Magazine March 11, 2013, Issue

News Clips from the Past

From the Manchester Poste, January 1774:

. . . after a muche learned and complikated discourse, Mr. John Adams of Bostowne took a small breathe, and pursuant to continuing in his oration did pause to take for himself a small drinke of water from a ewer laid before him for that expreff purpose. The crowde did gaspe in astonishment at his exceedingly strange behavior, and some good personnes were heard to utter admonishments and complaintes regarding to his distreffing acte of insolence and rudeness. Then, thirst slaked, the hopeful man of politics and philosophie continued on, though it was cleare to all gathered and all who hearde of this audacious and unacceptable acte that the career of John Adams, Esq., of Bostowne was well and truly finished.

From the Gettysburg Gazette, November 1863:

. . . grimacing and scowling with his ape-like countenance, the President of the United States delivered himself of a rather tempered set of remarks, neither memorable nor — from the murmurings and shiftings of the crowd — pleasing. His short and drab oration was interrupted, though, when he paused in a surprising and unexpected fashion and took a small sip of water from a glass that had been placed below him on the platform. The noisy drink could be heard several rows into the crowd, and it so stunned the audience — and even those honorable personages who filled the platform were seen to shake their heads in uniform disapproval at this rude and coarse depiction of presidential thirst — that for several moments the entire party was silent. But then, the silence turned to anger. The crowd, already unhappy with the blandishments of the President’s sorry prose, rose up as one to make clear their offense at this unprecedented and unwelcome behavior. “Take a drink, sir?” they jeered in rage. “Dare you sip of water?” cried the assembled, clearly indicating to all on the platform, including rising presidential timber, the Hon. Edward Everett, that the current occupant of the White House has truncated and put paid to his own political future.

#page# From the Washington Star, March 1933:

. . . gathered in the East Portico, along with the appropriate dignitaries and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, radio microphones draped along the bunting and wires and cables forming a complex thatch-pattern on the ancient floor, the anticipation and electricity of the moment was felt by all. At a time when the nation and its citizens are caught in the grip of this terrible economic depression, the attention and regard given to the president’s remarks exceeded anything experienced in the memory of the assembled audience, which included veterans of such national trials as the recent Great War, the War Between the States, and even one hardy soul who had fought in the Mexican Conflict. So it was with intense disappointment that what should have been an inspiring and rousing declaration turned into a lackluster and deflating experience for all — the assembled crowd and the radio audience. “The only thing we have to fear,” the new president intoned — and here he paused, stopped, ceased the narrative entirely, while fumbling around for a small flask of (what we presume was) water. His sip, which was carried across the nation via the power of radio microphones, and the subsequent guttural sound of water sliding down the esophageal canal, was so thoroughly repulsive and off-putting that millions of hopeful and desperate Americans could not hear — simply couldn’t, out of disgust and shock and anger — the ultimate clause of the sentence, “ . . . is fear itself.” This presidency is doomed. This president is finished.

From the New York Times, June 1987:

. . . a simplistic and, frankly, dangerous set of remarks in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall, which left the crowd in the street and the assorted leaders on the dais frustrated with a president who seems tone-deaf to the European mood, which is to ease tensions with their Soviet neighbors and explore ways to live with the Russian behemoth to their east. The only high point of an otherwise incendiary and crude speech came when the president, usually a skilled communicator, stopped in the tracks of his bellicose hectoring to take a long drink from a glass of water. “Mr. Gorbachev,” he intoned rudely to the architect of glasnost and perestroika, “Tear down this — ” And it was here that Reagan’s Hollywood training left him and he paused to take a sip from his water glass. “Wall!” he shouted to the nonplussed listeners, who by then had forgotten what, exactly, the president was demanding. So they cheered, unaware. They cheered never truly knowing, thanks to Reagan’s blundering sip, just how aggressive and warmongering this administration is. The Berlin Wall, as we all know, is here to stay. But President Reagan and his legacy, alas, will be relegated to the slurp pile.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Benedict’s Legacy

History will most likely treat Pope Benedict XVI more kindly than his chattering-class contemporaries, who held him in barely disguised (or undisguised) contempt, caricaturing him as a former Hitler Youth ...

Features

Politics & Policy

USPS, R.I.P.

In 1691, Thomas Neale was given a 21-year concession on postal services in Their Majesties’ prospering American colonies. Neale never set foot in the New World and was an epically ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

The Empty Cradle?

Jonathan Last has just added one more cloud to the darkening sky that many conservatives see on America’s horizon. To growing conservative concerns about an entitlements crisis, fiscal ruin, soft ...
Politics & Policy

Take the Noir Pill

Steven Soderbergh has been making movies lately at a pace that feels almost compulsive, and his recent announcement that his latest film will be his last should probably be understood ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Poetry

OAK LEAVES She had a studious-sprightly walk, this wren, this girl ahead of me, she on the way to the brick, and so, to her eyes, alien library, nearly empty that weekend day. She didn’t ...
Politics & Policy

Letters

A Fighting Chance In “The Right to Bear Arms and Popular Sovereignty” (February 11), Charles C. W. Cooke reports that the Second Amendment was designed to protect the right of the ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ In a delicate operation, Hugo Chávez was removed from a cancerous tumor. ‐ The 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling included an across-the-board cut to planned spending on defense ...
The Long View

News Clips from the Past

From the Manchester Poste, January 1774: . . . after a muche learned and complikated discourse, Mr. John Adams of Bostowne took a small breathe, and pursuant to continuing in his ...
Athwart

Put Down the Controller!

We need to have a national conversation about national conversations. There aren’t any guidelines. Do arguments in our heads with people who have different opinions count? Does “conversation” actually mean ...

Most Popular

Education

Destroy the ‘Public’ Education System

‘Public” schools have been a catastrophe for the United States. This certainly isn’t an original assertion, but as we watch thousands of authoritarian brats tearing down the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s more apparent than ever. State-run schools have undercut two fundamental ... Read More
Education

Destroy the ‘Public’ Education System

‘Public” schools have been a catastrophe for the United States. This certainly isn’t an original assertion, but as we watch thousands of authoritarian brats tearing down the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s more apparent than ever. State-run schools have undercut two fundamental ... Read More
Culture

Two NFL Apologies

So Drew Brees defended the American flag and all it stands for, said he didn’t agree with kneeling for the national anthem and correctly described this gesture of open disrespect as disrespect. "Is everything right with our country right now?" said the Saints' future Hall of Famer. "No, it is not. We still have ... Read More
Culture

Two NFL Apologies

So Drew Brees defended the American flag and all it stands for, said he didn’t agree with kneeling for the national anthem and correctly described this gesture of open disrespect as disrespect. "Is everything right with our country right now?" said the Saints' future Hall of Famer. "No, it is not. We still have ... Read More
Culture

Why Progressives Wage War on History

Princeton University’s decision to remove the name “Woodrow Wilson” from its School of Public and International Affairs is a big win for progressive activists, and the implications will extend far beyond the campus. It hardly surprises me, in today’s polarizing environment, that my alma mater caved to ... Read More
Culture

Why Progressives Wage War on History

Princeton University’s decision to remove the name “Woodrow Wilson” from its School of Public and International Affairs is a big win for progressive activists, and the implications will extend far beyond the campus. It hardly surprises me, in today’s polarizing environment, that my alma mater caved to ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Chesterton’s Cops

Conservatives are big on “Chesterton’s fence.” That’s G. K. Chesterton’s principle that you cannot reform what you do not understand, that you should not for the sake of convenience knock down a fence until you understand why it was put up in the first place. When encountering a fence in his way, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Chesterton’s Cops

Conservatives are big on “Chesterton’s fence.” That’s G. K. Chesterton’s principle that you cannot reform what you do not understand, that you should not for the sake of convenience knock down a fence until you understand why it was put up in the first place. When encountering a fence in his way, ... Read More
Regulatory Policy

Going Medieval

Writing in Bloomberg, Noah Smith gives more than a nod to Peter Turchin’s theory of elite overproduction (or, as Smith neatly relabels the phenomenon, “elite over-competition”) as a cause of the current wave of turmoil in the West, something with which I would agree but, I think, more emphatically. Quite ... Read More
Regulatory Policy

Going Medieval

Writing in Bloomberg, Noah Smith gives more than a nod to Peter Turchin’s theory of elite overproduction (or, as Smith neatly relabels the phenomenon, “elite over-competition”) as a cause of the current wave of turmoil in the West, something with which I would agree but, I think, more emphatically. Quite ... Read More
U.S.

Bad News about the Virus

On the menu today: an important update about indications that the coronavirus is now more contagious than it used to be, with far-reaching ramifications for how we fight this pandemic; a point on the recent complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program; and a new book for everyone closely following the debate ... Read More
U.S.

Bad News about the Virus

On the menu today: an important update about indications that the coronavirus is now more contagious than it used to be, with far-reaching ramifications for how we fight this pandemic; a point on the recent complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program; and a new book for everyone closely following the debate ... Read More
Culture

A Triumph at Mount Rushmore

If nothing else, President Donald Trump’s July Fourth speech at Mount Rushmore clarified the battle lines of our culture war. The New York Times called the speech “dark and divisive,” while an Associated Press headline declared, “Trump pushes racial division.” A Washington Post story said the speech ... Read More
Culture

A Triumph at Mount Rushmore

If nothing else, President Donald Trump’s July Fourth speech at Mount Rushmore clarified the battle lines of our culture war. The New York Times called the speech “dark and divisive,” while an Associated Press headline declared, “Trump pushes racial division.” A Washington Post story said the speech ... Read More