Politics & Policy

The worst celebrations, &c.

I’m thinking of Itamar at the moment — the massacre of that family. And I’ll say what I’ve said many times, over many years: It’s not so much the murder of Israelis as the mass public celebrations by Palestinians — that’s what gets you. Every society has its murderers and horrors. But not every society celebrates those murderers and horrors.

The world is very hard on Israel: Why can’t they make peace with the Palestinians? Observe behavior in the West Bank and Gaza, and you will see that it’s not so easy.

‐A little theme of this column over the last two years has been: President Obama mentions his middle name every chance he gets. You’ve noticed that, right? He wears it as a badge, and a shield. He can’t say “Barack Hussein Obama” enough.

The other day, he said, “As time passes, you start taking it for granted that a guy named Barack Hussein Obama is president of the United States. But we should never take it for granted.” He acts like his presidency is a great, great blessing — which, in his mind, it is.

There was a time when it was a crime even to write his initials! Do you remember? The Hillary Clinton campaign got in trouble for referring to their rival, in internal memoranda, as “B.H.O.” I will quote from a June 2008 Impromptus:

The Obama camp is unhappy with the Hillary Clinton camp, because the Hillaryites referred to the other candidate as “B.H.O.,” whereas Obama’s people refer to him as “B.O.” The Obamites regard “B.H.O.” as a sinister allusion to their candidate’s middle name, “Hussein.” And Hussein is the name that dare not speak its name (or something) in 2008.


Me, I don’t know: whether “B.H.O.” is for sure worse than “B.O.” . . .

What would Barry Manilow say?

‐You are perhaps acquainted with Lena Taylor, the Democratic state senator from Wisconsin. What a beauty she is. She’s the one who said, “In 1933, he abolished unions, and that’s what our governor’s doing today.” The “he” in that statement is, of course, Hitler. Who else? And the governor is Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.

Taylor was one of the Democrats who fled the state, in that heroic demonstration of political responsibility. When she returned, she said how good it was to sleep in her own bed. You know what I thought? Some of her Republican colleagues were denied the right to sleep in their own beds. I interviewed one of them, Randy Hopper. The reason was: They faced death threats, and law enforcement advised them not to go home, but to go elsewhere, not disclosing their movements.

A sick, sick scene, this Wisconsin drama. If I were on the Democratic and union side of the debate, I would be very, very ashamed of the tactics of my comrades.

‐Weren’t you told that, if we were super-nice to the Chinese Communists, pretending they were civilized people, instead of the monsters they are, they would ease up on persecution? Weren’t you told that ages ago? Haven’t you been told that repeatedly since?

Have a bit of an AP report, titled “China takes hard line on activists, many missing”:

The last time the prominent Chinese lawyer Jiang Tianyong was seen or heard from, he was visiting his brother in a Beijing suburb. Police grabbed him and threw him into a waiting van, pushing aside his elderly mother who had clung on to the vehicle.

Jiang is among dozens of well-known lawyers and activists across China who have vanished, been interrogated or criminally detained for subversion in recent weeks, a crackdown that human rights groups say is on a scale and intensity not seen in many years.

‐Have a bit of another report, also hard to swallow:

A 42-year-old owner of a dumpling restaurant in Northeast China died in his home at the end of February, unable to recover from one and half years of physical and mental torture in a Re-education Through Labor (RTL) camp . . .

Can you stand one more paragraph, if only to learn the man’s name?

Mr. Shi Hongbo, who owned a restaurant in Jinzhou district of Dalian in Liaoning province, was abducted outside of his home on October 14, 2008 while en route to work. Three weeks later he was sentenced to the Dalian RTL Camp for one and a half years. Camp personnel subjected him to numerous rounds of torture, including shocking him simultaneously with multiple electric batons and tying him down for several days at a time with all four limbs stretched out. As a result, Shi developed heart problems and high blood pressure.

You don’t say? These are the people — the torturers — we fête in the White House, as Lang Lang smilingly plays.

‐I read a Reuters article, which began, “Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that all those responsible for civilian casualties in Libya should pray for the salvation of their own souls.” You know, say what you will about the Soviets, but those dear atheist Reds didn’t annoy us with talk like that . . .

‐A friend of mine wrote me and said, “Dan Quayle agrees with you!” Well, I always agree with Dan Quayle. What did my friend mean? He sent me a link to this article, which has Quayle defending Obama’s golf — I mean, Obama’s propensity to play golf. Quayle, as you may remember, is one of the best golfers ever to enter public life. (Once upon a time, Marty Russo, the congressman from Chicago, was the best golfer in Washington — certainly among the politicos.)

A little over a year ago, I wrote an essay for National Review, “Hail to the Golfer-in-Chief.” I said, “Frankly, one of the best things I know about President Obama is that he plays golf.” For one thing, it keeps him away from governing. I also like that Obama fills out NCAA brackets. Normality in a president is not a bad thing.

‐When I was working at The Weekly Standard, I wrote a piece on Tin Cup, a golf movie starring Kevin Costner. That was 15 years ago. You can find the piece here. After it appeared, Dan Quayle wrote me a letter, saying he had enjoyed it, and mentioning a recent novel: The Legend of Bagger Vance. He said he thought it would make a good movie. And, four years later, in 2000, the novel was, in fact, made into a movie. It was not a good movie, as I recall: but it certainly could have been.

When Quayle wrote me, in 1996, he was only four years removed from his vice-presidency. I didn’t know him from Adam. He signed his letter “Dan.” A really neat guy, Vice President Quayle.

Politico published an anti-Palin piece, quoting George Will. He is quoted as saying, “There’s no Reagan without Goldwater, no Goldwater without National Review and no National Review without Buckley — and the contrast between he and Ms. Palin is obvious.” First of all, the contrast between Bill and everyone is obvious. Bill was great at being Bill, and Palin is great at being Palin. Second, if Will said “between he and Ms. Palin,” instead of “between him and Mrs. Palin,” I’ll eat my hat.

‐I spotted a headline in The Spectator (over this article): “Liking the cut of Rommel’s uniform doesn’t make you a Nazi.” I’m thinking, “Yeah, but it’s a start.”

‐A reader wanted to celebrate the name of a BBC reporter: Damian Grammaticas. I agree!


‐Care for some music? For my latest in City Arts, go here. This one treats the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and the pianist Evgeny Kissin (or “Yevgeny Kissin,” as we first knew him, when he was a kid in a red Young Pioneers scarf — transliteration always seems to be changing).

‐For the past few months, I’ve been plugging the candidacy of my friend Ted Cruz, who’s running for the Republican Senate nomination in Texas. This is the seat of Kay Bailey Hutchison, who’s retiring. I ballyhooed him when he announced: here. But I’m going to ballyhoo a bit more, before saying goodbye for today.

Ted is what I call an “all-rounder” (a term they use in cricket). What I mean is, he is steeped in the law, economics, foreign policy, education policy — pretty much everything. Also, he is fearless, dauntless. And a true Reagan conservative.

Not least, he can talk — oh, my, can he talk. He was something like debate champion of the world when he was at Princeton. I’m always looking for a conservative Republican who can talk. We’re always getting out-talked, it seems, in political debates. You want to out-talk Ted? Just try it. Not much of a chance.

I find the prospect of Ted Cruz in the Senate downright exciting. The second he gets there, he’s not just another conservative senator: He’s a national leader of our cause. What do I mean by “our cause”? Reaganism, in a nutshell.

I’m about to stop campaigning and plugging, but let me just say that I’m going to attend a fundraiser for Ted next week — in New York. He’s raising money all over the country, from conservatives who want him to succeed. I’ve never been to a political fundraiser before. And one of the joys of being an opinion journalist is that you can go full-bore in support of a candidate. This one, I feel sure, is worth going full-bore for.

Take a look at his website, if you’re so disposed — here. Kick the tires. Feel him out. Politicians are always breaking your heart, you know. That’s one thing Bill Rusher, NR’s former publisher, said: “They’ll always let you down, no matter how they are.” Candidates say certain things on the trail, and then, once they’re in office, all bets are off. But Cruz is different, I can say with confidence. You can take him to the bank.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox (till the next time). Thanks so much for joining me, and see you soon.




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