The Corner

Contentions

There are several points of contention in today’s Impromptus. I go on about Bill Clinton, the Democrats’ star on the campaign trail, if they have one. Some conservatives say they miss ol’ Bill: a peach of a moderate, compared with this Bolshie we have in the White House now.

I disagree — I mean, I don’t miss him. The return of Clinton to the spotlight has reminded me why I was so repulsed by him before. Clinton nostalgia may be for thee: It is not for me. In this column, I say, “I think I’d rather have Barack Obama for two terms than Billy J. for one.”

And what does the mailbag say? Most letters are running against me: Something like 65 percent say, “I’d take Bill,” and 35 percent say, “Yeah, I agree with you: The very sight of his mug makes me ralph.”

True, for conservatives, it’s a case of pick your poison. But the discussion over the poison is kind of interesting. I’ll have more to say about Clinton, and conservative Clinton nostalgia, in the next NR.

One bit in today’s Impromptus seems to have struck a nerve. I really didn’t intend it to. It just did. And I should have known — kind of obvious, when you think about it. Few subjects are more touchy in this country than Vietnam.

I describe a walk the other day on the National Mall. And I say, pretty much in passing, that I have not yet been reconciled to the Vietnam Memorial. I thought it stank when it was unveiled — “a tribute to Jane Fonda,” Phyllis Schlafly memorably called it — and I think it stinks now.

That memorial has been part of our national furniture, or whatever we should call it, for a long, long time now. We’ve all gotten used to it, I’m sure. Most have grown to love it, or appreciate it, I’m pretty sure. But I still find it offensive and wrong. I have not yet hopped on board.

The mail has really come in — most of it in praise of the memorial. Or at least in defense of it. Some readers have written, movingly, about how this memorial, this Wall, has moved them. And I’m glad of that.

This is not quite related, but I think of it, somehow: I must say, I never really liked the World Trade Center. After 9/11, of course, I thought they were the most beautiful buildings ever constructed.

I hesitate to say this next bit, because it will look pluggish, and I don’t mean it to be. Anyway, in 2007, I published a collection — better said, NR published a collection — whose cover featured a picture of Manhattan. Included in that picture was the World Trade Center. Many people said, “I was brought up short by those buildings. I hadn’t seen them in a while. Thank you for putting them there.” I just wanted to, strongly.

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