The Corner

The Pioneer

In Impromptus today, I talk of Chuck Hagel, Ed Koch, and several other things — including a new journalistic practice. Relatively new, that is. A writer for a Left magazine will sign up for a National Review cruise. (Wonderful experiences.) Then he’ll mock and revile us in print. Happens over and over. In my column, I say, “Don’t these [guys] tire of imitating one another? Aren’t they embarrassed to play the same trick over and over?” Apparently not.

I also say, “I doubt that NR will ever send a reporter on a Nation cruise, to mock and revile it. We have other things to do.” Ah, but this brings me to something I wanted to say here on the Corner.

P. J. O’Rourke was the pioneer of this genre, I believe. It was the summer of 1982 — he went on The Nation’s “Volga Peace Cruise,” in the good old Soviet Union. Brezhnev was in power, Honecker was keeping a lid on East Germany, everything was okay. But there were clouds on the horizon: Reagan and Weinberger and the rest of those beasts were plotting, and acting . . .

I’m not sure where The Nation is sailing these days (and sail they do, as we do). Surely North Korea has a scenic river or two? Ditto Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, and Nepal. China has the Yalu, of course. But haven’t they become a little too “capitalist”? On the bright side, they have a gulag!

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