o, Bill Clinton has told a Jewish audience that, if Israel were invaded, hed get into a ditch and fight and die. Isnt that nice? Clinton always had a knack for telling an audience any audience exactly what it wanted to hear. Remember when he told those rich donors that he thought hed raised their taxes too much? Then had to take it back? The other day, you got the feeling hed tell an Iraqi audience, You know, if Israel invaded Iraq, Id . . .
Mrs. C.s no different, of course. As Ive commented before, too bad she chose to run for office in New York, and had to change her life-long views on the Arab-Israeli conflict. If only she had run for, say, mayor of Dearborn, Mich., she could have stayed true.
You know, we right-wingers are terrible about the State Department. Ive always felt a little guilty about that. At least since McCarthy days, weve looked with suspicion on the striped pants, the State Department bureaucrats with jello for marrow, and leftism in their heads. Alger Hiss was only the beginning of it. Of course, weve had some liberal Democratic company, too: FDR, bless him, thought the State Department a nest of appeasers, as a friend of mine recently put it.
But then, something comes along many things come along that make you think, Hmm: Maybe we wing-nuts arent so paranoid about State after all.
And this is what I think about E-mail-gate, or whatever we should call it. Colin Powell has had to tell the striped pants to knock it off. In their e-mail, the bureaucrats have been blasting President Bushs foreign policy, grousing about as it happens McCarthyism and witch-hunts and so on. (Theyre referring to our efforts to thwart terrorism, and to keep terrorists from killing thousands more of us.) One State Department employee one Columbia A. Barrosse said that the White House would probably appoint a neo-Nazi to replace ex-assistant secretary of state Mary Ryan, the one whom NRs own Joel Mowbray outed as a kind of visa Santa Claus for Saudis.
Yes, thats just what George W. Bush would do, isnt it? Appoint a neo-Nazi.
The State Department: Just when you think youre being a little fringy . . .
Im interested in the new deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia. That is, Im interested in his name: Richard P. Lawless. He was on the National Security Council staff under Reagan and used to work for the CIA.
But does he have to be named Lawless?
Turkey has abolished the death penalty, not because it opposes the death penalty, but because it wants EU membership more. The EU will not permit any nation that has the death penalty to join. Nice to know that this new European monolith has its priorities straight.
Like many people, I have long been ambivalent about the death penalty. But nothing makes me hotter than certain death-penalty opponents in fact, most of them. I remember long ago, now when West Germany refused to extradite two Jordanian terrorists (I believe) to us terrorists who had murdered Americans in cold blood on grounds that we had capital punishment. Germany! The thought of it!
Id better stop now, fore I blow.
Oh, sure, theyre sensitive to death even for mass murderers, after an exhaustive legal process now.
But I said Id stop.
In the words of the AP, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez on Friday fired a staff member who put out a casting call specifying the racial mix of actors sought for campaign commercials. This was in Texas. A want ad posted by John R. Wright through the STAGE Web site said the campaign was looking for blacks for background roles in a TV commercial featuring Sanchez, and a mix of people, with emphasis on Caucasian, for speaking parts in other spots.
A Sanchez spokesman says, What we had was an overzealous employee who has been dismissed from the campaign.
So, so unfair: The Democratic party has made such racial particularity and obsessiveness its watchword for years and the guy gets canned for doing what comes naturally? Its bad enough for a party to have obnoxious principles; but to be hypocritical about them is even worse.
How do you feel when ancient Nazis 85-year-olds, 90-year-olds get caught somewhere, like Uruguay, and hauled into court and thrown in jail? I dont feel bad.
Neither do I feel bad about the conviction in Miami of Mr. Eriberto Mederos, a 79-year-old former psychiatric nurse in Cuba. He stood accused of torturing political prisoners in a hospital. Actually, he stood accused of lying about his past, in order to gain U.S. citizenship, which he did in 1993. As one account of the trial had it, prosecutor Frank Tamen called Mederos an evil servant of Communist tyranny who took sadistic pleasure in sending terrified inmates into convulsions three times a week from 1968 to 1978.
The law has now reached him.
The other day, NR senior editor David Pryce-Jones, spending time in Italy, remarked that the government of Silvio Berlusconi has succeeded in abolishing the estate tax, known here, by us partisan Republicans, as the death tax. Interesting that Italy should have done it a country thought to be far more socialist and leveling than we. Of course, Prime Minister Berlusconi must have had his own (vast) fortune in mind and yet the people went along, seeing his reasoning, unresentful, comprehending that such a penalty is crazed.
That Italy should be ahead of Tom Daschle . . . but then, prairie socialism may be more tenacious than Italian socialism.
Feeling sorry for yourself? I have a cure. Be glad youre not the person who wrote the New York Times Book Reviews Close Reader column on July 14. Check out this whale of a correction, from yesterday:
Jiminy Cricket! As I said, be glad.
Staying with the Times Book Review, the papers Boston bureau chief, Pam Belluck, had a review of Robert Reichs new book, Ill Be Short. (Nice that hes self-deprecating, but then you read him, and all the charm goes away.) In it, Ms. Belluck describes the book as an unabashedly passionate call for America to quit making the poor poorer as the rich get richer.
This she entirely accepts shes not merely repeating Reichs view. We, America, are making the poor poorer. Im not surprised that a top Timesman holds this view just a little startled at her openness.
She also refers to present America as post-Sept. 11, post-Enron society. That little phrase says a lot, doesnt it? Have you thought of post-9/11 America as post-Enron post-Enron America too?
Maybe Im slow.
Let me now hail the Times for an enthralling article, about an enthralling man the Canadian writer Neil Bissoondath, who is a nephew of V. S. Naipaul. He has his uncles spirit and mind no racialist whining for him, only a huge appreciation of the benefits of the free West, and an awareness of what imperils it, or spoils it. This is a man to warm the cockles of Ward Connerlys heart, and mine.
I should quote extensively from it: but here it is.
I knew for certain that Impromptus-ites would like this little item, culled from the New York Post:
66th. 1st. Cool.
Well, theres no doubt about who gets Hombre of the Week. (Do we have that category?) That is David Parker, a 62-year-old man in British Columbia who, as Reuters tells it, is recovering from serious injuries . . . after he managed to use a pocketknife to fight off a vicious attack by a cougar on a remote road on northern Vancouver Island. Attacked in the head, . . . Parker was able to pull out his small folding knife and kill the cat during the incident on Thursday evening. He then walked more than half a mile to get help from workers at a log-sorting facility.
A mountie in Port Alice said, The will to live was definitely in this person. A friend of Parkers said, Its very seldom that a person is a winner in a cougar attack. Usually its the cougar, so its quite something for Dave to do something like this all by himself, with a small knife.
Yes, an hombre.
I was attracted by an article on the Internet titled Worlds Best Job. What could that be? And do I have it?
It appears not. In Reuters words, One of Britains most exclusive grocery stores needs a new chocolate taster and will pay 35,000 pounds ($54,400) a year to the successful candidate. Fortnum & Mason in Londons Piccadilly one of the capitals most prestigious addresses is looking for a chocolate buyer to travel the world, taste as much chocolate as possible and select only the best for its discerning customers.
Indeed, Fortnum advertised the position in the Daily Telegraph as the best job in the world.
What can one say?
Its getting late Im going a little long but do you care for a little language? Oh, hang on: Before language, I wanted to give you this little snippet from the New York Times the lead of one of its front-page stories, about South Africa:
It is a breezy Friday afternoon and the prosperous men are swinging irons on the 18-hole golf course. Joe Mathebula, who is close to clinching a $50 million mining deal, swivels and swings and his nearly perfect shot whistles through the thorn trees as his colleagues hoot and his caddie scrambles.
Hang on a sec: a nearly perfect shot whistling through thorn trees, as colleagues hoot and the caddie scrambles?
Perhaps Im not picturing it right.
Okay, the language. Im afraid that people are treating reticence as a synonym for reluctance, and it should not be. There ought to be a distinction between the words: reticence is silence, a reluctance to speak, and reluctance is . . . well, reluctance.
In the New York Times review of Dana Carveys new movie, we read, Mr. Carvey wasnt always so reticent to be provocative.
Its bad enough that Howell Raines has Nationized the newspaper, without this.
Another article had, And as far as the amount of time her father actually spent living with the Bushmen, said Ms. Crichton Miller . . . Im afraid we have to tuck an is concerned or goes after Bushmen, to complete the as far as . . . phrase.
Hey, I dont write the rules, just comment on them, as well as break or bend them once in a while.
Just one letter? Short? Okay.
Your anecdote, As many of my friends and readers know, I had a wonderful moment several years ago when my cousins wife whom I had only recent met said to me, You know, Jay, Ive never met a Republican who was a decent human being, reminded me that I met a girl in 1995 who said to me, a Republican, You know, I dont think I could ever date a Republican. We got married this year. I convinced her to vote for Bob Dole in 1996 (she said when she made up her mind, I have to believe that the president is a good man). She voted for George W. Bush on her own.
Okay, one more short. Weve been talking a lot about hissing:
As a law student at the University of Iowa (Iowa City is an Ann Arbor wannabe) in the late 70s, one of the lefty law professors would refer to the now-chief justice as Rehnquissssst.
Lovely and exactly the kind of educational environment I experienced.
Ah, well: Kwitcherbitchin, right?
(The missus and I once spotted that on a bumper in a parking lot at Cracker Barrel, as we were traveling through Virginia: Kwitcherbitchin. A guide to life, for sure.)