He makes another important point: After a conflict, we always draw down too quickly — too quickly and too much. “We never think we’ll have another war,” says McKeon. That is absolutely and sadly true. We have always lunged for some “peace dividend” — only to find that we have to build back up, in a crisis. Better to keep your powder dry, and plentiful. It is war-preventing, for one thing.
As I’ve mentioned in this column before, George C. Marshall gave one of the strangest, and best, Nobel lectures ever. He spoke of the danger and irresponsibility of demobilization, demilitarization, and disarmament. To read his words in 1953, go here. They apply.
A little more about Buck McKeon: He told us he volunteered for Goldwater in 1964. He was shocked when Goldwater lost. “I was just a young man,” said McKeon. “I didn’t know anything about politics.” He went on to say that he was shocked when Romney lost, last month. “And I do know a thing or two about politics now!”
Yes, politics will surprise us — not always for the worse, I like to think.
McKeon is my kind of American — even in the way he uses our language. His is an American tongue. The last syllable of “Vietnam” rhymes with “bam.” The first syllable of “Roosevelt” rhymes with “blues.” What with the reelection of Obama and our desperate economic straits, “We’re in a pickle.”
We sure are.
Also in New York on Monday was Ted Cruz, the senator-elect from Texas. He is entering the Senate at a key time: The country is at a crossroads, or about to go off a cliff. The Republican party is searching for leadership, following the defeat of Mitt Romney (splendid, impressive man). The party is in a panic over Hispanics.
Yes, an interesting time, a key time.
And think of this: In Ted’s first run for office, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Not from Delaware, not from a small state, or a sparsely populated one — from Texas. He may have had some luck, yes. But he has huge, huge talent — brains, discipline, eloquence, guts, etc.
I’ve been looking forward to Ted’s political career for many years. Now it’s launched — which I find kind of thrilling.
I’d love to see a list of people whose first run for office landed them in the Senate. Almost all, I bet, had more advantages than Ted did (famous fathers, private fortunes, what have you).
On Monday night, I spoke to an event for MEMRI — the Middle East Media Research Institute. So did Norman Podhoretz — who told me about MEMRI in the first place, I think, years ago. People have referred to “the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute” so much, some of us have joked that “invaluable” might as well be part of the organization’s name: the Invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute.
In 2002, I wrote a piece titled, perhaps inevitably, “Thanks for the MEMRI (.org).” It all still applies. MEMRI is like an intelligence agency for the entire world.
Last week, Linda Bridges had an elegant piece — a typically elegant piece — titled “Light & Truth in New Haven.” It was about the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale. This is an undergrad organization. (Not “underground organization.”) And it is a point of light, as Bush 41 might say. It was founded by Lauren Noble, a 2011 graduate of Yale, and a point of light herself.
I will not add to Linda’s piece, except to say this: M. Stanton Evans, the veteran journalist, proved once more that he has one of the driest wits in the West — or East. Some years ago, I heard him say, in a superbly deadpan way, “You always hear that you’re supposed to start out liberal, then become conservative at some point. My view is, you should start out conservative, then get more conservative over time.”
It was all in the delivery. Honestly, it was hilarious.
At Yale the other day, he said something else. Someone mentioned that charm was a big part of Alger Hiss’s appeal — charming liar, Hiss was. Whittaker Chambers, who told the truth, had less charm, as charm is usually counted. Stan said, “As someone who has gone his entire life without being charming, I appreciate what you said.”
Of course, no one without charm could possibly have made that remark. Stan is full of it — charm, that is.
Also at Yale, our Neal Freeman — friend and aide to WFB — introduced the keynote speaker, Mitch Daniels. If you missed Neal’s intro, published at NRO last week, go here. I’m not sure I’ve heard a better introduction. If you ever speak somewhere, you should have the luck to be introduced by Neal.
(Myron Magnet is damn good at it too.)
A little language? Three items above, I said, “I spoke to an event . . .” Can you speak to an event? In a sense, sure. The sheer flexibility and adaptability of English is a joy. (Like the use of “is” there.)
Got a little correction for you: In my recent series “Against the Tide,” in the third part, I described the Witherspoon Institute as “an elegant little conservative speck on the Princeton University campus,” “tolerated” by that university. Actually, the tolerated elegant little conservative speck I had in mind was the James Madison Program. The Witherspoon Institute is an elegant little conservative speck — but just off campus, and independent.
Feel like a letter? A reader writes,
I was driving around with my 13-year-old son and two of his friends. One of the boys was describing how his mother had been accosted after one of his football games by a “bum.” Evidently the bum wanted money from her to buy “medicine” or he would “die.”
The boy described how he could barely understand the man because his speech was so “slurry.” Then he said — this is when I thought of you — “It’s almost as if he were talking in cursive.”
Very nice. See you soon.
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.