The Corner

Culture

The Midwestern Touch

Abraham Lincoln and son Tad (Library of Congress)

Jaywalking is a mélange, like Impromptus. (Indeed, Jaywalking is an audio version of Impromptus, with added touches, chiefly music.) In my latest episode, I have Putin, Erdogan, Trump, and others on the world stage. Musically, I have a song called “The Lady from Siberia.”

“One day when in Tallinn, she said, ‘I don’t love Stalin,’ and she was seized and quickly sent away.” Yup. That was SOP (standard operating procedure).

I also have a song by America’s double-elled treasure, Meredith Willson. This is “Iowa Stubborn,” from The Music Man. I thought of it when quoting Charles Grassley, the senior senator from Iowa. Not that he’s stubborn. It’s just that he’s plainspoken. (There was once a biography of Truman, Plain Speaking.)

Years ago, I was an intern in the office of Senator Bob Dole, another Midwesterner, usually plainspoken. The receptionist in the office thought a lot of Senator Grassley. Why? Because he’d call and say, “Hello, my name is Chuck Grassley. I’m a senator from Iowa. Is Senator Dole there?” She was impressed by his humility. (She was used to dealing with other types of senator.)

Grassley has always impressed me as a commonsensical and competent sort, and I can see why Iowans keep returning him to office.

By the way, I’ve thought of Lincoln, because of the way I referred to Meredith Willson (and his double ell). Lincoln was a friend of John H. Addams, the father of Jane Addams. Mr. Addams was an Illinoisian: a businessman, banker, and politician — also a founder of the Republican party. Lincoln would address letters to him, “My Dear Double D’ed Addams.”

He loved words and wordplay, Lincoln did. Remember what he said about his (future) in-laws? “One ‘d’ was good enough for God, but not for the Todds.”

Most Popular

U.S.

Americans Are Royally Confused about Monarchy

Conventional wisdom regarding America’s relationship with royalty goes something like this: Americans have no time for monarchy as a political concept but can’t get enough of the British royal family. The American media’s round-the-clock coverage of the recent royal wedding certainly seems ample evidence of ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Media See Only One Collusion Story

President Trump is opening a whole new chapter in the war between him and the investigators pursuing him. Today, he tweeted: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political ... Read More