As readers may have noticed lately, I’m full of advice for the Romney campaign — mindful of the old line about what free advice is worth.
But look: If I were Romney — and certainly if I were his surrogates — I would remind people, from time to time, what an unnamed “prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House” said last year. I have quoted this Politico report.
As you remember, this fellow (or gal) said, “Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney.”
Oh, yes. And Romney should remind people, particularly after attacks from the Obama side: “They said they’d have to kill me. Okay, let ’em try. Meanwhile, we’ll look at Obama’s record, and at what I propose to do differently.”
I suspect that, if the campaign is about the last four years, we will win. If it’s about Mormonism, personal wealth, and race — gonna be harder.
‐A few days ago, I was talking to a smart political type, on the Republican side. He said, “I’m worried about the divisiveness of Obama — not just from an electoral point of view, but from a societal point of view. It’s not good for the country. It could have bad lingering effects — pitting people against one another.”
I immediately thought of Ellen Sauerbrey, who ran for governor of Maryland. She ran twice, actually, in the 1990s. Both times, it was against a Democrat named Parris Glendening.
My memory is from the second race, in 1998. Glendening was the incumbent. And Bob Shrum ran his campaign. (He might have run the first one too, can’t remember.) In the last days, Glendening-Shrum smeared Sauerbrey as a racist. Smeared her hard — viciously, nauseatingly. Even the Democratic mayor of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke, was nauseated.
Afterward, Sauerbrey said to me — I’m paraphrasing — “It’s one thing if you lie about a person’s view of tax policy or agricultural subsidies or something. That’s not very nice, but then the election happens, and life goes on. Not much harm is done. But if you lie about a person’s racial views, there’s a lingering effect. The lie corrodes society. It makes race relations worse. It makes it harder for society to heal, after all these years, all these decades.”
‐Stay with the governorship of Maryland for a second. The other day, I was reading the invaluable Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post. She was saying that maybe business execs “should stop giving money to a president who demonizes them.”
I immediately thought of one of my favorite politicians, one of my favorite public servants, Bob Ehrlich — who succeeded Glendening as Maryland’s governor. He would actually scold businessmen for giving heaps of money to left-wing Democrats — to people who would try to hamstring them in every way possible.
Ehrlich would say to these business types, “You suffer from Patty Hearst Syndrome: You identify with your captors. We need you to influence votes [in the legislature]. We need you to be dangerous.”
They pretty much never were, or are. What’s the matter with businessmen? “If am I not for myself . . .”
‐I was talking to a friend in the office. He said, “I want my president to be kind of dull.” “What do you mean?” I said. He said, “I don’t want him in my face every second. I don’t want constant drama, constant agitation — or the permanent campaign.”
‐Was talking to another friend, about the question du jour: “Whom do you want as vice-presidential nominee?” He said Christie. “Why?” I said. “Christie is a bruiser,” he said. “Romney is not. The Democrats are going to be extremely tough — vicious. They’re going to try to destroy Romney. Christie would stand up to them — give it right back to them. I don’t know if Romney will. Too polite.”
‐I saw a headline I don’t think I’d ever thought I’d see: “US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s.” (Article here.) Growing up, I guess I figured that prosperity would rise, or at least not decline too much . . .
‐As you know, smooth, just transitions of power are not exactly the rule in the world. That’s why Ghana has made news: The president died; the vice president was sworn in — routine to some, a miracle to others.
‐France is one of the American Left’s favorite countries. One of mine too. One of any sane person’s. But some will not like reading this article, which is about the country’s culture of sexual harassment — or at least of wolf whistles, racy comments, and the like. A cabinet minister was hooted at in the legislature — in the legislature, no less — simply for speaking in a tasteful summer dress.
‐Possibly the most horrifying story I’ve read all year was told by Charles Moore, in a column:
. . . I heard Rita Cronin on the Today programme. Her son, Kane Gorny, who suffered from multiple medical problems, had a hip replaced in St George’s Hospital, Tooting. One of his perennial problems was dehydration, and he repeatedly asked the nurses for water. None brought him any, so he took the desperate step of dialling 999 from his hospital bed. When the police arrived, the hospital staff told them that Mr Gorny was in a confused state, so they went away. Still no nurses would give him water. He lashed out at them angrily, so they had him surrounded by security guards . . . and sedated, still without water.
Mr Gorny died in that hospital from what the coroner described as “dehydration contributed to by neglect”. While his parents were discussing his death with the matron in her office, Miss Cronin recalled, a nurse stuck her head round the door and asked, “Shall I bag him up now?”
‐How should a leader make an apology? I liked this story, out of Seoul:
South Korea’s president has apologized for a bribery scandal involving his brother and former aides.
Lee Myung-bak bowed deeply in a televised speech Tuesday and said he is embarrassed and frustrated by the scandal.
For a picture of the bow, go here.
‐A story out of Moscow begins, “Villagers in Russia’s south Urals region have stumbled upon a gruesome discovery — four barrels left in a forest containing 248 human fetuses, prompting an official probe . . .”
Sounds to me like another typical right-wing assault on a woman’s right to choose.
‐It seems to me that certain athletes, before a big event, would swear off sex. Maybe they still do. Or increase it or something. But here I saw that an Olympian has sworn off Twitter.
In the future, will people give up Twitter for Lent? Perhaps that has happened already.
‐You won’t be surprised to know that I have always thought of SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, as egregiously left-wing and undemocratic — some shade of red.
In my inbox arrived some propaganda from Hugo Chávez’s fans. They invited me to celebrate the “Global Day of Solidarity with Venezuela!” at an event in New York. The site: SEIU Auditorium.
‐Do you want confirmation of how heartless the Republican party is? Check this out:
Taking aim at what they call an abuse of the taxpayers’ money, a growing number of states are blocking welfare recipients from spending their benefits on booze, cigarettes, lottery tickets, casino gambling, tattoos and strippers.
“If you’re not abusing the program, then you should really have no problem with these reforms,” said state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, a Republican pushing for restrictions in Massachusetts.
I was always told that the GOP hated the poor. Guess it’s true.
‐Re Penn State: I certainly understand, and applaud, the fine, the suspension from bowls, and so on. But this “vacation” of victories? Paterno goes from 409 victories to 298? Aren’t wins wins and losses losses? Didn’t they occur or not?
This strikes me as a tiny bit like Soviet-era air-brushing. Maybe I’m wrong . . .
‐Russia and China have been vetoing U.N. measures against Syria. And the White House, in the form of its spokesmen, has been saying that, in so doing, Russia and China have placed themselves on “the wrong side of history.”
Last year, I wrote an essay for National Review on this concept of “wrong side of history” or “right side of history.” See what you think.
‐Care for some music? My column in the current CityArts is on ballet music — and my evolution on that score (no pun intended).
‐A reader says,
I was going to write you a note at lunch today to tell you that I made my first birdie ever yesterday. The hole was 139 yards long, and I hit a sweet 7-iron which stopped within five feet of the hole. Stroked it in.
But then I thought, “No, I should not take up Jay’s time with this.”
The reader goes on to discuss a political issue, or socio-political issue. But really: What could be more important than a first birdie?
Tweet, tweet, as some say, when the putt goes in. (Golfers started saying this before Twitter.)
‐Finally, we have a reader who may be the original WTF-er. In my Great Lakes Journal last week — Part II, specifically — I had occasion to mention the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Yes, I did.) This character scared the daylights out of me. “I thought, ‘Damn it, isn’t this movie supposed to be for kids? WTF?’”
I then wrote, “I’m not sure we had the initials then . . .”
Our reader writes,
I see myself in 1975 at the beginning of my freshman year at university. I sit in a huge lecture hall with hundreds of others and am trying to keep up with whatever subject the professor way down in the front is blathering about. When my spiral notebook scribbling gets hopelessly behind, and I’ve completely lost the connection between what he is saying and what I am writing, I write for the first time a personal, profound, and profane note to myself, “wtf”, and re-engage at whatever the point the professor is now making, and start scribbling anew.
Our reader kept up this habit, while a student and after — and then, one year, with new communication tools, it was everywhere. A pioneer! Nineteen hundred and seventy-five!
Thanks 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.