Politics & Policy

Who is George W.? &c.

#ad#To the Left, Bush is a heartless, corporatist warmonger. To the Right, he is a big-spending, wetback-lovin’ squish. “What has he ever done for us?” say conservatives. “What has he ever done but the bidding of the Right?” say the liberals.

And then there’s the fact that the Left’s critique of Bush and the War on Terror, and the critique of a certain strand of the Right, are exactly the same. (“He lied us into war,” “He’s doing it for the Jews,” etc.)

When historians look back on this period–if they will do so dispassionately–they will conclude that this was a profoundly weird time.

‐When the Left and the Right agree with each other on the war, I wonder whether either party blanches.

‐In a piece–a characteristically good piece–in the next issue of National Review, John O’Sullivan refers to the “Bush-Democrat coalition,” on immigration. What might Gore and others who yell “Right-wing extremism!” make of that?

‐Yesterday, I (wearily) read a story from the AP entitled “Moderate Republicans an Endangered Breed.” I realized that I have been reading this story all my life–year after year, decade after decade. I am so very tired of this story.

I also have to ask: Why’ve I never read an article on moderate Democrats as endangered? Or are they never endangered? Because there’s nothing immoderate about Nancy Pelosi–right?

‐Here’s another headline: “Babies Aborted for Not Being Perfect.” That is a headline that’s supposed to cause alarm. But why? Either abortion is the wrongful taking of innocent life, or it is not. If it is not–who cares what the purpose of an abortion is?

That’s why I could never understand the Clinton slogan “Safe, legal, and rare.” If abortion isn’t killing–if it’s like an appendectomy–why should it be rare? What does it matter whether abortions are rare or common? No one ever says, “There ought to be fewer appendectomies in this country.”

And if abortion is something very unlike an appendectomy–if it is, in fact, the snuffing out of an unborn child, for whatever reason–why is it legal?

Anyway . . .

‐You’ve perhaps heard this recent declaration of George Galloway, Member of Parliament: A suicide bomber would be “morally justified” in killing Tony Blair. Very nice. But do you know where Galloway made this declaration? As our senior editor David Pryce-Jones has pointed out, it was in Cuba, where Galloway appeared on TV with Castro. Galloway hailed the Cuban dictator as a “lion” in a world of “monkeys.” The two men embraced.

And that, friends, is George Galloway. With Saddam Hussein now indisposed, Castro must be his favorite ruler (if it is not Kim Jong Il).

Who keeps electing Galloway to office, by the way? He doesn’t live in a police state. He doesn’t shoot himself in. It’s British people–which is vexing, indeed.

‐I’ve spoken of weariness in this column, and here is a point I am very, very weary of making: Because racism is charged stupidly and unjustly–and promiscuously–power drains out of the charge. You hear that something, or someone, is racist, you can almost assume that it, or he, isn’t.

I thought of this when reading about Harry Reid, the Democratic leader of the Senate. He declared that recent amendment concerning English “racist.” And in modern America, “racist” means nothing except, “I don’t like it.” It has nothing to do with racism, of course. It just means–for example–“I, Harry Reid, don’t like it, or you. You and your thing are racist.”


When real racism rears its head–as it inevitably does–what do you call it? You can’t use “racist,” because the Harry Reids of the world have made the word a nothing.

‐I was looking at a news-clipping service the other day, and saw this under the category Top News: “Paris Hilton Plans Reggae, Hip Hop Album.” Now, I am anything but a news snob, trust me. But “Top News”? Geez, Louise.

‐Was quite interested in a story about the Chinese community in Havana. Here is a taste: “Many Chinese immigrants arrived on the island after fleeing communism and economic difficulties in China in the late 1940s and 1950s, building a bustling merchant and agricultural class before their chosen refuge also became communist under Fidel Castro.”

I swear, I could only think of one word, California-surfer-style: Bummer.

‐Reacted to another headline: “Black, Hispanic Pupils See School as Tough.” Well, duh, huh? Lots of people see school as tough. But then I read the story, which began, “Black and Hispanic students see school as a more rowdy, disrespectful and dangerous place than their white classmates do, a poll says.” Yes, indeed: and that is why school improvement might be, in particular, a minority concern (which is to say, a concern of minorities). David Horowitz likes to say that, if the Right, somehow, ran American education, our schools would be considered one of the greatest race crimes of all time.

Talk about a subject on which one can get weary . . .

‐An Impromptus reader forwarded something about Tiger Woods and Bill Clinton. The sidebar to this article confirms what we know about the ex-president and his “scorecard ‘math.’” Of course, the greatest piece ever done on this subject–and one of the greatest pieces ever done–was by our Byron York, for The American Spectator, many years ago. Like candy, that thing, pure candy.

‐Speaking of my colleagues: You remember I told you something about Mike Potemra, in one of these columns, quite a while ago? I recounted a funny episode that occurred at the height of the Lewinsky scandal. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that her faith in the president had been “badly shattered.” I smirked about this to Mike: badly shattered! He said, “Yeah, it reminds me of what Mr. T said in one of the Rocky movies: ‘I’m gonna crucify ’im–real bad!’”

I thought of all this when seeing a headline the other day: “Drudge Falsely Smears Gore.”

‐An AP story was titled “Bush Weighs Deploying Guard to U.S. Border,” and it began this way: “Once again the Bush administration is turning to the military to help solve a domestic problem.” In your opinion, is that how a wire-service report should begin? What would the Columbia School of Journalism say? (As you must know, I don’t care–just being rhetorical.)

‐The House Judiciary Committee has prepared a report called “Plane Clothes: Lack of Anonymity at the Federal Air Marshal Service Compromises Aviation and National Security,” and I have only one comment: Shouldn’t official reports avoid cutesy, punny titles like “Plane Clothes”? I mean, isn’t that what people like me, at magazines, do? The feds should be soberer!

‐Saw a headline, which I adored: “EU Trying to Reconnect with Europeans.” Yeah, that’d be good!

‐You know that spam-mail we get from Nigerians? I went to delete one of them, then noticed the sender’s–the alleged sender’s–name: Obaseki Jackson.

You have to admit, that’s a glorious name: Obaseki Jackson.

‐For those who missed my recent journal from, and about, the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, I wish to provide some links: Part I , Part II , Part III , and Part IV. Thanks.

‐A little music criticism, from the New York Sun? For a review of the New York Philharmonic’s Memorial Day concert, please go here. For a review of an earlier concert by the New York Philharmonic, along with a review of the pianist Frederic Chiu in recital, please go here. For a review of a chamber concert featuring two principals of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, please go here. For a review of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, under Christoph von Dohnányi, please go here. And for a review of the baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in recital, please go here.

Did I say a little music criticism? I meant a lot–sorry!

‐Saw a sign the other day, carried by a beggar in the street–young, happy-looking guy. The sign said, “Need Money for Beer”! So honest a beggar, I’d almost like to give to.

Have a good one, y’all.

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