Politics & Policy

In The Cold

Peace, Peace, but there is no Peace

Why do we call them peace marchers? Over the past weekend, some tens of thousands of people gathered in American cities to denounce the foreign policy of the Bush administration. It’s conventional to call them “peace protesters” or “antiwar protesters” – but is it accurate? Was Charles Lindbergh a “peace activist” when he called for making an alliance with Germany against the Soviet Union – or when he later blamed the Jews and the British for duping America into fighting the wrong country?

Listen to the speeches of the weekend marchers – read their placards – or, if you have a strong stomach, look through their “indymedia.org” websites. What you see there is not opposition to war. They are all for war, when it is waged against Israel. Nor do they remember to post even pro forma denunciations of Saddam’s wars against his neighbors – and much less of the threat he poses to the United States and its allies. So what do you call people who take to the streets to try to save Saddam from defeat in the conflict with the U.S. he started in 1990? The plainest and least euphemistic term, it seems to me, is simply: “pro-Saddam protesters.”

Bravery in the Snow

The Washington Post in its weekend reports of the demonstration in the capital commented on the protesters’ “endurance” of the cold weather. Forgive me for not being impressed: It was 24 degrees! In Toronto, we used to call that balmy. But it did provoke this question: every year, hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers gather in Washington in January to commemorate the Roe v. Wade decision. Can anyone remember any major media organization noticing that those protesters also braved the weather?

Roe at 30

Much commentary everywhere on the 30th anniversary of America’s most bitterly disputed Supreme Court decision. I have little to add, except this one thought: It’s worth pausing to consider just how long 30 years is in the life of the law. Brown v. Board of Education was bitterly controversial in its day. But by the time it turned 30, it was accepted almost unanimously. Ditto for the hotly contested decisions of the New Deal courts: by 1968, those once impassioned debates were ancient history. It’s a good bet that if a court decision cannot get itself accepted in three decades, it will never get itself accepted.

Which is pretty ironic, since the main defense that legal philosophers make of highly activist decisions like Roe is that even if they are not justified by the text of the Constitution, they somehow express society’s emerging moral consensus. But what if that moral consensus fails to emerge? Isn’t the inability of a society to digest a highly activist judicial decision in itself a powerful indicator that the decision must be wrong?

Reviews & Reviewers

THE RIGHT MAN was very favorably reviewed over the past few days by the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Both reviews are posted on my website, davidfrum.com. Jay Nordlinger gave THE RIGHT MAN a generous review here on NRO last week. Not so generous was a profile in the Washington Post Style section this weekend. Well, you can’t please everybody. But the Post’s reporter did make one serious error, and it demands correction. When he asked me how it was that I’d become familiar with the president’s thinking, I explained that – in addition to the ordinary workaday interactions between the president and his writing staff – it was Bush’s custom to call his writers into the Oval Office every two or three weeks for hour-long conversations in which he would tell us what was on his mind. Bush believed that the only way we could capture his voice was if we knew his thoughts, and of course he was right. The Post reporter asked me how many of these conversations were one-on-one, and I told him truthfully that very few of them were. That got transformed in print into an accusation that I had only spoken with Bush at any length on two or three occasions, a misrepresentation that is at best incredibly sloppy, and at worst, actively dishonest.


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