I was reading along in Zev Chafets’s new book, when I thought of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Zev mentions that Malcolm X “applauded the assassination of John F. Kennedy as ‘chickens coming home to roost.’”
After 9/11, Wright cited Malcolm. He then went through the sins of America, real and imagined (by the reverend himself). One of those sins was our “terrorism” in Grenada. And when al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11, said Wright, the chickens were simply coming home to roost. To emphasize this, he flapped around like a chicken.
You can see his amazing performance here.
Wright is a hateful leftist clown, of course — at least in part of his life. But I have a question: Does his parishioner of 20 years, President Obama, believe what Wright believes? I suspect he believes it to a degree. But the degree is unknowable, at least by me.
I think he believes essentially what the late Edward Said believed, and what other campus leftists believe. I look forward to Obama’s memoirs (his post-presidential memoirs, I mean). I hope they’re super-candid.
I have another question: In 2009, Wright said he hadn’t spoken to the president because “them Jews ain’t gonna let him talk to me.” Now that Obama is safely reelected, will them Jews let him talk to Wright? Or will them Jews insist that Obama wait until he’s out of office?
After the midterms maybe?
Zev Chafets’s new book is Roger Ailes: Off Camera. As I say in the current National Review, he seems to be making a specialty of larger-than-life conservative figures: In 2010, he came out with a book about Rush Limbaugh.
I seem to be making a specialty of reviewing those books. I reviewed the Limbaugh book — go here, if you like — and I have reviewed the new one.
As I also say in this review — the current one — Chafets has no specialty. He is a versatile writer, as a glance at his books confirms. He has written both nonfiction and fiction. He has written on Detroit (his hometown, pretty much), Israel, baseball, the Mob, etc.
He is both American and Israeli. On some books, he is “Ze’ev”; on others, he is an apostropheless “Zev.” His last name, in English, is pronounced to rhyme with “Hey, Fitz.” (Accent on the first syllable.) That name is the same as the violinist’s — Heifetz — and the same as the Utah congressman’s — Chaffetz. These are different transliterations of the same name.
I don’t propose to recapitulate my review of the book on Ailes. But let me give you a little extra — some things that I could not fit into the review.
I learned something interesting about Nixon. Chafets quotes Ailes as saying, “He once told me that the hardest part of being president was coming down to breakfast in the morning and explaining the horrendous cartoons Herblock did of him in the Washington Post to his daughters.”
The late Herb Block — who signed himself “Herblock” — drew what looked a lot like agitprop. It was very crude cartooning, and sharply left-wing.
Chafets reports that Ailes offered Chris Wallace the job of hosting Fox’s Sunday-morning show on two conditions. As Wallace says, “Roger told me, ‘I want you to be equally tough on Republicans and Democrats. And I want to know if you can get up in the morning and not think that America is to blame for most of the world’s problems.’”
Wallace, says Chafets, “assured Ailes that he could deliver on both counts . . .”
Do you remember this line of Don Rumsfeld’s? “America is not what’s wrong with the world.” True.
Brit Hume says, “There are more liberals on Fox than all the networks combined have conservatives.” True? I imagine so.
Chafets quotes Ailes a lot, and you can’t blame him: Ailes is a “quote machine,” as I say in my review. A fount. He ought to be on camera, I think, rather than off. He’d be a star commentator. He’ll have to settle for running the network, I guess.
Let me give you a few Ailes specials: “Every time I needed a job, I had to go to a rich guy.” He has nothing against the poor: It’s just that they don’t have jobs to hand out.
The way he helps minorities, he says, is by providing opportunities. “I don’t wear pins or ribbons but I do give out jobs.”
He donates to a variety of charities, including religious ones: Catholic charities, Jewish charities. He’ll give to Muslim charities too “if they disarm.”
This one, I really love: You know all the talk about “entitlements”? Government checks and the like? Special privileges? “You are either American or you aren’t,” says Ailes. “Living here is the only entitlement you need.”
That ought to be in Bartlett’s: Living in America is the entitlement.
Did you see this story? “Major League Baseball has created a task force that will study how to increase diversity in the game, especially among black players.” I think of sports as the last bastion of meritocracy: Either you can play or you can’t. Athletic excellence knows no color. Same with music.
A task force on diversity in baseball? Really? Is that necessary? Can America give skin color a rest, ever?
Several years ago, I was going to mail something to a friend in Salzburg. He said, sighingly, “It’ll probably end up in Australia.” Austria and Australia are perpetually confused.
Which is why this story is so amusing: Wallabies are loose in the Austrian countryside. Really. Amazing.
Shall we have a little language? There’s a lot of Brit-speak I don’t know, and Boris Johnson taught me something new in a recent column. Of the Qataris, he said, “Their airport has just run out of room, and they aren’t faffing around with some study into the options — they are building a new one, right on the sea.”
The Internet — the almighty, omniscient Internet — told me that faffing means “dithering” or “fussing.” Nice.
I learned something from a Michael Wright column too: “to winkle out.” The author spoke of a “former budget minister given to winkling out the kind of slimy tax-dodgers who hide their wealth in secret Swiss bank accounts.”
“To winkle out”: “to force from a place or position.”
Wright’s column is about France, and he writes,
When I telephone my friend Clément Bresard-Billet, a young management consultant working in Paris, he surprises me by announcing that he is planning to move to Australia next year. “Our model is finished,” he explains. “I find it hard to imagine a future here. France is like a patient in intensive care. The family dreams there’s still a bit of life in the old bones but, secretly, they all know it’s the end.” Many of his Parisian friends, he adds, are planning similar moves.
All God’s chillen got anecdotes. Let me give you one of mine: A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with a French friend, a businessman who took his company to another country in Europe. I said, “How do you think Hollande is doing?” (François Hollande is the new president of France, a Socialist.) My friend — a very measured, sensible man, and apolitical, as far as I can tell — said, “France is doomed.” He said it again, to make sure I had heard correctly.
Let’s end with some music. I don’t have any criticism for you, but I have a tidbit of a kind. Every month, the New York Philharmonic runs a couple of Q&As in its program booklet. The Q&As are with members of the orchestra. This month, one of the interviewees is Na Sun, a violinist, and a native of China. She is asked about her “most memorable moments with the orchestra.” She answers, “Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Lorin Maazel and Opening Night 2006. Standing and playing the National Anthem was a special moment for me — my first job in America!”
I thought that was kind of neat. Thanks for joining me, dear readers, and catch you soon.
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.