Politics & Policy

Our blood for oil? &c.

Reports of Greenspan’s new book are unbelievable: the Iraq War for oil? The Bush economy no good? Who wrote this book, the former Fed chairman or his wife (TV commentator Andrea Mitchell)?

I believe I liked Greenspan better when he was canceling his subscription to National Review — for our criticism of his hero, Ayn Rand.

Oh, one more thought: For the last ten months, everyone has been saying that Republicans deserved to lose in ’06 because we were weak on our small-government principles. Okay: So then you turn to Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats?

I mean, it’s madness.

Oh, hang on, a final remark: How go oil prices, now that we’ve removed Saddam Hussein “for oil”? And I should ask: Did we remove the Taliban for that same purpose? That’s what Michael Moore says. And a great deal of the country endorsed that incredible film.

‐I’m afraid that Bush generally believes that criticism doesn’t deserve a response — but he should get out and talk about Greenspan a little, letting the chips fall where they may. How could they fall worse for him — PR-wise — than they have been?

‐Yesterday, Tiger Woods won his 61st professional tournament, in the process of winning the Tour Championship and the first-ever FedEx Cup (worth $10 million). I wrote about Tiger a lot from about 1996 to 2001. But I’ve slacked off since then, mainly because I don’t have all that much to add. I simply marvel, along with everyone else. In a 2001 piece — here, and anthologized in this book — I said, “It’s a thrill to be alive in the Time of Tiger. Whether you give a hoot about golf or not, I ask you to trust me: Rejoice.”

And I still say that: Rejoice.

‐Quick item about language, even though we’re near the top of this Impromptus? There has been a change in golf terminology that I very much regret. The guy you played with used to be called your “playing partner”; if you played with two or three, they were your “playing partners.” Now the golf commentators say “fellow competitors.” Why? Everyone else is your fellow competitor — that is, everyone else in the whole field.

You know?

‐Let me repeat a point I’ve made for many years: Even if Tiger had never won a tournament as a pro, or never won a dime, he would go down as one of the most amazing golfers of all time: for that amateur career. Three straight U.S. Juniors, three straight U.S. Amateurs — six straight USGA match-play tournaments. Tiger has never really done anything greater, and the person who knows that better than anyone . . . is Tiger.

‐Another item on language, high up as we are? I saw a headline: “Man Held in Germany for Anti-Semetic Rage Attack on Rabbi.” And that’s what many people say: “anti-Semetic.” So it’s only natural that someone should have spelled it that way.

By the way, does anyone pronounce “renege” “reneg”?

‐The Iranian president has done it again: vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. This time, he said that Israel “cannot continue its life.” He keeps telling us, and telling us — telling us, and telling us. Has the world begun to believe that his pronouncements and intentions are sincere? Does Israel believe it?

I repeat one of the stories I have repeated most: A man makes it out of Auschwitz alive. Someone asks him, “What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last several years?” He answers, “When someone says he wants to kill you, believe him.”

(I believe that is a true story — that this exchange actually took place, in 1945 or shortly thereafter. In any case, its message holds true.)

‐In a Wall Street Journal piece published on August 31, John Bolton suggested that North Korea was cooperating with both Iran and Syria on nuclear weaponry. That is, he said that this would not be “far-fetched.” And if that’s what’s happening, this is a momentous and potentially catastrophic development. Have you been reading about the curious case of Israeli warplanes over Syria? (Here, for example.) Stay tuned — and stay wary.

‐Barack Obama said something fairly depressing. We’re talking about a man who could be president of the United States. He said, about last week’s hearings with General Petraeus, “I think we should not have had this discussion on 9/11 or 9/10 or 9/12. It perpetuates this notion that the original attacks had something to do with going into Iraq.”

I fear he has too narrow a view of 9/11. I fear he believes it was some kind of freak crime, carried out by a small group of goons. Does he accept the Bush Doctrine? Does he accept that these times demand that terrorists and their state sponsors be treated equivalently — that we have to toughen up?

There are a couple of extreme views on 9/11 and a broader war. One is this: I know of an eminent scientist who said, after 9/11, that there was nothing to do — nothing for the United States or anyone else to do. Why? Because the 19 who were guilty of the attacks were all dead. End of story, end of case.

The other extreme view is: We have to cut off relations with all Islamic countries and wage a kind of total war.

Eight years before 9/11, the World Trade Center was bombed — by Islamofascists. One of them, Abdul Rahman Yasin, fled . . . where? To Iraq — to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Saddam also harbored Abu Abbas, leader of the Achille Lauro hijacking, in which an American citizen, Leon Klinghoffer, was shot in the head, then dumped into the sea, still in his wheelchair. Saddam also harbored master-terrorist Abu Nidal. And paid the families of suicide bombers. Etc.

No, Saddam Hussein did not fly one of the planes on 9/11. But if a presidential candidate believes that 9/11 and terror-sponsoring states have nothing whatever to do with each other — as I said, depressing.

‐I saw a headline: “Guantanamo Detainees Tell of Abuses.” I said, “Great, they confessed to what they had done?” And then I realized . . .

‐Have a brief sentence about a Chinese political prisoner, Guo Feixiong — and his wife, Zhang Qing: “On the one-year anniversary of the detention of rights defender Guo Feixiong (also known as Yang Maodong), Human Rights in China has been sent an essay by his wife, Zhang Qing, entitled ‘In Commemoration of the First Anniversary of My Husband Guo Feixiong’s Detention: Urging for His Unconditional Release.’” The rest of this article — from Human Rights in China — is here.

I have been thinking lately about political prisoners and their wives. In the next issue of National Review, I’ll have a piece on Jian-li Yang, with whom you’re familiar. I’ve written about him in Impromptus since 2001. He is the great Chinese democracy leader who was recently released from prison after five years. During his confinement, he was greatly aided by his wife, Christina Fu, living in the United States. She lobbied and lobbied, and agitated and agitated, and never gave up.

She reminded me of Avital Sharansky — wife of Anatoly (who later, in Israel, became Natan) — and many other wives, not nearly as famous. Is there an example of spousal devotion any greater than that supplied by such women as Zhang Qing, Christina Fu, and Avital Sharansky?

‐Was in a home recently where Vanity Fair was on the table — I’m not talking about the novel, but the magazine. Hadn’t seen it in years — and nothing, of course, has changed. The tone is hiply left, smart-ass, insufferable. David Halberstam is their idea of a political sage. Every single page is drenched with scorn of Bush. Frankly, VF reminded me of another magazine — whose name rhymes with “The Rew Nepublic.” Same too-cool-for-school, smugly hateful attitude.

If National Review ever gets that way, please shoot us.

Noticed some other interesting things too (not that the above is all that interesting). There was an interview with Neil Simon, in which he was asked which living person he admired most. He said Michael Bloomberg — the mayor of New York (no elaboration). That is a very, very interesting choice. Would like to hear more. Simon was also asked to name his heroes in life. He answered Lincoln, Truman, and Washington (in what must be his order of preference, as it’s not chronological).

That made me think pretty well of Simon.

Finally, saw an ad for Louis Vuitton luggage — with Mikhail Gorbachev. That ought to say something interesting about the turn of history, but I’m not feeling magisterial enough to say what.

Oh, one more thing: Damn near impossible to find the table of contents. You notice something on the cover you want to look at, but you don’t know where to go, because you can’t find the ToC.

Oh, one more thing: I meant to say this at the beginning: The magazine was 400 pages long. Four hundred pages! I help put out a magazine that’s about 60 pages long — and I regard it as darn near a phonebook.


‐Have one music review, if you like, from the New York Sun: This one considers a new recording of opera duets, sung by Anna Netrebko, soprano, and Rolando Villazón, tenor.

‐Finally, saw a vehicle in New York the other day — near Grand Central Station. Its bumper was festooned with stickers. One said, “There Are No Ex-Marines.” Another said, “The 2nd Amendment: America’s Original Homeland Security.”

I’m thinking, “Man that guy’s from out of town.”

See you.


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