Politics & Policy

There They Go Again. The Seinfeld Ruling. 1944 and All That–Etc.

Shall we start with some media bias? Some grousing about? Conservatives never tire of it–the grousing, that is–but, at the same time, the media never tire of delivering the bias. So . . .

From lovely Reuters comes a news story, featuring this sentence: “Bush, who avoided combat in Vietnam while serving as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, calls himself a war president for his re-election campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran.”

Read that a few times, and keep gasping. That sentence is from a wire service, mind you.

George W. Bush doesn’t merely call himself a war president: He is a war president. And he is one through no choice of his own, or ours: He is one because our enemies, the Islamic fundamentalists and their supporters, some of them governments, have made him that.

And he called himself a war president–knew he was one–long before this presidential campaign kicked off.

As for “decorated Vietnam veteran”: Is there one who’s not? Just wondering.

‐Above, I referred to the Reuters item as a “news story.” Perhaps I should be more careful. I believe that, from now on, I’ll not refer to Newsweek as a “news weekly,” or a “news magazine.” Its cover headline recently was “Our Con Man in Iraq,” a reference to Ahmad Chalabi. Whatever you think of Chalabi, or that headline, that is not the headline of a news weekly. That is the headline of an opinion magazine–which Newsweek, frankly, in multifarious ways, is.

By the way, for a quick blurb on at least one aspect of the Newsweek Chalabi story, check out Edward Jay Epstein.

‐A curious little story of tremendous importance appeared in papers yesterday. (Here is the New York Post’s account.) A federal judge has decided that you can no longer sue for libel on the grounds that someone has labeled you homosexual, or implied that you are: because, really, what’s wrong with being gay? Why would you sue? Judge Nancy Gertner has issued what might be called the Seinfeld Ruling (“. . . not that there’s anything wrong with that”).

Said Judge Gertner, “In fact, a finding that such a statement [“Joe Blow is homosexual”] is defamatory requires the court to legitimize the prejudice and bigotry that for too long have plagued the homosexual community.”

As I said, a momentous development. So you know what this means, don’t you, journalists? Let those accusations fly! Fear no legal difficulty!

‐Pause, for a moment, to reflect on the speed with which things occur in life–including in our politics. The gay-marriage debate has reached a curious pass: In some circles, if you’re not for gay marriage, you’re a hater, a bigot–and you’re persecuting homosexuals.

Just yesterday, homosexuals, in many places, could be jailed for their activities, and they were genuinely persecuted. (Of course, in the Great Islamic Future planned for us by our enemies, gays will have no rights at all–including that to life.) Today, gays are firmly in the mainstream of society. And yet, if you’re not for outright gay marriage, you might as well be wearing a white sheet.

When the Supreme Court struck down that Texas sodomy law, Antonin Scalia warned, in his dissent, that now you would have no legal argument against gay marriage. And everyone said, “Oh, that Scalia–what a reactionary! What an extremist! What an alarmist!” And then, about two seconds later, we had gay marriage (at least in Massachusetts). To my knowledge, no one has ever apologized to Scalia.

About a minute ago, a position in favor of civil unions–Vermont’s device–was the progressive one. Now, if you support civil unions, but not gay marriage, you are a Neanderthal.

Again, I am sort of amazed at the speed with which life can move.

I, for one, will not wear the label of bigot or hater because I oppose–or certainly have doubts about–homosexual marriage, and I invite others to reject that label as well. (I doubt that many of my readers have much trouble.) I believe that you can be perfectly compassionate and understanding and sympathetic without endorsing gay marriage–because, in the view of some of us dinosaurs, marriage is a specific and peculiar thing, not a free-for-all.

But I will say once more: In some circles, at least, this debate has turned nasty and perverse very quickly. You think you’re a perfectly liberal-minded fellow; you would fight furiously the menacing of gays anywhere. But you wake up to find you’re Torquemada just because you’re not willing to upset a definition of marriage that has existed since the dawn of time.

Some call it progress.

‐Yesterday, the A&E network took out a big ad for its movie Ike in the New York Times, and it did something clever: It reprinted the front page of the Times from June 6, 1944. It sort of makes you weep to read that thing. My, have the media changed, and has the Times changed, and has the country changed!

The Times was really rooting for us! You can feel it in the headlines, the sub-headlines, the articles. “Great Invasion Is Under Way” (and I think the Times meant “great” in a sense larger than “big”).

Some would say–do say–that World War II was different; that we could all agree on the enemy–on the evil of the enemy, for example.

Oh? I’d put today’s boys–Osama, Mullah Omar, Saddam, the rest of that lot–up against Hitler, Mussolini, et al. any day. And, of course, today’s cretins admire yesterday’s enormously. In some cases, openly.

A couple smaller notes, re that 6/6/44 front page: President Roosevelt, speaking of the retaking of Rome, referred to that city’s shrines, those “visible symbols of the faith and determination of the early saints and martyrs that Christianity should live and become universal . . .” Geez: If W. said that!

And General Eisenhower declared that we had embarked on “a great crusade.” Geez, if W. said that! Oh, wait: He did say that.

Some even smaller notes: Obviously, the Times anglicized foreign names in those days, so that Umberto in Italy became “Crown Prince Humbert.” I like that.

But what I don’t like is this: Big numbers were written out entirely, e.g., $210,000,000,000, instead of $210 billion. The new way is much better–much more readable.

See? I’m not a fuddy-duddy conservative across the board!

‐If your stomach is a little too solid and you feel the need to be nauseated, check out this Times story from yesterday, about France and preparations for the commemoration of D-Day. Apparently, many Frenchmen are willing to commemorate this event with us, much as they loathe us. By the sound of it, Americans should feel honored to have liberated this glorious country. Why, think of all the countries competing to die for these people!

The Socialist Party spokesman said, “We say yes to America, yes to the heroes of D-Day, yes to peace–and no to George Bush.”

Gee: Wonder what allows a person, or a nation, to say yes to peace?

Let me retell a story I heard from a prominent foreign-policy analyst recently. He has a friend, or an acquaintance, who’s a French expert in Islam, and he–the friend–was talking before an Iranian audience. A woman stood up and said, “We have but one friend in all the world.” The expert thought, “Uh-oh: Here comes some paean to Jacques Chirac or something.” The woman continued: “That friend is the United States of America. They liberated you in 1944; why won’t you help them liberate us?”

‐One more Times item. I’m so sorry. Their television critic, Alessandra Stanley, writes, “[Eisenhower] had the right stuff for handling the politics and logistics of the invasion, but those same skills led him astray at significant moments during his presidency: his indifference to the civil rights movement and silence when Senator Joseph R. McCarthy attacked the patriotism of Eisenhower’s longtime mentor, George C. Marshall . . .”

Um, as to indifference to the civil-rights movement: Tell it to the people in Little Rock. As to McCarthy: Eisenhower did more than anyone else (except for McCarthy himself) to undermine and finish McCarthy. He did it mainly through the Army hearings, and though he did it quietly, he did it lethally.

But I can’t blame this writer: I imagine we were taught by the same kind of teachers, and I, too, “learned” that Eisenhower was indifferent to civil rights, etc. I grew up, however, and did some reading and discovering of my own.

‐We will close with a letter–and it is a boffo one:

“Dear Jay: This is what Al Gore said in his [MoveOn.org] speech: ‘Luckily, there was a high level of competence on the part of our soldiers, even though they were denied the tools and the numbers they needed for their mission. What a disgrace that their families have to hold bake sales to buy discarded Kevlar vests to stuff into the floorboards of the Humvees! Bake sales for body armor!’ The funny part is that I thought it was the Left’s dream to have the military resort to bake sales to raise funds for their equipment. Remember those bumper stickers? ‘It will be a great day when the schools have all the money they need and the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale.’”

Yes, yes, yes.

Later.

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