Politics & Policy

An Obama tic, &c.

President Obama addresses Turkish students in Istanbul in 2009.

Barack Obama likes to say that people “believe in climate change” or don’t. Last week, he was comparing Mitt Romney and John McCain — saying that the latter was a far more reasonable man. For example, “John McCain believed in climate change.”

When speaking to students in Turkey, Obama blasted George W. Bush — because, you know, the classiest presidents blast their predecessors when they are speaking to foreign students, on those students’ own turf. He said, “George Bush didn’t believe in climate change. I do believe in climate change. I think it’s important.”

Everyone “believes in” climate change, in that everyone knows that climate changes. The debate is over man-made global warming and the realization of the collectivist dream.

#ad#‐A reader writes, “Saw a bumper sticker this morning that was new to me, and delightful: ‘Visualize Limited Government.’ Better even than whirled peas . . .”

(You know the bumper sticker that goes “Visualize World Peace,” right? And you remember the parody bumper sticker, “Visualize Whirled Peas”?)

‐Let’s turn, now, to the country that President Clinton called our “strategic partner,” China. Amnesty International has issued an “urgent action” concerning “Falun Gong practitioners at risk of torture.” This is routine, daily stuff, I know. But here is the specific case:

On February 25, 40 police officers stormed into the home of Wang Xiaodong. They seized him, taking his money and belongings in the bargain. That’s how they do it in Communist China. Wang, according to Amnesty, “has been charged in connection with possessing a CD containing information on the Falun Gong spiritual practice.”

His sister, Wang Junling, did something gutty: She circulated a petition in their home village, a place called Zhouguantun. The petition called for the release of her brother. Nearly every family in the village — some 300 of them — signed it. Later, says Amnesty, they were “intimidated into retracting their support.”

The prisoner’s sister also wrote an “open letter,” posting it on the Internet. Then she went into hiding. Now they have nabbed her, as well as people suspected of sheltering her.

To read the full report, go here. All I can say is: an amazing sister, an amazing village, amazing friends — a despicable government. They are no “partner” of mine, believe me.

‐You know those 40 police officers who went into Wang Xiaodong’s home to seize him on account of that CD? Don’t you think 39 would have been enough? Even 38?

‐Last week, President Obama talked about George W. Bush, when the latter’s White House portrait was unveiled. Obama did pretty well, I think.

I was reminded of the speech that Reagan gave, in 1986, at the dedication of Jimmy Carter’s presidential library. It was a paean to Carter, and superb — mainly true, too. I have just re-read it: here.

Carter’s comment was, “For the first time, I understand why you won and I lost.” That’s a paraphrase, but close.

Really, you’ll want to treat yourself to this speech, when you have the time. It is beautiful, gracious, interesting, deft. Pretty much perfect.

Here is how it ends: “And there’s only one thing left to say. From the 40th president to the 39th, happy birthday! And, Mr. President, if I could give you one word of advice: Life begins at 70. [Laughter] Thank you all. God bless you all.”

The dedication was held on October 1, 1986, Carter’s 62nd birthday. (Reagan was 75.)

‐A few days ago, on the subway, I saw a student with his textbook: the Howard Zinn history of the United States. In other words, a Communist, or in any case far-Left, one. I had just read this column by Mona Charen, about her son’s “world civilizations” textbook. The book treats Stalin and other Communist mass-murderers with kid gloves.

People complain that our schools leave young people ignorant. There’s that, yes. But worse than their knowing nothing is their knowing lies.

I thought of something that Robert Conquest told me, when I profiled him in 2005: “They’re still talking absolute balls. In the academy, there remains a feeling of, ‘Don’t let’s be too rude to Stalin. He was a bad guy, yes, but the Americans were bad guys too, and so was the British Empire.’” Conquest continued, “They say [disapprovingly] that we were Cold Warriors. Yes, and a bloody good show, too. A lot of people weren’t Cold Warriors — and so much the worse for them.”

Oh, Conquest — my man, eternally. (For that 2005 piece, go here.)

#page#‐David Goffin is a young, little-known Belgian tennis player. Roger Federer is . . . not little-known. Someone asked Goffin whether he thought he had a chance against Federer in the French Open. Goffin said, “If I say yes, I’ll sound arrogant. If I say no, you’ll say I lack ambition.”

I loved that.

‐Are there Italian readers in my audience? If so, I offer a review — a review of my new book, Peace, They Say, which is a history of the Nobel Peace Prize. The review, by Cristina Missiroli and Andrea Mancia, appears in Il Giornale, here.

And viva Italia.

#ad#‐There has been one Italian winner of the Nobel Peace Prize: Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, who shared the prize in 1907, with a Frenchman named Louis Renault (not to be confused with the car guy). Moneta, who lived from 1833 to 1918, was a very, very interesting man. I won’t recapitulate his life now. There’s a book for that. But a monument to him in Milan gives a good summation of the man.

It calls him a “Garibaldino” (i.e., a partisan fighting alongside Garibaldi); a “thinker” and “journalist”; and an “apostle of peace.” But this last term has a qualification, or at least an addition: “fra libere genti,” which is to say, “between free peoples.”

See a picture of this monument? Here.

‐As a political junkie, I’ve been in a bit of heaven the last couple of days, reading an e-book by Carl Cannon and Tom Bevan. The former is the Washington editor for RealClearPolitics, and the latter is the executive editor. They know their politics. They have their sources. They give you the inside dope.

Their book is Election 2012: A Time for Choosing. You recognize that phrase, right? It was the title of one of the most important speeches Ronald Reagan ever gave — at the end of the 1964 campaign.

As I understand it, Cannon & Bevan are going to issue these e-books through the present campaign, and then bundle everything for a hardcover book after Election Day. You used to have to wait for Teddy White to issue his tome. Now — no waiting.

I highly recommend the RealClear duo to my fellow political junkies (and you know who you are).

‐Every day, the clamor grows: “Jay, give us ballet reviews, it’s ballet we want!” Okay, two mini-reviews, concerning performances by the American Ballet Theatre in the Metropolitan Opera House.

La Bayadère: Osipova sick, or at any rate indisposed. Her substitute, Isabella Boylston, fine. Alina Cojocaru exciting, endearing, superb. Cornejo fine. Score by Minkus — much better than you might think. You’d be proud to have written it.

The Bright Stream: Veronika Part melting, elegant (what’s new?). Stella Abrera pert and accomplished (ditto). Cory Stearns graceful, virile, and fun. Victor Barbee and Martine van Hamel — hoots, and extremely skillful hoots. Alexei Ratmansky — choreographically unerring. Shostakovich — genius.

Were those brief enough for you?

‐For proper criticism, instead of the above shtick, go here. This is my “New York Chronicle” in the June issue of The New Criterion. (Music, we’re talkin’, not ballet.) (Except maybe for some ballet scores.)

May’s “New York Chronicle” featured some animadversions on John Cage, that con artist. (Or so he can appear sometimes — often.) A reader wrote me, “I wish this aphorism were original, but it’s not: If Cage was a musical genius, then he sold his birthright for a pot of message.”


‐A headline that is very, very modern appeared over this article: “Twins conceived after dad died won’t get benefits.”

‐Feel like some more Warren names (a theme of this column the past few times)? A reader says, “I think Fauxcahontas is best. But before I heard that one, my own contribution was ‘Pocadishonest.’” Another reader says, “Occupywallstreetagawea.”

Cumbersome, but point-making! Thank you, Impromptus-ites, and see you.


To order Jay Nordlinger’s new book, Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.

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