“Irish Chutzpah,” Kristol For U.N. Rep, Castro’s Marvelous Daughter, &C.


In the next National Review–available digitally tomorrow–we have a piece on Senator Kerry’s Latin America record. It’s pretty sorry. Remember the “‘Dear Comandante’ Democrats”–the ones who would send those sweet, appeasing notes to Daniel Ortega, addressed “Dear Comandante”? Well, Kerry was a big one of those.

And would you like to hear Kerry’s evaluation of our Grenada invasion (related to Latin America)? “A bully’s show of force against a weak Third World nation.”

Anyway, I don’t want to get into all that just now, but the record is pretty damning, in my view.

In the course of researching this record, I found a couple of interesting side bits. For instance, I chuckled over the depth and persistence of the myth that Kerry is Irish. My, how he must have found that useful as a Massachusetts pol! And did he ever try to correct the assumption that he is Irish?

Louise Sweeney was a much-admired writer for the Christian Science Monitor, and I knew her slightly. She had a piece about Kerry on July 18, 1985. Louise referred to his “bold Irish face”; she also said that he had “Irish chutzpah” (closer to the truth than she knew)!

One other interesting tidbit: Louise recorded that Kerry pronounced Bach “Back.”

Ugh. That alone should be disqualifying for the presidency, or for anything.

Also, Kerry’s fellow “Dear Comandante” Democrat, Tom Harkin, said that, “with the luck of the Irish,” Senator Kerry had won a particular coin-toss.

Well, he ain’t Irish no mo’. But he’s through running in Massachusetts, isn’t he?

A comment I love. As you may remember, Kerry ran the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations, known informally as “the Kerry Committee.” Kerry spent most of his time trying to prove that the Contras were drug-runners, and, moreover, that Vice President Bush–then running for president–was tied to such criminality. It was a disgusting effort. It never got anywhere, but Kerry gained a lot of attention and damaged some reputations.

Anyway, Kerry would call these witnesses, all of these low-lifes, who for various reasons found it useful to damn the Contras and the administration–Ronald Reagan’s administration–that was helping them. The comment I love is, “Out of 48 witnesses that testified or were deposed, only eleven were convicted felons.” That’s what Chairman Kerry said, at a news conference. And “only” eleven were convicted felons, mind you; the other felons might have avoided conviction.

Ah, a beauty, that guy. (And did you get that that — “Out of the 48 witnesses that testified . . .”?)

Kerry, however, thinks that George W. Bush is quite dumb. Oh, yes. Referring to the Florida senator Bill Nelson, Kerry said, “Bill and I share the same institution of higher education–at least for some of us.” Get it, get it? It took the audience a while, but they did. It was a Bush-dumb joke.

Which is dumb itself. Let us hope that Bush shows his fellow Yalie who the real dummy is at the polls next November.

This is the lead in Richard W. Stevenson’s New York Times piece yesterday: “George W. Bush ran for president four years ago on a platform of meaty domestic policy ideas . . .”

Funny, but I don’t recall that the New York Times judged Bush’s platform “meaty” in 2000 itself! But now that they want to say that he has no meat this time . . .

Look, continuing to prosecute the War on Terror is meat enough, isn’t it?

John Negroponte, one of our government’s ablest, is going off to Iraq, and that leaves the U.N. spot open. I’ll tell you who would fill it brilliantly: Bill Kristol. I know it seems far-fetched, particularly because Kristol and the Bushies have often been at loggerheads. But he would represent us with style, principle, and effectiveness; and he would be an unfailingly loyal member of the Bush team. We would have the most exciting U.N. rep since Moynihan . . . and Kirkpatrick, and Walters.

One can dream, right? I draw on an old line: The administration could do worse, and probably will.

I wonder whether you caught these words from President Khatami of Iran: “Hezbollah is the pride of the Muslim and Arab world, and the pride of Iran. No one will ever forget that it was Hezbollah that defeated Israel and freed Lebanon.”

The pride of the Muslim and Arab world. I remember being at Davos last January, and seeing Khatami fawned over by all there–hailed as a great liberal, and “a champion of reform” (that’s how he was introduced). “A voice for moderation” and all that. The great and the good accorded Khatami a far warmer welcome than they did any U.S. official. It was absolutely nauseating.

The pride of the Muslim and Arab world.

Put it in the book. Know your enemy.

May I give you a taste of Bernard Lewis, dean of Middle East scholars, talking to Maria Bartiromo on CNBC?

BARTIROMO: . . . Do you think that you have misread [the Iraq situation] at all?

LEWIS: Yes, I think I was a little too optimistic, but what I misread, I think, was not so much what happens in Iraq as what happens here.

. . . BARTIROMO: What do you mean?

LEWIS: I mean, the response, the way that the media have reported what’s happening in Iraq. I mean, I understand that one bridge destroyed makes a better story than ten bridges built. But nevertheless, the situation in Iraq, the standard of living, the improvement in general conditions to the Iraqi people, and the measure of support that we enjoy among the Iraqis–all these are far better than one would gather from simply following the media.

[Bartiromo asks Professor Lewis about Senator Kennedy's comparison of Iraq to Vietnam.]

LEWIS: I think that is a disastrous comparison. If you listen to the propaganda of the fundamentalists in Iraq and elsewhere, they have a litany that they keep repeating. They say, “The Americans have become degenerate. They are soft and pampered. They can’t take it. Hit them and they’ll run.” And then they repeat: Vietnam, Beirut, Somalia, and all the other small episodes since which brought no effective response. Talking about Vietnam now will merely confirm them, tell them that they are right, because we all know how Vietnam ended, and that will assure them they have a good chance that this will end the same way. And they have just won a considerable success in Spain . . .

BARTIROMO: What has surprised you most about the events in post-war Iraq?

LEWIS: What has surprised me most is the indecision which is shown by us, not by them. You have to remember that we began with a rather unfavorable record. In ‘91, the time of the Gulf War, President Bush Sr. called on the Iraqi people to revolt against the tyrant. They did. They revolted against the tyrant. In the meantime, we made a cease-fire agreement with the tyrant and then sat and watched while he crushed the revolt . . . You can understand therefore that when we call on them again to revolt, they were rather more cautious. There is, shall we say, a well-grounded mistrust. They know also of the abrupt departures from Somalia, the departure from Vietnam. They don’t want to become boat people . . .

BARTIROMO: . . . many have long believed that peace in the Middle East would first have to come between the Arabs and the Israelis. Do you believe that instead peace in Jerusalem will come through Baghdad?

LEWIS: I believe that the peace between the Arabs and the Israelis will come after, not before. At the moment, the conflict is an extremely useful safety valve. It is the licensed grievance all over the Arab world. When they’re angry and resentful and embittered, which they all have very good reason to be, for the most part, against their own governments, this provides a means of expressing it, which does no harm to their own governments. Before the invasion of Iraq, people were saying, “We have to settle the Palestine question first and then deal with Iraq.” That sent a clear message to Saddam Hussein: Make sure they don’t settle the Palestine question.

Ah, Bernard Lewis. To do without him is . . . not thinkable.

Senator Feinstein, grilling appeals-court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, said, “So, can you name five pro-choice judges [President Bush] has put forward? . . . Can you name four? Three? Two, or even one?”

I swear–smart-aleck and rogue elephant that I am–I would have said, “What do you mean ‘pro-choice,’ Senator Feinstein?” I would have tried to find a way to make her say the word “abortion” (which they never say).

Of course, that’s why I’m not a politician, and why I probably could not be confirmed by the Senate, for anything–which I hope Brett will be.

In 1993, Castro’s daughter, disguised as a Spanish tourist, escaped her father’s island and found refuge in the United States. She is Alina Fernández. Recently, she flew to Montreal to participate in a Reporters Without Borders event. She had never been to Canada. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette beforehand, she said, “Canada is one of the most powerful commercial associates of the regime. A lot of Canadian tourists go down to Cuba. I’m not trying to change any of that but just to let people know what’s really going on.”

The RWB event called attention to the fact that Cuba is “the world’s biggest prison for journalists” (this is the organization’s judgment, and it is hard to dispute). Said Fernández, “At least we can try to keep those people alive by keeping them in the news.”

What a wonderful, unusual, brave woman, Alina Fernández.

I saw a headline: “Mouse Created Without Male!” I thought, “Well, wouldn’t something created without a male be a mouse?”

Speaking of comedy (not that that was comedic): I noticed that Colin Quinn said the following at Jerry Seinfeld’s 50th-birthday roast: “You know Jerry’s turned 50 when you’re stuck behind a Porsche doing 40 miles an hour with its left turn signal still on.”

Um, I’ve been hearing these turn-signal jokes all my life. Any time someone wants to say something about age, he reaches for the turn signal (left on). Shouldn’t comedians, by now, be embarrassed by that? I mean, they might as well say, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Speaking further of comedy: Arianna Huffington has a new book out (Fanatics & Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America). Her endorsers are–get ready–Molly Ivins, Al Franken, Bill Moyers, and Bill Maher.

My, she has grown.

Just a side note: One of La Huffington’s great achievements is that she was the amour of Bernard Levin, arguably the greatest journalist since Orwell, and certainly one of the greatest of all time. His collection Enthusiasms is dedicated to her. Enthusiasms is one of the most gladdening and enriching volumes you’ll ever read.

To be its dedicatee! Nice going, Arianna–I’ll give you that.

Says Jack Nicklaus, “I know I can’t compete at the level I used to compete [at]. If I go out and finish in the top ten and that’s a great week, then I know it’s time to hang up your spikes.”

What a great, perfectly Nicklausian comment. He is not a top-ten guy; he is Nicklaus.

From a New York Sun editorial: “‘Diplomacy,’ an editor of our acquaintance likes to say, ’should be used only as a last resort.’ It is, he often adds, a method of conducting international relations that is appropriate only when, say, a military solution has become unattainable.”

And how I’d like to know that editor! Hell, maybe I do!

Later, y’all.