Condi talk, &c.

Condoleezza Rice


I think Romney should make a similar argument this year. It is, for one thing, nonideological. There are plenty of excellent ideological — or, better, political or philosophical — arguments to make. But that’s a good nonideological one: “He’s had his chance. He has made things worse. Bring us on, give us a chance.”

Ordinary people — I’m not talking about political nuts like you and me — might well nod in agreement.

I hope you are enjoying the current issue of National Review, or will soon. Lots of good stuff in there. My own contribution is an essay called “A World of Labels: ‘Moderate liberals’ and other interesting creatures.”

“Moderate liberals”? Well, you remember what the New York Times said: John Roberts had joined the Court’s “moderate liberals” to uphold Obamacare. Roberts and the other four Republican justices were “conservatives.” That includes Anthony Kennedy, famous as a swinger. (I’m talking about his voting record, not his “personal life.”) But the Democrats — Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan? Just “moderate liberals.”

Ginsburg, reflect, was general counsel to the ACLU!

The New York Times has come up with some screwy phrases lately. You recall the paper’s description of George Zimmerman, the shooter in the Trayvon Martin case? “White Hispanic.” I can’t help wondering: Is Justice Sotomayor a “white Hispanic”? I guess not: In its editorials, the Times refers to her as a “Hispanic,” period. There must be some color chart, unseen by the rest of us . . .

In my NR piece, I discuss this world of labels, not so much race and ethnicity as the strange world of American political taxonomy. Most people, I imagine, would like to think of themselves as “moderate” — certainly as opposed to “extremist.” But remember Barry Goldwater in 1964! “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” and “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

Goldwater was a conservative, of course: the author of The Conscience of a Conservative, no less. But he was also a classical liberal: a free-marketeer, a constitutionalist, a decentralizer, an anti-statist. Being a classical liberal is enough to get you labeled a right-winger or worse. (I can testify from personal experience.)

Martin Luther King gave his Nobel lecture in December 1964, a month after LBJ trounced Goldwater. He said the American people had showed “great maturity” in rejecting “a dangerous Fascist path.” It was not MLK’s finest moment, obviously.

One more thing, before I leave the subject of labels: In Europe, leftists are likely to refer to you and me — I mean, Reaganites and Thatcherites — as “neoliberals.” That is a great putdown from the left. It refers to dog-eat-dog capitalists, social Darwinists, people who would leave Grandma in the gutter.

Here in America, “neoliberals” used to refer to Charlie Peters and those around the magazine he edited, The Washington Monthly. These people were, in my estimation, moderate liberals. And let me give you a quick memory of Peters on Firing Line.

Noting that Reagan had removed lowest-income people from the tax rolls, he said, “I can’t believe it, but Reagan actually did something good for the poor.” Whereupon WFB said, “Yes, because as we all know, Reagan absolutely hates the poor.” I wish you could have seen and heard him. Maybe you did!

End with a little music? Or a poor substitute for music, namely reviews? For a review of the New York Philharmonic’s Fourth of July concert, go here. For an earlier review of mine, also in CityArts, go here. This one addresses two different subjects: Lang Lang, the Chinese pianist, and the use of music in a movie called Moonrise Kingdom.

Thanks much, and catch you tomorrow, for another mélange.

To order Jay Nordlinger’s new book, Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.