The Corner


Today’s Impromptus, I open with President Obama’s “congratulatory phone call” to the new Chinese “president,” Xi Jingping. I say that such phone calls should be reserved for democratic leaders, not people in one-party dictatorships who happen to have been elevated by their fellow gangsters.

Later, I thought of one of WFB’s columns — titled “For Moderation in Osculation.” He wanted democrats to go easy on the hugging and kissing of anti-democrats.

I also note what Obama said to his friends on the Hill about drones: They could trust him because “This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here.” Obama fans and Cheney fans can agree, don’t you think? Obama is no Cheney.

This item has provoked a fair amount of mail, and readers make one point, above all: Obama could show more class. You remember the famous putdown by JFK of Nixon: “No class.” That often applies to Obama. I would note this too: Cheney’s critics and enemies have blackened his name for many years, but he still has fans, as my mail shows. (The former VP is one of my favorite people.)

Another item: Some years ago, proponents of gay marriage cast their cause in terms of “civil rights.” When you say “civil rights,” you have pretty much won the game: because Americans understandably tremble before the term. No one wants to be Lester Maddox. More recently, gay-marriage proponents have hit on the term “marriage equality,” which the Associated Press is using without quotation marks. The wire service has embraced the term as its own.

As I say in my column, we school-choicers have tried using the term “civil rights”: “School choice is the civil-rights cause of our time.” Hasn’t caught on.

A reader writes to point out Hillary Clinton’s recent language on gay marriage: “Gay rights are human rights,” HRC has said. (Her initials are the same as those of the Human Rights Campaign, the gay group.) “I believe America is at its best when we champion the freedom and dignity of every human being.” Our reader says that Hillary would never say this about the unborn.

Yes, the unborn seem to be outside the language of human rights, civil rights, equality, human dignity, and all the rest of it. If the “liberal establishment” — I wish there were a better, less Neanderthal-seeming term — doesn’t champion you, you are pretty much unchampioned.

From important language to unimportant language: Toward the end of Impromptus, I mention all the work Karl Rove has done for the Republican party. And I say, “I think we need this, bad.” Some readers have written in to chide me, saying I ought to have used an adverb. I think anyone who says “badly” there should be drummed out of the English and American language.

I realize this is not constitutional — but Sotomayor and Kagan have barely begun their tenures . . .


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