The tone trap, &c.

Rush Limbaugh in studio


The Left is very happy about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Exultant, celebratory, proud, boastful.

A question: Would they be happy about the killing if our people had accomplished it under a Republican president? Would they be indifferent to it? Unhappy about it? Would they say, “America stooped to the level of the terrorists themselves,” or, “He should have been captured alive and given a fair trial, in a civilian court”?

I remember when our people found and captured Saddam Hussein: not much celebration on the left.

Conditionality, conditionality . . . (That, to be sure, is perfectly human.)

Remember when the Left hated the Guantanamo Bay prison, attacking it as an American gulag? Remember when the Left hated the Patriot Act, attacking it as an assault on the Constitution and human rights?

Now that a Democrat is president — not a whimper.

Republicans are doing what Republicans always do, when we lose a presidential election: attacking the nominee and his campaign. If only Stuart Stevens (Romney’s campaign manager) hadn’t been so dumb. If only Romney had said this, that, or the other thing. If only he hadn’t made those “47 percent” remarks. If he had picked Rubio, we might have won Florida. If he had picked Portman, we might have won Ohio.

Etc., etc. I play this game myself. I’m rather good at it (I fancy).

But I also remind myself that Democrats make mistakes too. They have bad luck too — just like Republicans. Think of Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech. That wasn’t so hot, for Democratic hopes. Think of God and Jerusalem, yanked from the Democratic platform — and the reaction in the convention center when God and Jerusalem were railroaded back in. How about the Benghazi debacle?

I mentioned this to the great Mona Charen the other day, when we were podcasting. And she made a very good point (natch): Republican mistakes are magnified, by the media and the culture at large; Democratic mistakes are minimized, when not covered up altogether.

I understand that. But the voters, I think, had adequate pictures of Obama and Romney. They knew what the two stood for, basically. They were hardly Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They stood for two distinct Americas.

And the people said, “Four more years. ‘Forward.’ More.”

That, dear ones, is our problem. Sometimes the people aren’t on your side. Sometimes they know perfectly well what you’re selling, and don’t want it. People are responsible for their votes.

We conservatives are always preaching personal responsibility, in the various departments of life. That ought to include the voting booth.

And yet, and yet — I like a particular point of Mona’s: Romney and the Republicans let Obama and the Democrats cast the bad economy as George W. Bush’s fault. And if they hadn’t done that: Who knows?

I don’t know.

Care for some sports? I’ve been talking to some friends of mine about our Detroit Tigers, and their loss in the World Series. To get into the Series, we swept the Yankees. Then we were swept by the Giants.

What you often hear is this: The Tigers had a long layoff, after they swept the Yankees. The Giants kept playing (going to the full seven games against the Cardinals). When they faced the Tigers in the World Series, they had momentum. They were sharp. The Tigers were rusty and sluggish, after their layoff.

Okay. But if the Tigers had won the Series, I bet you would have heard, “The Tigers had an advantage in being able to rest, after their American League Championship. The Giants were simply spent.”

A memory from 1995, if you will: We’re at St Andrews, for the British Open. John Daly is in the lead, and he has finished. Costantino Rocca is on the 72nd hole. It looks like Daly has the tournament in the bag. Rocca is in the Valley of Sin, with an absurdly long putt — which he holes. Pandemonium.

Daly is stunned and crestfallen (it appears). Now he has to go out and have a playoff. Rocca, say the commentators, has an advantage in the playoff, in that he has the Big Mo — tremendous momentum. The wind has been taken out of Daly’s sails. He has to go out once more and fight. Rocca gets to keep going, without pausing.

Huge psychological advantage for Rocca.

Then Big John (Daly) handles him in the playoff. And the commentators say, “Well, what would you expect? Daly got to rest. Rocca was spent after the excitement of the big putt. He had played his heart out. That was the climax. He made the putt, and he had nothing left.”

That’s the way I remember the commentary going. Very human.

Leave you with some music? Not real music, unfortunately, but music criticism: For my “New York Chronicle,” in the current New Criterion, go here. For my latest column in CityArts, go here. The chronicle covers many subjects, many performers; the CityArts column touches on Thomas Adès’s opera The Tempest and the cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

Happy post-Thanksgiving (and way pre-Christmas)!

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.