Politics & Policy


The Dems' man, Clinton worse than Blix, FJBs for War, &c.

Working with such beauties as Ramsey Clark, Rep. John Conyers is looking into the impeachment of President Bush over Iraq. Who is John Conyers? The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. In the event the Democrats recaptured control of Congress, he would be chairman — of this most important committee.

Don’t you think this should be an issue for the Democratic party? And the Republican party? And if not, why not?

Furthermore: Shouldn’t a Democrat’s solidarity with a certified nutjob like Ramsey Clark be some kind of issue, somewhere?

You will recall that the late Rep. Ted Weiss, Democrat of New York, tried to impeach Reagan over Grenada. So this is a party tradition.

I guess Democrats impeach Republicans for acting like U.S. presidents; Republicans impeach Democrats for not acting like them.

Our Richard Brookhiser has a (typically) marvelous article in the April Atlantic Monthly. It concerns George W. Bush and his decision-making process.

I’d like to draw attention to one paragraph in the article. Bush counts as a hero and example Sam Houston, father of Texas. Brookhiser writes,

One of Bush’s favorite stories about Houston concerns the crisis of the last years of his life, when the governor [Houston], a staunch Unionist, refused to take a loyalty oath to the Confederacy. Houston’s office was declared vacant, and after he left the state capitol, a crowd showered him with abuse. The lesson Bush draws from that story is the fickleness of instant verdicts and the importance of doing the right thing. It is a tale of heroic principle and of virtue rewarded in the long run: The political nadir of Houston’s life became a high point in the judgment of history.

Isn’t that the sort of president we’d like in office — especially now, when we’re entering a dangerous new world, and the right thing isn’t always the popular or most comforting thing?

With every passing day, I’m more convinced that Bush is, indeed — in David Frum’s phrase — “the right man.”

So, whom did the New York Times turn to, for a review of Eric Alterman’s book alleging that the media, far from being left-leaning, are conservative? A Clinton speechwriter, of course. (Ted Widmer.) Who else did you expect?

Speaking of the New York Times, a correspondent of mine points out the following sentence, from a story on a pop-music duo: “In Russia, feminism is a dirty word, despite the Soviet era’s emphasis on women’s rights.”

Nice, huh? Now, if the Times writer meant mere rhetoric, okay — but . . .

The flap of a recent New Yorker said, “Why some people are so sure about going to war and some aren’t, by Hendrik Hertzberg.”

You see what that sets up, don’t you? How sly and dishonest it is? It establishes two poles: the pro-war people, who are “sure” — cocksure, of course, and probably heedless of the dangers — and people who “aren’t” so sure. But there is at least one other camp, of course, and it is a huge and influential one: those who are dead-sure that this war is wrong and that Bush and his allies are moronic, misguided, or criminal for wanting to wage it.

But, in the New Yorker mindset, apparently, there are just pro-war red-hots and reasonable, moderate old worriers.

The Blix interview with MTV was abhorrent, of course, and utterly revealing of the man. But he said one correct thing, in my view:

I think one must be aware that the Iraqis would not have moved one inch without political and military pressure. I took part in Secretary Kofi Annan’s discussions with the Iraqis last summer and I’m quite sure they would not have moved but for that. It’s fine with public opinion and with the Arab League and many others urging them to accept inspections, but they would not have accepted inspections had it not been for the U.S. pressure. And this has to remain there. Even now I think the pressure is a necessary element. The threat of force is important and vital, but the use of force is awful.

Contrast this with a report late last week on Bill Clinton’s views: “On the issue of Iraq, Clinton said he supports booting dictator Saddam Hussein out of Baghdad and destroying his weapons, but he said Bush has made it more difficult to line up international cooperation for a possible war.

“Right after winning U.N. Security Council support in November for weapons inspections, the White House ‘sent 150,000 troops to the Gulf, which convinced everybody we weren’t serious about U.N. inspections. That’s how we got into this political mess.’”

Bill Clinton is to the left of Hans Blix on Iraq. But then, Clinton says one thing one day, and another thing the next. That’s what it is to be Clinton.

Was reading an interview with PGA Tour player Chris Smith, and wanted to share a snippet of it with you. You take your comfort where you can get it.

PGATour.com asked him, “If you were king for a day, what decree would you make?” Smith responded, “A flat tax” on income.

Chris Smith for President!

More celebrity comfort? Conservatives will get a huge kick out of this New York Times story on James Woods, the actor. I’ll give you just one paragraph:

Mr. Woods is that Hollywood rarity, a plain-spoken political conservative. He’s charming and funny, and even when he’s idling, his engine races, ready for some open road. An hourlong tour d’horizon found him holding forth against “the feminist jihad,” calling Bill Clinton “a virtual nonstop liar,” describing the “overwhelming, unmitigated, almost psychopathological narcissism” behind Hillary Rodham Clinton’s approach to reforming the health-care system a decade ago, and recalling with great satisfaction the day he responded to Senator Barbara Boxer’s question about whether he favored abortion by saying, “I do if people like you have it.”

A corker, James Woods.

More celebs? A reader sent me this:

“I saw something on TV last night that I thought you’d appreciate. West Coast gangsta-rap impresario Suge Knight, having just been released from prison, was on the Jimmy Kimmel late-night talk show. And more than once, Suge mentioned that he supported the president and our country and our fight. He also emphasized that he was an American, and not a hyphenated African-American. . . . Rap mogul and admitted thug Marion ‘Suge’ Knight, new conservative hero?”


A couple of years ago, the divine Lucianne Goldberg had “FJB” buttons printed up, in response to a phrase that the young Hillary Rodham allegedly hurled at a Clinton campaign aide with whose performance she was unhappy. (The “J” stood for “Jew,” and the “B” for “bastard.” The “F” did not stand for “filigreed.”)

I was thinking we should maybe have new buttons: “FJBs for War.”

My Silly Story of the Week (or Day)? From the AP:

Procter & Gamble has agreed to include a disclaimer in a Metamucil commercial featuring Old Faithful to mollify the National Park Service. The commercial shows what looks like a Yellowstone National Park ranger pouring a glass of Metamucil, a laxative, into the geyser to help it stay regular. It will now say, “Dramatization — Please Obey Park Service Rules.”

The government is an ass. The National Park Service is an ass. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are asses. Etc.

I can’t recommend strongly enough the Peggy Noonan essay found here. Of course, everything Peggy writes is first-rate, but this grabbed me by the throat. It is sort of a letter to Democrats, from an ex-Democrat, explaining to them where they’ve gone wrong. I’ve said everything in it: but I haven’t said it nearly as well.

My European correspondents tell me that Michael Moore is huge there, and that American conservatives should not ignore this phenomenon. I know what they mean. Moore’s books and documentaries are making millions of dollars in Europe, as they reassure many Europeans as to their prejudices about America. And young people are learning about America through Moore.

This reminds me of something David Horowitz says: Conservatives have no idea how influential Noam Chomsky is. Someone did a survey — not too formal, but a survey nonetheless — and found that Chomsky is something like the seventh most-cited intellectual in history. That includes Aristotle, Kant — all of them.

Also, Howard Zinn’s American-history textbook has sold something like a million copies — and it is straight Communism.

No one knows this. Because conservatives aren’t supposed to whine about such things, you know? It’s unseemly.

By the way, as I think I reported to y’all at the time, I was shocked to find, on a European trip last fall, that Susan Sontag was on everyone’s lips. Everyone had read her books and essays, everyone was quoting her — and I haven’t read her at all.

Conservatives should resist ghettoization and be aware of these things. The entire world isn’t the Heritage Foundation, unfortunately.

From a reader: “Moments ago, I heard a Fox News correspondent at the U.N. report that we are trying to get Chee-lay on board. Can’t you make them stop?”

No, I can’t. I said “Chee-lay” myself, when I was young, until I just gave in to English, as adults should do.

Another reader said, “I was watching a CNN story on the African nation of Niger earlier this morning. The reporter (an American) was pronouncing it ‘Nee-ZHAIR.’ How come they don’t say ‘Paree’ or ‘Moskva’?”

Another reader: “I heard an NPR report the other day from ‘Havana, Cooba.’” I’m surprised the guy — or gal — didn’t say “Habana,” too. And, given that this was an NRP report from Cuba, the pronunciation was probably the least objectionable aspect of it.

Finally, a letter touching on the joys of Indian English — an English I really love.

“I was in Switzerland last fall and got into a discussion with a guy from India. When I asked him where he was from, he said, ‘Noodle-ee.’ At least that’s what I thought he said. Because when I said I’d never heard of it, he said it was the capital of India. I said, ‘Oh, New Delhi!’ He said, ‘Yeah, Noodle-ee.’ I’d like to see the NPR types start pronouncing it like that.”

Me too!


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