Politics & Policy

The pope knows, &c.

When I read the opening of this Associated Press report, my heart sank, and my bile rose: “U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the leader of the world’s largest military, met Pope Benedict XVI, the world’s best known advocate for peace, at the Vatican on Wednesday.”

Ay, caramba! There is no contradiction between the Pentagon and peace. In fact, there is harmony. Bill Buckley once observed that the Pentagon ought to win the Nobel Peace Prize every year, because the U.S. military is (or was) the world’s foremost guarantor of peace.

What did Theodore Roosevelt say? He was the winner of the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize, you know. And, in his autobiography, he wrote, “In my own judgment the most important service that I rendered to peace was the voyage of the battle fleet around the world.”


Anyway, what a beautiful gift the fourth paragraph of the AP report was. Here it is: “Panetta kissed the Pope’s hand, and the Pope said, ‘Thank you for helping to protect the world.’”

Yes. On reading that, I thought, “There’s a man who knows something about history. About geopolitics. About reality.” Yes, indeed.

‐In this article, you can read about a letter that the joint chiefs of staff sent to Congress. They said, “The readiness of our Armed Forces is at a tipping point. We are on the brink of creating a hollow force . . .” And they were fairly specific, too: “Should this looming readiness crisis be left unaddressed, we will have to ground aircraft, return ships to port,” and so on.

Another article includes some paragraphs on a Panetta press conference. He was talking about funding — the funding that is coming or not coming for defense. He said, “We have no idea what the hell’s going to happen. All told, this uncertainty, if left unresolved by the Congress, will seriously harm our military readiness.”

Yup. We’ve reached a pretty pass when our defense secretary admits to the world, “We have no idea what the hell’s going to happen.” Where is the president in all this? Is he willing for the military to be hollow?

That is a big, big question, and I am shocked, even after four years, to have to ask it.

Who did this? Who put Obama in the Oval Office? Who made him commander-in-chief? The American people, of course, and I think that the people are asleep, to a degree. Their awakening may be brutal.

‐The AP reported — though “reported” is not the word — “HAWKISH NETANYAHU LIKELY TO BE RE-ELECTED.” The wire service continued, “Israelis, who head to the polls Tuesday, no longer seem to believe that peace with the Palestinians is possible.”

I have two comments on the AP’s spin: First, they have called Netanyahu “hawkish,” and that he is. But I wonder whether they would refer to a dovish leader as “dovish.”

Second, it may be that Israelis voting for Netanyahu are realistic: realistic about what it takes to make peace, keep peace, and ensure national survival. Maybe they think that Netanyahu stands between them and annihilation by Iran. Maybe they think that he is the one to look out for Israeli interests when there is a hostile, or semi-hostile, in the Oval Office. Maybe they think that true peace with the Palestinians can be forged only on a realistic basis, not on wishful thinking.

You know?

‐I try not to say that Democrats sound like Communists. No one likes a McCarthyite! But sometimes the Democrats make it very hard. I was reading a post by Andrew Johnson — an NR-nik, not to be confused with the 17th president — on the Corner, here at NRO. He summarized what Lawrence O’Donnell, an MSNBC host, had said about Tom Selleck.

O’Donnell implicated the actor and the organization he supports, the NRA, in the Newtown massacre. (I support the NRA too, strongly.) O’Donnell said, “Yes, it is time to question Tom Selleck’s humanity.”

I’m thinking, “Maybe Tom should be declared an unperson?” If O’Donnell and Selleck were Chinese, and living through the Cultural Revolution, what would O’Donnell do to Selleck? What would he favor doing to him?

Very often, Democratic ideologues will rant about the “rich,” and how they are keeping the great ranks of humanity down. Those entrepreneurial, go-getting bastards who think of ideas, build better mousetraps, and make money — they’re not paying their “fair share.” They need to be brought to heel.

I sometimes think of a word, with a shudder: dekulakization.

For many years, the word that Democrats hurled at Republicans was “divisive.” (Their other great word was “mean-spirited.”) I can’t think of people — certainly of Americans — more divisive than the Obama Democrats.

You remember what Obama said during the campaign, right? He said it in a television ad: “Mitt Romney. Not one of us.” Can’t get any starker than that, really.

‐President Bush 41 got a chance to do what very few get to do: read his own obituary. Der Spiegel published an obit when he went into the hospital. It was titled “The Better Bush.”

We’re going to get a lot of that, when 41 passes. The media will treat it as another excuse to bash the hell out of W. Their praise for 41 won’t be sincere; it will be essentially anti-43.

I remember the first days of the 41 presidency. Barbara Bush, the new first lady, got a very, very good press. But it was always, “Bar is wonderful, unlike that b**** Nancy Reagan.” They could never praise Mrs. Bush on the merits; they could only contrast her to the hated Nancy.

I esteem both 41 and 43 a great deal — especially the latter. And I know what 41’s obits will be like. We have had a sneak preview.

‐Speaking of presidents: I have been reading a lot about Lance Armstrong lately, in order to write something for National Review. His lies, over that long period, were insistent, vicious, and hot. They were also filled with self-righteousness. He attacked all those who told the truth, and did everything he could to ruin them. When he was forced to come clean, he was still self-righteous, and self-justifying.

One word kept coming to me: Clintonian.

‐You may not like this, but hear me out. From the AP, I read, “OBESITY RATES AMONG CHINA’S YOUNG CLIMBING.” I was actually glad. For many years, those people were starving, owing to the lunatic, monstrous Mao and his comrades.

Allow me to excerpt a February 2011 piece I did on Thomas Sowell:

What about the rise of China? Sowell says that, from a “humanitarian” point of view, it’s a wonderful thing. In the past, millions of Chinese starved to death. “I grew up in an era when, if you didn’t eat your food, your mother would say, ‘There are children starving in China.’” Now it has been determined that “something like a fourth of Chinese adults are overweight, which was utterly unthinkable at one time. So, that’s really a great humanitarian story.” The rise of China militarily is something else. . . .

‐A little language? In 1989, they titled a movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” — not shrank, but shrunk. Some wondered whether this was a milestone. Was the language shifting?

The other day, a Telegraph blogger wrote about his experience seeing Les Misérables, in the film version. He didn’t like it. He had gone of his own free will, he said. “But half an hour in, the horror of my mistake sunk in.”

For as long as anyone can remember, it has been “shrink, shrank, shrunk,” “sink, sank, sunk,” “sing, sang, sung.”

English is maddening, of course, and illogical. Little kids, playing baseball, say, “I swang at it.” Why shouldn’t they? But there is no “swang” — just “swing” and “swung.” We lost our swang, somehow.

Ach, English.

‐End with a little music? A reader writes,

Jay, I suspect you get sent links all the time, but I was fascinated by this YouTube video. It shows a three-year-old girl who is listening to a pop song her mother has put on in the car. The girl is enrapt by the music. She closes her eyes and nods her head and sways. At one point, she holds up her hands the way some Christians do in worship.

I think any music lover understands this little girl’s reaction. What do you think?

Agree completely. Thanks, everyone, and see you.


To order Jay Nordlinger’s 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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