Politics & Policy

When Peaceniks Fight; a Monday Clarification; a Little Bit About Me; The Results Are in!


Nobody likes to be caught agreeing with people they can’t stand. This is the problem some conservatives, like myself, risk today when they support Clinton’s War. Why internationalist conservatives are in favor of intervention in Yugoslavia is no mystery. They favored asserting America’s strength and values for the last forty years. Indeed, many liberals were forced to call themselves conservatives — solely because they took the twilight struggle with Communism seriously.

But why are the tie-dye dashiki, no blood for oil, let’s give sanctions a chance, San Francisco Democrat, and Nuclear Freeze peacenik crowds in favor of using American force overseas? Most liberals who mouth that “American interests are at stake” are saying that because they thinks it’s cool to hear those words come out of their mouths — sort of like the kick I get when I say “hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go” or “Keep your Rosaries off my Ovaries!”

Last week my father and I were watching Hardball and some Democratic Congressman suggested that, unlike in Vietnam, America’s national security is at stake. My dad made a face like he was watching James Carville in an NEA grant performance-art show.

It’s not that I don’t think there are national-security issues at stake in Yugoslavia. There are — some. But if the Left is so jazzed about protecting our vital interests, why did I spend my last year in college avoiding “learn-ins” about how America was simply trading because it suggests that any one person has more “authority” to explain something to someone else? At learn-ins all voices are privileged, all perspectives are valid — so long as you agree that we should give a peace a chance, up to and until Iraqi soldiers are rifling through your fridge and eating your leftover Chinese food. In fact, if I had a petrodollar for every kitschy neo-hippie who told me “Peace through Strength is like Virginity through F–cking” I’d be phoning in this column from my villa in Tuscany.

No, the truth is that the Left likes military force precisely when we have nothing at stake. This is a fairly clichéd point these days, so I won’t belabor it. But still, I’m curious to know what would happen if the peace-loving people of China decided to invade Taiwan or if North Korea decides it’s tired of eating boot-and-grass soup and decides to invade South Korea or Japan. Where will the Left be then? We can invade Haiti to “restore Democracy” (translation: replace a thug without ties to left-wing groups in the U.S. with a thug that Jesse Jackson can work with) because nothing so prosaic as national security can sully our good intentions.

I think this is a revealing psychological tick. The Left has spent decades practicing the art of dismissing facts by attacking motives. Anti-Communism is an irrational fear, conservatives are just homophobes, that guy has written for such-and-such magazine, that scientist has taken money from Big Oil, this independent counsel believes in God: Mental states trump facts on the ground. Conservatives are biased by nature while liberals see the world clearly.

Well, it turns out you can’t make that kind of argument for so long without starting to believe it. The rule for the Left today is only to fight wars if your motives are indeed pure. Purity is determined by unalloyed altruism and utopianism. Indeed, just this morning I watched Bill Clinton justify sending troops to Kosovo because such a move was consonant with his new expansion of hate-crime laws to cover homosexuals. He cited discrimination against women in Afghanistan and ethnic conflicts in Africa and Europe as other examples of “old demons” America must be willing to oppose. In short, the war in Kosovo is a war to end hate crimes.

Well, that’s very nice. But if that’s the case, I’m painting a big peace sign on my van, buying a bong, and moving to Canada.


Last week, en route to N’awlins, I hurriedly filed a piece with an unfortunate typo. I said that I would explain the etymology of the term “scrotal toque.” Unfortunately, the correct phrase is “scrotal torque.” I came back to dozens of e-mails from people saying: “Tocque??? This better be good.” Unfortunately, I’m not sure how good this will be.

Scrotal torque is a term which has gained some currency over the last year. Many associate it with my mother, who was quoted saying it in an article by National Review Managing Editor Jay Nordlinger (when he was still in D.C., working on that Weekly Standard-thingy). She recently used the phrase again in her review of Michael Isikoff’s book in the current issue of Slate. I had hoped to set the record straight with a nexis search, but my researches have proved fruitless. Nevertheless, I distinctly remember “scrotal torque” being mentioned in (I think) the New York Times in the mid 1980s as a dangerous side effect of break dancing. Doctors feared that urban youths who spun like dervishes on their backs might suffer from scrotal torque, which involves torque and scrotal stuff I care not to describe, and certainly not from memory. Anyway, I then used the phrase in a dialogue with Margaret Carlson in Slate magazine last summer (I heartily recommend it if it’s still in their archives). The implication was that Ms. Carlson’s (male) heroes in the Clinton administration were spinning to the point they were in danger of separating themselves from items one should never leave home without. Mom loved the phrase and has used it ever since. Now, isn’t that a lovely story?


When I am speaking to large groups of corporate fat cats who lavish me with cash and fancy hotel rooms, I am often asked what I did before I slowly went insane writing an obscure Internet column in which my couch plays a prominent role. Usually I tell them such answers cost extra. Their measly 10 grand only entitles them to my standard speech.

But for you, my people, it’s different.

Immediately prior to this gig, I was a television producer. Someday I will share my views on that thankless profession. In the meantime, I’d like to plug my own work. Throughout the country this week, various PBS stations are airing a documentary I wrote and produced, “Notre Dame: Witness to History.” Making this “film” taught me a number of important things. First, the French Revolution was the source of much modern evil. Second, the Catholic Church is really interesting. Third, if you speak in English really loudly it doesn’t make foreigners understand you any better. Fourth, the French are determined to become the most culturally advanced nation in the second world. Fifth, if you are going to subtitle a documentary “Witness to History” make sure the history part is on film somewhere. Sixth, more interns! And Seventh, I don’t like being a television producer.

Still, if you get a chance to see it, check what else is on. If it’s that same episode of Saved by An Angel you see every time you stumble on CBS, maybe you should turn back. You should certainly throw a rock through the local PBS station’s window with a note attached saying they should have more quality programming like “Notre Dame.” Perhaps you might suggest another masterpiece of mine: “Gargoyles: Guardians of the Gate.” But that’s another story.


One thing I can tell you about my television oeuvre, it’s not very sweaty. All of the schvitzing was done on my side of the camera. Not so with the winner of the Sweatiest Movie Ever Poll.

In the Heat of the Night (129) 9%

Raging Bull (156) 11%

The Rocky Movies (233) 17%

The Bridge on the River Kwai (409) 29%

Cool Hand Luke (474) 34%

It looks like the producers of Cheers had it right over a decade ago. Cool Hand Luke wins! Great! This endless poll is over and I will never discuss it again, that is unless what we’ve got here is a failure t’ communicate or I decide that in fact a man can eat fifty eggs.

Coming tomorrow: A New Poll!!!!


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