The Corner


In today’s Impromptus, I quote a news report saying that Hillary Clinton had “delivered a new, stark warning to Iran that it must stop arming and supporting the Assad regime.” I comment, “Oh, that has them shaking in their boots, no doubt.” I then quote something Barack Obama said in the ’08 debates. He said he would tell Iran, “If you don’t change your behavior, then there will be dire consequences.”

A reader writes, “Maybe he meant dire consequences for Israel?”

‐I also quote a news report about the voter-ID law in Pennsylvania — a law that says you have to show ID when voting. The law has been suspended, or something. Anyway, it won’t apply to November 6.

The report notes what Democrats say about a voter-ID law: It would “prevent the elderly and minorities from voting.” In a bitter blast, I write,

. . . why don’t “the elderly and minorities” — does that include Jews, by the way? Japanese Americans? — protest at this claim that they, uniquely, are so inept or pathetic that, unlike their fellow Americans, they can’t produce ID?

Why does no one ever take offense? That is a (not-sweet) mystery of life.

A reader writes,

Had a doctor’s appointment the other day and hadn’t been to the office in a while, so they had to update all my information. Several others were in the same boat. We all had to show picture ID.

In line in front of me? An elderly man and a minority woman. Not a peep from either of them about the “tough” requirement.

Yes, that’s how the Associated Press had described the Pennsylvania law: a “tough new law.” So hard to show ID, you know — especially if you’re black, as Democrats have said for years, though no one seems to take offense, which is mind-boggling.

I’d love to ask a white liberal politician someday: “Why do you think you’re more capable of showing ID than a black person?” I mean, does even the Klan say that white people are more capable of showing ID than blacks?

‐Check out the beginning of one AP report: “A judge on Tuesday blocked Pennsylvania’s divisive voter identification requirement from going into effect on Election Day . . .”

My question: Do wire services ever describe measures the Left likes, and the Right doesn’t, as “divisive”?

‐In Impromptus, I talk about beggars in Madison, Wis., and Ann Arbor, Mich. — who beg every day, year in, year out, as though it were their job. A reader writes, “When I was a student at Michigan, there was a beggar I saw regularly. One day I asked him why he didn’t work. He said, irked, ‘I am working.’ (He did seem to be making a living.)”

Takes a certain discipline, it’s true.

‐At the end of my column, I mention some historians — Eric Hobsbawm and Gene Genovese, for two. They died within days of each other. One was a Communist, utterly unrepentant. The other was an ex-Communist, totally and beautifully repentant.

Here’s something I forgot to mention — something I remembered only after I’d written my column: Genovese and Hobsbawm were good friends. Genovese spoke to me in very warm terms about Hobsbawm. I’m not sure there was a colleague he respected more.

Surprised, I said, “Well, what did he make of your apostasy?” Genovese said they never discussed it — because friendship is beyond politics. Politics must not spoil friendships.

There’s a lot more to say about this, but not here and now. Let me do one more item . . .

‐At the very end of my column, I mention Jacques Barzun — born in 1907, and living in San Antonio, Texas. He learned history at the knee of his great-grandmother, born in 1830. Think of that: Today in Texas, you can see a man who learned history from a woman born in 1830.

This year, Barzun will be a buck-oh-five — 105 years old. A hundred and five years before his birth, it was 1802. Jefferson was president. Schubert was three five (sorry about that). We could play this game all day . . . 

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