The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Many-Strained Political World

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., July 28, 2016. (Gary Cameron / Reuters)

That guy standing tall up there? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He leads my Impromptus today. As far as I’m concerned, he stood very tall when he wrote a piece condemning anti-Semitism in sports and Hollywood — and the general, comparative indifference to that anti-Semitism.

Here on the Corner, I would like to add another point, relating to group identity. Is Louis Farrakhan a black American Muslim? Oh, yes. But is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as well? Yes.

Other items in my column include the cancel culture, Mozart, Russia, the Republican Party, Fox News, and the Washington Redskins (for now).

I have reason to quote Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser. After the G-7 summit in 2018, he went on Fox to say,

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes right from Air Force One.”

There’s a special place in hell. Bad faith. Weak, dishonest. I suppose allies can talk that way about allies. But have the president and his staff ever said such things about Vladimir Putin? Is there a special place in hell for anything Putin has done? The imprisonment, maiming, and killing of critics? Invasion of foreign countries? Bounty-paying? Interference in others’ elections? Anything?

Earlier this month, a Trump campaign official appeared on RT, the Kremlin propaganda outlet, to denounce “propagandist activist media” in the United States. (For a story, go here.) Okay, then.

Here is another item from my column today, about which I’d like to make an additional comment:

In Poland, the leader of the ruling party accused the leader of the opposition of lacking a “Polish heart” and a “Polish soul.” (For a Reuters report, go here.) This is Nationalism 101. But I thought of Susana Martinez, who was governor of New Mexico in the 2010s. One of her opponents — an “Anglo” — said, “Susana Martinez does not have a Latino heart.” I asked her what she thought he meant by that. She said — in fact, she mouthed, memorably (no sound came out) — “I have no idea.”

I know what he meant,” I said to her. “What?” she said, curiously. “He meant that you have Reaganite views, not left-leaning ones. Also, you don’t practice grievance politics. I believe that’s what he meant.”

Let’s have a dose of mail. A reader writes,

Dear Jay,

Your recent conversation with Elaina Plott about George Wallace put me in mind of a thought experiment that I have been toying with for a while. I am remembering his 1972 run for the Democratic nomination. What if he had won the nomination and the election? . . .

What would the world have looked like with a President Wallace? Would there have been a faction of #NeverWallace Democrats making common cause with Republicans?

The president would have controlled the resources of the Democratic Party, and he could have fielded primary challengers to elected Democrats who crossed him. So would Democrats have made a “transactional case” for Wallace? After all, on almost every issue other than race, he was a pretty conventional New Deal liberal, like the other segregationists of his generation.

I suspect that, in this alternative universe, the Democratic Party would have had a lot of Lindsey Grahams and very few Mitt Romneys.

Well, that is a thought experiment.

One more dose, in response to my Q&A with the economist Greg Mankiw:

I share Professor Mankiw’s wariness of the term “capitalism.” Like him, I prefer “market economy.” The voluntary exchange of goods and services has been going on for all of human history. I think that one of the Left’s greatest rhetorical triumphs was to stigmatize, and therefore marginalize, this fundamental fact of life as just another “ism.”

Thanks to all letter-writers for their mail. And, again, today’s Impromptus is here.

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