Impromptus

Political agonies, &c.

Representative Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) listens to a reporter’s question at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., July 1, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
On an addiction to politics; Kamala and Pete; Liz Cheney and the GOP; a Japanese princess; fall in Alaska; and more

Addiction is a terrible thing, and also a many-splendored thing — I mean, a many-horrored thing. There is a tremendous variety of addictions. I’ll name two: drugs and porn. How about a third? Politics. More benign than most, maybe, but . . .

Have you ever known anyone addicted to politics? Have you yourself been prone to such an addiction? Cable news, talk radio, and all that? As a person consumes politics, politics can consume him. It can mess with his brain — so that everything (“Pass the salt”) must relate to Trump or Biden. Red or blue. And so on.

Yes, there are worse addictions — still, this is something to watch out for.

• In recent days, there has been talk about a post-Biden rivalry within the Democratic Party: Kamala Harris versus Pete Buttigieg. Not that the Democrats need advice from me, but do you know what would behoove them? A nominee who had no patience with “Latinx.” Or “birthing person.” Or any other such nonsense.

A Democrat like that might be dangerous, electorally.

• The New York Times tweeted out an article — this one. In its tweet, the Times encapsulated the article: “An art sale ordered in the divorce of the billionaire Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda brought in $676 million. But the absence of artists of color and scarcity of women also symbolized collecting from the past.”

Of music, Duke Ellington said, “If it sounds good, it is good.” And if art is good — it doesn’t matter who made it: male, female, black, white, or Martian.

• In 2015, I wrote a piece called “Sing It, Dorothy.” Who’s Dorothy? Dorothy L. Sayers — who gave a speech in 1938 titled “Are Women Human?” A friend reminded me of it not long ago.

“What is repugnant to every human being,” Sayers said, “is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.” Well, some people enjoy it. Be that as it may . . .

Toward the end of her speech, Sayers said,

To oppose one class perpetually to another — young against old, manual laborer against brain-worker, rich against poor, woman against man — is to split the foundations of the state; and if the cleavage runs too deep, there remains no remedy but force and dictatorship.

She was speaking in 1938, mind you, when dictatorships were gathering their terrible strength.

Sayers wrapped up as follows:

If you wish to preserve a free democracy, you must base it — not on classes and categories, for this will land you in the totalitarian state, where no one may act or think except as the member of a category. You must base it upon the individual Tom, Dick, and Harry, on the individual Jack and Jill — in fact, upon you and me.

Magnificent. And rare.

• You may have seen this news: “Wyoming GOP votes to stop recognizing Cheney as a Republican.” The truth is, Liz Cheney is a conservative Republican in every traditional respect — but she will not lie for Trump: which is why she is persona non grata in the GOP.

“Look, the Republican Party is more than Trump!” some people say, with irritation. Oh? Not by the evidence.

A small number of GOP-ers voted to impeach Trump in January, and a small number voted to convict him. Many of those Republicans found themselves censured by their state parties — for example, House member Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio. And Senator Bill Cassidy in Louisiana.

And, of course, Congresswoman Cheney in Wyoming.

Here’s a fun fact: During the four years of Trump, Cheney voted with Trump 92.9 percent of the time. She was booted from the House GOP leadership. The woman who replaced her — Elise Stefanik — had voted with Trump 77.7 percent of the time.

But that doesn’t matter. You know what matters . . .

I don’t mean to romanticize, but when I was coming of age, the Republican Party was vibrant, interesting, and serious. It was truly a party of ideas. Our writers were Bill Buckley, Michael Novak, George Will, Irving Kristol, Tom Sowell, et al. Our politicians were Reagan, Goldwater, Kemp, Gramm . . .

Even Newt was interesting! (Damn interesting.)

These days, GOP-ers can act like commies and cultists, with their expulsions, censures, and so on.

A week or two ago, Liz Cheney said, “We have to remember, the most conservative of conservative ideals is embracing the Constitution and the rule of law.” This ought to be so elementary, it is barely worth stating. In the present environment, however, it is well-nigh revolutionary.

Cheney is in a tough spot. Because she’s not a Trumpist, it’s hard for her to be a Republican. Because she’s a conservative, she can’t be a Democrat.

I know many Republicans who absolutely hate Liz Cheney. Hate her guts. Some of these Republicans, mind you, are in essential agreement with her. (Privately.) But the hatred runs hot. Why? One possibility: She pricks their consciences. Her political courage accentuates what they don’t have. In Shakespeare language, they hold their manhoods cheap.

Possibly.

• On the Kyle Rittenhouse matter? I recommend David French: here. David has written knowledgeably and wisely, as usual. Whether Rittenhouse should be acquitted is one question. Whether he ought to be a Republican folk hero — speaking at the next convention? — is another.

• I also recommend Fred Hiatt, the editorial-page editor of the Washington Post: “China is perfecting a 21st-century method of destroying an entire people.” There will be another Beijing Olympics in a few months. And, of course, the corporate sponsors — such as Coke — are all in place.

• Marvin Olasky, the longtime editor of World magazine, is out — has been pushed out of his job. You can read about the matter here. I will give you what I take to be the heart of it: In the age of Trump — an age of body-snatching and shape-shifting — Marvin Olasky remained Marvin Olasky. For which: bless him.

• Have you seen a video of a mega-church chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon!”? (This is the new code for “F*** Joe Biden.” Strange story.) For the video, go here. The forms that religion takes are remarkable, and always have been, since the beginning of time.

• I thought this was very romantic — wonderfully romantic:

A Japanese princess who gave up her royal status to marry her commoner college sweetheart arrived in New York on Sunday, as the couple pursued happiness as newlyweds and left behind a nation that has criticized their romance.

Here is the article in full.

• About a week ago, I was in a diner — my regular diner. I know the two waiters well. In a booth, young lovers were sitting side by side. On the same side of the booth, I mean. Young lovers tend to do that. (I think I remember!)

One of the waiters and I had a little talk about this (well out of earshot of the couple). Our conversation went something like this: “This week, same side of the booth. Next week, opposite sides. Later, separate tables? Separate restaurants?”

Surely that’s too cynical . . .

• The heading of an obit reads, “Etel Adnan, Lebanese American Author and Artist, Dies at 96.” I want to draw attention to one thing:

In addition to her taut yet cheerful paintings, Ms. Adnan also drew praise for her leporellos, books folded like an accordion on which she combined drawings, splashes of color and Arabic words and numbers. After discovering leporellos, which were popular with Japanese artists, she decided to appropriate the format for her own work.

Yes. Nothing wrong with “appropriating.” Nothing wrong with human connections.

• “Clarissa Eden, British Countess and Political Influencer, Dies at 101.” That is another obit. In her long life, Clarissa Eden saw and experienced a lot.

Do you want to know something funny, or highly coincidental? Another Clarissa — Clarissa Pryce-Jones — once pointed Clarissa Eden out to me, as the grand lady (Eden, though the other one is pretty grand herself!) entered a building, in London.

• Want to see Bryson DeChambeau, the golf champion, at 14? Here is a TV report on him, from 2008. Made me smile. A natural, and also well trained (even scientific).

• You often hear that men are suffering from a “loneliness crisis.” They don’t have people to talk to, they don’t have friends. Whether this is true, I don’t know. I do know that this Saturday Night Live sketch is pretty damn funny. It imagines a “man park,” on the order of a dog park. You’ll see.

• I have friends who recently moved to Alaska. They are from Texas — Houston, in particular. There has been snow on the ground, and temperatures in single digits, for quite some time now. (In their new city, of course.) I said, “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” Cristina said, “I know. And I come from a place where you have to convince yourself it’s fall because it’s so hot.”

Which I thought was charming (and true).

Have a great day, y’all. Will catch you soon.

If you would like to receive Impromptus by e-mail — links to new columns — write to jnordlinger@nationalreview.com.

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