Politics & Policy

Name that terrorist, &c.

A lot of people flipped when President Bush et al. referred to our enemies as “Islamic fascists” — but I wonder what they’d like to call them instead (if anything). Once upon a time, The New Republic held a contest, to name the Iran-contra scandal. They didn’t like “Iran-contra scandal,” for some reason; and they didn’t want a “-gate” (which I sympathized with).

So they held this contest, and the winner, as I recall, was “Iranamok.”

I thought that was quite stupid, but the magazine went with it for many months, or years, or decades, or whatever it was.

Anyway, I’m fine with “Islamic fascists.” Everyone and his brother has written a column about it; in the next issue of NR, we have an excellent piece by Jonah Goldberg on the subject. So I don’t need to blab about it anymore here.

But perhaps there should be some grand contest, to identify this appalling enemy, once and for all.

Anyway . . .

‐Can enough be made of Richard Armitage and his behavior? Can enough be made of the Joe Wilson crowd and their madness? Will Armitage suffer any consequences — any at all — for his behavior? Will his boss and patron, Colin Powell, be made to answer? I very much doubt it, all of it.

Anyway . . .

(Annoying trope — I have to drop that.)

‐A perfect specimen of the current liberal temper can be found in a recent column by Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post: here.

He is none too pleased with President Bush’s speeches, or with Dick Cheney’s, or with Donald Rumsfeld’s. Too much Nazi talk. And Robinson knows what motivates these men: pure, ugly electoral politics.

Here he is: “Unless the Republican base is somehow energized and the rest of us somehow scared stiff by November, the Democrats have a decent chance of taking the House of Representatives and even an outside shot at the Senate.”

Glad to have that cleared up.

Robinson continues: “That’s where all the administration rhetoric about Nazis, commies, fascism and appeasement has to be coming from, because, absent the political context, it makes no sense.”

Have you noticed something? I know I’ve commented on it before. I have never heard an anti-Communist — a genuine anti-Communist — say “commie.” Ever. The only people I have ever heard say “commie” are people who want to mock anti-Communists and the idea that Communism is something to oppose.

Toward the end of his column, Robinson writes, “Nobody wants to appease terrorists. [Nobody? This guy should really get out more.] But some people have a different idea of how to fight them.”

Ah. And what would that idea be? It would be quite interesting to hear. Pell grants? Midnight basketball?

Says Robinson, “The president is right when he says this conflict is unlike other wars, but he seems to miss the essential difference: It has to be fought in a way that doesn’t create two new terrorists for each one who is killed.”

That’s what they always say: that, if you go after the terrorists, you are merely creating more terrorists. Even some of the best of us have said it (e.g., Naguib Mahfouz). This way, civilization’s hands are always tied — you can never act. Because if you strike at them, you are only multiplying them, you see.

Here’s an analogy that Robinson and his confreres will just love: In striking at German, Italian, and Japanese fascists, were we merely making more of them? You could have argued so. I bet that some did.

I wish that liberals and certain others would learn that terrorists don’t need a reason to attack you: It’s what they do, so to speak. It’s your very existence they hate; it is not necessarily your actions, or inaction. Democracies that could not be more accommodationist — to put it politely — are not spared.

Sooner or later, you have to confront these Islamic fascists. And that’s what Bush et al. are doing, and some people will never, ever like it. Which reminds me of the Greatest Bumper Sticker of All Time: George W. Bush: Saving Your A** Whether You Like It or Not.

‐Like you, probably, I was very pleased by that successful SDI test the other day. Very encouraging. But let me take the opportunity to issue my usual warning: When there is a successful such test, people like us — who favor missile defense — cheer. And the other side — the anti-SDI camp — frowns. And when an SDI test fails, they crow or gloat, and we frown.

I have seen this happen basically since Reagan launched the program in 1983.

We should resist test-by-test reactions. This is not a tennis match (or something). Testing technology of this magnitude — and this importance — is a slow, painstaking process. There will be many successes and failures, as with the Apollo program and everything else. But we will get there, almost certainly.

I counsel — not that you asked — equanimity in (episodic) success and equanimity in (episodic) failure. All that matters is the final score.

‐Funny thing came up at work yesterday: We were preparing an editorial paragraph on this missile test, and the paragraph quoted the director of the Missile Defense Agency: Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry “Trey” Obering. And my editorial colleague Anthony Dick said, “Hey — he was my soccer coach!”

I have no point to make; I just thought that was remarkable.

‐Did you hear Nancy Pelosi’s riposte to Donald Rumsfeld? She said, “If Mr. Rumsfeld is so concerned with comparisons to World War II, he should explain why our troops have now been fighting in Iraq longer than it took our forces to defeat the Nazis in Europe.”

Now that’s the kind of intelligence, reason, and perspective we want in the highest offices of our land, such as Speaker of the House!

Go Dems!

‐On this “macaca” BS: I saw a headline from the Associated Press that said “Va. Senator Who Used Slur Declines Award.”

I’d like the AP to answer the question, “What slur?” I mean, in what sense is “macaca” a slur? If that’s a slur — what do you call a real slur? You have no word left. Thanks, AP.

(Frankly, I think liberals — including the employees of the Associated Press — wish it were a slur. Because it would go along with their view of conservative Republicans.)

‐As you know, this is not a good year for Republicans, congressionally, electorally. The other day, my eyes fell on this: “Republican Senate candidate Mike McGavick ran a red light before being stopped for drunken driving, failed a roadside sobriety test and fell asleep during processing, according to a police report on the 1993 incident.” McGavick is running in Washington.

I thought, “Yup — that’s our party, in 2006! Great.”

‐In Romania, Mona Musca, a former culture minister, was kicked out of the Liberal party, when it was discovered that she had cooperated with the Communist secret police. Rather touchingly, I thought, she expressed her “regrets” and asked for “forgiveness.” She also said, “Whether I am in or out of the party, I am a Liberal, I was a Liberal, and a Liberal I remain.”

And that reminded me of a story I learned from Paul Johnson: Sometime after the war, Winston Churchill encountered a new, young parliamentarian in the elevator. Churchill asked him what party he was from. The man said, “Labour, sir.” Churchill said, “I’m a Liberal — always have been.”

Nice, huh?

‐I was pleased to see the cover of Newsweek this week. It shows a little girl with a huge stack of books beside her. She is gobsmacked (to use a British expression we should really have over here). The cover words are, “The New First Grade.” All of this has to do with the ordeal of homework.

I know I’m supposed to be a big conservative and all, but I am shocked — and sort of appalled — at the amount of homework little kids are getting. The little kids I know have a ton of homework. As for me, I don’t recall having any homework until about graduate school. From K through college — zip.

Of course, we don’t want America’s youth winding up like me, do we? (See, I beat you to it, dear readers!)

‐A couple of columns ago, I cited my sister, an authority on New Orleans and other things. (She is a Tulane alum.) I was talking about what she taught me about the pronunciation of “New Orleans,” years ago. Well, she wrote in and stressed that there are several pronunciations of “New Orleans.” It depends on who you are. For example, old-line, upper-crust New Orleanians are apt to use four syllables: “New AH-lee-ans.”

Many non-New Orleanians automatically say, “Oh, they say ‘N’awlins,’” because that’s what they’ve read. Well, some do, some don’t.

Nice to have additional layers.

‐Reader writes, “Knowing your penchant for unusual or amusing names, I have to tell you about the police chief of Xenia, Ohio: Randy Person.”

Very nice!

And here’s a name I found all by myself: Jeff Crank. He was a (Republican) candidate for Congress in Colorado.

Perfect name for a Republican! Crankier the better, I say.

‐Spring a little music on you? For a recordings roundup published in the New York Sun, please go here. Under consideration are the pianists Claudia Montero and Leif Ove Andsnes, and a new recording of Zaide, a Mozart opera off the beaten track.

‐Finally, a letter that’s a little sad, a little amusing — just right for us, I think:

Dear Mr. Nordlinger,

I take my daughter to speech therapy. After dropping her off, I go outside to a grass strip to exercise. While getting my exercise mat, I noticed the bumper stickers on the car to my left: “Bush lied and you know it” and “How many Iraqi children must die for you to feel safe?” I shook my head and started to exercise. After a few minutes, I heard someone getting into the car, so I turned to look. The lady gave me a smile, which isn’t unusual since most everybody in that parking lot has a kid with a problem, but then she noticed my haircut (Army) and her jaw dropped. Stunned to be confronted with a child killer, I guess.

See you later, and hang tough, sweet friends.

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