saw the other day that Ralph Nader was speaking on yet another college
campus thats what he does: speak to
college students. Thats pretty much his whole life. And this
tells you something, because college kids tend to be uninformed,
inexperienced, and vulnerable to demagoguery and snake oil. I was
conscious of this even when I was a student myself: that there were
certain types who delighted in preying on kids, mentally, ideologically,
mainly because they couldnt scare up a respectful adult audience.
It must be embarrassing, after a while, to be Ralph Nader and 65
years old (or whatever) and realize that the only people you can
get to cheer and mob and love you are ignorant, impressionable kids.
College students havent paid any taxes. When they hear the
word corporation, theyre liable to think Nazi.
And this is Naders constituency. Well, Allard Lowenstein did
it (in large measure) for the sex. Nader? If he can win over a Kiwanis
Club or an Elks lodge or even Local #1066, then Ill be kind
Don Hewitt the 60 Minutes producer being interviewed
by Foxs Judith Regan the other night. Asked what he thought
about Bill OReilly, he said (roughly) this: I have my
political views, and he has his, but what he has, that I dont
have, is disdain. He has disdain toward people who hold other
views, and I just dont get that. Of course, we all know
that 60 Minutes has been a model of respect and fairness
toward conservatives and conservative ideas and conservative sensibilities
over the years. True, Bill Buckley was treated okay but he
is often a grand exception. Others havent fared so well, have
that Bill Clinton hasnt taken the heat he ought to for leaving
Bush with all that environmental nonsense arsenic in the
water, salmonella in our gullets, that kind of thing. This isnt
in the nature of governing so much as of a juvenile prank: The outgoing
campers of Cabin 14 short-sheet the beds of incoming campers! They
stop up the toilets, too! Clintons last-minute trap-laying
He has been a busy beaver, said Bush spokesman
Ari Fleischer at the time is yet more proof final
proof, as much as the pardons that he was never fit to govern.
He seemed never to take his responsibilities with the seriousness
required. Yet its Bush who takes the heat on this: The
Republicans are putting arsenic back in the water!
says Jay Leno.
I think it would be kind of cool if Bush looked the American public
in the eye and said (something like), My predecessor did a
nasty, prankish thing and has left me to clean up the mess.
So Im going to, like the adult president I am. In my
view, W. has taken this gentlemanliness thing this new
tone and new civility too far.
would rather be published in the Washington Post than in
the Washington Times. So it was no surprise that the energy
secretary, Spencer Abraham, gave an op-ed piece recently to the
Post. But why not give it to the Times? Who says that
the Post has to be an official paper the equivalent
of the Pyongyang Whatever? I think it would be sort of neat
if a major figure like the energy secretary went to
the Times when he had something to say. It would still be
news. It would still get the word out. And it might give a deserving
underdog a hand. The major figure would be big enough to do it:
Hes a Cabinet secretary (for example). What does he care about
a lousy byline in the Post? If I were a Cabinet member
heck, if I were president (since were being pretty
scary anyway) Id offer my scribbles to the Washington
Times. A little competition a little variety, a little
diversity isnt a bad thing anyway.
McCurry, I kid you not, began a recent letter to The New Republic
as follows: No one would mistake me for an apologist for my
ex-boss President Clinton, but
Thing is, McCurry probably
does think of himself as a brave, independent type. He has
suggested, on occasion, that Clinton is perhaps slightly less than
perfect which must, indeed, make him a heretic in the Sidney
Blumenthal school (to use a shorthand). That would make ex-toady
and now-sometime critic George Stephanopoulos a beyond-heretic.
As for McCurry, who could have known that his service to the disgraced
senator Harrison Williams of New Jersey would stand as the most
honorable segment of his career?
seems that the Republican National Committee is busily reaching
out setting up various task forces to appeal to this
ethnic group and this religious group, and so on. I understand the
necessity for practical politics, but I still think its a
shame. I would rather the Democrats played this kind of politics,
alone. If Republicans made a hard appeal to Americanism to
Americans as Americans, rather than as members of groups, each in
his lil tribe the political effect could be thrilling,
glorious. Someday, I hope to see a full-hearted, unabashed anti-identity-politics
campaign. Someday, I would like to see a frontal assault on the
disuniting of America, to use a useful phrase from a
surprising source (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.). If no one else will,
maybe Ill have to run such a campaign myself.
Im at this party, and this guy a liberal academic
cant get over that Im a conservative, because
conservatives are supposed to have horns and tails, etc. Introducing
me, he says (more than once), This is Jay, whos a conservative,
but a surprisingly pleasant fellow (or something like that).
This is the equivalent of the old, For a fat girl, you dont
sweat much. Im used to this, as many other conservatives
are too, I imagine. But its still damn annoying. And it can
ruin your whole day (or, at least, party). The wife of a cousin
once said to me, You know, Ive never met a decent person
who was a Republican. This inspired a column of mine, which
was one of the hottest, quickest things I ever wrote. Its theme
was (approximately): This is what you think of me? Oh, superior
one, let me tell you what I think of you!
I love it, though (Im sounding like Bob Hope here that
was definitely a Bob Hope transition) I love it, though,
when a liberal tries to be all open-minded and magnanimous and tolerant
with you. When I worked in a big Washington office that was heavily
left-wing, I would come up in the elevator carrying both D.C. papers:
the Post and the Times. And my colleagues would give
me absolute hell for having the Times. Youd have thought
I was bringing in kiddie porn (which might have been more acceptable).
In an effort to embarrass or shame them, Id say things like,
I dont think its healthful to rely on a single
news source I like a little diversity. But it never
did much good.
One day, a guy confided to me, I sometimes peer into the newspaper
box on the street to see what the headlines of the [Washington]
Times are. He said this in a tone that suggested I
ought to be in awe of him for his immense broadmindedness. He seemed
to imagine that this should qualify him for Albert Schweitzer status.
And, in his milieu, it probably did.
The other thing I get is, Oh, you work for National Review?
I pick it up occasionally when Im on the shuttle. Allow
me to translate: I wouldnt buy the thing if my life depended
on it, but when Im about to board the New York-Washington
(or Washington-New York) shuttle, and its sitting there for
free, amid many other publications, I now and again deign to pick
it up. For a fat girl, you dont sweat much.
Back to that party for just a moment. The aforementioned liberal
says to me — sensing my annoyance, seeking to mollify — Dont
you have a guy who works for you named
what is it, Noah?
Noah something? [Hes thinking of Jonah Goldberg.] I sometimes
read him when [get this] hes linked to Arts
& Letters! Do you love it? Peering into newspaper boxes;
picking up a copy of NR on the shuttle; condescending to
read our dear Noah when his material is linked to another site.
so happens that I grow very, very tired of defending my politics
and Ive had my fill of busmans holidays
but I got into it a little with the guy. One of the things he alleged
was that Bushs tax policies are
Yes. He quite seriously maintained that a policy of allowing taxpayers
to keep more of their own earnings a policy of the governments
taking less of those earnings constitutes redistributionism.
I realize we all tend to overuse the word Orwellian,
April 18, the Wall Street Journals Jason L. Riley had
a wonderful piece entitled Do Black Americans Still Need Black
Leadership? He suggested that todays civil rights
leaders are engaged in, among other things, job-protection (for
themselves). I remember well that President Reagan made a similar
suggestion, all those years ago. This sent Benjamin Hooks, then-head
of the NAACP, into a tizzy. He went on Nightline (as I recall)
to detail all the jobs he had held in his life paperboy,
waiter, and on up and all the jobs he might be capable of
holding in the future. Reagan had obviously struck a nerve.
It had been a long time since I thought of Hooks a man who
spent the 1980s accusing Reagan of racism, and generally making
a jackass of himself, and bringing dishonor on his organization.
In fact, it was because of Hooks that I first suspected something
was wrong with the NAACP. A woman named Hazel Dukes didnt
help much either (or rather, she did). And all this, mind you, was
well before Ben Chavis and the big money scandals (which
are, of course, forgotten).
the previous installment of Impromptus,
I cited Barbara J. Fields, one of my best professors in college
and one of the best historians in the nation, and one of
its best users of the English language (either written or spoken).
She always warned against the careless use of the word crisis
(which made me sheepish for employing it during the recent Hainan
whatever: standoff). Lately, she has complained of the perpetual
use of the word males, and I have taken up this cause,
keeping the pages of NR relatively clean of this strange,
irritating, contemporary habit. Males should come up
primarily in a biological context. For example, Marlin Perkins,
in an episode of Mutual of Omahas Wild Kingdom, might
say, When the males of the species meet the females of the
species yowza! But where have the men gone?
We read, very, very often, about black males, or young
black males. Why not men? Probably, we should
use males chiefly in a sarcastic way, mocking conventions,
as in, But then, James Fenimore Cooper is a dead white
male. If the words MEN and WOMEN
disappear from bathroom doors, in favor of MALES and
FEMALES, well be in big trouble.
(By the way, someone should do a list, or book maybe someone
already has of the cutesy designations on bathroom doors
across the country. You know, in seafood restaurants, Buoys
and Gulls that sort of thing.)
were on language: Almost every day, I see panoply
used to mean array and so it does. But I was
taught (many years ago) that it meant, first and foremost, a suit
of armor. This latter definition appears to be gone, while panoply
has become basically a synonym for array. Odd.
drums are beginning to beat against Judge Michael Luttig, of the
U.S. Court of Appeals. He is one of the best judges in the country
a dream judge for any constitutionalist and therefore
the Left must bork him good, even before Bush thinks of nominating
him to the Supreme Court. If Bush named him and got him through
that, alone, would be worth this entire presidency. (Although
this would not let the president off the hook for missile
defense and Social Security reform.)
you notice how snippy certain journalists got over Bushs speaking
to one of the Hainan guys pilot to pilot? They just
cant stand the fact that Bush served in the National Guard
and learned to fly military planes. Sure, Bush is no McCain, war-wise,
and the press worships the one and disdains the other, but most
journalists (including me, naturally) never did half as much as
George W. Bush did. Hell, we didnt do 1 percent of what he
thugs who wander from trade conference to trade conference? Theyre
not just idealistic, if misguided, activist-protesters: They are
quasi-terrorists who cause fear or worse wherever they tread. I
saw them in action at the two political conventions last summer.
They have nothing at all in common with, for example, the civil-rights
protesters of yore (or even with the anti-nuclear protesters of
the 1980s, imbecilic as they were). They are masked, Shining Path-like
goons, and free peoples ought to be vigilant against them.
up a left-leaning newspaper or magazine, and youre bound to
find a little Tiger Woods resentment. Its usually on the grounds
of: Couldnt he be blacker? The resenters may not put it so
frankly, but thats usually what they mean. A magazine called
Savoy African-American-oriented, as we
say has Tiger on its current cover, and the message is, largely,
Tige, baby: Couldnt you start being
you know: a little
more racial? And then there is the egregious Robert Lipsyte, one
of the collection of egregious sports columnists whom the New
York Times publishes. He had a piece the other day entitled
One Writers Tiger Woods Problem. In it, his major
offense isnt against Woods, but against Bobby Jones, about
whom he writes: Jones has been promoted as the saint of the
links, this irascible Confederate princeling whose elitist and racist
upbringing helped create that bastion of bigotry, the Augusta National
Golf Club, and its absurdly cosseted premier event, the Masters,
with its green straitjacket.
This is what we might term, in other contexts, hate speech. Honestly,
Im not sure Ive ever seen so much resentment and bile
and idiocy packed into one sentence. Lipsyte has an exceptionally
severe case of Masters hatred (and there is more of it about than
you might think). As for his Jones hatred, it is simply
I hate to get medical, but it is not the sign of a well person.
Jones was an Atlantan and a man of his times, to be sure. (He also
held a Harvard degree in literature.) But to write him off as
I dont care to repeat, or even recall, Lipsyte's words
is indefensible. Jones was a great man, who established golf in
America, defined sportsmanship, and exemplified grace under pressure.
No one ever lived more brilliantly through a hideous, debilitating
illness than he did. I could tell Jones stories for ages; there
are books of them. But the main point of them is that this was a
great a great man.
No section of the Times is more dismaying than its sports
section. And the other sections are apolitical and race-unconscious
dip into the mail bag: I wrote, last time, of the loss of the word
stewardess, along with a couple of others, and a reader
e-mailed to say that stewardesses is the longest word
in the English language that is typed by the left hand alone. He
thereby provoked a memory: I had a junior-high basketball coach
named Ken Treaster. Cool name, I said to him once. Thanks,
he replied, and Treaster can be typed with only
the left hand.
So weird, what one remembers Ive really forgotten just
about everything about (for example) this morning.
than one reader wrote in response to my blast
at Colin Powell for his disproportionality blast
at Israel that Powell, in judging as he did, was going against
his own doctrine, the Powell Doctrine, which prescribes the use
of overwhelming force, for a quick and just peace.
We are talking, of course, about more than abstractions as
I was reminded by a letter from a woman in Israel. I would like
to excerpt it:
Remember this: The fact that the U.S. criticized Israel so
vehemently completely destroyed any possible deterrent effect our
counterattack might have had. I cannot tell you how depressing it
is to sit here, worrying every minute of the day whether my kids
are okay, whether the bus Im next to at the intersection is
going to blow up and take me with it, and on and on and on. We havent
changed our lives. We went hiking during last weeks vacation,
but its now an ever-present shadow inside my head somewhere.
And then when the U.S. does something like this
do you spell isolation?
Please, I know: Arab mothers worry too. But, as has been true at
every moment for more than 50 years now, Israels enemies can
have peace whenever they want it they need only to consent
And on it goes. (Oof, that sounded a lot like Linda Ellerbee