Politics & Policy

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow . . .

My regular readers–not to mention my friends (some are in both categories)–are sick of hearing me say that, if a Richard Hofstadter wrote “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” today, it would have to be about the Left, not the Right. Halliburton, the shape of George W. Bush’s jacket . . . Walter Cronkite. If a prominent conservative had said the equivalent of “Karl Rove put Osama bin Laden up to this tape,” our conservative would be a laughingstock, and all the old stereotypes would be confirmed.

Of course, the paranoid, fever-swamp Right didn’t win many elections; and the Michael Moore-Walter Cronkite-Paul Krugman crowd could win tomorrow.

‐First, Democrats–some of them–believed that the administration was holding bin Laden somewhere, in order to reveal him in the last weeks of the campaign. Now they believe–some of them–that the administration made, or prompted, the tape.

Yes, we conservatives should accept no more teasing about “the paranoid style,” ever–or at least deep into the foreseeable future.

‐I was sort of pleased that Teresa Heinz Kerry called conservative foreign-policy views–or her version of them–”Neanderthal.” That’s the classic, playground-style taunt from the Left, but you seldom hear it from campaigners in a presidential election. Teresa, however, lacks a mute button; therefore she is more honest; she lets it all hang out.

I was in a green room the other night, and Teresa was on a television screen, giving a speech. A noted liberal in the room said, “Oh, no, Teresa’s talking”–meaning, every time she flaps her lips, the Kerry campaign could be hurt.

As I have written ad nauseam, a Democratic necessity, in a general election, is stealth. The likes of George W. Bush campaign as who they are, essentially–what you see is what you get; but left-wing candidates have to shade their views, and project phony images. That’s why poor John Kerry has to hunt every two seconds in this campaign; and that’s why the Clintons, in 1996, had to spend their summer vacation camping in the West, instead of doing their usual thing on Martha’s Vineyard.

I prefer Teresa’s way–she thinks we’re Neanderthals, and she says so. Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, et al. think the same thing–it’s just that they don’t say so. So directly. They find a hundred other ways, daily.

‐On the subject of stealth, I’ll repeat another point: Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Susan Sarandon–they’ve all urged their followers to vote for Kerry, not Nader. Do you think they’re doing so because they believe Kerry when he says he’ll wage a better, more effective War on Terror? Really? They know–they certainly sense–that Kerry is talking tough merely to get by the rubes in the general election. Once ensconced in the Oval Office, he can be the John F. Kerry he has always been.

Two weeks ago, Michael Moore told college students, “There’s a reason that [Republicans] are saying Kerry is the No. 1 liberal in the Senate. It’s because he is the No. 1 liberal in the Senate.”

Why Republicans don’t make an ad of that is a mystery.

‐And yet, the Bush people have run a good campaign. If they lose tomorrow, many conservatives will say, “Oh, what a lousy campaign, they dropped the ball, those clods”–because the people can never be wrong; they can never choose unwisely; it has to be the fault of Republican politicos.

We have listened to this all of our lives, many of us–anything to excuse the American electorate. The first Bush in 1992, and Bob Dole in 1996, ran poor campaigns, yes. But they ran good-enough ones. They presented their positions in debates, ads, and countless speeches coast to coast. Voters knew who they were. These candidates were honorable alternatives to Bill Clinton, who, to anyone with eyes to see, was a rogue. But, in the eyes of some, the American people are almost holy, incapable of blundering or offending, and if they choose the “wrong” man, it’s because the Republicans are so darn inept–or the Republican candidate wasn’t conservative enough, of course.

That will be another line, if Bush loses: He just wasn’t right-wing enough for this country. That’s why the Americans turned to John Kerry!

Look: If the American people elect John F. Kerry–the quintessence of a modern Massachusetts liberal–in November 2004, in the middle of a new and daunting war, it will tell us a great deal about the American people at this juncture in its history.

In a democracy like ours, people pretty much deserve what they get. (A minority is a different story.) There is no covering up this glaring fact, without extravagant efforts.

‐I have said that left-wingers run stealthy campaigns. I have also said that Americans make free choices, and are responsible for them. How to reconcile these two possibly contradictory assertions? Well, first, a left-wing candidate can’t run so stealthily–and the media can’t be so complicit–that the candidate is utterly unknown. And, second, I often find myself in the position of reminding my fellow conservatives that the country is not nearly as conservative as we like to suppose.

To stroke just one issue, there’s probably a reason the Americans have put up with a regime of abortion on demand for 30 years . . .

‐So, Chris Heinz calls President Bush a cokehead, as so many of the Chris Heinz type do. Funny thing is, they don’t seem to say it admiringly. If this is so, the Left has changed quite a bit since I was around them 24/7.

‐When considering a political race–especially a presidential one–we have to consider media bias. When a Republican runs, he does so with a little (or a big) weight tied around his ankle. We are simply used to this; we factor it in.

In a race like this year’s, we also have to factor in corruption, fraud. This reality is captured in the title of Hugh Hewitt’s book, If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat. If Republicans challenge voting fraud, the Dems will cry racism, and that will be it, because once you cry racism, the game is over–the other side, crippled, can’t continue. (Usually.)

I have a prediction–this, despite the fact that I’m loath to predict anything. If Kerry loses narrowly, he will litigate as long and as far as he can. If Bush loses narrowly, he will not.

Someone asked the other day why Nixon didn’t contest in 1960, the way Gore did in 2000. I don’t believe the country would have stood for it in 1960. I think they would have considered it unsporting, shocking. Remember, we were only 15 years from World War II. We were a different people then; we were made of different–I would argue, better–stuff. That was before the New Left, before the Litigious Society, before the Culture of Complaint. That was a far less whining America.

By 2000, what Gore did was as American as apple pie.

‐Listen to Kerry, in a CBS broadcast the other day: “I’ve taken precautions and put together a multiracial legal dream team, and I have about 10,000 lawyers nationally involved in this . . .”

A multiracial legal dream team. And what does the color of the lawyers have to do with this? Aside from the fact that color has to do with everything, when a Democrat thinks or speaks?

You would think law were law, rules were rules, principle were principle. Ha!

‐I like this one, too: Damning the Swift Boat Vets, Kerry said, “Those people are lying. . . . Just the other night on Nightline, Ted Koppel showed without, beyond a reasonable doubt that what everybody has talked about happened, happened. So those attacks are just diversions.”

He cited ABC News in this instance, and cited other networks during the debates. Must be nice to be a Democrat–Republicans don’t get to do that much. Can you imagine Reagan, or W., saying, “No, Ted Koppel said so! Case closed!”

‐I would like to quote what the secretary of defense said to soldiers in Iraq: “Because of your efforts, we now have a government in Iraq that will not invade other countries, will not fire missiles at its neighbors, will not seek weapons of mass destruction, will not harbor terrorists, will not slaughter its own people, will not behead people, and you can be enormously proud of the contribution you’re making to that important progress.”

‐When I hear conservatives–especially young ones–complaining about President Bush, I can’t help thinking how they would have hated Reagan. Oh, sure, we all love him now. And I stress “now.” He is remembered glowingly, as the Great Conservative who stood against Big Government and won the Cold War. It wasn’t like that at the time, I promise you.

They did nothing but grouse about him for eight years, these conservatives (and sometimes they were right). He spent like crazy, running up huge deficits–historic deficits. He made bigger deficits than had “all the previous presidents in American history combined, from George Washington to Jimmy Carter,” as Senator Moynihan used to say. This was conservatism?

He dealt with Tip O’Neill, raising taxes. (W. hasn’t done that, and wouldn’t.) Conservatives moaned and moaned. There used to be a joke: “This wouldn’t be happening if Ronald Reagan were alive.” And they cried, “Let Reagan be Reagan,” expressing their belief that some evil moderates around him had brainwashed him, or steered him from the True Path.

And when he started playing with Gorbachev, our conservatives got serious jitters–wondering whether the old man was outright gaga. Howard Phillips, head of the Conservative Caucus, denounced Reagan as “a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.” Gregory Fossedal, a conservative foreign-policy thinker, went into the Oval Office bearing a Darth Vader doll–as a reminder to the president that he was dealing with an evil empire.

But with Reagan out of office, and dead, everyone’s all weepy about him. And they will be this way with George W. Bush too, I predict. (I don’t know how I got on this prediction jag.) More loudly than they curse him now, they will regret his departure from office, and hail his term, or terms, as a golden age of conservative principle and resolution.

Just you watch.

‐Oh, I forgot: Reagan wouldn’t lift a finger for the social conservatives (or so they despaired). He wouldn’t even meet with pro-lifers. On their big rally day–in January–he would speak to them via an insulting audio hookup. And he wouldn’t pare back government, leaving the Department of Education in place and virtually every other dreaded agency or program. Oh, yes, how they wailed over him then.

I think it was worse than now.

‐I have about a hundred things to say about Arafat’s being in France, but I will forswear saying any of them. First, they’re too easy, and second, the man is sick.

But would you like a sample of classic Dick Cheney understatement? Here he is, on the trail the other day: In his book, The New War, Kerry “talks about Arafat as a statesman. . . . I’ve never looked on Yasser Arafat in quite that light.”

My, I will miss that man, if he has to go. (Cheney, I mean. Not the Arab statesman.)

‐Laura Bush was asked whether her husband would have given up the bottle if she hadn’t been married to him. Here’s what she said: “Probably. He has a lot of discipline. He is a very, very disciplined person. And, you know, he’s a disciplined athlete. He has been his whole life. He’s very focused, and I’m sure he would have done a lot of the same things even if we hadn’t been together. But I’m glad I got to be with him.”

I’m glad I got to be with him. A simple, treasurable statement.

‐And do you want to treasure Barbara Bush for a second? (I’m speaking of the grandmother, not the twin.) Remarking on the relatively good press coverage she received while in Washington, she said, “This is not a joke: Who’s jealous of an overweight, white-haired woman? Nobody. So I think that was to my benefit, in a way. It wasn’t necessarily what I’d like to have been, but that’s what I think they felt.”


‐I wish to call attention to some articles published last week. Maybe you’ve seen them already. If so, you might like to read them again!

First, Mark Steyn, in The Spectator. If I quoted only the good and important parts, I’d quote the entire essay, but I will proffer one, little slice:

Out on the street, . . . angry white men have burgled Republican offices in Spokane, Washington; lobbed cinder blocks through Republican offices in Flagstaff, Arizona; shot up Republican offices in Knoxville, Tennessee; assaulted female Republican students handing out flyers at the Gophers football game in Minnesota; and are currently bullying early voting Republicans at polling booths in Florida. If this campaign went on another two months, they’d be seizing GOP county chairmen and beheading them on video.

Also, Caroline B. Glick, “What Bush Understands.” And Thomas Sowell, sockin’ it to the media, as only he can (astringently). And Diana West, “Before Pulling the Lever,” a bracingly forthright column.

I’m so grateful for these people–and for Ted Cruz, who gave us a superb summation on NRO.

‐A little mail? A lot of mail? Most of the below was inspired by a couple of columns last week.

Mr. Nordlinger,

I was on business in Rehoboth Beach, Del., last month. In the morning, I was sitting at a small café on the boardwalk, having coffee. Nice retired couple sat down next to me, both wearing Kerry-Edwards buttons. They started chit-chatting with me. Eventually, the gentleman says, “You know, I’m not sure what we are going to do if this moron gets reelected president. The way he is alienating the world, and killing innocent children during war, and taking away our civil liberties, I just don’t know . . .” He continued, “Actually, have you ever been to Ontario, Canada? We’re going to go up there on vacation and plan to look at some property, and if Bush is reelected, we’ll probably leave the country.”

I calmly stood up, put my hand on his shoulder, and said, “I know exactly how you feel.” His eyes grew really big and excited, and he said, “You do?” I said, “Yes: I felt the same way when Clinton was reelected”–and left him there speechless.

‐This one’s from California:


I’ve just moved from San Rafael (that would be in rich-’n’-liberal Marin County) to Novato (still Marin, very different demographic), and the contrast is striking. How do you know you’re moving from deep blue to reddish Marin? For starters, the cars are smaller and older, there are fewer SUVs, and the pickup trucks look like they’re routinely used actually to haul stuff. And in San Rafael I doubt you’d see the bumper sticker on the truck parked just up the street the first day of our move. It said, “LICENSE TO KILL TERRORISTS NO. 91101.”

Our last next-door neighbor’s car sported a Kucinich sticker. What a difference ten miles or so makes!

‐”Like a previous e-mailer, I have seen several cars with the bumper sticker reading, ‘Another Family for Peace.’ I can’t tell you how infuriating I find that slogan. My son suggested I reply with, ‘Another Family for Freedom,’ but I prefer, ‘Another Family For Peace In Our Time.’”

‐”Mr. Nordlinger; I, like most NYC Republicans, have many stories about the current election cycle. The most glaring, however, is this: When I moved into my new building in August, I met my neighbor, and she was decked out in Kerry-Edwards/Bush Lied gear. She was pleasant enough, though, in an affected way. Anyway, within two weeks, I had my Bush-Cheney placard in my window. Not only has she never spoken to me again, she will actually wait for the next elevator in the lobby rather than ride with me. I’m not complaining.”

So sad.

‐”Hi, Jay: Your most recent column reminded me of an experience during the ‘84 election. I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, and, along with several of my conservative friends, I displayed a Reagan-Bush sign on my door. For my trouble, I received a brick through my window in the middle of the night, which landed inches from my head and showered me with broken glass. By pure luck, I was largely uninjured, but, had the brick landed three inches to the right, I would have been gravely injured or killed. That such knuckle-dragging behavior occurred at the birthplace of the “Free Speech Movement” is an irony too sour for me to savor, although it does make me chuckle when I hear various ninnies whine about intolerance on the right.

“P.S. I don’t have tenure, so don’t quote me by name!”

‐”Dear Jay: I am a transfer student out here in Boulder, Colo. Came from Northern Virginia. I have ‘Fight Terrorism’ license plates from Virginia, since I had the misfortune of witnessing the attack on the Pentagon three years ago.

“This weekend, I was stopped at a stoplight in Boulder, and an old, harsh-looking woman pulled up next to me. She belched, ‘You f***ing Republicans are going to kill the entire f***ing world!’ ‘What?’ I replied. ‘Do I know you?’ ‘Just go back to your f***ing racist, sexist, phobic state and leave us alone!’ she yelled. As she pulled away, I noticed that the back of her Honda Civic was covered in bumper stickers such as ‘Re-Defeat Bush,’ ‘End the War on Islam,’ and ‘Stop Global Terrorism: Disband the CIA.’”

Amazing–and telling–that, on the basis of a “Fight Terrorism” license plate, she assumed the driver was a Republican.

In other circumstances, certain people would call that McCarthyite!

‐”I am an Administrative Law Judge for a federal agency. Our office has six such judges, four of whom are conservative Republicans (the other two are either apolitical or do not discuss their preferences openly). We have actually had an attorney show up to represent a client wearing a Kerry button. It struck me as the height of ignorance and arrogance.”

‐”Jay, add this to your Ann Arbor humor collection. A friend is a contractor there for a research laboratory. One of the researchers (let’s call him Jan) is from Germany. My friend, always curious, asked people how Jan came to be in Ann Arbor. ‘Well,’ said another researcher, ‘Jan’s from Germany, of course, and started his career there. Then he worked in Spain, Italy, and finally France. But he had to keep moving, because he was restless. Everywhere he went, he was too far left to fit in. So that’s why he settled here in Ann Arbor, where he fits in just fine.’”

‐Friends, you may recall that, last week, I published a letter from a man saying that a Kerry-Edwards clipboard activist had left him “speechless”–only the third time in his life he had been speechless. I wondered what the other times had been. He has informed me: First, when a German business colleague told him he had been a colonel in the SS. And second–”when our first child was born.”

‐”Dear Esteemed Dr. Nordlinger [?]: I thought you’d enjoy this bit of error-in-language: Yesterday, a TV reporter, describing Arafat’s condition, termed him ‘nauseous.’ I would have to agree.”

‐”Dear Mr. Nordlinger: My brother-in-law called to report to my husband (the political activist in our family) that on the first day of early voting in Florida, he was ‘disenfranchised.’ Approaching his polling place, the Public Library of Broward County, he was unable to enter the building because of massive Democratic protesting taking place. He went to work and returned later to the same scenario. Only upon his third attempt was he actually allowed into the building to place his vote for the president. I hope that other Republican voters are as determined to overcome the attempts of the Left to put Kerry in office no matter the method.”

Me too, me too.

‐In fact, I hope everyone will vote. Many readers have said to me, over the last weeks, that I have been dour, discouraging–that they need some uplift. Would I give them some? Sure. We’re privileged to vote tomorrow for a president we believe in (I’m speaking of my fellow Bush supporters), a president who has done difficult things in difficult times–and whose character is splendid. Let us not be deterred from voting, by any opinion surveys, news reports, distractions, lethargy, or intimidation.

Furthermore, one of the blessings of this country is the secret ballot. You can close that curtain behind you and not tell a soul–your vote will be your business alone. I have a faint hope that some New Yorkers (for example) wearing Kerry-Edwards buttons will go into the booth and vote Bush–the buttons being merely camouflage. Protection, if you will.

At any rate–go get ‘em, and I’ll see you after the election.


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