No joke, &c.

Mick Jagger


Reading a column by Charles Moore, I thought of a joke. The column was not funny, though. It was headed “Woolwich outrage: we are too weak to face up to the extremism in our midst.” Woolwich is the district in London in which Lee Rigby, a drummer in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was hacked to death by Muslim extremists.

Moore wrote,

It is less than a month since Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered in Woolwich, yet already the incident feels half-forgotten. In terms of the legal process, all is well. Two men have been charged. There will be a trial. No doubt justice will be done. But I have a sense that the horror felt at the crime is slipping away.

The media, notably the BBC, quickly changed the subject. After a day or two focusing on the crime itself, the reports switched to anxiety about the “Islamophobic backlash”.

Oh, yes. Would you like to hear the joke? Two “progressives” are walking down the road. They come upon a man in a ditch, who has been beaten to a pulp. He is bleeding, broken, and moaning. One progressive says to the other, “Quick, we have to find the people who did this. They need help.”

You know where I heard that joke? From Mark Shields, the liberal commentator, appearing on MacNeil-Lehrer many years ago.

Reading what Mick Jagger said about meeting Margaret Thatcher, I thought of the time I met Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York.

Said Jagger about Thatcher, “She struck me as a peculiar politician.” (I’m quoting from this article.) “She was quite brittle. Most other politicians like to be liked. Most of them, even if you don’t like them before you meet them, are still likeable when you meet them, because that’s their gig — to be liked, and by people like me.”

Exactly so. Well, one time, Bill Buckley had Mayor Bloomberg to dinner. As we were all leaving, I said to Bloomberg, “I appreciate the way you’re standing up to the teachers’ union.” He would have none of it. He started to argue with me: “They’re just looking out for their interests, as is their right,” etc., etc. We stood in the vestibule, arguing about whether Bloomberg deserved credit for his stance toward the teachers’ union.

I had never before met a politician who would not accept a compliment, and I have not met one since. I suspect I never will. Bloomberg was a prickly, vinegary little SOB. He was the least ingratiating politician imaginable — not ingratiating at all, in fact the opposite.

I admired that. The mayor of New York ought to be a prickly, vinegary, tough SOB.

The world tires of hearing, “If George W. Bush had said that, or done that . . .” — but here I go again. At the recent G-8 summit, President Obama repeatedly referred to Britain’s finance minister, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as “Jeffrey.” His name is actually George Osborne. Obama said “Jeffrey” over and over. Later, he explained that he was confusing the chancellor with Jeffrey Osborne, the American R&B singer.

I am indulgent — very indulgent — of mistakes like that. The media are indulgent too, where BHO is concerned. But where GWB is concerned? It’s the differing standards that I detest.

The headline read, “One dead as shooting mars Albania’s election.” (For the article, go here.) The election was on Sunday. Elections in Albania mean something to me, because I have some experience in that country, and in fact was present for the 2005 election. To see the piece that resulted — “Albania Votes: An emerging democracy, emerges” — go here. It’s really interesting. Not because of me, but because of the country.

Albania endured just about the worst of Communism. Only North Korea, probably, has endured tighter, more stifling, more psychotic Communism. The people have made a brave effort since freeing up 20 years ago. They have farther to go, of course.

How long will it take Cuba to recover, when the Castros and Communism finally fall? That is an interesting and fearsome question, one that has been much thought about and debated. To be continued . . .

Here is another headline: “Pew: Every TV News Outlet Had Coverage Supportive of Same-Sex Marriage.” Wow: “Every” is a lot. (For the article, go here.)

Wanna have some sports? Ray Allen of the Miami Heat, the NBA champions, said he was inspired by SLAM magazine. When he was drafted, the magazine labeled him “the most likely to fade into obscurity,” or something like that. This motivated Allen to excel, which he surely has.

To read about this, go here.

I was reminded of Jack Nicklaus and the 1986 Masters. A writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tom McCollister, said Nicklaus was washed up, not a contender. That column was taped to Jack’s refrigerator. He looked at it every day for a while.

After he won the tournament, he said, “Thank you, Tom.” The writer returned, “Glad I could help.”