The New Yorker has gotten pretty good mileage out of something I wrote in August 2007. It was in this here breezy lil’ web column. Some of us National Review types were fresh off a cruise to Alaska. (Through Alaska, I should say.) And, amid my jottings, I wrote,
In Juneau, the governor invited us to the mansion for a reception. She is Sarah Palin, a former beauty-pageant contestant, and a real honey, too. Am I allowed to say that? Probably not, but too bad. She is a honey in multiple ways. It was a pleasure to be with her, and her political career will probably take her beyond Alaska. Dick Morris is only one who thinks so.
In October 2008, The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer quoted a slice of that paragraph — the words from “a former beauty-pageant contestant” to “too bad.” Last week, her colleague Hendrik Hertzberg quoted those same words, all 20, and wrote, “Too bad, indeed. The G.O.P.’s relationship with Sarah Palin was a wild crush, not a solid Christian marriage. It was a classic case of adolescent infatuation.”
(Mayer and Hertzberg quoted from several other conservatives too, showing us to have the hots for the gov’nor with the glasses.)
Let me just say, in case anyone cares, that I admired Palin — and despised her foes and defamers — for various reasons. And none of them had to do with her looks. There are plenty of lookers on the left: Susan Sarandon, Cameron Diaz, Jane Fonda, Joan Baez, Natalie Portman, Katrina vanden Heuvel. (Rosa Luxemburg and Bella Abzug, not so much.) I dug that eco-chick, Butterfly, who lived in a tree. Hell, I think Rachel Maddow’s kinda cute, on her less butch days.
But I have never been tempted to support these women politically — at least since I turned about 19. I’ve never been tempted to think like Jane Mayer or Hendrik Hertzberg — i.e., leftly. Again, since about early college.
I’ve written thousands of words about Sarah Palin in the last five years, but The New Yorker seems to quote just the 20. Oh, well. I’d give ’em another quote right now, but I’m not sure it would be perfectly polite. Maybe I can think of something with “cooperate” in it, just to see the umlaut?
Do they still do that?
Hang on, just looked up Rosa Luxemburg — I think I take back what I said about her. Even Bella, when that hat is tilted just right . . .
There was a slight brouhaha when 200 Marines in Afghanistan were disarmed before listening to a speech by Leon Panetta. My worry is: It was a warm-up for an Obama second term. Will Marines and others have to get used to being disarmed? The Democrats aren’t willing to reduce the deficit by cutting out the “stimuli” and reforming entitlements, are they?
Soeren Kern writes about an author named Inan Türkmen. (There’s an umlaut for us!) Türkmen is “a 25-year-old Austrian-Turk” whose message is: We will overwhelm you. You are drowned, finished.
In an essay at the beginning of this year, Türkmen wrote,
. . . you will all be a little Turkish. People mix into cultures and I am planning to contribute something to make this happen. Up until now, all of my girlfriends have been European, not Turkish. In the future, freckles will become an increasingly rare sight in Europe. The point is: The future belongs to Turkey.
A Europe without freckles — what a great vision this poor fellow has conjured up! And I can’t help wondering: Why don’t Turks, or people who feel themselves Turkish, concentrate on making Turkey great? Isn’t there enough to do there?
One could go on . . .
For the longest time, presidential children were supposed to be taboo. You weren’t supposed to talk about them. Those who did — journalists or politicians who did — paid a penalty. But President Obama talks about his kids a lot. In fact, he injects them into political debate.
An Associated Press report, here, tells the story. It’s headlined “Who’s talking about Sasha, Malia? It’s dad, again.”
I was a little sickened by the news that El Salvador’s government is going to give pensions to veterans of the FMLN. Stands to reason, though, because the country’s president, Funes, is an FMLN man (in a way).
For years and years, these Communists fought a democratic government, led by the incredibly brave and valuable José Napoleón Duarte, so as to impose on Salvadorans the kind of life that Cubans have had to endure since 1959.
The article I have linked to says that these “elderly former leftist rebels” are living in poverty, most of them. So is much of the world. I wish the FMLN men no ill, and I’m glad they have accepted democracy, if they have, but I’m very, very glad they didn’t win. That they didn’t get their way in the 1980s.
The triumph of democracy in Central America over violent extremists of Left and Right is an unsung story. And the reason it is unsung, I think, is that, if you sang it, you would have to give Reagan and Reaganites much credit.
I got an envelope in the mail. There was no return address on it. There were just the big, black words “DO NOT DESTROY. OFFICIAL DOCUMENT.”
Turned out to be a fundraising letter from the Republican National Committee, signed by Reince Priebus.
Dirty pool. I realize all’s supposed to be fair in PR and fundraising — but still: dirty pool.
A reader sent me a quotation from Thomas Jefferson, extracted from a letter to Edward Coles, 1814: “I had always hoped that the younger generation receiving their early impressions after the flame of liberty had been kindled in every breast . . . would have sympathized with oppression wherever found, and proved their love of liberty beyond their own share of it.”
For the complete letter, go here.
Last week, in Darien, Conn., I did a little public Q&A with two bosses of the music business: Zarin Mehta, president of the New York Philharmonic, and Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera.
Zarin is Zubin’s brother, as you may know. But in New York now, as Zarin points out: Zubin is Zarin’s brother.
Gelb, I learned, or was reminded, is the great-nephew of Jascha Heifetz. Early in his career, Gelb managed Vladimir Horowitz (to the extent Horowitz was manageable) . . .
. . . which put me in mind of Schuyler Chapin, whose life was entwined with those of Heifetz and Horowitz (and many others). Chapin was a great friend of Bill Buckley’s, and Bill thought him just about the best raconteur around. I found the same. From Schuyler, the stories flowed without cease, and they were perfectly told.
Mehta and Gelb, too, are wonderfully articulate. I hope to read their memoirs someday.
Over the weekend, I was in Cleveland, which was once ridiculed as “The Mistake by the Lake.” Cleveland still has its share of problems. But its marquee parts rival those of any city. And the lake, Erie, looked pretty good, to me.
On the way home, I read a review by Ross Douthat of the new Lorax movie. (The review is in the current NR.) He writes that, when Dr. Seuss first wrote The Lorax, he had his main character muttering, “I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie.” But, says Douthat, Dr. Seuss “removed the line after Erie was cleaned up.”
Back in New York, I saw the best and worst of St. Patrick’s Day. The best? Adorable children dressed in green, with shamrock decals on their cheeks. The worst? Young men pissing in the streets, as though it were their divine right.
It’s not, is it?
(Reading the news the next day, I gathered there was even worse than that — “Occupiers” exercising their right to take dumps on police cars while decrying private property, or whatever it is they do.)
In a few hours, off to North Dakota, which I’m told is the least visited state in the Union. Well, let’s make a dent in that, you know?
In last Wednesday’s Impromptus, I mentioned “The Hug” — the warm embrace with which Alice Frazier of Washington, D.C., enveloped Queen Elizabeth II in 1991. The queen has been touched very, very few times in public during her 60-year reign. That was one of them.
Several readers wrote to me, “Remember Jimmy Carter!” Oh, yes. Jimmah kissed the queen mother full on the lips. She recoiled at this for many years after, noting that it was the only time any man had kissed her on the lips since her husband, King George VI, who died in 1952. The queen mother quipped that, when our president approached her, “I took a sharp step backwards — not far enough.”
She also liked to give a kind of negative toast — an anti-toast. She would lift her glass to people she abhorred. Once, she reportedly said, “Tony Benn, Idi Amin, Jimmy Carter.”
Now, I’m no fan of the 39th president, as regular readers know, but that’s going a little too far. (The Amin business. Jimmah belongs with Lord Wedgwood, or whatever the hell Benn calls himself, I would say.) If you toted up Carter’s 500 worst offenses, the kiss of the queen’s mum would not come close to cracking the list.
Care for a little Cordell Hull? He won the Nobel peace prize in 1945. I had an op-ed piece on him in Sunday’s (Nashville) Tennessean. Hull himself was a Tennessean, one of two to have won the peace prize. The other was Bill Clinton’s vice president. (No objection, please, that he grew up in a Washington, D.C., hotel. Could he help it if his father was a senator?)
A reader writes, “Never before has this sentence been written. Never again will it be written.”
What’s he talking about? The opening of this news article: “An earless baby bunny that was a rising star on Germany’s celebrity animal scene had his 15 minutes of fame brought to an abrupt end when he was accidentally stepped on by a television cameraman.”
Yes, I think that’s right: never before, never again.
Have a good week, y’all! (Sorry about the bunny.)