Politics & Policy

Mac can win, &c.

Begin with a political note? McCain can win — he really can. He can chip away, and chip away, and chip away — and win.

I bless the long American election season. Everyone always criticizes it. All our lives, we have heard it derided: “It’s so long, it’s so drawn-out, it’s so ridiculous. Why can’t we be like the British? They have a nice, neat six-week election season, and boom — it’s over.”

But the long American season allows vetting to occur — vetting, weeding, testing. It allows dumb enthusiasms to fade; it allows unwise euphoria to die down. U.S. president is an important job. Americans have a chance to take a good long look.

Time is on McCain’s side — and the old warrior can win.

I’ll say what I think I’ve said before (and forgive the repetition): At nearly every campaign stop, McCain should say (something like), “I’m 71 years old, and I’m about to be 72. I look it. I’m all beaten up. I’ve done a lot, especially in the service of my country. I have experience, judgment, and scars. I know the world. Now, my opponent, Senator Obama, is a nice kid. But we’re at war. And he’s not ready to be commander-in-chief. I am. My friends, choose wisely.”

‐Would like to say a word about abortion — strange how it doesn’t get mentioned during presidential campaigns (general-election campaigns, I mean). Abortion is said to be one of the biggest issues in the country. An issue that roils the country. And it is. But presidential nominees are strangely silent about it — election after election after election.

I know why the Republicans — the pro-lifers — are silent: They believe that abortion is a losing issue. (Rather, that the pro-life position is a losing one.) So they say something mild, indirect, and brief — like, “Every child should be welcomed in life and protected in law.”

But why are the Democrats silent? Why is the Democratic nominee silent on abortion, every four years? If the pro-choice position is such a winning one, why not trumpet it? I have a hunch about the Democrats’ reticence: I think the smart ones believe that the pro-choice position is not such a winning one. And I think they’re right.

Barack Obama is a radical on abortion — an extremist. He is for total abortion on demand. He voted against the Born Alive Act. (Of course, this separates him from no other mainstream Democrat . . .)

Couldn’t McCain make political hay out of this? Do you think it would hurt? Besides, if he’s going to lose — as so many people think he is — shouldn’t he do so while saying something important?

‐Yesterday, I was at DemStore.com, just doing a little shopping, you know. Actually, I was familiarizing myself with the bumper stickers. And I saw something perfectly Democratic — shopping by “constituency.” You had “Asian-American,” “Jewish,” “LBGT” . . . (Don’t forget those “Transgendered”!) Everybody nice and compartmentalized.

You can get shirts, buttons, and stickers that say, “Asian-Americans Support Obama ’08.” (Well, some do, some don’t.) But then, over at BarackObama.com, you can get stuff that says, “Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders for Obama” — don’t forget those Pacific Islanders!

As I said, perfectly Democratic — and gag-making.

Also at the Obama site, there is a pull-down menu labeled “People.” And in this category are . . . African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Go Pacific Islanders!), Labor, Latinos, LBGT, Women, blah, blah, blah. (By the way, the Obama people have screwed up their alphabetical order, right off the bat.)

But this was kind of interesting: “People of Faith.” Right in there with LBGT and everything! A place at the table — woo-hoo! And “First Americans.” “First Americans”? Yes, Indians — American Indians. I’d never heard that one before. The political-correcters and the euphemizers never, ever rest . . .

‐In recent columns, I’ve been discussing the proposal by San Francisco liberals to name a sewage plant after President Bush. (It’s on their November ballot.) A question occurred to me: The Speaker of the House is from San Francisco. What does she think of the proposal? Does she support it or oppose it?

I’m giving campaign advice in this column, so I might as well mention this: Back during the primaries, Obama accused Middle Americans of “clinging” to guns and religion — also of being xenophobes. What’s more, he did this in front of wealthy San Francisco liberals. It is simply a perfect episode — perfectly Democratic. And John McCain should making something of it.

But will they (meaning he and his people)?

‐Turn to Egypt: I’ve met a fair amount of Egyptian officials in my time. Some of them are golden (really); some of them are louses (really, really). All of them get huffy when you suggest that Egypt is a dictatorship — even a “presidential dictatorship.” They get very huffy when you suggest that Egypt is less than free. Well, lately, they’ve been jailing bloggers and Facebook users. If you don’t want to be called a police state — don’t act like one.

You know?

‐Longtime readers are familiar with a particular complaint of mine: The Western media never talk about the abuse — hideous abuse — of Palestinians by Palestinian authorities. To the media, a Palestinian cannot be abused or oppressed other than by an Israeli.

This is why I was astonished to see this story from the AP: “Torture widespread in Palestinian jails.” Hats off to the relevant human-rights groups for the work they do.

‐A discussion of Palestinian human-rights abuses — particularly the widespread ignoring of — brings me to Jimmy Carter. You know you gotta have your Carter. And you know he was a great friend of Yasser Arafat. Ghosted at least one speech for him, the better to enable him to hoodwink the West. Also, recently laid flowers at his grave. You know?

Anyway — friend of mine writes,

Hey, Jay,

I don’t know whether it’s worth NR’s time, but someone should juxtapose Amy Wilentz in New York magazine — “It’s always been Carter’s nature to avoid the political fray. He likes to engage in intelligent conversation with powerful parties, he likes to resolve things in a mannerly, civilized way . . .” — against all the thoroughly despicable things Carter has had to say about assorted Republicans, and then raise the question of what constitutes reporting today.

Good idea.

‐Was on the streets of New York the other day (as pretty much every day). And these people, spaced about 20 yards apart, were giving away tiny little granola bars. “Free granola bar?” they were saying. “Free granola bar?” And with the bar came a smallish, glossy card, advertising a church.

Pretty pathetic, I thought: using a miniature granola bar to sell salvation. Almost deceptive. Shouldn’t salvation be the main event? And shouldn’t these folks have enough confidence in their product?

‐Another tale from the streets of New York — this time down on Wall Street. Going to a concert (Trinity Church), I saw a man in white shoes — white bucks, I guess they were. You’ve heard the expression “white-shoe firm,” or “white-shoe lawyer”? Here was one, in the flesh. A distinguished, senior lawyer. And, strangely enough — New York can be like this — I knew him.

‐In Monday’s Impromptus, I published a letter about a despicable bumper sticker in San Francisco: “Support the Iraqi Resistance.” In other words, support the bombers, beheaders, and fascists who are slaughtering American troops and innocent Iraqis. Well, received a note from a correspondent in my dear hometown of Ann Arbor. He had attended the town’s annual art fair. And, sure enough, there was a booth dedicated to “supporting the Iraqi resistance.”

They never let you down, do they?

‐Let’s have some music — two reviews published in the New York Sun. For the pianist Marc-André Hamelin in recital, go here. And for the organist Joyce Jones in recital — that was the event at Trinity Church — go here.

‐The news has come that Bob Novak is in some tough medical straits. (A news article is here.) But can you think of anyone tougher?

‐In my July 15 column, I talked about flying over southern Manhattan, and the missing towers and all that. I mentioned, too, that my recent collection has a picture of southern Manhattan on the cover — complete with the towers. People either understand why this photo was chosen or they don’t. Usually, I think, they do.

A reader wrote,

Mr. Nordlinger,

I understand. I was married at the Mariners’ Chapel at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in August 1987. The academy overlooks Long Island Sound. Our wedding photographer created a photo montage of my wife and me superimposed against the sky above Throgs Neck Bridge. A faint image of the towers is visible behind the bridge. Whenever we look at our album, we are always drawn to that faint image of the towers in the haze of that late August afternoon.

A family in upstate New York took him in. And just last year, he was reunited with his birth parents — for the first time. Presuming him dead, they had made a grave for him, burying some of his possessions. They dug them back up, joyfully.

Next month, Lopez will compete on the U.S. Olympic team, running the 1,500 meters. “I’m just like any American now, with my rights,” he says. “Now I’m not like one of the lost boys. I’m an American.”

Not bad, huh?


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