swear. But I think it’s less important that we prosecute the wrongdoers here than that we find out what the hell happened. Let shame be their punishment.

If shame is still possible (I mean, other than for failing to recycle or for making a racist remark).

On the covers of magazines and the front pages of newspapers, I see Brad Pitt hailed as a hero — because he has not ditched Angelina Jolie, in the wake of a mastectomy.

Has it come to this? Has it really come to this? Will we soon be congratulating people for not murdering others in the streets? Maybe give them a medal?