The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Handful of Quick Ones

The headline reads, “Trump promotes false smear of Rep. Ilhan Omar.” (Article here.) Smears are false, right? No need for the “false.”

What did Trump do? He retweeted something circulated by Terrence K. Williams, a comedian and conservative social-media star. Williams showed a clip of Omar dancing and said, “Ilhan Omar parties on the anniversary of 9/11.” He further said, “I need to talk to Omar. Girl, what in the world were you celebrating on the anniversary of 9/11?”

In his retweet, the president chimed in, “The new face of the Democrat Party!”

If it matters, Omar was not dancing on September 11; she was dancing at an event held on September 13.

Williams deleted his tweet; the president has not deleted his own.

My view is: Whatever we think of either Trump or Omar, a U.S. president should not be spreading, promoting, amplifying smears (“fake news,” if you like). There ought to be something like a consensus around this.

When it comes to Omar, there is plenty to criticize — all too much — without anything false.

• Here is a headline out of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty: “U.S. General: NATO’s Advantage Over Russia Has ‘Eroded.’” (Article here.) The general in question is Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I appreciate candor in people. It is especially important in government, and really to be appreciated, I think, from the military. Give it to us straight — and if there are problems, let’s fix them.

Here is a column by Bret Stephens. It is about refugees, and it is potent. I was reminded, once more: Refugees used to be more a cause of conservatives than of liberals. This was so when I was coming of age and thereafter. Reagan types thought that those fleeing oppression needed help, and that part of America’s reason for being was to help them. Dusty Rhodes, the late president of National Review, was on the board of the International Rescue Committee. Maybe the tide will shift again, as tides tend to.

• Hail the name of Gleb Garanich. He is a Ukrainian photographer, and he saved a young man from probable death at the hands of a mob. A stirring story — with photos — here.

• Beethoven wrote 33 variations on a waltz by Diabelli. Jonathan V. Last — my long-ago co-worker and one of the best journalists in America — has written “33 Questions About Lewandowski’s Lie.” Damn good.

• “No severe impacts from Imelda as it moves through Texas,” read the headline. (Article here.) I did not want to make light of a storm. But I did want to say, “Mrs. Marcos, thou shouldst be living at this hour!” Come to find out, Imelda Marcos is living. She stepped down from politics only a few months ago. In the 1970s, I bet, the late, great Dan Jenkins said — or had one of his characters say — “They should publish a list every year of who’s not dead yet.”

• Earlier this week, Paul Jacobs played an organ recital in New York. A helluva ride. I reviewed this recital, here.

• An enthralling obit from the New York Times. It begins,

For 50 years after her fiancé was seized by the Gestapo and she became a fugitive, Diet Eman remained largely silent about her role in the Dutch Resistance during World War II.

After the war she abandoned Europe for the Americas to escape the memories of friends and families lost, of unspeakable barbarism, of spineless collaboration, of the moments her religious faith was tested to its very limit.

“I wanted to forget,” she said — “to start a new life in a country where there were no memories and never talk about that time again.”

But she did, as you have gathered. What a woman.

• Phyllis Newman has died. The Times described her as “a Tony Award-winning actress who was a fixture of New York theater for more than a half-century, a familiar game show panelist and a fund-raiser on behalf of women in entertainment dealing with illness.”

I have a Phyllis Newman story, or one involving her — and involving names. One name, in particular, and one of the most loaded names in all of history. I’ve told it here on NRO before (more than once, I’m afraid). I will quote:

Years ago, I was in Carnegie Hall, and the lights were dimming after intermission. A man was still in the aisle, apparently unable to find his seat. I heard a woman say, “Adolph?”

I thought, “‘Adolf’? How unfortunate to go through life with that name. It couldn’t be other than a quite old man. In fact, I bet it’s Adolph Green” (the lyricist).

I turned around, and there was Adolph Green, being called by his wife, Phyllis Newman. (His writing partner was Betty Comden, you remember.)

All of this took about 1.5 seconds. Before then, I could not even have told you that Adolph Green lived in New York. But how many Adolphs are there?

Adolph Green, born in 1914 — a few months after the outbreak of World War I — died in 2002. Now Phyllis is gone. Neither one forgotten.

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