Politics & Policy

Che does Ireland, &c.

Have you heard the latest about Che Guevara? They’re erecting a monument to him in Galway, Ireland. Oh, yes: A T-shirt isn’t enough. They have to have a monument to this totalitarian, murderous, gulag-creating monster.

Many years ago, I wrote an article called “Che Chic: It’s très disgusting.” But a monument is a tad beyond chic, isn’t it? Think how few monuments there are to the victims of Guevara and his like. So few — the monuments, that is, not the victims.

To read an article by Carlos Harrison on this matter, go here. To read Humberto Fontova, go here.

#ad#There has long been a debate about Communism, and about Cuba in particular, and about Guevara in particular: Those who celebrate Che — are they ignorant? Or do they know what they do?

In the dark of night, I fear that they know exactly what they do. That they know exactly who Guevara was. And like it.

‐Later this month, Pope Benedict will visit Cuba. Some people have started a Facebook petition urging the pope to meet with human-rights advocates while there. They wanted me to spread the word. For that petition, go here.

I have a feeling the pope will not leave Cuba’s human-rights advocates hanging.

‐For many years, I have written about the bravery of Iraqi politicians, who risk their necks every day. Unfortunately, they also risk the necks of their wives, children, relatives, friends, bodyguards — all with whom they are associated.

Several days ago, there was a maddening report headlined “Iraqi bodyguard, family killed in house raid.” Here are three short paragraphs:

Authorities say gunmen broke into a house north of the Iraqi capital and killed the sleeping family inside before blowing up the property.

Police said Sunday’s early morning strike appeared to target a bodyguard of the mayor of Tarmiyah, 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

The pre-dawn attack happened a few miles away, in the Sunni Muslim-dominated village of Mishahda. Police said the bodyguard and his wife, sister and two young daughters were killed.

I hope they can keep going, the Iraqis. That they do not break down.

‐Obviously, there are liberals in America who support Israel. Many who don’t, but many who do. When they see Israel’s defense system, Iron Dome, knocking down missiles from Gaza: I wonder what they think. I wonder whether they think, “Why should Israel have such a system and the U.S. not?”

Since 1983, when Reagan announced SDI, they have fought against a missile-defense system with all their strength.

‐In the current National Review — hope you got yours! — I have a piece called “Cousinhood, Lately.” It’s about Anglo-American relations in the time of Obama. The course of those relations has not run exactly smooth.

I thought I’d say one more thing, now that Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha — “Sam Cam” — are in the U.S. on their state visit.

In my piece, I review various happenings since January 2009 — more specifically, various “-gates.” There was Bust-gate, in which Obama returned the bust of Churchill to Her Majesty’s Government. There was DVD-gate, in which Obama gave Gordon Brown a terribly cheap and unsuitable gift. (The discs didn’t even play on British DVD players.) There was iPod-gate, in which Obama gave Queen Elizabeth a device helpfully loaded with his own speeches. There was Kitchen-gate, in which Obama denied Brown a bilateral meeting in New York, granting a “walk and talk” through a U.N. kitchen instead. There was Toast-gate, in which Obama had some serious coordination problems with an orchestra, as he was toasting the queen.

That may have been the single most awkward thing I’ve ever witnessed on the world stage. (Not that I was there. Saw it on video.)

In addition to frivolous little -gates, there have been some serious matters: Did we Americans give British nuclear secrets to the Russians, for the sake of getting a deal with them? From documents dumped by WikiLeaks, it seemed so. And why are we neutral as between Britain and Argentina on the matter of the Falklands? Why do we insist that Britain negotiate? What’s there to negotiate about? And why does our State Department refer to those islands as the “Malvinas”? Are we in grad school?

#page#But let me touch on one more -gate — Touching-gate, in fact. You may remember that Michelle Obama, on our First Couple’s first trip to London, put her arm around the queen. This is an historic no-no — you don’t touch the queen. Very, very few people have touched Elizabeth in public during her 60-year reign. Michelle O is one of them.

Responding to some stirring in the press, the palace said, No sweat. And several observers said it was the queen, actually, who made the first move.

I thought of some touchings past. Of course, there was Paul Keating, the Australian prime minister, who put his arm around the queen in 1992 — thus earning the Fleet Street nickname “The Lizard of Oz” (“Oz” being Aussie slang for “Australia”).

#ad#But best of all — most unforgettably of all — there was Alice Frazier. Do you remember her? She was the lady in the Washington, D.C., housing project who was visited by Barbara Bush, Jack Kemp, and the queen in 1991. Mrs. Frazier was from North Carolina — big warm black lady. Naturally, she gave her visitors big ol’ hugs when they arrived at her door. And that included the queen. What else would she do?

I do believe “The Hug,” as it came to be known in the British press, was the single most American thing I’ve ever seen.

Mrs. Frazier quickly became a celebrity in Britain, even touring there. When she died in 2005, there were obituaries.

What a wonderful hug. I can almost feel it now.

Here’s a lil’ story from my home state, Michigan. It’s about an extremely aggressive turkey that has taken up residence in a lady’s yard, making the woman a virtual prisoner in her house. A wildlife expert, Tim Payne, is quoted. Let me excerpt the article:

Payne said the bird has probably been fed at some point, losing his fear of humans.

“This bird has probably attacked, and the person retreats,” Payne said. “What it tells the bird is: ‘What I’m doing is good.’ It reinforces the aggressive behavior.”

Is that not a wonderful lesson for American foreign policy?

‐Last week, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post had an article on the GOP primaries. Its theme: Many journos don’t want Romney to win the nomination, or want the race to go on, so they’re reluctant to concede Romney’s doing well.

Part of this is our bias in favor of conflict. I’ve been as guilty as the rest in attempting to extend this primary season, even pleading with Newt Gingrich to fight on, strictly for my personal enjoyment. But the reluctance to acknowledge Romney’s inevitability also reflects media antipathy toward this boring candidate — the flip side of 2008, when journalists brayed for Hillary Clinton to abandon her fight against Barack Obama, the media’s preferred candidate.E

I thought that was an interesting admission, that last bit. Refreshing.

‐I heard a talk by a candidate for office — a Long Island Republican named George Demos. What a name for a politician! Think he has the common, democratic touch?

‐Heard a Republican from Rhode Island, running for the Senate — Barry Hinckley. Dynamite. He saw his family’s business ruined by Big Government. He started a business of his own — only to see himself handicapped in a hundred different ways. He decided to do something about it: by running for office his own bad self.

Again, dynamite. Think you’ll like him. Sort of the Ron Johnson of ’12.

‐I sometimes speak of “language inflation.” The other day, I heard something that illustrates what I mean. I heard an ad for the John Carter movie describing it as “the first big blockbuster of the year.” If we have to say that a blockbuster is big . . .

‐A little music? A reader in Billings, Mont., writes, “The musical venues available to me here are humble: our local orchestra, a chamber group, the occasional touring soloist or group, the grand in my living room, and, of course, recordings and the wonders of online listening (nothing quite like being able to listen live to the BBC Proms at my office desk of an afternoon while looking out over the Beartooth and Pryor Mountains on the horizon).”

Yes, the modern world is amazing — amazingly kind — in that way.

‐Let’s end with a little golf. At the Doral tournament on Sunday, Sergio Garcia provided a definition of golf greatness. He made a twelve — an octuple bogey — on a par-4. That story went around the world.

But here was the real story, in my opinion: He had that 12. Plus a double bogey. Plus a bogey. And still shot 76 (five birdies and an eagle).

On three holes, the guy was 11 over par! And he wound up shooting 76 (four over par)!


Thanks for joining me, friends — and good luck to my man Orrin Hatch in this week’s Utah caucuses. He’s one of the best senators in modern times. A Reaganite before it was cool, and a great guy.


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