Politics & Policy

Black and white, &c.

Robert De Niro (AP File Photo/September 22, 2011)

Every once in a while, something will happen that makes me think, “Oh, yeah — that’s why I became a conservative in the first place.” Does that ever happen to you? (Or maybe you were born one.)

Robert De Niro made a joke, just a joke. But sometimes — often — jokes tell us something. He said, “Callista Gingrich, Karen Santorum, Ann Romney. Now, do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady? Too soon, right?”

When I was growing up, the liberals around me seemed to think of everything and everyone in black and white — literally. They had race on the brain. People weren’t people, with their virtues and flaws, but skin colors.

Does it occur to you that Michelle Obama is black? Not to me: It occurs to me that she’s a left-winger, a fitness enthusiast, a left-winger, a fashion-plate, a left-winger, a jet-setter, a left-winger, etc.

Does it occur to you that those other women, those other wives, are white? Not to me. Frankly, I don’t know enough about them to think of them as anything at all. But I’m pretty sure that their skin color is one of the least important things about them.

How sad — how wrong — to live in a black-and-white world.

‐Of the shooting victim in Florida, Trayvon Martin, President Obama said, “You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Yeah, so? What if he wouldn’t look like Trayvon? What difference does that make?

What if the victim had been of Chinese ancestry, or a freckly red-headed Irish-American kid, or a kinky-haired Jewish piano student? So?

What is wrong with people? Do we really serve the god of biology? What Barack Obama’s offspring would look like: Isn’t that the least important thing about the Trayvon Martin case?

‐If I remember correctly, Chris Rock once had a talk show, which had Jesse Jackson as a guest. And the host, Rock, asked him, “Could you tell me something, reverend? I’ve always wondered: What is it you do?”

A few days ago, Jackson said, “Blacks are under attack.” That’s what he does.

‐When Rick Santorum spoke out against Internet porn, he was supposed to have committed a political error: Why is he hung up on that when we have big, big problems, serious fish to fry? There could hardly be a more serious fish than Internet porn.

It is the pestilence that walketh in darkness, the destruction that wasteth at noonday: a destroyer of souls, minds, families, lives — the whole kit ’n’ caboodle.

I’m not sure what the government should do about it. I am sure that people who would, and do, regulate the hell out of cigarettes and pharmaceuticals get all wee-weed up at the thought of curbing porn.

I’m glad Santorum said what he did.

‐Earlier this year, I was talking to a man whose work is regulated by the FDA — and more than regulated. He tries to get drugs to market. And he said, “If the FAA were like the FDA, there wouldn’t be a plane in the sky, I swear.”

‐Asked about what seems to be a persistent trouble with Catholic voters, Santorum said, “The bottom line is that we do well among people who take their faith seriously, and as you know, just like some Protestants are not churchgoing, they [there?] are folks who identify with a particular religion but don’t necessarily practice that from the standpoint of going to church and the like.”

Oh, dear. Adlai Stevenson once made an obnoxious quip. A lady said to him, “Governor, you’ll receive the vote of every intelligent person in this country,” and he said, “That’s not good enough, we need a majority.”

And if Santorum is depending on “people who take their faith seriously” . . . Plus, maybe he shouldn’t suggest that the holy support him and the unholy don’t?

‐Sen. Jim DeMint said, “I can tell conservatives that, from my perspective, I’m not only comfortable with Romney, I’m excited about the possibility of him being our nominee.” Not to be all self-referential, but that reminded me of something I wrote in this here column in October:

If you’re a conservative, perhaps you’ve had this same experience: In the past few weeks, several people have said to me, “Have you made your peace with Romney? Have you accepted him as the nominee? Are you resigned to him?” My answer is: I actually look forward to his nomination. And to his candidacy in the general. And to his presidency.

I think he’ll be quite good, if he gets a chance.

(That column, headed “Romney Ruminations,” can be found here.)

‐In Jennifer Rubin’s blog, I read something that made me think, “Paul Ryan: my kind of budget-cutter.” She was linking to a blog of the Heritage Foundation, which described a sitdown with the Wisconsin congressman. For the full report, go here. But let me quote:

The importance of maintaining a strong national defense while confronting the nation’s spending crisis played a prominent part in Ryan’s remarks.

In surveying the state of the U.S. military today and potential threats on the horizon, Ryan said that the President’s defense budget is inadequate. He said that strategic considerations should drive defense budget numbers, not the other way around. Unfortunately, the President’s defense budget, and the defense guidance that preceded it, were both budget-driven exercises.

Ryan expressed concern over end-strength troop reductions, saying that the U.S. has a tendency to draw down its forces after every conflict, leaving the United States ill prepared and ultimately placing our people at risk. Moreover, after 10 years of war and major wear and tear on military equipment, the U.S. military is in dire shape and needs to be “reset.”

Without the necessary reinvestment, Ryan said, the U.S. will not have the technological superiority and capability to compete against any potential adversary. “And other countries are catching up,” he said. “China is putting a lot of investment into their military.” Ryan’s message was simple: It’s time to repair the military, not cut another peace dividend.

Again, Paul Ryan, my kind of budget-cutter. We have to ask the question, periodically, “What’s the federal government for? Free false teeth?” (That’s a Buckleyism.) We can say, for sure, that the federal government is for the physical defense of the nation. For the preservation of our interests in a dangerous and chaotic world.

That, we don’t “devolve” to Cheyenne, Lansing, or Carson City.

Ryan has shown tremendous maturity, including a knowledge of history. (Drawdowns have proven disastrous. We have paid for them with the blood of our people. This is a main point of George C. Marshall’s Nobel lecture in 1953. Have a look, when you have the time.)

‐We tease Barack Obama about his TelePrompTer, but this machine has been with us for a long time, and Reagan was totally devoted to it. In fact, most of us learned about the TelePrompTer from him — from his use of it. Today, it’s startling to see a major figure read a major speech from paper.

But that’s what Queen Elizabeth did, marking her Diamond Jubilee. See her here. She can really read a speech. You might say, “Well, she’s had many decades of practice.” Still: She can read a speech very, very well.

At about 2:12 in the speech I have linked to, she says, “During these years as your queen, the support of my family has, across the generations, been beyond measure. Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind. But throughout he has been a constant strength and guide.”

We see the prince’s face virtually expressionless — unchanged. But if we look very closely, we may notice a slight reaction in the eyes. Remarkable.

Also, is there a handsomer 90-year-old dude anywhere?

‐In a column last week, Cliff May quoted the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, who said it is “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula.” My first thought: “There are churches in the Arabian Peninsula?”

‐I had to smile at this headline: “APNewsBreak: Europe faces jihadist threat.” (Article here.) Wow, what a shocker, out of nowhere!

‐In response to the murders in Toulouse, the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, said, “It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.” (Article here.) Impressive words. What is unclear to me is, did he say them in Arabic, at any time? Or only in a Western tongue?

‐This headline will kinda get your attention: “Colo. fair lifts ban on boy with doped goat.” We learned from the article, “Two siblings, whose prize-winning goats were disqualified at the 2011 Colorado State Fair after testing positive for a banned growth stimulant, can participate in the competition this year . . .”

Doping, doping, marring sports from major league baseball to the Olympics to goats at the Colorado State Fair . . .

‐Care for a little music? We’ll have it in the form of a letter from a reader:


I admit it. I’ve often sneered at the thought of Enya. I guess it stems from disdain at anything “New Age” — I always found it pretentious. Sometime last year, riding with my dad, I heard a CD that sounded interesting. It was Enya. A bit later, I got some Enya tunes from one of my sisters. After listening, I must confess: Enya is an artist. Her music is quirky, lyrical, evocative, and complex — and I quite enjoy it.

For the past two days, I’ve been playing “China Roses” over and over. I don’t have the track on repeat, but every time it finishes I start it over. I just can’t get enough of that song!

Perhaps I shouldn’t dismiss an artist before actually sampling her work.

Oh, Enya’s wonderful, true. Sail away, baby.

‐In yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, there was a little piece on the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize — awarded to the Quakers in the form of two relief organizations: the American Friends Service Committee in that self-same Philadelphia, and the Friends Service Council in London. Kind of an interesting story. I drew this piece from my new book, a history of the peace prize. For those interested, the article is here, and the book here.

‐Last week in Manhattan, we had a launch and party for that book — a really enjoyable occasion (I think). Wish you had been there! Have to tell you what my fellow music critic Fred Kirshnit said on his arrival. He said, “As Joe Biden said about Obamacare, this is a big [frickin’] deal. Only, unlike Obamacare, your book can’t be repealed.”

Well, we’ll see what Sotomayor has to say about that. In any case, thanks for joining me, y’all, and have a great week.




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