True love — that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about. True political love, that is. (This is National Review Online, not Oprah Online, after all.) We asked a group of politics lovers who their one true is (or was). Here’s what they came up with.
On paper unrequited, but lesbian political commentator and pro-choice feminist Tammy Bruce is my political valentine. Lord (or Gaia — you choose!) knows we don’t agree on everything, but as a leader at the National Organization of Women in early to mid-90s she increased rolls in the moribund institute only to find out that the group was an instrument of the Democratic party — and not a group looking out for the best interests of the broad female demographic. Her must-read book, The New Thought Police: Inside the Left’s Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds, connects the dots between NOW and the NAACP (and beyond), eerily capturing the nature of the modern left and its use of social Marxism (a.k.a. “political correctness”) to thwart debate and dissent as a means to maintain control of the media, academia, as well as the corporate and political worlds. In this Orwellian scenario realized Americans navigate through disastrous ideas while managing a Byzantine language system meant to annihilate anyone that steps out of line of the proper way of thinking. Bruce not only recognized the horror but realized her previous political enemies shared more in common with her than her lifelong allies. Even though she is a successful author and talk radio host, Bruce is an untapped resource in Blue State America. The GOP — the Ronald Reagan big tent that I love in principle — would be wise to play a little footsy with the fiercely patriotic Bruce. We sure aren’t going to win this war without a plurality.
– Andrew Breitbart is publisher of Breitbart.com.
Love don’t enter into it — as the Brits might put it. Politicians are a species so removed from spontaneity, wit, and authenticity that merely withholding dislike is high praise these days. The traits that make politicians lovable or at least admirable are in short supply: genuineness, commitment to principle, humor, and courage.
I adore some of our Founders (particularly Washington who was almost without fault), Hamilton and Adams (Abigail very much included) — and of course Lincoln and Reagan. But if we are here to praise famous men, let’s take a moment to honor the mostly forgotten Thomas Brackett Reed, Republican Speaker of the House off and on from 1889 to 1899. A huge fellow at 6’3 and 300 pounds, he was as imposing intellectually as he was physically. The House was a lively place when “Czar Reed” ruled. Regarding two verbose colleagues, Reed quipped, “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” When another congressman self-righteously echoed Henry Clay and proclaimed once too often that he would “rather be right than be president,” Reed snorted that “The gentleman need not be disturbed; he will never be either.” It was Reed’s aphorism that “a statesman is a politician who is dead.”
He opposed American imperialism and supported women’s suffrage. When his party veered toward expansionism, he stepped down rather than contravene his principles. “I have tried, perhaps not always successfully, to make the acts of my public life accord with my conscience and I cannot now do this thing” [the occupation of the Philippines].
I saved the best for last. Asked if he planned to attend the funeral of an opponent, Reed replied “No, but I approve of it.”
– Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist who writes for National Review Online’s “The Corner.”
You may not be pro-life enough
for the religious right;
You may come on too mean and tough
to please every girl in sight;
While it’s true your past is shady
And could spoil photo-ops;
(What with Bernie, the ex-first lady,
And that Louima stuff with the cops…)
I can’t help feeling you’re the man
with whom to spend the next two terms;
You’re a butt-kicking Yankee fan
Who’s got no time for worms.
A man who’s locked out Arafat
And thrown vagrants into prison
Won’t cringe before a Democrat
Or allow Iran nuclear fission.
We need you to beat Obama
Whose grand evasive words
Won’t find and kill Osama
Or protect Israel, or the Kurds.
That’s why I’ll board the Rudy bus
’Cause in politics as in love
Courage is what carries us
When push comes down to shove.
– Danielle Crittenden is contributor to the newly published anthology Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys and author of the forthcoming The President’s Secret IMs, to be published in July.
I have been around much too long to have one true political love: the kind of exercise involved in the pursuit of electoral politics — and I assume it is that kind of political love you intend here — is after all something for which we, the long experienced, are willing to understand and forgive the people we admire, especially if they win. (I calculate that a politician over whom people have professed to swoon–take, for instance, the case of Adlai Stevenson–gets no more than two defeats before he is stricken from the Valentine’s Day rolls.)
That said, I can tell you that aside from our current president–who has for more than five years now been to me an almost unfailingly happy astonishment–there is one man now in the big race for 2008 who gets from me, along with a more than full measure of enthusiasm, whatever degree of allowance is to be required. His name, it may not surprise you to hear, is Rudy Giuliani. He is three things a woman wants in a pol: He is bold, he is tough, and he is smart. Practically every New Yorker over the age of 17 knows from his own experience that our city had become a dirty, dangerous, and depressed place, with criminals and beggars vying for pride of place in its streets, and all its thinking people daily declaring it unliveable and ungovernable. It might be hard to remember all that now, when the place is not only safe, not only booming, but full of hope as it had not been since the 1940s, but what may be even harder to remember is how quickly, and surely, and unwaveringly this was accomplished. . .all in the course of Giuliani’s tough and intellectually creative mayoralty. At the critical time arriving with 2008, it seems to me, the United States of America could do do very well with the same.
Happy Valentine’s Day, National Review Online. Happy Valentine’s Day, Rudy.
– Midge Decter is a writer in New York.
As I’ve made Ronald Reagan my permanent political valentine recipient, the most natural thing would be to find the biggest, laciest card possible and FedEx it to Margaret Thatcher. There are a thousand reasons why, of course, and most right-thinking people know what they are, but what springs to mind when thinking of her is remembering the sight of her at President Reagan’s funeral. She was wearing a hat. Not just a hat–but the biggest, blackest most elegant movie-star hat possible. She looked smashing. Perhaps she wore it because she knew that; I hope so. Clearly she wore it out of respect for the church, the occasion, and the person being honored. Most of all, I like to think, she wore it because she is fearlessly proud of being a woman. None of the hundreds of other women attending wore one and it made me wonder what that was all about. Fear of flat hair? The current fashion not to wear one? The feminist revolution? Or was it because deep down women still don’t want people to think they can’t be “one of the guys.”
Hillary tried to wear a hat twice. Remember how she marched up Pennsylvania avenue in the Twofer Inaugural parade with that blue Buick hubcap on her head? Boy, did she read that one wrong. No one remembered her ever wearing anything more than a headband.
The next time she wore a hat it was as a phony Yankee fan. These are isolated cases of Hat Backfire and thank God she has stopped. I don’t want to see Hillary in a hat or Nancy Pelosi for the same reason. It doesn’t work. It’s an affectation of fake femininity like Hillary’s recent discovery of the color pink and Pelosi’s persistence in wearing four-inch heels with tailored pants. They don’t mean it. They want to be guys. Lady Thatcher never wanted to be a guy. Why give up something so precious and powerful as true pride in being feminine?
So, off I would go to find something huge and quilted in red velvet dripping with ribbons and hearts and lace and even sequins if they had it, with little cut-outs with angels peeping through and overnight it to the woman who once said, “A woman’s mission is not to enhance the masculine spirit, but to express the feminine: hers is not to preserve a manmade world, but to create a human world by the infusion of the feminine element into all of its activities.”
I’ll bet she was wearing a hat when she said it.
–Lucianne Goldberg is a syndicated talk-show host on Talk Radio Network and the publisher of the online news forum Lucianne.com.
In the grand tradition of Anna Nicole, I can only narrow my pick down to several men–with a unifying political theme that has nothing to do with the Bahamian immigration minister. Instead, my love goes to the country that’s taking the front-line position against terrorism. My first true political loves would be Likud party pooh-bah Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli U.N. ambassador Dan Gillerman. Not only are both men totally sexy, but what’s sexier than standing up to a blustering Iran, a wimpy Arab League, a morally ambiguous United Nations, a heads-in-the-sand Europe, and the generally ignorant in one fell swoop? Hot guys like these aren’t afraid to stick their necks out for what is right and don’t follow the herd–and judging by the results of the U.S. midterm elections, there aren’t enough men like that out there. Sexy men like Bibi and Gillerman also think beyond their little corner of the world and act accordingly without expecting loads of adulation in return–also a too-rare quality among the gents. Along those lines, if I could cut up construction-paper hearts, tape on Tootsie Pops and send them to all the sexy guys in the Israeli Defense Forces this Valentine’s Day, I would. On the other hand, Hassan Nasrallah is the type of guy who, if he showed up at the door to take you out for an evening of dinner and Katyusha-waxing, one would be peering through the peephole and cringing, not daring to breathe lest he know someone is home, praying that he’ll get the clue and take his stolen carnations and dragon breath back to Beirut.
— Bridget Johnson is a columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She blogs at GOP Vixen.
Kathryn Jean Lopez
Few moments will ever compare to the afternoon when on an underground-Hill escalator–he was going down, I was going up–Robert K. Dornan, looking at my box of (very important, always were) Heritage Foundation backgrounders, asked: “Need help with that, sweetheart?”
It was a more innocent age, when B-1 could say such a thing without worrying Gloria Allred would be waiting for him back at his office. It was a more innocent age, when conservatives believed they could eliminate Cabinent agencies, instead of add them. It was a more innocent age, when interns could walk around the Hill with unidentified boxes and no one would give them a second look–save for the occasional fiery congressman from Orange County. Sigh.
– Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.
John J. Miller
Never become enamored with individual politicians because they will always disappoint you.
– John J. Miller is national political reporter for National Review and the author, most recently, of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.
My political loves, I regret to announce, have ranged from Hubert Humphrey to Ronald Reagan–Fidel Castro to Reagan if you count a brief fling in the 1960s. So why not simply list Reagan as my one true political love? I fear that the vote I cast against him precludes this. Fortunately, I never had the opportunity to vote against Margaret Thatcher.
It’s a fine thing to stand athwart history yelling “stop,” and an even better thing to make that cry stick. But Thatcher went one better than that–she yelled “reverse” and made it stick, at least for a generation. What did she reverse? The abolition of Britain, I would say, though Peter Hitchens disagrees. In any case, she reversed Britain’s economic decline, reversed the onslaught of state control over the lives of British citizens, reversed the power of out-of-control trade unions, and helped deal a fatal reversal to an evil empire.
By accomplishing of all this with a style and with personal qualities so perfectly aligned with her substance, Lady Thatcher won my political heart once and for all.
– Paul Mirengoff writes for the Powerline blog.
My one true political valentine left the stage over a decade ago, and we will not see his like again soon. My first glint of political awareness came during the Watergate hearings. In that time, liberal philosophies appeared ascendant, especially nanny-state, top-down governance. The watered-down conservatism of the Republican party at that time offered nothing new intellectually or philosophically, only a kind of cut-rate liberalism.
That changed with Ronald Reagan. As a teenager, his defense of individualism, free markets, and strong national defense made a deep impression on me. Even when his first campaign stalled, I waited impatiently for the next election to see him try again–and win. He breathed new life and credibility into conservatism and the transcendence of individual liberty over bureaucratic tyranny.
One never forgets their first love, and it serves as a comparison for those that follow. For me, politics has been no different. While I have appreciated political figures over the years, such as Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain (who I supported in 2000), none have ever had the same effect on me.
Perhaps, someday, another Reagan will appear. Until then, I’ll remember the man who inspired my love of politics.
– Edward Morrissey blogs at Captain’s Quarters.
While I am manifestly unqualified to offer any thoughts on the subject of romantic love, in the matter of political love I have solid convictions, honed by experience: Don’t. Go. There. You cannot love a politician, even from afar, even for reasons of principle, without the sure knowledge that he will break your heart. This is true regardless of gender, party affiliation, or shared principles–of any stripe.
Being human, in our personal loves we have ample cause to overlook flaws, to smooth rough edges, to find charming quirks that might be considered just irritating–in the hopes that we shall be granted the same grace.
In politics, we have no such motive. We voters must be clear eyed and detached, clinical even, in our assessment of our suitors. You have convictions, hopes, and aspirations. He or she wants power. Blind love, adoration, and passion are not part of this equation. Cool calculation as to who is lying, recasting convictions, and telling us what they think we want to hear is important. Because later it will out. Remember, this is a profession whose daily practice requires tradeoffs, compromises, trimming, stubbornness, massive ego, and, often, dumping liabilities where loyalty would be more attractive. Not the stuff of love–though it works for a legislature.
Still, perhaps I was charmed by the inspiring leadership, gritty insouciance and pithy sayings of a certain recent Secretary of Defense. At the end of the day he clung to failed policy too long–and that is the ball on which one’s eye must focus.
Having said all that, I will admit that I still harbor a great political crush on Margaret Thatcher, who has the depth of intellect to go with her convictions, who was staunch in battle, who wielded power naturally and well, who was who she said she was, and who always looked good in a dress.
– Lisa Schiffren is a writer, and former GOP speechwriter, living in New York. She contributes to Commentary magazine’s blog, Contentions.