As you probably know, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton sat down for a joint interview with 60 Minutes. (Something tells me they weren’t anticipating any difficult questions.) A few words caught my eye, when I was reading about the interview. Let me give you a bit of the transcript:
Hillary: “. . . despite our hard-fought primary, we had such agreement on what needed to be done for our country.”
Obama: “Made for tough debates, by the way, ’cause we . . .”
Hillary: “It did. We could never figure out what we were different on.”
This is what I said my own bad self, during the Dem primaries in ’08: There wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between those two candidates. Didn’t nobody listen to me.
In addition to talking to 60 Minutes, Obama talked to The New Republic. (Real risk-taker, he is.) Drudge had a headline: “A New Republic . . .” Made me think of an old Bill Buckley response: The New Republic was hitting him, and he said (something like), “While you’re busy devising the new republic, someone has to look after the old republic.”
Believe it or not, I think Bill said this in response to Charles Krauthammer (who was a major New Republic figure). Not long after, ’twas nothin’ but love between WFB and Dr. K.
I guess I’ll never have a chance to question President Obama, but I have a million questions for him, including this: “Do you regard the economy as a pie? So that if one person has a larger slice, another person necessarily has a smaller one?” I know he does, because (a) he acts like it, and (b) he told someone I know that he does. I’d just like to hear him discuss the matter in public.
A lot of people regard the economy as a pie — probably more than half of the people. Economic illiteracy is the Democratic party’s best friend.
I thought of something, when reading about the House GOP’s recent gambit: That gambit is called “No budget, no pay.” If one of the two chambers fails to pass a budget (that’d be the Democratic Senate, of course), the members of that chamber don’t get paid. That’s what the Republicans want to establish, anyway.
You see what they’re reduced to, in the House — the chamber they control: gambits, gimmicks, guerrilla-ish tactics — stunts. I like it. You do what you can. (As Newt and the boys knew, way back in pre-’94 days.)
Conservatives took note of an article published in Salon, in which a writer said she knew that life begins at conception, but favored abortion anyway, because a mother has the right to decide whether the child lives or . . . you know: the alternative.
I thought of something that Wesley Clark said, when he was trying to get the Democratic nomination: “Life begins with the mother’s decision.” Essentially, that is the belief of the Democratic party, it seems to me. Sometimes they don’t say so so clearly.
Put this in the category of Plus ça change: When I was in high school, a kid in our dorm had a bumper sticker telling about the number of gun deaths in Japan. Very low. His point was, gun control.
Yesterday, I saw this item, in the Associated Press’s “10 Things to Know for Today”: “6. HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE KILLED BY GUNS IN JAPAN? Just seven were shot dead in 2011 in a nation of 130 million, compared to more than 11,000 gun-related killings a year in the U.S.”
The pro-gun side always says, “Switzerland!” The citizens of that country are very heavily armed, and the gun deaths are very few. The anti-gun side says, “Japan!” This has been happening for decades.
Obviously, culture matters a great deal. And I wonder whether the AP would ever tell you about Switzerland. They’re keen for you to know about Japan.
See if you think this’ll be a fair trial:
Russia is preparing to put lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on trial, even though he is dead . . .
Magnitsky, a lawyer for the Hermitage Capital fund, died in jail in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of colluding in stealing $230 million from the state. He was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion by the same Interior Ministry officials he accused.
(Full article here.) Something tells me, maybe not a fair trial. We might even have cause to use the S word, “show.”
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,
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.
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.