Politics & Policy

Political Pig-Pens, &c.

Here is a messy subject: the sheer, physical dirtiness of the Left. The detritus of the Left. I grew up with it, in Ann Arbor: the placards, the sleeping bags, the leaflets, the graffiti, the tent cities, the associated garbage. We see the same thing in lovely Madison now. These people expect other people to clean up after them: the “working people” they claim to love and represent.

Some people snickered at the “tea partiers,” who were proud of leaving their rallying sites cleaner than they found them. Well, they should have been proud, those tea partiers.

‐Of course, it remains true that the hippie-lefty girls were some of the prettiest around. They hadn’t bathed or brushed their teeth in days. They wore filthy and torn T-shirts and jeans. Their hair was greasy. But they were, you know, 20, and they were beautiful . . .

‐It kind of irks me when President Obama lectures businessmen, about business. I mean, he does it with such arrogance (which is how he does many things). And here’s a guy who has been a community organizer, a politician, a writer of books about himself — you know what I mean. Did he ever have a lemonade stand as a kid? He doesn’t strike me as the type. (I didn’t have a lemonade stand either. I drank plenty of it, though.)

I quote from an Associated Press report:

Obama says the private sector has to do its part to ensure that “we’re not simply creating an economy in which one segment of it is doing very well, but the rest of the folks are out there treading water.”

“I don’t know exactly where your future customers come from if they don’t have jobs,” Obama said Thursday during the first meeting of his newly created jobs and competitiveness council.

I think it would be a good idea if businessmen handled business and Obama helped create a climate in which businessmen can flourish. A free economy will do more for people — people of every type — than central planning ever will.

If you want the conservative platitudes, come to me any time . . .

‐Two of our heroes, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, ticked me off about Israel. As I remember, they traveled to Israel to say, solemnly, “It is not in your interest to be an occupying power.” To which the Israelis said, or should have said, “Oh, thank you for clarifying our interest for us! We never would have known!”

The assumption seems to be that, one fine day in 1967, the Israelis just waltzed into the territories, wanting their jollies. And how jolly it has been, these past 45 years (almost)! What a delight the West Bank and Gaza experiences have been for Israel! The intifadas were especially fun.

I wish non-Israelis could understand that Israelis want peace more than they do. More than they possibly could. Israel did not choose to be an “occupying power.” The Arabs, through their multiple wars of annihilation, chose it for them. And when Israel withdraws from such places as Gaza and southern Lebanon — the warring against Israel gets even worse.

Yet Thatcher and JPII were so smart about so many things . . .

‐In a column last week, Michael Barone had a line that absolutely chilled me: “In effect, public-employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic party.”

‐The Democratic congressman who said, “Every once in a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody”? Um, I’m not sure the union Left and its supporters need the reminding. From as far back as we can remember, they’ve been pretty good about that.

‐I recall a meeting some of us had with Abhisit Vejjajiva in Davos. He struck me as pretty much the perfect English gentleman. It was only after the meeting that I discovered he had gone to Eton and Oxford.

The Thai prime minister is in the news, taking heat related to his dual citizenship, British and Thai. The PM was born in Newcastle. (“Come you not from Newcastle?”) He admits to supporting “the Newcastle football club,” as the article I have linked to says.

I made a pretty lousy joke in my Davos journal — the year I met the Thai in question. Something about how “Abhisits attract.” (I guess I don’t think it was so lousy if I’m repeating it.)

And our David Pryce-Jones pointed out, last year, that we now have two Old Etonian prime ministers in the world: Abhisit and David Cameron. You may remember what Harold Macmillan said — surveying all the Jews whom Prime Minister Thatcher surrounded herself with. I paraphrase: “A Conservative government is supposed to be full of Old Etonians, not old Estonians.”

I like to think he said it with love . . .

‐I guess there are names with more j’s in it than Vejjajiva, but I don’t think I know one.

‐The best recording of “Come You Not from Newcastle?” Kathleen Ferrier’s? I quite agree.

‐I read a headline at Drudge: “Designer John Galliano held in Paris for ‘anti-Semitism’ . . .” Um, just sayin’ that if you hold everyone in Paris who’s guilty of anti-Semitism, you’re doin’ a lot of holding. A lot.

And you better get longer arms for Vienna!

‐I know that the world tires of Republicans who say, “If a Republican did this, rather than a Democrat, the press would . . .” Well, the world can skip this particular item. The First Family has a taste for Vail, Costa del Sol, and the Vineyard. Fine, fine. But if a Republican first family jetted off to such swank spots — don’t you think the establishment media would say this showed a Richie Rich, country-club, let-them-eat-cake attitude?

Bill Clinton liked the Vineyard too. Poor guy had to vacation in Wyoming when he was running for reelection. What cruel punishment, to vacation amid the natural wonders of that state. Do you know this story that Dick Morris tells? Clinton calls him and says, “Can Chelsea go whitewater rafting?” Morris says, “Well, I’ve done it, it’s not all that dangerous.” And Clinton goes, “No. You know — Whitewater?” (As in the scandal.) (One of them.)

After the reelection, it was safe to go back to the Vineyard . . .

‐In the current National Review, I have a piece on the Peace Corps, which turns 50 today — March 1. Its first director was a JFK brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, who died in January of this year. There is a debate about how much good the Peace Corps has done over its half-century. We can leave that to another time.

I’d like to relate a memory. About ten years ago, I met a man in a West Virginia town — a judge who had worked with Shriver in the “war on poverty,” right there in West Virginia. This man, when I met him, was a liberal, just as he had been in the ’60s. He was no “neocon” — one of those who had been “mugged by reality.” He was a firm liberal, which is important to the story I’m about to tell.

I asked him, “Did it do any good, the war on poverty?” He said, quickly and quietly, “No.” That was all that was said — by him or by me. I remember thinking it was one of the most honest answers I had ever heard. And, obviously, it gave the man no pleasure to give it.

‐Dr. Bernard Nathanson died here in New York the other day. He was an extremely important man: one of the leading abortionists in the country, one of the leading abortion-rights advocates in the country. He then changed his mind: in fact, recoiled from what he was doing. He narrated a film called The Silent Scream. It had a great influence on many, leading to a kind of awakening. Abortion — the cause of abortion — has not been quite the same since Nathanson turned.

Of course, he was vilified by his former allies in the movement. Let me quote from an obituary in the Los Angeles Times: “Asked her opinion of her former comrade in arms, Friedan told New York magazine in 1985, ‘Whittaker Chambers comes to mind.’”

That is in fact a brilliant comparison. Betty Friedan meant it as a putdown, of course — even as a perfect denunciation. But it is actually very, very high praise: perfect praise. Both men had a crisis of conscience that forced them into a new life purpose. Some people liked their former purposes better. Oh, well.

‐End lightly? With some language? Everyone knows that, in the South, pop or soda is referred to as “Coke” — no matter what it is. A Fanta orange? A “Coke.” A grape Nehi? A “Coke.” At least, it used to be that way (as I understand it).

A few days ago, I was dining with a group that included a man from Alexandria, La. I asked the waitress (are you still allowed to say that?) for “something in the Diet Sprite family” — an un-cola. The Louisianan said, “We used to call that ‘white Coke.’”

I like it. And you, for joining me. Thanks, and see you.




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