Peas in a pod, &c.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on 60 Minutes (CBS)


One of David Pryce-Jones’s themes is that the barbarians are always destroying art and other expressions of civilization. I remember an essay he wrote when the Taliban blew up those 6th-century Buddhas.

I thought of him when reading, “Islamist extremists torched a library containing historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, the mayor said Monday, as French and Malian forces closed in on Mali’s fabled desert city.”

Time for a little language? I always hear people say “inaugural” now, never “inauguration.” “Inaugural” has replaced “inauguration” as the noun of choice. It used to be, the event was the “inauguration.” People said “inaugural” as a shorthand for “inaugural address” — as in “Lincoln’s Second Inaugural.” But “inauguration” was the noun for the event: “the president’s inauguration.”

Now it’s, “You goin’ to the inaugural?”


A little music? I don’t remember pop singers at inaugurations, or inaugurals, before. I remember Marilyn Horne, Jessye Norman, Susan Graham. And now the Big B, Beyoncé. We’ll talk about fakin’ it — lip-synching — later.

More music? Speaking of Horne, this column is called “Mother Horne & Friends.” In it, I offer a few notes about master classes from Horne, Jessye Norman — speaking of her! — and Dalton Baldwin.

A little mail? A reader writes,

Dear Jay,

Just had a rather surreal experience: I actually saw a Chevy Volt with a “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Mitt” bumper sticker. Now I know what it’s like to spot Bigfoot in the wild.

This past weekend, the National Review Institute hosted its “conservative summit,” or, as I called it, “conservative Davos.” The summit took place in Washington, D.C. (Davos’s summits are higher, of course — a malarial swamp is very different from the Swiss Alps.) (I’m not putting down Washington. It’s simply that it used to be a malarial swamp.) (Sometimes it still feels that way in the summer.)

Thanks to all attendees for coming. Hope and trust you had a good, inspiriting time.

Readers of this column may recall a series I had last October about Tom Cotton, the conservative whiz kid from Arkansas. He was sworn in as a House member earlier this month. To see him in action at the summit, go here.

And our new senator from Texas, Ted Cruz? (When I say “our,” I mean conservatives’ — he’s not just Texas’s.) Go here.

I have given you a couple of C-SPAN links. All of the summit’s events, I believe, can be found via such links.

People who have lived in both New York and Washington will invariably be asked, “Which city do you prefer?” I always say, I like them both, very much, and have very much enjoyed living in both. Very different, very enjoyable.

I haven’t lived in Washington in many years, and was struck by a few things, while visiting . . .

The avenues are mammothly wide. (New York’s seem like narrow lanes by comparison.)

A cabbie opened the door for me. Whoa. I felt almost guilty, at this pampering.

On foot, I approached an intersection. A vehicle started to back up, to get farther behind the stop sign. I thought, “What’s going on? What’s wrong?” Then it became clear: The man was backing up to allow me to pass easily. Again, Whoa. (Whoa is me?)

At a café, I bought a muffin and a small milk. I fished out a ten, bypassing the fives and the ones. The cashier said, “That’ll be $3.91.” Sticker shock, in reverse.

Let me quote a native Washingtonian, my grandmother: “If this city were in Europe, we’d ooh and ah, saying how beautiful it is. But because it’s ours, we tend to overlook this beauty. We take it for granted.”

Washington is indeed a beautiful city — as I’ve always known, and have just relearned.

See you!

To order Jay Nordlinger’s 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.