The Corner

‘Wisdom behind the Wheel,’ Recalled

 

Last June, I did a little Corner note — actually, a biggish one — on a conversation I had with a cabbie in Texas. I said that journalists must never, ever write about their conversations with cabbies. It’s the worst cliché in the world. I also said I didn’t care — which I don’t.

This cabbie was from Tunisia, and as I remarked, “he ought to teach in Middle East Studies departments — or at least lecture.”

Let me quote a bit more from that post: “Of his native country, he said, ‘They say they have stability, but how can you have real stability without freedom and democracy? Their stability is just a dictator, who will be replaced by another dictator.’”

Then there’s this: “He finds our political system kind of a miracle: ‘When a president’s term is up, he has to leave. He has to get out. If he tries to stay, the police or the military will come throw him out. He can’t just hang on to power for as long as he wants.’ It’s amazing what we, as Americans, can take for granted. Rotation in office is not a universal principle.”

One more, please: “America, he says, has an independent judiciary, and legislatures, and executive branches. In Tunisia — as in most places — it’s all one. The cab driver thinks that the separation of powers is a miracle. Again, amazing what we take for granted.”

Would kind of like to talk to that cabbie today. He is sounder than many well-paid analysts in think tanks, and governments.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

‘Judges for the #Resistance’

At Politico, I wrote today about the judiciary’s activism against Trump on immigration: There is a lawlessness rampant in the land, but it isn’t emanating from the Trump administration. The source is the federal judges who are making a mockery of their profession by twisting the law to block the Trump ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Friendships Are America’s Asset

The stale, clichéd conceptions of Donald Trump held by both Left and Right — a man either utterly useless or only rigidly, transactionally tolerable — conceal the fact that the president does possess redeeming talents that are uniquely his, and deserve praise on their own merit. One is personal friendliness ... Read More
U.S.

Columbia 1968: Another Untold Story

Fifty years ago this week, Columbia students riding the combined wave of the civil-rights and anti-war movements went on strike, occupied buildings across campus, and shut the university down. As you revisit that episode of the larger drama that was the annus horribilis 1968, bear in mind that the past isn’t ... Read More
Culture

Only the Strident Survive

‘I am not prone to anxiety,” historian Niall Ferguson wrote in the Times of London on April 22. “Last week, however, for the first time since I went through the emotional trauma of divorce, I experienced an uncontrollable panic attack.” The cause? “A few intemperate emails, inadvertently forwarded ... Read More