Politics & Policy

Wes Loves Michael, Michael Loves Wes; The Meaning of Sharpton; My Kind of Diplomat–and More

Friends, I took a little shot (another one) at Wesley Clark in this column Thursday. I noted his endorsement by Michael Moore–the crackpot, hard-Left documentarian–and suggested that some “independent-minded journalist” confront Clark with Moore’s views and ask whether, really, this was the kind of support he desired.

Several of my readers said, “Come on, Jay, a guy can’t be responsible for the people who endorse him”–which is, of course, true. Although I thought it was suggestive about Wesley Clark that Michael Moore should want him to be president.

Well, well, well. It seems that Clark is not exactly keeping his distance from Moore. Moore spoke at a rally for him, and delivered his usual line that the ‘04 race should be between “the general” (that would be Clark) and “the deserter” (that would be George W. Bush–something about a gap in his National Guard record).

Asked about this characterization of Bush as a deserter, the general (effectively) gave it credence–and then praised Moore as “a fantastic leader.”

That’s right, in Wesley Clark’s view, Michael Moore–as twisted and hateful a figure as there is in American public life–is “a fantastic leader.”

Any more questions?

‐For a story about this Clark-Moore rally, go here. And I’m reminded of something Ronald Reagan used to say, in California, when undesirables endorsed him, thereby embarrassing him and whatever campaign he was waging. The Gipper would say, “But I didn’t endorse [so-and-so]; he endorsed me. And I know what I believe, and if [so-and-so] agrees, more power to him.”

But, of course, that’s starkly different from the Clark-Moore relationship. The general doesn’t consider Moore an undesirable. On the contrary, “I’m delighted with Michael Moore. I really appreciate his support. He’s a fantastic leader [did I mention that?]. I thank him tremendously for being here [at the rally].”

Now, I’m sure that Clark–who knows astonishingly little for a guy who wants to be president starting next year–knows basically nothing about Michael Moore, and what he has written, and what he has said, and what he stands for. But Clark’s, and his campaign’s, lack of caution is stunning.

Then again, they know they have to attract some hard-lefties in these primaries, so . . . perhaps they’re crazy like foxes.

‐As long as I’m bashing Democrats, may I have another go at Al Sharpton? And at the party that has taken him to its bosom? I’ve howled this point before, so I pledge–or semi-pledge–that this’ll be the last time.

But I do not think we’ve absorbed how remarkable it is that Al Sharpton should be a mainstream, universally accepted Democratic presidential candidate. He is a vicious liar (Tawana Brawley) and arguably an inciter of murder (Freddy’s Fashion Mart). He did all he could to destroy at least one good man’s life (Steve Pagones, a victim of the Brawley hoax). He has devoted much of his career to making New York City as toxic and divided, racially, as possible. He is what the New York Post has dubbed a “racial arsonist”–a guy who goes around setting, or pouring fuel on, fires, black-against-white.

And this guy participates in all these presidential debates and instructs the Democratic front-runner–Howard Dean–in racial comportment. In proper racial behavior (even the phrase repulses me: “racial behavior”).

And no one, apparently, thinks this is weird. No one–certainly no Democrat, certainly no leading one–says, “Hey, wait a minute. Al Sharpton delivering lectures on moral behavior? Go jump in a lake.”

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I fear I am too partisan, and too repelled by one of the two major parties in this country. But then I reflect on the fact that Al Sharpton can run for president in that party–with hardly an eyebrow raised, by anybody–and realize that disgust is all too reasonable a response.

‐I trust that, by now, you’ve all read the story of the Israeli diplomat in Sweden who, appalled by a piece of “art” that glorified Palestinian suicide bombers, physically attacked that display. Gotta tell you: That’s my kind of (undiplomatic) diplomat. I thought Kirkpatrick and Walters were tough!

A spokeswoman for Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said, “We feel that it is unacceptable for him to destroy art in this way.” True, true: and in this country, the artists (there were two) might well win government funding for their projects!

‐I draw your attention to this Howard Kurtz article about journalists who contribute to political candidates. (My attention was drawn by The Drudge Report.) You will find, I believe, something you would have guessed: that those who contribute to Republican candidates tend to be opinion journalists–editorial types (comme moi)–whereas the mainstreamers–the ostensible neutralists–give to Democrats.

Or am I just paranoid?

I believe, however, that New York Times judicial reporters are no longer permitted, by the paper, to march in pro-abortion rallies.

At least, that’s the policy, last I heard.

‐A pro-Cuba website does something valuable: name a Prisoner of the Week. Jeane Kirkpatrick used to say, “It’s important to say their names”–to speak the names of political prisoners, as they languish, otherwise unnoticed, in dungeons. Of course, she had the floor of the U.N.; and this is just a modest website–but it’s something. It has a legend, an inscription: “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them” (Hebrews).

‐Yes, I did say “pro-Cuba” in that last impromptu, which is to be distinguished (obviously) from pro-Castro–you can’t be both. In a similar vein, I delight in referring to Ward Connerly as a civil-rights leader–for that he is!

‐Dumb me: I, at least, could have named that fellow–the Prisoner of the Week: Augusto César San Martín Albistur, from Salvador Allende St. in Havana, now in the notorious Combinado del Este prison.

‐LINE OF THE WEEK (OR MONTH–YEAR?): By President Musharraf of Pakistan: “[We must] wage a ‘jihad’ against extremism.” Yes, let it ring. He was speaking before the Pakistani parliament, some members of which shouted “Go, Musharraf, go.” Unfortunately, they did not mean this in our positive sense: “Go, Musharraf, go! Right on! You tell ‘em!” They meant it in the “Leave” sense.

Oh, well.

Tone and context mean a lot, don’t they!

‐ONLY IN AMERICA: Kiharu Nakamura died at age 90. She was a noted geisha, an immigrant to the United States, an explainer of all things geisha here. The New York Times obit said, “Miss Nakamura is survived by her companion, Robert E. Lee . . .” What a world: Begin as a geisha in Tokyo, move to New York, live and die with Robert E. Lee.

‐DEPT. OF “I WISH I HAD SAID THAT”: “George W. Bush has several black Americans in high-ranking positions, but often they’re not considered black, because they are, of course, Republican. So here’s my thought: Michael Jackson could have saved himself a fortune on cosmetic surgery just by becoming a Republican–then, in the eyes of the world, he would have stopped being black.”

That was a note from a reader.

‐More notes? “One of your recent Impromptus got me paying more attention to the blurring line between news and opinion. How do you like the beginning of this AP article, from Jan. 15? ‘ATLANTA–Looking for election-year support from black voters in the South, President Bush was greeted at Martin Luther King’s grave here Thursday by noisy demonstrators . . .’”

Yup, that’s a good one. I’m not sure they wrote leads like that before the rise of journalism schools. Good thing we have ‘em (j-schools, that is)!

‐”Dear Jay: My wife and I were watching The Apprentice, Donald Trump’s new show, last night. Two of the contestants, a white girl and a black girl (both successful), were arguing. The white girl said, ‘That’s like the pot calling the kettle black.’ The black girl immediately accused her of a racist comment. That’s the sorry state we’ve arrived at.”

Well, first, you can tell this reader’s old-fashioned, because he says “girl” (and doesn’t know that he can be shot for it). Second, one is perhaps safer saying, “If that’s not the pot calling the kettle African-American . . .”

‐I received a good bit of mail on the (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times’s commie campaign. (Pardon my French. For more info, see Thursday’s Impromptus, especially this amazing image, of a billboard.) A lady writes,

“Dear Mr. Nordlinger: The point of the star may be to represent the capital, but your readers can be forgiven for interpreting the star darkly. Their website features an animation in the upper left-hand corner that proclaims ‘To uplift the people, the dialogue and the dreams’ every few times you load the page. That seems to fit right in with their billboard.”

Uh-huh. How about this? “I’m a Wisconsin resident and was shocked to see that billboard. It reminds me of the signs I would see as a boy growing up in Yugoslavia.”

From another reader: “I was in Bologna several weeks ago, and was surprised to see a Stalingrad St. I can imagine how the name originally came to be in a [famously Red] university town, but that it is still Stalingrad is astounding. While I don’t know this for a fact, I’m guessing that there is no Stalingrad Blvd. or something in Madison, Wis.”

I’m afraid to check.

Another reader: “I moved to Madison this past year from California. So while I haven’t experienced culture shock, I was surprised to see several of these posters by the highways around town. While they have a certain charm, one can only imagine the reaction if you replaced them with Nazi-style posters.”

A left-wing Madison defender (and Madisonian) sent me a long letter ripping me six ways to Sunday, and it included this delicious passage: “Unfortunately, Madison is becoming full of too many moderates and annoying National Review readers. I’d love to be able to say it’s a liberal hotbed of sanity.”

All right! (And, incidentally, when I said “Madisonian,” I wasn’t talkin’ James, as you know.)

And how about this, to tickle you?

“I have a cousin who lives in Seattle, and every Christmas he sends out a picture of himself. One year recently was with the Seattle Lenin statue. [I had mentioned that Seattle boasts a statue of the late–but still on-view–V. I.] My dad, the farthest thing from a conservative, still felt he had to respond. He lived in Orange County, Calif., at the time, so he went down to the airport, where they have a huge John Wayne statue, got a picture of himself with it, and sent it back to my cousin.”

Beautiful! Just beautiful!

‐Finally–and off Wisconsin–”Dear Mr. Nordlinger: I saw a commercial on television last night that I found horrifying and I wondered what you thought. It was for a Snickers Power Bar, and it used the last chorus from the St. Matthew Passion (orchestra only) for the background music. Have you seen it? I thought nothing would surprise me, but I was wrong.”

Well, I personally think that Bach would have loved it–perhaps after being startled, initially–and that this testifies to his staying-power and universality.

But then, I’m just a Pollyanna.

You don’t agree, do you, regular readers?

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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