The Corner

Impromptus

Fair and Foul

Left: Sam Snead at the Augusta National Golf Club in 2001. Right: Ted Williams at a Red Sox–Mets games in 1999. (Reuters; Mike Segar / Reuters)

“If you live long enough, you see that things repeat themselves, in strange ways.” Yes. I write that in my Impromptus today. In the late ’90s, I heard “move on” a lot. There was even an organization founded: “MoveOn.”

I hear the very same today, from Republicans.

But look: The body count from January 6 continues to rise. Did you see this article, on the Capitol police? Very, very disturbing. You will understand if some of us are not quite ready to “move on.”

I admired what Peter Meijer said yesterday (after I wrote my column): “It’s just staggering how many folks continue to try to paper over what happened, try to ‘move on,’ just say, ‘It’s been a couple of weeks, let’s forget about it.’ I’m just at a loss for words.”

Meijer is the new congressman from Grand Rapids (a Republican). He is the son of Hank Meijer, with whom I did a podcast two years ago. Illustrious Michigan family.

Anyway, my column is on the state of the GOP — the Republican Party at the beginning of 2021. It is not a “nice” column. (I will return to those.) But it is a frank and true one, I believe.

Some mail? First, I have to do a little quoting. I have a letter responding to the following item, contained in some notes I posted after January 6:

Some people have asked me, “How has the Trump era changed you?” For one thing, it has made me a lot more conservative — not in the Fox-and-talk sense, but in an older, Burkean one. Most of the radicalism in me has been snuffed out.

One of the GOP’s new congressmen, Madison Cawthorn, said, “I want a new generation of Americans to be radicals.”

Well, to hell with that.

Okay, our reader writes,

You say that the Trump era has purged the radicalism out of you. Me too.

The other big takeaway for me: There are people with whom I share values but not politics, and these people are closer to who I am than people whose policy preferences sometimes coincide with mine, but whose values are very different.

Someone who favors a regulation because he thinks it helps someone, but which I think is wrongheaded, is a potential friend with whom I have a disagreement. Someone who has the same policy view as mine because he thinks it “owns the libs” is like the broken clock, right twice a day.

In some notes about Inauguration Day, I groused about music (of course):

I’m afraid that our inaugural ceremonies have turned into pop concerts. Marian Anderson, Marilyn Horne, Jessye Norman, Susan Graham (of George W. Bush’s hometown, Midland, Texas) — gone with the wind. This says something about our culture more broadly.

A pity.

A reader writes,

I feel ya. While I found the sight of Senator Roy Blunt and Lady Gaga on the same stage more than a bit amusing, I’m resolving right now to vote for any candidate who promises to have Joyce DiDonato sing at the inauguration.

Ha. (DiDonato, by the way, is a mezzo-soprano from Kansas, and one of the greatest singers in history.)

Early on Inauguration Morning, a reader and friend wrote,

President Trump meant no compliment when he dubbed our incoming president “Sleepy Joe,” but danged if it doesn’t sound pretty good right now. I have felt like a shocked lab rat for four years. George Carlin quipped, “People are always complaining about inefficiency in government. Do we really want them to do more of what they do?” Alas, our “sleepy” new prez has a long agenda.

Alas. (By the way, the phrase “shocked lab rat” is perfect.)

Finally, golf. Earlier this week, I had an essay called “Golf in a Time of Pandemic: Or, home on the range.” My colleague Katherine Howell writes,

Golf has always been mysterious to me, as a non-golfer, so it’s interesting to read about it. My uncle Billy was a big golfer, and I remember having an argument with him when I was eight or nine years old about whether it’s harder to hit a baseball or a golf ball. I said golf must be easy because the ball doesn’t move. So he took me to a driving range to prove to me that I was wrong.

Ah, yes. Old, old argument, old, old theme. It is hard to hit a golf ball for many reasons. One of them is: The ball doesn’t move. In tennis, for example, you have something to react to. Instinct takes over. In golf, the ball just sits there, smirking at you.

The story goes that Sam Snead and Ted Williams were having the baseball–golf argument. Ted said, “You don’t face a pitcher, for heaven’s sake.” Sam said, “True — but we have to hit our foul balls.”

Again, to read my column today — blunt — go here.

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