You might have heard this blast from Senator Kerry, against the prez: “His father did a brilliant job of it [dealing with foreign governments, that is]. We need to do the kind of alliance-building that we have done traditionally.”
Ah, yes: The first President Bush “did a brilliant job of it.” Brilliant, huh? But Kerry, of course, opposed the 1991 Gulf War, with every bone in his long, leftist body. Now, however, GHWB is brilliant–because the Dems need (another) stick with which to beat George W.
But here’s my point (not that obvious stuff): The Left did this to George H. W. Bush too! Whenever he did something they didn’t like, they’d say, “Oh, his father wasn’t like that–dear, moderate, understanding, blacks-loving Prescott Bush.” The 41st president was actually forced to say (something like), “I knew my dad pretty well, and I think he’d support what I’m doing.”
So, the current President Bush can take comfort in this: When the Left wants to go after the Bush in the White House, they’re liable to reach for the daddy card. If one of the twins attains the highest office, they’ll surely find opportunity to exclaim, “But her dad was so reasonable!”
‐Two years ago, I wrote a piece called “Ashcroft with Horns: This is dedicated to the one they hate.” They’re still doing it–painting horns on Ashcroft, using him, gratuitously, as a bogey. The other day, John Kerry had some trouble with a microphone. He said, “Can you hear me? Is John Ashcroft here?”
Get it, get it? Because the U.S. government, under Bush–and Ashcroft–is a big Orwellian snoop. Patriot Act and all! Ha, ha, ha.
This is Lesson 114,862 in how everything did not change after 9/11. The 9/10 mentality is firmly entrenched, including in the mind of the Democratic nominee.
But even worse: He is spreading that attitude. And you can call it what you like, but it’s a far cry from leadership.
‐A recent Kerry ad goes as follows: “The Supreme Court is just one vote away from outlawing a woman’s right to choose.” Choose what, Senator? Choose what? Can’t you say it? “Help elect John Kerry and join the fight to protect our right to choice.” Right to choice concerning . . .? If it’s not so bad–certainly deserving legality–why not say it, Senator? Can’t you utter the word?
‐Back in 2000, out in Los Angeles, as I witnessed the Democratic convention, I observed to a prominent conservative that this convention was shockingly socialist–socialist in its rhetoric, in its class attacks, and so on. He said, “No, no: FDR and his people were much worse, inveighing against ‘economic royalists’ and such.” I’m not so sure–not so sure that the Democrats are less demagogic today. Here’s Nevada senator Harry Reid, the No. 2 Dem in the Senate: “The people’s house is supposed to be the White House, but today it’s a palace of privilege.” Uh-huh–palace of privilege. Not bad, rhetorically–and very Old Democrat.
‐Regular readers of this column know a lot about Jian-li Yang, the Chinese scholar and democracy activist who is in some Communist dungeon. (By the way, his name is sometimes rendered “Yang Jianli.”) His wife, Christina Fu, and kids are American citizens. The latest from Christina is this letter:
Members of the U.S. Congress will commemorate the second anniversary of my husband’s detention and call for his release by writing another letter to the Chinese government this week. A Dear Colleague letter from Congressmen Cox and Frank was sent out today for signatures.
Again, I come to you for help. I’d greatly appreciate your calling your representatives as soon as you can to urge them to sign the letter.
I was horrified to hear about the recent physical abuse of my husband in the detention center. At the same time, I cherish your support and efforts even more. On behalf of my husband, I thank you again for your strength and commitment to working for my husband’s freedom.
‐A quick rant on taxes? Okay. I’ve given this rant before–usually in April–but here I go again (I’ll keep it brief).
Jimmy Carter called the tax code “a disgrace to the human race.” In that, he was right. And its most disgraceful feature? Its divisiveness. What I mean is, it pits homeowners against renters. Married people against single people. Married people with children against married people without children. Married people with children who are going to college against married people with children who are becoming welders.
The tax code is filled with “social policy,” social bias–prejudices–and it stinks. The only way to overcome this unfairness is to get the thing flat, which I’d dearly love to see, although I won’t be waiting up nights. I will be getting my beauty sleep, to fight (ineffectively) another day.
Okay, end of rant. (Very brief, huh?)
‐I can’t remember whether I’ve groused about this before, and I’m not going to bother to check, so please bear with me: You’ve heard that there’s this new position in the Commerce Department–the “manufacturing czar”? Yes, we’re going to have industrial policy, or something like it. A manufacturing czar. In the U.S. of A. Think of it! Think of it! What is this, Old Japan or something?
I swear, the older I get, the more I sound like a tobacco-spittin’ curmudgeon in a bowling alley, muttering about lib-er-als and longhairs.
‐Fidel Castro’s government is a member of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. At a recent meeting, members of Castro’s delegation physically and brutally attacked Frank Calzon, a Cuban-American democracy leader who was present to advocate a resolution against Castro. This is the way Communists behave, and always have: They are thugs. Their true colors are never long out of sight. (For an account of this incident, you may wish to see Jacob Gershman’s report in the New York Sun.)
Incidentally, that resolution passed, 22-21. Whew! Among those voting against the resolution–which is to say, for Castro–were China (natch), Egypt (great, Hosni!), India (India! the bastards!), Saudi Arabia (ah, sweet), and South Africa (lovers and exemplars of democracy and human rights).
Just keeping score.
Oh, and Argentina and Brazil abstained. Nice going, you freedom-embracing South Americans!
‐The aforementioned Mubarak informed Le Monde that America is hated as never before by the Arabs. Fine, fine.
Is it too terrible–too awful–to point out that the Arabs are not exactly the favorites of the Americans?
We’re meant to be hugely concerned by the Arab street; wouldn’t it be nice if, sometime, somehow, the concern was for the American street?
This country is sick of murder, intolerance, and insanity. At least I hope it is. Perhaps the spirit is waning.
‐The filmmaker Oliver Stone, on Castro: “He sees something. I can’t tell you exactly what; I didn’t ask him. He sees something in my eyes that he trusts.”
Oh, no doubt. No doubt.
‐Knowing it would matter to me, my colleague Meghan Clyne sent me an AP item headed “Ice Cream Prices Rise as Summer Approaches.” That’ll put a dent in my wallet.
But the more Impromptus-relevant part of this story is the name of the executive director of the National Ice Cream Retailers Association: Linda Udderback. Udderback. Is that not perfect?
I know, you can take the boy out of the fifth grade, but you can’t . . .
‐I got lots more, but let’s turn to a little mail.
“Dear Jay: My daughter attends fifth grade [speaking of that!] in suburban Washington, D.C. (Montgomery County), and recently told me of a Friday field trip that the black and Hispanic students were taking. I was puzzled by this; it seemed a little divisive.
“The day after the field trip, my daughter’s best friend, who is black, spent the night. I asked her about the trip and she said it was to the University of Maryland to learn about going to college. I should say now that this girl is the daughter of a famous athlete from the 1980s, and while her dad is not a millionaire, she has a very comfortable life, with active, engaged parents for whom college for their daughter is a foregone conclusion.
“After this young girl left I discussed the field trip with my daughter and explained the school’s thinking behind the decision to take only these two particular populations. I then summarized my thoughts about how her friend is already on a college track, and asked her if she thought her friend’s place would not have been better occupied by one of the white children she knows who have bad home lives and for whom college has probably not been considered. She agreed and was quiet for a moment. Then she said–nearly bringing tears of joy to my eyes–’So when we learn in school that we shouldn’t make decisions about people based on their skin color, we should say to the teachers and principals, “That goes for you, too.”’
‐”Dear Mr. Nordlinger: Thank you a million times, and (as we say in the Navy) I say again, thank you a million times.
“Congressman Rangel is a Korean War veteran; that is a group of souls for whom I have a special place in my heart. Especially the POWs. I reviewed hundreds of the ‘debriefs’ of repatriated Korean War POWs at Ft. Meade, MD, and they suffered in an unbelievable way.
“But, Korean War vet or not, Rangel is a horse’s ass. There’s no other expression that is adequate. His bombast–along with his refusal to ever share a place in the circle of implication with those he judges and condemns–makes his rants those of a bitter, race-baiting old fart. When I listen to him, I realize that Adam Clayton Powell at least had some charm.”
Well, unfortunately Charlie Rangel (“good ol’ Chollie”) has some charm too. But when he has his lips on Fidel Castro’s behind, he is somehow less charming.
‐Finally, a note from the critic, journalist, novelist, and all-purpose person extraordinaire Michael Walsh, re an item I had on . . . um, Dutch bestiality (sorry):
“Dear Jay: About ten years ago I got an assignment from Mirabella magazine to do a story about Why the Dutch Are So Liberal: euthanasia, abortion, prostitution, the usual fun stuff. In the course of my research in Amsterdam, I interviewed an older, female member of the Dutch parliament. She was a figure out of a Pieter de Hooch painting, if de Hooch had lived in the 20th century: chain-smoking, ‘green,’ bicycle in the doorway. As she puffed on a cigarette she looked at me and said: ‘People say we Dutch are very liberal. The truth is, we just don’t care.’
“The story, of course, never ran.”
Oh, but what a wonderful memory!