The Corner


Candidates, Spitballers, and More

Kamala Harris, then the attorney general of California, speaking in 2011 (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters)

In Impromptus today, I lead with Kamala Harris, the California senator. And Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York senator. They are both running for president. And they have both been praised by leading Democratic figures as …

Well, in 2013, President Obama called Harris “the best-looking attorney general in the country.” And in 2010, Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “We in the Senate refer to Senator Gillibrand as ‘the hottest member.’”

Don’t shoot the messenger (i.e., me). More seriously, Harris is one of those politicians who talk about “the people,” and of these politicians, and this kind of politics, I say, “Beware.” Once you’ve had a strong whiff of populism, you run to republicanism as to fresh air.

In my column, I also touch on Bill Buckley, Bill Clinton, Nathan Glazer, King Baudouin of Belgium, Jack Nicklaus (of Columbus, Ohio), Tom Brady, and the meaning of conservatism.

Responding to an item in a previous column — concerning James Harden, Rudolf Nureyev, and other greats — a wise lady from Alabama writes,

An old coach once told me that basketball played well was ballet with a ball. Of course, a Green Beret friend said that combat was ballet with bullets, so …

I also had an item about the name “Moses” — about which the wise Alabamian said,

I don’t know how he came to be so named, but my paternal grandfather was Moses. He died when my father was a mere tot, so we never came to know the story. My father was the youngest of nine children, and he was named Price, for an uncle. Curiously, my grandfather did not choose to name any of his four sons after himself. We are now on Price IV, an immensely charming and mischievous lad of 14. I am currently teaching him how to shoot spitballs with the rubber bands on his braces.

That is one of the most Alabama letters I have ever read.

I had an item on Blake Griffin, the Detroit Pistons star, who pleaded with a ref by showing him video on a tablet (a tablet computer). A wise Georgia man writes,

Showing the ref his tablet? That’s nothing. I once thought I would have to physically restrain my daughter to keep her from running onto the field to show the back judge her cellphone footage to prove Grandson #2 did not step out of bounds. And my wife was egging her on.

A final item, also concerning sports. I was writing about WFB, telling a few stories. And I wanted to say that he was interested in no sports except sailing. But I wanted to be sure that sailing was a sport. So I consulted an expert, my brother-in-law, a sailor. He said, “Absolutely. I have a simple rule: It’s a sport if you know you won when you cross the finish line. Sorry to all the ice dancers of the world.”


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