Politics & Policy

Amazed At Dean, Amazed by Jordan, Inspired by Gracie, and More.

I don’t know about you, but I find Howard Dean’s elevation to the chairmanship of the DNC flabbergasting. Let me say just a couple of things about it, because I know you’re sick of Dean–were sick of him in about October ‘03 (although you did want him to be the Democratic nominee, didn’t you?).

In Boston for the Democratic convention last summer, Dean said that Bush’s is “an administration where they like book burning better than reading books.” Byron York reported that, and I tried to make hay of it.

Can you imagine a statement like that, by one of this country’s most prominent politicians? If a Republican said the equivalent–he’d be finished.

But how about this? “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for.” Dean declared this just a couple of weeks ago.

I ask again (as I always ask): Can you imagine what would happen to a Republican if he talked like that? Assume that Ken Mehlman or Karl Rove or Jeb Bush said, “I hate the Democrats and everything they stand for.”

Do you think the media in this country would be relatively silent, as they have been about Dean?

As Dean was set to become chairman, Mark Shields, speaking on CNN, called him “a great phrasemaker.” You see what he means by greatness.

‐I must say that the Eason Jordan matter amazed me–that his resignation amazed me. In fact, I had an op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Sun titled “An Amazing Thing.” I had no idea it would lead to this.

For one thing, I thought that no one who might have damning things to say would talk to reporters–because few want to offend CNN, even those who think ill of it: Virtually everyone wants to appear on that network (or any network). I thought that the wagons would circle tightly, and they did, to a degree.

But not tightly enough. The recent diversification of the media made it impossible for the story to be suppressed altogether.

Two things were key, I think: First, the World Economic Forum set up a blog for its 2005 meeting, and one participant in that blog–Florida businessman Rony Abovitz–wrote up what had occurred at the relevant panel. Second, the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens was on the scene. I have a feeling that his Feb. 10 op-ed piece–in which he classified Jordan’s words as “defamatory innuendo”–was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Bret was a superb editor of the Jerusalem Post, and, back home for only a short while, he’s already kicking booty.

And the U.S. blog community in general? A blessing, a boon–an alternative, prod, and corrective to an often unjust media establishment.

As I mentioned in that Sun op-ed piece, I’m not sure I’m too happy about Jordan’s fall. I think that Eason Jordan is the right chief news executive for CNN, even as Christiane Amanpour is the right foreign correspondent, and Judy Woodruff the right domestic voice. I mean, the anchorman of CBS News ought to attend Democratic fundraisers. He ought to peddle false documents–declaring his sources “unimpeachable”–when trying to defeat a Republican president.

You know what I mean, right? Let them be flagrant, these people, rather than sly.

If CNN’s chief news executive can’t withhold truth about Saddam Hussein or slander the U.S. military, what can he do?

You know?

‐As Byron York told us, Sen. Jim Jeffords, the “independent,” appeared with Howard Dean at a kind of rally.

Dean had barely begun to speak when he introduced a guest for the evening, his fellow Vermonter, [Jeffords]. When Jeffords walked onstage, the crowd began yelling, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” apparently in gratitude for Jeffords’s 2001 defection from the Republican party that gave Democrats control of the Senate for 18 months.

“I made a switch a while back,” Jeffords said, to more cheers. He switched, he said, in part because he was hoping that a Democrat like Howard Dean would win the White House in 2004. “Well, that didn’t happen,” Jeffords added. “But you know what? It’s going to happen next time!”

My question: Given that, why in the world isn’t Jim Jeffords a Democrat? If you want Howard Dean to be president . . . don’t you sorta kinda have to be a Democrat?

And what’s with this “switching” business? That’s an odd way to describe a decision to renounce a party and become unaffiliated.

He ought, in fact, to switch–to officially join the Dems. That, to me, would be more sensible and more honest.

‐I hope you noticed what Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, the Great Moderate, said the other day: “The whole Iranian nation is united against any threat or attack. If the invaders reach Iran, the country will turn into a burning hell for them.” According to Reuters, the crowd chanted “Death to America!”

What kind of people would chant such a thing–”Death to America”? Can you imagine a Western crowd, a democratic crowd, chanting, “Death to Iran”? To be specific, can you imagine Israelis doing so? Americans doing so? I can’t.

Once more: What kind of people would chant such a thing? You may abhor a country’s government–I abhor Iran’s–but can you imagine yourself yelling, “Death to [Country X]“?

Every now and then, it is well to pause over the sickness that has infected so many minds and hearts. If ever a region needed healing . . .

‐A lot of people were critical of Edmund Morris’s book on Ronald Reagan–including me–but the whole project was justified by one, priceless insight: Reagan spent his life interposing himself between the bully and the innocent. Virtually his entire life was an exercise in standing up to the bully–and protecting people from him.

This, to me, is one of the roles of the United States, and long has been. I refocused on this as the Iraqi elections took place: They could take place only because the U.S. military allowed them to. It protected the innocent from bullies (i.e., terrorists).

Have a taste of Fouad Ajami’s column in U.S. News & World Report:

It was, of course, the American “regency” in Iraq that protected these courageous people and made the elections possible. It took faith in the power and the discipline of the soldiers of the American-led coalition for Iraqis to brave their way to the polling stations in Basra and Mosul and Kirkuk. From Kirkuk, there came a “warrior note” from Col. Lloyd “Milo” Miles addressed to his 2nd Brigade Combat Team, on the eve of these elections. This commander told his soldiers of a meeting he held with local leaders. One of these leaders had heard a rumor that the U.S.-led forces would be confined to their bases on the day of the elections and that security would be provided by Iraqi military and police units. The man was distraught and demoralized. “I beg of you, you must help us, do not let us walk alone on that day.” We know that the Iraqis did not walk alone on that signal day in their country’s history.

Do not let us walk alone. We did not. George W. Bush did not.

‐I’m going to give you a link to a Friday sermon broadcast over Palestinian Authority television. (This was Feb. 4.) The preacher says that no one should be fooled by this two-state nonsense: Palestinians will take over the whole of “their land,” even if incrementally. Sure, we’ll accept the 1967 borders today; and then tomorrow–our “right.”

As I always say–particularly with regard to MEMRI.org–you don’t have to read this stuff, if you don’t want to. But, thanks to such translation services, there is no longer any excuse to be ignorant. Everything is spelled out, for those willing to see and hear it.

Anyway, that link–to JihadWatch–is here.

‐About Niall Ferguson’s op-ed piece, published in the Journal last week, a couple of points.

He writes, “It was indeed ominous that in Kurdistan . . . a referendum on independence was hastily bolted onto last weekend’s election. It was even more worrying that so many Sunni voters heeded the extremists’ command not to vote.”

That’s an odd way to put it: Those voters were threatened with death. They were told–by people who meant it–that they would be killed, and their families too, undoubtedly down to the parakeet. Who can possibly blame those who “heeded” the “command not to vote”?

Ferguson later writes, ” . . . the first lesson [President Bush] needs to learn is that just getting people to vote is no more than a beginning. Get the follow-through wrong and you can easily end up with ‘one man, one vote–once.’”

Ah, Bush needs to learn that, does he? And what makes Niall Ferguson assume he doesn’t know it–perhaps even better than Ferguson?

And last, “That is why the president is more right than he knows to reject calls for an arbitrary departure date.”

No, actually, Perfesser, George W. Bush knows exactly how right he is.

A column stuffed with arrogance, this one–and I don’t believe it gets President Wilson right, either.

‐I give you a speck from Charles Moore’s (excellent) Notes in The Spectator:

“In Paris this week I entered into a conversation about French anti-Semitism. This fuss about Holocaust Day, said the woman next to me, it is ridiculous: ‘They keep saying we are so anti-Semitic, but it is not true. It is just that the Jews control the papers, and they are very clever and put anti-Semitism on the front page.’ I felt she had told me more than she intended about French attitudes on the subject.”

‐Don’t miss Claudia Rosett, either, on the plight of the North Koreans. Communist Chinese stand on the border, repulsing fleeing North Koreans. Should the North Koreans make it through–the Communist Chinese send them back, to certain torture and murder.

That’s a pretty picture of evil, isn’t it?

Good thing Communism is over.

‐I have loads more to say, but I’d better run, being out of time. Have a little music criticism from the New York Sun. Then a couple of letters, and out. Will give you some language goodies next time.

For a review of the violinist Joshua Bell in recital, please go here.

And go here for the following reviews: of the bass-baritone José van Dam; of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with André-Michel Schub, pianist, and others; and of Riccardo Chailly conducting the New York Philharmonic in Mahler’s Seventh.

‐Readers may recall the following impromptu–Should we capitalize that “i”? I’ve never known–from the Republican convention:

“Singing the national anthem last night was a Tennessee lady from Big Sky Ministries, with the wonderful name of Gracie Rosenberger. She was accompanied–I mean, musically, not just physically–by her husband, Peter. It was announced that she had been in some horrible car accident, requiring 60 operations. But she had come back, and she sang nicely, I thought.”

The other day, I received the following letter:

“Yes, my wife Gracie did come back from a terrible car accident. Five dozen operations and both legs amputated. However, she just successfully skied her first expert slope in Montana. She’s also been back and forth to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit wounded troops (most of them amputees) and she is going to take artificial limbs overseas next month to Ghana. You can see more about her at our website, www.standingwithhope.com.”

I’m so, so glad.

‐Finally, you may recall that, in the course of my Davos Impromptus, I mentioned meeting one Antonio Ferrari, an Italian journalist. I said to him that I already knew a Maserati–a former Maserati, Sarah (now Bramwell). (Sarah is a former editor of NR.) I then remarked–to you, my readers: I’ll have to run into a Lamborghini.

Well, one correspondent wrote, “Don’t worry about meeting such a person. You could just add a Lamborghini to your collection by fiat.”

On that note, dear hearts . . .

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