Magazine | November 14, 2011, Issue


The Brush-off

Kevin D. Williamson’s piece on presidential aspirant Ron Paul (“Ron Paul’s Last Crusade,” September 19), coupled with Jack Hunter’s subsequent retort (October 3), brought to mind my own encounter with the Texas congressman. 

Sharing a plane headed out of Manchester, N.H., with Candidate Paul (it was the morning following one of 2008’s early GOP-primary debates), I approached him to a) thank him for his defense of unborn human life; and b) encourage him to rethink his opposition to our military exertions in Iraq. Interrupting, the libertarian standard bearer brusquely informed me, “You can’t be pro-life and support this [Iraq] War!”

I say “brusquely,” but that is probably too mild a modifier. Dismissively? Irritably? Rudely? Those’ll all work. Did I mention that I am a lifelong, outspoken anti-abortion activist? Or that, at the very moment of that exchange, my Marine-infantry son was stationed in Mesopotamia, where he’d been dispatched to freeze, more often bake, and serve for weeks at a stretch without a shower? Oh, yes, and get shot at? For this proud father-of-a-jarhead, it was Ron Paul’s low point.

Let me note, two or three other Republican bigs observed the confrontation and, to their credit, seemed genuinely embarrassed by it.

If I’d ever had any doubts, I knew at that moment Ron Paul would never snag the Oval Office brass ring. Any politician that socially bereft — to borrow Williamson’s priceless phrase, “the nation’s most successful awful retail politician” — will never be promoted to the White House by an electorate which prefers its president to have, at least, a working handle on basic manners.

It is libertarians’ true misfortune that their most visible figurehead happens to be this occasionally admirable, frequently bewildering, sometimes fatally unpleasant man. I discovered it face to face.

Steve Pauwels

Londonderry, N.H.



I’m guessing that after putting your October 31 issue to bed, the first thing you did was to order a new supply of asterisks. On page 8 we have f*****g, on page 22 it is mother****er, and on the last page, there’s muthaf***in’ and p***y a*s.

Assuming my profanity skills are up to date, I see no consistent principle at work regarding which letters are included and which are omitted. Does your house style guide contain a section on this?

Robin E. Black

Hackensack, N.J.


The Editors Reply:  None of your g**h d*rn business.

NR Staff — Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue



Politics & Policy

Mobility Impaired

What’s the most important issue in American politics? In a narrow sense, the sputtering economy and ballooning deficits are likely to dominate the 2012 election season. But while every election ...
Politics & Policy

Up from Leftism

Atlanta, Ga. — ‘The first time my name appeared in the New York Times, I was described as ‘an obscure associate professor,’” says Eugene D. Genovese. “I’ve always thought of ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Unfriendly Skies

There were two events in the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency that justify the use of the overworked phrase “defining moment”: the assassination attempt after only the tenth week ...
Politics & Policy

Wrong Track

For all the glory of the transcontinental railroads, it’s not hard to find bad things to say about them. As the first truly national American big businesses, they made quite ...
Politics & Policy

A Real Camino

This has been an unusually good run for religion at the movies. Dramatizing spiritual experience is notoriously difficult, and filmmakers tend to look for easier paths — the anthropologist’s condescension, ...
City Desk

Volume Discount

Books were like print-outs, with text on both sides of the paper, fastened together along one side with stitching (in older books) or glue. The pages, or papers, were numbered ...


Politics & Policy


The Brush-off Kevin D. Williamson’s piece on presidential aspirant Ron Paul (“Ron Paul’s Last Crusade,” September 19), coupled with Jack Hunter’s subsequent retort (October 3), brought to mind my own encounter ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Invading Congo? He really is turning us into Belgium after all. ‐ The Cain mutiny against establishment politics rolls on. Cain is a charmer, and he is right to buck ...
The Long View


CLIENT: Senior Romney Campaign TEAM: Bain & Company Campaign Consulting Practice IN RE: Report from our initial consulting efforts EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Many thanks for allowing BAIN CONSULTING to serve your campaign, and for giving ...

Frigid Pink

Occupy Wall Street gets all the press, but the world-changing assemblies are happening all over, you know. Here in Minnesota the locals formed OccupyMN and took over Government Plaza. It’s ...
Politics & Policy


KING DAVID LEAVES OFF MOURNING FOR HIS SON I’m dressed. The sky is stone, my path a sea. I’m going to him, he won’t return to me. I eat. The shattered waves have ...
Happy Warrior

Saint Who?

When it’s not explicitly hostile, Western liberals’ attitude to Ayaan Hirsi Ali is deeply condescending. One thinks of Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, pondering the author’s estrangement from ...

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More