Today is supposed to be Corrections and Clarifications Friday. But there are several problems. First, there isn’t anything to correct. If you were to distill my columns since the last corrections column you would discover they were 99 and 44/100ths pure accuracy. Okay that’s not quite true. The real problem is that this may well be the last pretty day of the Washington Summer and pouring through hundreds of critical e-mails is not exactly the way I want to spend my day when I could be watching TV with the shades down.
Speaking of TV (ah TV you’ll never let me down), we should get the obscure references out of the way. “Happy and peppy and bursting with love” was the title of a song written by Felix Unger and eventually sung by Jaye P. Morgan in the television series The Odd Couple (another tune written by Felix: “Let’s Hit Hitler Where He Lives.”) Not only did dozens of you get this, many were capable of quoting extensively from the specific episode which was very impressive …. or disturbing.
Regardless, I’m delighted there are so many people like me out there. Personally, I believe The Odd Couple was among the greatest television shows in history. And that’s why I’m asking you to: A) name a poem written by Felix; B) name all the members of the poker game; C) tell me who Oscar and Felix tried to sell their car to; D) make the sound for attracting squirrels; E) recount how many times Oscar and Felix first met and; F) tell me Oscar’s mob name.
On a more enlightened note, “Shut up, he explained,” is a line from a Ring Lardner story. I think that’s about it for obscure references that people actually got. I should say on a procedural note that I find it annoying to have to say “What’s that from?” for you guys to guess. I would think by now you would know that I don’t always flat out ask, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t guess. C’mon guys, this is my job. I dislike Milton as much as you guys but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the work.
Okay, on to the substantive stuff.
REAGAN = HOSS
Most of the disagreements came from the merry band of masochistic lefties who read my columns. Nothing brings them out of the woodwork more than some good red-blooded Reagan worship.
One fellow who is determined that the world see Reagan as he does — in fevered visions of rage that warrant some investigation from the Secret Service — gets quite peeved whenever I point out that God put Reagan on this planet to do two things, chew gum and kick ass, and he ran out of gum a long time ago. He and a few other Very Angry People In Distress (VAPIDs) insist that Reagan’s legacy will be homelessness — some death squads in South America and greed. There are two possible responses to the Vapids . 1) I could point out that the “homelessness epidemic” was mostly the result of the deinstitutionalization of the wackos and the media’s overkill; engage in a heated debate about Reagan’s level of culpability for excesses committed by people beyond his control during a global struggle between the forces of freedom and tyranny; and go into my usual tirade about how Reagan greed was a left-wing media construct. Or, 2) I could simply say ooo eee eee ooo ah ah ting tang wallah wallah bing bang.
I’m going with curtain number two.
NOTHING TO THE CONTRARY, CHESTLESS MEN
Moving on to other issues. There were essentially only two kinds of responses to my tirade against Bonnie Erbe and her horrendously silly chick-chat show, To the Contrary. Those who have seen the show, said, “Way to go, that show is so awful I would rather have a paper cut on my cornea than watch it for ten minutes.” Of course I’m paraphrasing. The other category of respondents said, “I’ve never heard of her or her show but she sounds so awful I would rather have a paper cut on my cornea than ever see it.”
Then there was my column “Making Men Without Chests.” Some people wrote to tell me there is nothing wrong with peeing in the sink. “It keeps the bugs away,” wrote one guy who may be the only person who lives in more squalor than I do. But what I found to be the most irksome response came from a dozen or so people who assumed that I did not know where the phrase “Men without Chests” comes from. Of course I do. It was the motto of the East German women’s track team. Okay, okay, it’s the title of an essay written by C.S. Lewis and found in the Abolition of Man. The essay seemed to anticipate the age of Clinton quite nicely:
We make men without chests and we expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and we are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
But what is irksome is that anyone could think I didn’t know it. I don’t mean to say I’m all-knowing, it’s just a weird thing to come up with by accident, like entitling an essay “Wuthering Heights” without having ever heard of the porn movie.
Just this week I wrote that, “Denying two women the right to marry is not the same as denying a black man and a white woman the right to marry.” This elicited a lot of mail — as does every reference to gay marriage. A bunch of people wanted to know “Why?” At least fifteen people just wrote that one-word response. This is not only fast becoming an old argument it is becoming the sort of argument where it is tempting for both sides to just say, “they just don’t get it.”
Let me take another stab.
Legally and morally race should be as relevant as height or eye color. It should be considered superficial rather than fundamental, epiphenomenal rather than essential. Saying someone is black should not confer anymore information than saying someone has curly hair. Of course, because of all sorts of cultural considerations, that’s not the case. But it’s still how the law should view race, i.e. not at all.
Now, when you say someone is a “man” or a “woman” that does convey information. Male and female are real categories, regardless of what the gyno-American set may think. Gay and straight are real categories too, covering very specific behavior and attitudes that are vastly more significant than skin color.
Marriage is and has been defined as a specific union between one man and one woman. By saying that marriage can be a union between a man and man, or three men, or fifty, changes that definition. You may think it’s fine or even vital that we change the definition to include same-sex couples, and therein lies a worthy debate. But spare me this haughty and feigned naïveté. If you can’t tell the difference between a gay marriage and an interracial one you are either a fool or a liar or quite possibly both.
I’M SORRY, BUT….
When the epic and great story of National Review Online is told there will be a chapter entitled “The Pop-Up Incident.” Romance and intrigue will play a role, to be sure, but it will most assuredly be a tale of bloodlust and rage. Oh the white-hot anger of thousands of flying monkeys as they must grapple with the injustice and harassment of a non-stop pop-up menu. Some of the sentiments I have received (again paraphrased to protect me from the disturbed): “If you don’t stop these pop-up menus, I will eat your Adam’s Apple!” “These pop-up menus confirm my suspicions that National Review is a crypto-fascist rag!” “Stop these pop-up menus or I will shoot this dog.”
But the story doesn’t end there. For there were the backroom battles between the suits and the wretches. The suits in their monomaniacal desire for filthy lucre demanded the pop-ups. The wretches stood for truth and justice as we always do and demanded they be taken down. And then — like we always do — we surrendered with the suddenness of a Parisian mayor who hears the honk of a passing Volkswagen.
So: I apologize for the pop-ups. Please, please, please, please stop yelling at me. Stop threatening me. And, please, don’t publish those blackmail photos. We have worked out a compromise with the suits. Instead of getting seventeen thousand pop-up menus every hour, you should only get them occasionally and never more than once per visit.
Okay so I know this wasn’t exactly the most substance-filled corrections column. If there’s something I should have addressed, drop me a line (PLEASE! Put “corrections” in the subject header).
A FEW ANNOUNCEMENTS
According to top9.com, National Review Online is the 6th most visited news magazine website, ahead of The Economist and some other big boys. I have to research how they measure these things because their unique user numbers are way low, but still it’s nice to hear.
Second, thanks to everyone for their kind words of encouragement during the hernia episode. Looking through old e-mails, I was amazed to see as many as I did.
Third, I’m happy to report there is movement on my motto for the 2000 election. A nice guy named Larry sent me a picture of his daughter’s new jeep. She painted the wheel cover with “Cathargo Delenda Est.” When will someone make the bumper stickers?
Fourth, thanks for sending all those e-mails to Jewish World News about my syndicated column. If I could only get you guys to do similar work on your local newspapers I would be able to afford a non-coin operated dialysis machine.
Fifth (or fourth plus one), For those of you who saw Richard Cohen’s stunningly moronic assault on Rich Lowry yesterday, you should also read Rich’s response by clicking here.
Sixth (or eighth minus two), remember to visit NRO Weekend where all of the nudity will be tasteful and integral to the plot