Intolerable black men, &c.

Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas


Anyway, McCain asked Obama’s nominee about the Progs. The nominee proceeded to explain that, in a free and open society such as Norway’s, “you get some fringe elements that have a microphone, that spew their hatred. And — although I will tell you Norway has been very quick to denounce them. We’re gonna continue to work with Norway to make sure” — at that point, McCain cut the guy off.

I might have let him keep going, to see what he would say next.

Our Norway guy has never been to Norway, which is okay, I suppose. It’s a big world. And our proposed ambassador to Iceland has never been to Iceland. Which is okay, too. But did he never want to go even to gawk at the girls?

Our bundler in Argentina has never been to Argentina — which is slightly strange. That country has been a fashionable destination for years. Rich kids like to hike in Patagonia, and they further like to hang out in “B.A.” (Buenos Aires).

Our bundler in Hungary has been to Hungary, I think. But, in her confirmation hearing, she was as ignorant as the Norway guy.

Max Baucus, the longtime senator from Montana, is going to China. He said, “I’m no real expert on China.” This is not too worrying. Baucus has been soaked in world affairs for years. You can’t help it, when you’re in the Senate. Plus, even the experts on China sometimes prove not very expert.

Look, none of this is worth getting too bent out of shape about. There are nominees and appointments in every administration who are lemons. But this administration is so arrogant — regards itself as so exceptional and pure and smart. Moreover, as I have said, Obama campaigned on the alleged malfeasance of his predecessor. Have they learned no humility, after all their bungles?

George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney are lions of foreign policy, certainly as compared with the hash-maker who won in 2008, and won again in 2012. Ask yourself: Since January 2009, has the standing of the United States in the world grown? Or shrunk? Have our influence and power, and the esteem in which we are held, increased? Or decreased?

Come on.

All right, let me throw some music at you. For my “New York Chronicle,” in the February New Criterion, go here. And here are some links to extra pieces on The New Cri’s blog, Armavirumque:

On Christian Zacharias, the pianist. On Daniil Trifonov, another pianist. On a mishmash of people and issues. On a master class by Marilyn Horne.

There’s more, but that oughta hold you.

Let’s do some Olympics. T. J. Oshie, the U.S. hockey star, was told that he was considered a hero back home. He said, “American heroes are wearing camo. That’s not me.”

It’s only February, but we have the statement of the year, don’t you think?

Some people think Meryl Davis, our ice dancer, is weird-looking. That may be. And à chacun son goût. But I think she’s the most beautiful and beguiling girl in the history of mankind — and won’t hear otherwise.

Mikaela Shiffrin, our ski champion? Her face is freshness itself. It ought to be on every cereal box in America. (And check out the funkified spelling of her first name. Furthermore, her last name is unconventionally spelled, with that second “f.”)

Speaking of language, let’s end on some. One of the problems with e-mail — one of the problems with writing — is that a reader can’t hear tone. The other day, I wanted to write “Thanks a lot.” But that can be read, can be heard, as sarcastic. So I wrote something else (“Thanks very much” or whatever).

Bob Bork once related a tale from his school daze: He was sent to the principal’s office simply for saying “Thanks a lot” in a sarcastic tone of voice. He mentioned this because he wanted to illustrate how conceptions of school discipline have changed.

Anyway, thanks a lot. See you later.