Politics & Policy

‘Godspeed, John Glenn’

“Godspeed, John Glenn.”

In a couple of days, when the full assessments of John Glenn’s life are being discussed, we can bring up the disappointing and worse aspects of Glenn’s career in the Senate. But for now, with his friends and family mourning, we celebrate the best of him, which may very well have been the best of us all. Our David French:

He fought in World War II. He fought in the Korean war, shooting down Soviet-built MiG jets. He was a test pilot. He was the first American to orbit the earth. Later, he was also the oldest man to orbit the earth. When his country faced deep and profound challenges, he volunteered to serve again and again. He laid down his life too many times to count — in aerial combat, testing our nation’s newest and most advanced aircraft, and taking on the indescribably risky challenge of hurtling into space on top of a rocket that was prone to explode… 

But his nation needed him to take that risk. I was born in 1969 and can’t truly identify with the level of national fear and concern inherent in the “space race” with the Soviet Union. This was more than a test of technologies, it was a test of civilizations, with national extinction the perceived cost of failure. It’s hard to imagine the astronaut as celebrity now, but in the early 1960s, the astronaut was almost a mythic hero, and John Glenn was the astronaut-in-chief.

Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, says it well: “You had to have been alive at that time to comprehend the reaction of the nation, practically all of it,” author Tom Wolfe, who coined the phrase “the right stuff” to describe Mr. Glenn and the other Mercury astronauts, wrote in a 2009 essay. “John Glenn, in 1962, was the last true national hero America has ever had.”

He was a hero not just because of his considerable bravery, but because of the impact his bravery had on a nation beset by deep fear: In his political history of the space age, …The Heavens and the Earth, the author Walter A. McDougall described Mr. Glenn’s space mission as a “national catharsis unparalleled.”

This morning, NRO debuts a new video about the heroism of John Glenn.

The next ambassador to the U.K. could be a name quite familiar to some football fans:

The Big Worry Will Be if He Renames the Team the New York Concordes

Jets owner Woody Johnson has emerged as a leading contender for a key ambassadorship under Donald Trump — sources exclusively tell Page Six — with other Trump backers lining up for prestigious diplomatic posts, including former MTA chief Peter Kalikow, Duke Buchan III, Georgette Mosbacher, and Wilbur Ross Jr.’s wife, Hilary Geary Ross.

Johnson is under consideration for ambassador to the U.K., multiple sources say. He was vice chairman of the Trump Victory Committee and hosted pricey fundraisers in the Hamptons for donors including treasury secretary pick Steven Mnuchin, Carl Icahn, and Anthony Scaramucci. He’s also on Trump’s presidential inaugural committee.

Keep in mind, under Woody Johnson, it is entirely possible that the U.S. Embassy in London will sign a lot of really expensive free-agent diplomatic staff who will perform well for a year and then decline in production rapidly.

As you can guess, I’m quite comfortable with this selection. Sending Woody Johnson to London may or may not be in the national interest, but it’s probably in the New York Jets’ interest.

History’s Most Recent Faithless Electors Were Glaringly Stupid

Trimmed from yesterday’s piece about faithless electors…

Past faithless electors have been forgotten by history, and they deserve to be forgotten, because their explanations for their stances are stupid. In 2004, one of Minnesota’s electors voted for “John Ewards” [sic] for president and John Kerry for vice president. Because it was a secret ballot, the rogue elector was never identified, and it was never revealed whether this was a bizarre protest in favor of Edwards or whether one elector was literally too dumb to know which one was running for president and how to spell the candidate’s name.

In 1988, Margarette Leach of West Virginia voted for Lloyd Bentsen for president and Michael Dukakis for vice president. She explained to the New York Times:

“I wanted to make a statement about the Electoral College. We’ve outgrown it. And I wanted to point up what I perceive as a weakness in the system – that 270 people can get together in this country and elect a President, whether he’s on the ballot or not. In most states electors can do whatever they want, if you’re over 35 and a citizen.”

Ms. Leach added: “When I got home I said to myself I should have voted for Kitty. If 270 women got together on the Electoral College we could have had a woman President.”

Thus, in order to demonstrate how unreliable and undemocratic an elector could be, Leach sought the job of elector and did precisely what she claimed to oppose and fear. It is perhaps appropriate that she has a mental-health facility named after her.

It’s not too much to ask that those participating as electors in the Electoral College know how it works and desire for it to work as it is designed. The best recourse is to ensure faithless electors don’t get the applause and fame they seek, and to teach future electors that this maneuver will get them only derision and mockery.

ADDENDA: Yup, it’s fundraising time at National Review again. We hate asking for money and you hate being asked for money, but this is necessary to keep the lights on and this particular request is to cover the costs of a site overhaul to finally work out the glitches and bugs and parts that don’t work the way you want. This is spurred by an extensive reader survey asking what changes people wanted to see, beyond “don’t write that piece I disagreed with ever again.” As our Jack Fowler puts it:

Yes, the content is superior and voluminous, but the experience . . .  that can be, what is the word, ah yes — frustrating. We went through a redesign a few years back, and, truth be told, we didn’t “redesign” it enough. So we’re going to embark upon a guts-and-all reboot, from the inside where the coding is thick and the platforms heavy, to the outside, where you need to search for the search function which . . . won’t. Search.

If you have questions about NRO, your donation, the redesign, or math problems, contact him at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

This week’s pop culture podcast is certain to cause a stir. Mickey and I contemplate whether “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” veers from suggestive to creepy, and in response to the overwrought calls for banning the song, I offer a spectacularly inappropriate rewrite. We ask whether raucous office Christmas parties are an urban legend or just a dying breed, why Hollywood keeps making more movies about the Kennedys, and list the sports phenomena that Millennials take for granted, like computer-generated first down lines, free agency-driven roster overhauls, multiple uniforms, and social-media coverage of a game.

Speaking of pop culture, Ericka Andersen Sylvester is the digital director at National Review and she contributes to what is easily the second or third-best morning newsletter out there, Bright, and lately she’s written about raging YouTube stars who are convinced the video platform is giving them a bad deal.

Tevi Troy reminds me of the Washington Post’s review of arguably the greatest Christmas movie of all time… Die Hard. Hal Hinson wrote, “it’s not a movie to like. It gets your heart pounding, then makes you hate yourself for it.”

And they wonder why people don’t trust the media!

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