Politics & Policy

Hang on, Hillary! &c.

I’m one who’s sort of sorry about Hillary’s slide — if slide it is. Because I’d like to run against her. I could write for pages about this, or I could do an impromptu — and I’ll do the latter, what with the design of this column and all.

Consider: The last two elections, the Democrats ran possibly the two most dislikable people in the United States. The first time, they won the popular vote, and the second time, they narrowly lost — a difference of a few tens of thousands of votes in one state (Ohio) would have given them victory.

What if they nominate someone likable — meaning Obama — this time? Huh?

We’ll talk about “experience” and all the rest of it later . . .

‐Let me issue a caution: For months, we heard that Hillary was a shoo-in — for the nomination, and possibly for the presidency itself. That was extreme. And now we’re hearing, from some quarters, that she’s finished, has no chance — and that’s extreme too.

The election will play out . . .

‐The AP asked the presidential candidates to name their favorite 20th-century president from the other party. (That article is here.) All the Democrats said Teddy Roosevelt, of course — regarding him as a champion of big, or at least strong, government. And all the Republicans — perhaps equally of course — named Harry Truman. Except Fred Thompson, who, tongue in cheek, said Martin Sheen.

‐As for the Huckabee Christmas ad: I don’t know whether that bookcase in the background was meant to suggest a cross or not, but the guy sure can talk, Huckabee — and I had to sort of smile at the audacity (of hope?).

‐Did you-all catch that Ron Paul’s son’s named Rand? Kind of reminded me of names like Melor (Marx, Engels, Lenin, the October Revolution).

Not that there’s anything wrong with naming your children after those you admire . . .

‐If there’s one man in the American political establishment who’s universally admired, or at least respected, it’s Tim Russert. (N.B.: He was a Mario Cuomo staffer.) Do you ever hear a bad word about him, from anybody, left, right, or center? Anyway, I watched a little of his recent interview with Mitt Romney. The Mormonism-and-black-priests question, of course, Romney knocked out of the park. Indeed, I think the ball’s still going, over cars, cities, pastures, etc. But what did you think of Russert’s questioning style? I thought it was huffy, histrionic, and borderline hysterical. I mean, Sarah Bernhardt, on her most scenery-chewing night, couldn’t have done it that way.

Just my two cents, as a critic . . .

‐The big news about Nicolas Sarkozy the other day was the chick he’s dating: Carla Bruni. But what really caught my eye — other than La Bruni — was where he’d taken her: Disneyland Paris, most despised symbol of American influence on the European continent.

Yes, this is a different kind of French president, bless him.

‐I would like to draw your attention to a column by Katherine Kersten, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. (The article is here, but a subscription is now required, unfortunately.) The column concerns a “meditation room” at Normandale Community College that has been transformed into a student mosque. Other faiths have been crowded out. At this putatively ecumenical meditation room, shoes are removed, the sexes are divided, leaflets denounce Jews and Christians, and so on.

Here’s one question that Kersten asked the college’s dean of student affairs: “Doesn’t sex-segregation present a constitutional problem in a public educational institution?” The man’s answer: “I don’t want to comment on that.”

Anyway, the column is remarkable on a number of fronts. Here are two: The “Strib” published it. And the columnist had the bravery to write it, despite obvious risks.

If the students want a mosque, they should probably get a mosque. But a “meditation room” to which all are supposed to be welcome — is another story.

‐From MEMRI TV comes a taste of what it can be like to debate in the Middle East. Daniel Pipes appeared on al Jazeera, versus Khodor ’Awarki, a Lebanese journalist. Pipes made a statement. Then ’Awarki had his turn:

I hope that all the Arab viewers, and especially the families of the one million Iraqi martyrs . . . I hope that the people of our beloved Egypt . . . I cannot understand why the Egyptian authorities have not yet issued an international arrest warrant against Mr. Pipes, who conducts intensive activity among the Copts abroad, in order to Zionize them and to create sectarian confusion in Egypt, with the support of the Jewish lobby, which provides him with huge resources, through Freedom House and other organizations, which serve as fronts for the Jewish lobby. I hope that the Palestinian people — every mother of a Palestinian martyr, every widow, and every orphan — will get a good look at the face of Mr. Pipes, because he is a member of the Satanic, terroristic gang that convinced George Bush, Olmert, and all the Israeli and American terrorists to kill, invade, and destroy them.

Etc. Happy debating, Daniel! (For a video clip of this performance, go here, and for a transcript, go here.)

#JAYBOOK#

‐On the subject of that book, I’ll give you some more fun with inscriptions. At least one reader has requested that I write, “To my muse . . .” Believe me, I could use one sometimes, baby! Another reader wanted me to write, “Hey, [So-and-So]! Stop e-mailing me!” Instead, I wrote: “Don’t stop e-mailing me!” (I am not always compliant, you know.)

An Impromptus-ite who has read the book said, “What possessed you to end HT&E with the piece on Alexandria [Egypt]? Especially since you had ‘ended’ on just the right tone, with ‘The Conservative on Campus,’ all the way down to the perfect last lines? [Blush.] Why go on?”

Oh, I don’t know: I kind of like “Alexandria the Great” as an ending, with its happiness and breeziness (literal breeziness, given the Mediterranean air you feel as you rush down the Corniche). Plus, that was written in carefree, pre-9/11 days . . .

Also, wished to alert you to an interview I did on the book with our John J. Miller — here. It was sort of a shock to hear myself. First, I usually think of myself as a mellifluous baritone — and instead, I sound like an unmellifluous tenor. Second, I stopped-and-started-and-stuttered like a piece of electronics with a short. And I think of myself as smooth and rolling.

In any event, JJM asked very good questions . . .

‐Care for some music? For a review of the pianist Hélène Grimaud, anchoring a chamber concert, go here. For a review of the New York Philharmonic, under Andrey Boreyko, with Grimaud as soloist, go here. And for a review of Verdi’s opera I Due Foscari, performed in concert by the Opera Orchestra of New York et al., go here. These reviews were published in the New York Sun.

‐In Monday’s Impromptus, I issued a little blast — a righteous blast — against the American Bar Association. And I heard from a number of lawyers, who had quit the ABA out of principle and disgust. I’ll give you a sample:

Dear Jay,

I suppose you’ll get a lot of mail on the ABA snippet in today’s Impromptus, but as an attorney I can’t remain silent on this (or on much else, for that matter): That misbegotten gaggle of poltroons is a sorry excuse for an organization that should, and claims to, represent an entire profession weaned on the United States Constitution, and the laws that flow from it. The ABA damned sure doesn’t speak for me, and if it vanished from the face of the earth tomorrow I wouldn’t waste my breath even to cheer its demise.

I liked the virility of that note.

Another reader:

I canceled my membership in the ABA many years ago, when they came out pro-abortion. It wasn’t so much that I opposed the decision (which I did) as that they made a decision at all on what I considered a political issue. I actually called to cancel my membership, and the lady I talked to seemed surprised at the reason. However, since then, almost everyone I know has canceled, too. Maybe it’s a Texas (or conservative) thing.

That letter was signed by a man from Ft. Worth.

A third reader said that, since resigning from the ABA — also over the abortion decision — “I’ve stuck with the state and local bar associations: more business, less politics, better cigars, company, and drinking.”

‐And a final, quick letter on that vexing subject of race?

Jay –

I was standing in the checkout line this evening and noticed a popular magazine targeted at the African-American demographic. One of the cover stories read, “Barack or Hillary: Who are blacks endorsing?” [FYI, the grammar is not the point.] I wonder if it occurred to the editors that there might be, you know, a point of view African Americans might endorse that is not on the left . . .

No, of course it didn’t!

Thanks for joining me, dearhearts, and I’ll be back at you soon.

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