Reading the news the last few weeks — the IRS scandal, etc. — I’ve thought of a line from the 2012 campaign. In Ohio, the Obama people ran an ad that said, “Mitt Romney. Not one of us.”
So true — truer words were never spoken. Not one of them at all. Nothing like them.
There is a view that set in on Election Night, a view instantly common among Republicans: Romney wasn’t good enough for the country. He did not draw sharp enough distinctions with Obama. The public, the great American public, had no choice but to vote for Obama once more. They did not have a good enough alternative.
I think this view is not only wrong but, in a way, tragic. And there is nothing — nothing — that can shake a person from it.
In the effort to reform Social Security, I thought President George W. Bush was better than his troops. Better than we Republicans and conservatives. We sort of sat and groused and sniffed. Every now and then, a leader is better than his troops.
Romney has honor, but does the country? I mean, enough of the country? Elections are reflections of a people, as I have said often (and will refrain from saying again for at least an hour).
The other day, President Obama summoned a Marine to hold an umbrella for him. I couldn’t help thinking, “At least Neville Chamberlain held his own umbrella.”
I will never be able to think of statesmen and umbrellas without thinking of Chamberlain.
When Van Galbraith was among us, I pumped him for Reagan stories, as I have long pumped people associated with Reagan. Van was the Gipper’s first ambassador to France. He was also a good friend of Bill Buckley, and a good friend of National Review.
Reagan visited the U.S. ambassador’s residence in France, and noticed a portrait of a lady. “Who’s that?” he asked. “Neville Chamberlain’s mother,” came the reply. Reagan paused for a second and said, “Where’s her umbrella?”
I am telling this story from memory, but I think it’s about right . . .
Several weeks ago, I looked into the Khmer Rouge trials in Cambodia. They have been pretty pathetic. And I sought a lot of opinion about what a country should do after genocide or other gross crimes. How the monsters should be handled.
I think I’ve swung to the view — however reluctantly — that prosecution is futile, or at least unsatisfying, and that a truth-and-reconciliation commission may be a better choice. You hate to see the monsters get off, but . . .
Now, I’m not comparing the IRS scandal to the Cambodian genocide. I’m really not. Swear. But I think it’s less important that we prosecute the wrongdoers here than that we find out what the hell happened. Let shame be their punishment.
If shame is still possible (I mean, other than for failing to recycle or for making a racist remark).
On the covers of magazines and the front pages of newspapers, I see Brad Pitt hailed as a hero — because he has not ditched Angelina Jolie, in the wake of a mastectomy.
Has it come to this? Has it really come to this? Will we soon be congratulating people for not murdering others in the streets? Maybe give them a medal?
A member of Fatah’s Central Committee — these are the “moderate” Palestinians, remember — told Lebanese television, “By God, if we’d had a nuclear weapon, we would have used it this morning.”
Oh, I believe you, baby. (The Palestinian leader in question, by the way, is Jibril Rajoub.) I believe you. You don’t have to tell me.
So, the tornado in Oklahoma? I have heard it blamed on 1) global warming and 2) the sequester. You know, it may have been less annoying when people just blamed stuff on the Jews . . .
Last week, there was a wonderful dinner in New York, hosted by Dana Perino and Mark French. Mark is the head of Leading Authorities, an agency in Washington. Dana is the former Bush 43 spokesman and current Fox News star. Also present was her suave British husband, Peter McMahon.
And the guest of honor? Another Brit, Charles Moore, one of the best writers in English (no less). Let me give you a link that you will value: here. This is Moore’s archive at the Telegraph. He will inform, console, provoke, and uplift.
He is Thatcher’s authorized biographer, and the first volume of that biography has just appeared: here. He is surely the foremost Thatcher expert in the world. But he must not be thought of as a specialist. On theater, politics, literature, world affairs — he’s one you want to read.
Even his columns on banking are interesting, I swear. I remember a column of his on banks — their purpose, their responsibility — that was downright moving.
The last column I have read is this one, on the new Gatsby film. A faithful adaptation of a book is not necessarily a good film, he says. A film must be its own, separate-but-related work. And I recommend a very peculiar and interesting column from two months ago: this one. Donne wrote a poem called “Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward.” Four hundred years later, Moore did the same thing. He didn’t write a poem. But he rode westward, and wrote a column about it.
He’s the only person on earth who could have, or would have, written such a column, I think. It is “anthologizable,” as Bill Buckley would say. I my own bad self might have worked up a column on Donne, Good Friday, and the fate of civilization. But the ride? No way.
Regular readers of my column are familiar with Moore, and they are also familiar with Michael Hersch, the American composer. For a magazine profile I did of him last year, go here.
Over the centuries, composers have written pieces for their children — and other children, by extension. Hersch has followed in that tradition. He and his wife Karen have a daughter named Abigail. Abby was born on the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth: January 27, 2006.
Daddy’s Child’s Piece is in A minor (no sharps or flats). Here is Abby playing it — in public. It’s hard to know what to be more impressed by: the piece and its craftsmanship, or the performance by this seven-year-old gem.
What aplomb! What a sense of rhythm! What accuracy! What leaps across the keyboard! What a sense of musical purpose!
Have you had enough of a column for one day? This is a shortish one, but I don’t think you can top or follow Abby.
UPDATE: This column has been amended since its original posting.