Politics & Policy

The meaning of ‘Forward,’ &c.

Do you ever worry that the trend of life is ever lefter? I do. When the Obama campaign says, “Forward,” what do they mean? Lefter, I think: bigger government, a smaller private sphere. A private sphere that shrinks and shrinks.

Those who oppose this trend, of course, are reactionary. They (we) are backward, rather than progressive.

We have our victories — the Reagan interval, for example. But what did he do? He managed to slow the rate of increase of the government, a wee bit. Big whoop (ultimately).

Then the Republicans forced Clinton to reform welfare (against the wishes of a majority of Democrats). Hurray! But that reform can be easily undone, yes? Isn’t Obama doing that even now?

In the dark of night, I fear that our victories are just spasms on a decline. Dump him out on the dock, and a fish will flip, mightily. These are his last spasms of life. He has quite a kick in him. And then . . .

There was an expression about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: “The Mountie always gets his man.” Sometimes — again, in the dark of night — I feel that the Left always gets its way. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But eventually.

This is wrong, right? Totally wrong — dark-of-night nonsense. Marxian determinism is bunk. Right?

Anyway . . .

‐Speaking of night, I was glancing the other night at Economics in One Lesson, the 1946 classic by Henry Hazlitt. Toward the end, he quotes William Graham Sumner. I’ll quote Sumner, as Hazlitt does, and then quote Hazlitt. First, Sumner (from 1883):

As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, B and C shall do for X. . . . What I want to do is to look up C. . . . I call him the Forgotten Man. . . . He is the man who never is thought of. He is the victim of the reformer, social speculator and philanthropist, and I hope to show you before I get through that he deserves your notice both for his character and for the many burdens which are laid upon him.

And here is Hazlitt:

It is an historic irony that when this phrase, the Forgotten Man, was revived in the nineteen thirties, it was applied, not to C, but to X; and C, who was then being asked to support still more X’s, was more completely forgotten than ever. It is C, the Forgotten Man, who is always called upon to stanch the politician’s bleeding heart by paying for his vicarious generosity.

I think of Joe Biden, braying and preaching about the “social doctrine” — but barely contributing a dime of his own to charity.

‐Back to Reagan for a moment: His achievement (one of them) was to slow the rate of increase of the government. And I remember how the kids at my university reacted to this. They marched, chanting, “Reagan, Bush, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.”

I wonder who taught them to think and act this way?

‐Let me sing a song I have sung for many years — there is a fresh occasion for doing so. The song goes like this: Republicans nominate black men and women to run for office, and those men and women are beaten by white liberal Democrats, fair and square. Then the Democrats taunt the Republican party, saying, “Ha-ha: You have no black officeholders. Racists.”

I remember the year 2006: Lynn Swann was the GOP gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania; Michael Steele was the GOP Senate nominee in Maryland; Ken Blackwell was the GOP gubernatorial nominee in Ohio. They were all beaten by garden-variety white liberals. Fine.

But then the Democrats got to say, “Ha-ha: You have no black officeholders. Racists.”

This year, Republicans adored Mia Love, who ran for Congress in Utah. She lost. And they adore Allen West, who lost after one term.

“Ha-ha,” say the Democrats. Which is a lousy and nasty thing to do.

‐We are in a Rubio moment — there is widespread enthusiasm, among Republicans, for the junior senator from Florida. I like him too, a lot. He’s one of my favorite people in politics. But consider something.

Mitt Romney, whom we all must dump on, had an impressive background. He had started a business, and helped many other businesses. He ran the Olympics — turned it around. He had kind of a side career in philanthropy. Then there was politics — and the governorship of a state. He had done things.

What’s Rubio ever done? He was in the state legislature. He got himself elected to the U.S. Senate (which was wonderful). But what’s he ever done, really? What commends him?

He gives a great speech, of course — very important in politics. I don’t denigrate this ability. Quite the contrary. But mainly, I think, he has skin that is ever so slightly brown. And this makes him golden.

This is what I dislike about America: our fixation on race and ethnicity. As I have said many times, especially this year, we bow down and worship race and ethnicity — especially race — as a god. It will be very nice to transcend this, if we ever can.

The best thing about Marco Rubio: his ideas. But other people, including other senators, have those ideas too. His special gift: the gift of communication. And if this takes him to the top, in Obama-like fashion, fine.

I acknowledge, too, that if you can’t win — if you can’t win elections — you can’t govern. The people have not given you a chance.

I wish they had given Romney and Ryan a chance. Have I said that before? I can’t remember.

Anyway, Rubio may well have opportunities in the future to do great things. That he will speak effectively, all the while, is sure.

‐Note the opening sentence of this wire-service report: “The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog says he has no evidence that international sanctions against Iran have had any impact on its nuclear program.” The sanctions have hurt Iran’s economy, to be sure. But the nuclear program is a separate matter.

If a nation is determined to have nuclear weapons, and is not stopped by other nations (or internal opposition), it will get those weapons. Or so it seems.

I remember a description of the Soviet Union: “Upper Volta with nukes.” The Soviet Union was desperately poor and backward, but so what? That is, so what where geopolitics was concerned? The “with nukes” was the more important part of “Upper Volta with nukes.”

So it is with Iran.

‐I smiled at this headline: “Bahrain lawmaker burns Israeli flag in parliament.” (Story here.) Yes, but could he burn a Bahraini flag? What would happen then?

I thought of an old joke, a joke that Reagan liked, and told. An American and a Russian were arguing about freedom in their respective countries. The American said, “I can march outside the White House and say, ‘Down with Reagan!’” The Russian says, “Big deal. I can march outside the Kremlin and say, ‘Down with Reagan!’”

‐This from another news article: “Cambodian strongman Hun Sen was driven to tears Tuesday as he declared how proud his small country was to host the region’s main summit meeting, and said he was too exhausted to take any questions from journalists.”

I smiled a bit: a strongman who cries! And who is too exhausted to take questions from journalists!

This was not so smile-making:

Authorities in Puerto Rico have charged a 20-year-old woman with killing her baby immediately after giving birth.

Police Capt. Diana Crispin says Teresa Peraza Maldonado had been hiding her pregnancy and gave birth in the bathroom of her apartment in the northern town of Trujillo Alto. She says Peraza’s husband and mother in law called police after seeing Peraza walk out of the bathroom with the baby’s body wrapped in a shower curtain on Oct. 14.

Crispin said Tuesday that an autopsy indicated that the baby’s head had hit the floor several times.

Nice. And if the woman had done this deed a little earlier — would that have been a “choice”? An honorable choice? A right, even? Something to be celebrated, rather than something to prosecute?

‐An NFL quarterback named Alex Smith seems to me too good to be true. Too self-abnegating to be true. Have a look: “Alex Smith is supportive of Colin Kaepernick’s success, even if the second-year pro takes Smith’s starting job as 49ers quarterback.” Smith said, “If you can’t be happy for your teammate’s success, you’re playing the wrong sport. Go play tennis or golf or something.”

Funny. And remarkable. (For the story, go here.)

‐Speaking of funny: Want to end with a joke? In a recent “Cruise Journal,” I mentioned tenders, those boats that take cruisers from a moored ship over to shore. A reader wrote in with what he described as an old joke:

A termite walks into a bar and asks, “Where’s the bar tender?”

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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