Do you know what Hari would have been perfect for? “JournoList” (which I think is now defunct). One of JournoList’s stars was a guy who once applied to me for a job at NR. Didn’t get it. Then he asked for my help getting other jobs, which I of course gave. Then he attacked me and NR in print.
Swell little world, the ink-stained one. Yours too?
Not long ago, I published some thoughts on anti-Americanism, particularly as harbored by Americans, and expressed when they are abroad. I received an e-mail from my colleague Charlie Cooke on this subject. Charlie is, to me, as I have pointed out before, “Sir Charles,” though he forswears all honours. (Like my spelling?)
Anyway, Sir Charles writes,
As an unreconstructed Americaphile and proud immigrant to the United States, I share your distaste for Americans who condemn their own country when abroad. Back in England, I would always thrill to meet Americans, but would often be left disappointed and sad if they wanted to talk to me about the evils of the United States, or even if their first words to me were, “Don’t worry, I’m not . . .”
But British anti-Americanism upsets me deeply, too. Jefferson, lamenting the breakdown in colonial relations, wrote, “We might have been a free and great people together.” I would that we were now.
Unfortunately, many of the British have a reverse Oedipus complex of sorts: They, the parents, hate the successful child they have created, even to the point of sympathizing with the child’s enemies. British disdain toward the U.S. is part of a more general societal problem, namely that an abundance of comfort has led to a nation filled with people who simply fail to appreciate the fragility of civilization, and who thus have little idea where their interests lie.
At Oxford, I used to enjoy replying to those who complained about American hegemony with a sarcastic, “I know: I, too, hoped the Soviet Union would win the Cold War.”
I’ll have more from Sir Charles, and on this very subject, later.
Speaker John Boehner is one of the most likable people in American politics. Do even Democrats agree? I wouldn’t bet the ranch. In any event, someone asked him the other day about the possibility of his being the vice-presidential nominee next year. He said, “It’s hard enough for me to go to funerals of people I know, much less people I don’t know.”
That’s the spirit. And I couldn’t agree more. (Actually, let me take that back: I’d rather go to the funeral of someone I don’t know than to the funeral of someone I know, or knew.)
(For the article from which I plucked the Boehner quote, go here.)
A little language? I get on the phone, and the taped voice — always a lady (which is good) — says, “Your call will be answered in the order it was received.” Ungrammatical. But the voice is usually pleasant.
A reader writes to me complaining about a line in a drug ad: “I’ve got heartburn in my head.” What’s wrong with “I have”? he says. Nothing. But I enjoy this little quirk of our language, “I’ve got,” or “I have got.” “I have got to get a grip!” “I’ve got you under my skin.”
Hey, I should do something with that last line . . .
In a recent Impromptus, I remarked two streets in Washington, D.C., which made me harrumph a little. (Conservatives always harrumph.) They were Mitch Snyder Place and Taxation without Representation Street.
A reader writes to say that he was out for a stroll with his wife, in the same city. And they came upon “Islamic Way.” He has no problem with it. But would they ever permit a “Christian Way” or a “Jewish Way”?
So, I’m covering a concert by the New York Philharmonic over the weekend. The principal work is Walton’s music for Henry V — the film made by Olivier in 1944. The program notes say that Olivier “recited two monologues from the play” over the radio in 1942. This “generated interest from the film industry, who felt the tone of the play was right for the patriotic, bellicose fervor of the times.”
Geez, the British had “patriotic, bellicose fervor” as they were fighting for their lives against a totalitarian monster that threatened to devour them? Strange, those British. Jingoism is such an ugly phenomenon.
Finally, I had a memory of WFB, as I was listening to a new recording by Sharon Isbin, the guitarist. She was his guest of honor at dinner one night. And he said to her, “So, I understand you’re the best guitarist in the world.” She said, “No, no, that would be ridiculous. It would be like saying there’s a best writer in the world.”
Bill put on that incomparable smile and said, “Waal . . .”