Politics & Policy

Palin Fever, &c.

Received a note from a Bible scholar in Germany. It read, “Since you like words, I thought you’d be interested to know that the word for ‘rebirth’ in New Testament Greek is ‘Palingenesia.’ Is this perhaps a prophecy in Bible code? Could it be a favorable omen for the Republican party? (These days it is probably wise to explicitly state that I’m kidding . . .)”

Quite right, Herr Professor.

‐Another reader — stateside — said, “I hereby order you to use the phrase ‘The Killa from Wasilla’ at least once a day in reference to Sarah Palin.”

Well, I’ll give you today!

‐Several times, over the past many years, I’ve introduced our beloved Jonah Goldberg this way: “Move over, Katie Couric, because America’s Sweetheart is . . .”

But I’m afraid that Sarah may — may — have replaced Jonah as America’s Sweetheart, among conservatives. Just for now, of course . . .

‐Was talking to a friend of mine in New York (conservative). He had been to the playground, with his kids. Got into a conversation with some “other moms.” They said they were very, very insulted that McCain chose Palin, expecting them to vote for her.

My friend said, “Oh, don’t worry: He wasn’t expecting you to vote for her — at all. He was expecting me to vote for her, which I will.”

Incidentally, I believe John Kerry won 84 percent of the vote in Manhattan — 84 percent. You know what they say: As goes Manhattan, so goes . . . Madison?

‐Was talking to a lady who is not 100 percent wild about Palin, but likes her: and she said, “She’s an appealing, admirable, neat American product” — which I thought was a wonderful description.

Hi, Jay,

I went to the post office yesterday, and several of the clerks (federal employees all) were wearing Obama pins. Nobody had a McCain pin on. I wouldn’t even think of wearing a McCain pin in such a setting, lest any of my parcels be accidentally “misplaced” and fail to reach their intended destination.

Is this frustrating? You could say that.

Hey, I’m just glad that federal employees aren’t required to wear Obama pins . . .

‐Four years ago, I did a piece on how everybody in concert halls and opera houses, around New York, wore a Kerry-Edwards button. (When I say “everybody,” I don’t mean everybody — I mean like 99 percent.) (Just kidding.) (Sort of.) I saw only one Bush-Cheney button — it was on an extraordinarily brave, singular friend of mine.

Anyway, you can find that piece in this collection. (Pardon the plug.)

‐So, they’re going around calling Sarah Palin “extreme.” They support abortion on demand, even unto partial-birth abortion. This Freedom of Choice Act, as Ramesh Ponnuru explained in our 9/1 issue, mandates taxpayer funding of abortion.

Hang on, let me quote him:

Obama, on the other hand, is a co-sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, which codifies abortion as a legal right at any stage of pregnancy and requires taxpayer funding of it. As a state senator in Illinois, he opposed legislation to clarify that infant survivors of abortion have the same legal rights as other infants. Obama is vulnerable to charges of extremism on this issue, and he has misstated the facts in ways that make him look more moderate.

Anyway, it’s Sarah, of course, who has to be “extreme.” They always do this to our people — and wouldn’t it be great if, this time, it didn’t work? (Well, it didn’t work against Reagan, true.)

If I were Governor Palin, I might say something like this: “They call me extreme. And do you know their definition of an extremist? Anyone who disagrees with the Berkeley sociology department, the New York Times, and Barbra Streisand.”

Well, that’s pretty lame — but you get the idea: Agnewism with a smile (and a fetching pair of glasses).

‐More on this extremism BS: You remember what Billy J. said at the Democratic convention? Well, first of all, he said, “I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other serious conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn’t afford health care and couldn’t qualify their children for Medicaid unless they quit work and starved or got a divorce. Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of?”

Yeah, those are the family values we’re so proud of, you son of a . . .

But, anyway, he also said that McCain “still embraces the extreme philosophy that has defined his party for more than 25 years.”

Now, what did he mean by “more than 25 years”? He meant since 1980, and the nomination of Reagan. And what has happened since then? Well, this “extreme philosophy” has won five out of seven presidential elections. How extreme can it be, then? It may be wrong — but it can’t be extreme.

The only two elections the “extremists” lost were Clinton’s own — and that testifies to his willingness to buck some of what you might call extremism in his own party.

Anyway . . .

‐Heard Fred Thompson speak at the Republican convention, of course. Also saw him later. And I was reminded: He said one of the most interesting things ever said to me by a politician in an interview. This was in 1999, I believe, or maybe 2000. I was asking him why he wasn’t running for president (as a lot of people wanted him to). And he said:

“Because I don’t want to waste my time going around the country, trying to convince people they’re not doing as well as they think they are.”

‐As you may know, I blogged pretty steadily in the Corner, for some weeks — this was during the Salzburg Festival, the conventions — in there. Now, when you write Impromptus, you receive a bit of hate mail. Not a lot, but some. When you write for the Corner — you get a lotta lotta hate mail. And I don’t mean just negative mail — unfriendly mail, rude mail. I mean rotten, awful, vile stuff.

(Free sample: “Die, die, die!!!”)

I asked some of my colleagues about this, saying, “Is this typical?” They said yeah. And Jonah pointed out: “During election times, the animal spirits really come out.”

Anyway, a few days ago, someone wrote and said — this is not necessarily hate mail, but I want to make another point — “So, when are you going to denounce your best buddy Lynn Westmoreland? Huh, huh?”

And I’m thinking, “Who’s she? The daughter or niece of the late general?” So, I Googled — and she turns out to be a man: a congressman from Georgia — who ignorantly described the Obamas as “uppity.” I say “ignorantly,” because the man later swore he never knew it had any racial connotations. Seems hard to believe, but . . .

Every day, I discover that people don’t know things you think they should.

Anyway, what’s my point? Oh, yeah: my “best buddy” Lynn. Where do people come up with stuff like this? They behave very, very strangely in the throes of political passion (as in the throes of other passions). And do righties write lefties as nastily as lefties write NRO-niks? Gosh, I hope not.

Besides which: Who would want to read a site he finds deplorable and inhuman?

‐Loved something a senior politician told us in Minnesota: It’s hard to run against the Democrats. Because they’re the party that proposes to give people free stuff. And it’s very, very hard to run against people promising free stuff. You have to say, “We, by contrast, will give you the opportunity to make your own way, while keeping a net under you lest you fall too far.”

Interestingly formulated.

‐And I loved this letter, from a reader:


I thought you’d appreciate this anecdote, given your positive review of Rudy Giuliani’s convention speech.

I got on an elevator in my apartment building, going down. An upstairs neighbor whom I had never met was inside — a woman in her sixties, I’d guess — and she had her keys in hand. Since this is Manhattan’s Upper West Side, one must assume that she is a liberal (or progressive or whatever label they currently favor).

After a pleasant exchange of hellos, she said, “I don’t know why I have my keys. There’s no reason to lock my door — I’m just going down for a minute.” (As I observed later, she was retrieving some shopping bags from the lobby.) I thought to myself, “She’s right: Since Giuliani’s mayoralty, in most neighborhoods hereabouts there’s little need to lock your door for so short a time. Certainly she got into the key-carrying habit, as I did, during the bad old days: before hizzoner cleaned things up.”

So I said to her, “You have a pre-Giuliani mindset.” “That’s it!” was her wide-eyed utterance, delivered as fast as a thought can travel from brain to lips. But after two beats, having realized the implication of her reply, she said, “Actually, I’m not comfortable with that phrase. I’m probably the biggest anti-Giuliani person around.”

She was clearly pretending that Giuliani deserved no credit for our safer streets. I suggested that her initial reaction demonstrated her true belief, but she was unwilling to make any further admissions.

Interesting on so many levels.

True, true!

‐I have lots of items for you, friends — on things other than politics — but maybe we should keep this Impromptus all-political. With a few exceptions. Let’s do a little language — in the form of a news item from Britain:

Next day, Hoy [an Olympic track cyclist] meets some Scottish journalists. One puts it to him that: ‘In the last 24 hours everyone has been offering an opinion on Chris Hoy. But what does Chris Hoy think of Chris Hoy?’

Hoy doesn’t miss a beat: ‘Chris Hoy thinks that the day Chris Hoy refers to Chris Hoy in the third person is the day that Chris Hoy disappears up his own arse.’

Adored it.

‐Some music? Will offer up some final reviews from the Salzburg Festival — all published in the New York Sun. For a review of the Cleveland Orchestra, under Franz Welser-Möst, with guest soloist Mitsuko Uchida, piano, go here. For a review of Dvorak’s opera Rusalka, also under Welser-Möst, go here. For a review of a recital by Christine Schäfer, the German soprano, go here. For a review of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, under Riccardo Muti, go here. Finally, for a review of the Vienna Philharmonic, under Mariss Jansons, with guest soloist Elina Garanca, mezzo-soprano, go here.

And, incidentally, the current National Review has a piece of mine about Welser-Möst and Jansons — interviews with.

Go crazy . . .

‐End with some food? We don’t do much food, do we? Let’s start. Last week, I found myself at a DQ in Richfield, Minn., a suburb of the Twin Cities. (How’d I “find” myself there? Gee, I don’t know — my feet must have had a mind of their own.) And I had a Blizzard — part Oreo, part Heath Bar.

And here’s what I thought: “I have had the privilege of eating in the best restaurants of the leading gastronomical capitals of the world. And I have never, ever had anything better.”

Okay, flash forward to the next day (I believe): the Chicago airport: and I “find myself” ordering a pizza (fairly basic) from Wolfgang Puck and a brownie from the Corner Bakery. And I’m thinking: “To hell with Paris, Lyons, Vienna, Rome . . .”

(And if anyone writes to tell me to take that “s” off Lyons, I’ll ban you forever, I swear.)

‐We can’t end on a threat, can we? No. Thanks for joining me, dearhearts, and I’ll see you soon! (Go Sarah!)


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