Politics & Policy

What next? &c.

Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Martin McGuinness in Belfast, June 27, 2012.

Bill Buckley used to warn against “slippery slope-ism”: the belief that, if they ban violent porn today, they’ll be banning D. H. Lawrence tomorrow.

This sort of thinking is to be guarded against. And yet, some slopes are a little slippery, aren’t they?

I think of New York City’s recent ban on “sugary drinks,” of a certain size. Okay. But whaddaya want to ban tomorrow? Because there’s always tomorrow, with a new gleam in your eye, isn’t there?

#ad#‐Not very long ago, civil unions were the extreme pro-gay position. Critics worried, “Well, won’t ‘gay marriage’ be next?” Advocates said, “Oh, come on, nobody’s talking about marriage. Don’t you think a person has a right to be in the hospital with his loved one when he’s dying, for cryin’ out loud?”

Two seconds later, if you didn’t support gay marriage, you were a bigot, a “homophobe,” the Klan.

What’s next? What great social injustice exists today that must be righted in the future? (Abortion on demand is not what the Left has in mind.)

‐In the last week, I saw this headline: “Breakthrough surgery removes tennis-ball-sized tumor from unborn baby’s face.” It seems like just yesterday that people were talking of unborn babies as “meaningless blobs of protoplasm.” Do they still?

‐Queen Elizabeth II has now shaken the hand of Martin McGuinness, the IRA leader. (He is now deputy first minister in Belfast.) That is one blood-soaked hand. Was the British government right to have the queen shake it?

I have read reams of commentary on this question: commentary saying, “Right and necessary,” commentary saying, “An abomination.” I agree with all of it, I’m afraid.

In a sense, I wrote an entire book on this subject: a history of the Nobel Peace Prize. What do you do for peace? What compromises do you make for peace? What lines do you draw?

I can tell you that, in my view, the 1998 Nobel prize was one of the best ever given. That’s the prize that went to two Northern Irish politicians, John Hume and David Trimble, for the Good Friday Agreement. Hume and Trimble were practical, sensible, and useful men.

I love something Trimble said in his Nobel lecture (actually, I love the whole lecture). He said, “What we democratic politicians want in Northern Ireland is not some utopian society but a normal society.”

Let me quote a bit from my book:

Many years ago, the American political writer George F. Will said that there were two “intractable” problems in the world: Northern Ireland and the Arab-Israeli conflict. And he said this well before the Cold War wound down, and the Soviet Union expired. The Arab-Israeli conflict is still with us — but the intractability of Northern Ireland seems to have been cracked.

‐The headline read, “Suu Kyi holds no grudges against jailers.” The article began, “Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Tuesday that she holds no grudges against the military regime that kept her under house arrest for some 15 years and considers them people to work with toward reform.”

I am reminded of another Nobel peace laureate, the late Kim Dae-jung. His first act on becoming president of South Korea was to pardon the generals who had sentenced him to death.

The Associated Press article I have quoted says something curious: It says that ASSK refers to her country “by its colonial name, Burma.” Funny, but my understanding is that all Burmese democrats call their country Burma; and that the dictatorship and its supporters and apologists call it Myanmar.

A final note: The article mentions that Paris made ASSK an honorary citizen. Fine. But it made Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia cop-killer, an honorary citizen too, so . . .

‐In our offices the other day, we had Rep. Tom Price of Georgia (though a Michigan boy). He’s chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. Smart cookie: thoughtful, reasonable, articulate, informed to the gills. He should appear on television more.

But would the “MSM” welcome him? Or would they rather have people who make Republican and conservative points less well?

‐Price is a doctor, and almost all the doctors in politics are Republicans. There’s a smattering of Democrats (Howard Dean, as our publisher Jack Fowler pointed out). This would make a good subject for an article, a good subject for a little study.

Maybe it’s been done already. What hasn’t?

#page#‐Price is high on Romney. He supported him in ’08. He thinks he’ll win this year, and go on to be a historic president, one who rights the ship and gets us sailing briskly and confidently again.

From his mouth to . . .

‐We talked about October surprises Obama might pull — or rather, fall-campaign surprises. He could accede to a grand compromise on taxes and spending. He could strike Iran.

Also, if Republicans have a threatening lead out of their convention, he, before his own convention, could dump Biden. He could try to reinvigorate his campaign with a different running-mate. It wouldn’t be too late.

“Two of my most valuable team members will switch jobs: Hillary Clinton will be vice president, Joe Biden will be secretary of state.”

Geez.

#ad#‐I received a note from a friend of mine, a lifelong Democrat. He had read an article in the New York Times. The article was about a subject he knew well, and was grossly unfair, he said. The liberal bias was glaring. He rebutted the article point for point.

Then he said, “I sound like a Republican, don’t I?”

Sometimes, you don’t want to be a Republican. You don’t want to be a conservative. You want to be cool. But life forces you into it.

Reagan didn’t join the GOP until he was more than 50 years old. He said, “Leaving your party is like leaving your religion.” It almost killed his first U.N. ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, to leave the Democrats and become a Republican. She made the switch in 1985, after her tenure at the U.N. She was almost 60. “I’d rather be a liberal,” she said.

Peter Collier has written a splendid new biography of Jeane K., Political Woman. I have reviewed it in the current NR.

‐I once heard a religious speaker say, “I didn’t want to study the Bible! I didn’t want to be religious! I was cool, you know?”

‐In Tuesday’s Impromptus, I talked about how some friends of mine and I would sit around and say, “If you could have dinner with three people, from all history, whom would you choose?”

A reader sent me his own list — a short list of three, then a longer list, a pool, so to speak. At the end of this longer list was “Elizabeth Montgomery — whoa, where did that come from?”

I know exactly where that came from. Maybe dinner with her alone would be preferable . . .

‐Couple of days ago, I landed in Houston, at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. That would be Bush 41, of course. I’m glad something is named for him. Ought to be something bigger, though, I think.

I got to thinking what a good and impressive man he is. Yeah, the 1990 budget deal. Then I thought of the butt-smooching with Beijing, after the Tiananmen massacre.

Still: a magnificent man, the elder Bush — didn’t Prescott used to be the elder Bush? — and I’m glad to be in his town (his adoptive town).

‐Remember when people said that Houston really wasn’t his town, he just had a hotel room there, he would never go back to it?

‐My cab driver from the airport was from Guinea — and had lived in New York before Houston. He was strongly for Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential race: because he saw that Giuliani had cleaned up — more like saved — New York.

The more I visit other cities, in various parts of the world, the more I appreciate the Giuliani-ized New York. A Garden of Eden. But it can all be reversed, and rapidly.

 

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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