eres an old theme, but let me play it once more: When a black candidate is a major-party nominee, theres huge pressure on that electorate to elect that candidate, lest it be accused of racism.
I remember when Tom Bradley was the Democratic nominee for governor out in California, and when he lost, everyone said that California had proven itself racist, or at least not mature enough to elect a black man.
And, of course, Virginia was tested, everyone said, when Doug Wilder was the Dem nominee there. It passed.
Now we have Carl McCall in New York hell almost certainly beat the Cuomo kid for the nomination, despite the fact that his running-mate has been revealed to have two illegitimate children and what did we learn from E. J. Dionne, the Washington Post columnist? He wrote, Anthony Weiner, a congressman who represents parts of Queens and Brooklyn, described McCall as exactly the kind of black politician that moderate white voters have always claimed to be looking for.
I loved that always claimed to be looking for.
But then, theres a caveat to what I said above: about huge pressure on an electorate when theres a black nominee. This does not emphatically not apply when the nominee is a Republican, or any kind of conservative. When we had Bill Lucas in Michigan he was our gubernatorial nominee the press and everyone else killed him, and no one said how important or how cool it would be to elect a black governor, even though this would have made him the First Black Governor Since Reconstruction.
Thats the refrain we heard constantly when Wilder was running: Hed be the First Black Governor Since Reconstruction.
No, Michigan wasnt said to be undergoing some kind of test. It was just a Democratic nominee and a Republican nominee, nothin special and the Democrat whomped the Republican.
To see Americans as Americans, and people as people thats the dream (or even Dream, if youre in love with that MLK-ish capital letter).
About that Democratic primary in New York: Cornel West, the Harvard-Princeton philosopher/hustler/Sharpton booster, is supporting Cuomo over McCall, damning the latter as a timid brother, a hesitant brother. Thus does West come close to calling McCall a Tom. Seems to me that someone so fearless as West ought to say it outright.
And, by the way, Wests attack on McCall is almost enough to induce me to vote for him. George Pataki is a well-known liberal (or something) anyway.
Been a while since I pulled a Democratic lever. John Silber over William Weld in Massachusetts: That was fun.
Above, I used the phrase illegitimate children and I am reminded, whenever I hear that phrase, of the old rejoinder, There are no illegitimate children only illegitimate parents. Now, of course, it would be dangerous to utter the latter part of that statement.
In his article for the forthcoming NR on the Jo-burg jamboree, Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute tells a story about Julian Simon, the late and great economist.
He was at some environmental forum, and he said, How many people here believe that the earth is increasingly polluted and that our natural resources are being exhausted? Naturally, every hand shot up. He said, Is there any evidence that could dissuade you? Nothing. Again: Is there any evidence I could give you anything at all that would lead you to reconsider these assumptions? Not a stir. Simon then said, Well, excuse me, Im not dressed for church.
I love that story, for what it says about the fixity of these beliefs, immune to evidence, reason, or anything else.
It reminds me of an experience that Ive had with left-liberals about taxation. Now, you and I know that, in history, if youve cut tax rates, youve increased revenue to the government. But left-liberals, of course, dont accept that.
So Ive played a little game with them. Suppose, I say, that you were presented with irrefutable evidence that if you cut tax rates, revenue to the government would increase. They always balk, and I say, No, really. I know you think this is nonsense. But just humor me. If you knew for sure that cutting tax rates would increase revenue to the government for social programs, whatever would you do it? And they say many of them no.
Beautiful. I take this as proof positive that what theyre really interested in is punishment: taxation as punishment, for wealth-creation, innovation, enterprise, luck, and so on. They favor higher tax rates for moral reasons, if you will. They favor those tax rates as sanctions, not for the money they might bring in.
And its funny how many, when pressed, will admit it.
Would you agree with me that the best thing on public radio are Click and Clack, a.k.a. Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the Car Talk brothers? (Best thing are? But you know this is just a breezy lil web column.) I couldnt care less about car problems unless I have them but Tom and Ray are a delight to listen to, consummate entertainers, and genuinely good human beings, as far as one can tell.
So I shuddered a little when I saw that Jane Mayerd written them up for a Talk of the Town item in The New Yorker. I was right (to shudder, that is). The brothers have gone on a crusade against SUVs, hoping to rid them from society. (The SUV debate has been voluminously written about by conservatives, as well as by others; Ill skip over.) The brothers have enlisted Stonybrook Farm yogurt in this national boycott effort. Apparently, Stonybrook Farm is one of those companies like Ben & Jerrys or Benetton.
Click and Clack may wish to know that theyve already had an effect on the market (their avowed goal): From now on, its Dannons only for me.
It seems that the brothers hate bigness. One of them told Mayer, I went into a movie theater the other day and made the mistake of saying yes when the guy behind the counter said, You want the large soda? This guy gave me it have must been two gallons. . . . Two gallons of Coca-Cola! I mean, I was peeing all night!
Well, guess what, baby love? You didnt have to drink it. And you dont have to buy, or ride in, an SUV.
I wonder, for the millionth time, why it is that the only choice so many people are willing to allow is that to abort a child.
You remember that David Letterman used to have a segment called Brush with Greatness. (Maybe he still does I dont watch too much TV at that hour anymore.) (Because Im out on the town.) (Ha ha.)
Well, two days ago, Im at the golf range Manhattans only one and I come face to face with Renée Richards, the man/woman who was one of the most famous people in the country for a year or so. She was a professional tennis player who changed her sex (from man to woman). Dr. Renée Richards, she was. Im sure it was the first I had ever heard of transsexualism. One great controversy was whether shed be allowed to play on the womens tour (I believe she was).
Anyway, she was a momentous cultural figure, and she was standing right in front of me. I have one thing to say about her, and youll think this is amazingly silly, or colossally prosaic: She looked exactly like a man who had had an operation to change himself into a woman. Just as she should have looked.
I mean, if you took a time-traveler from the 1600s or 200s or 1800s or whatever and showed him Renée Richards, hed scratch his head for a minute and say, That looks just like a man who somehow had himself changed into a woman.
Now I, Master of the Obvious, will conclude this item.
A great many people wrote me about my writing about Bushs saying, I take him for his word. Where did this for his word come from, I wondered? Was it a Texasism or a W.-ism?
My respondents, as a group, didnt help much, because they are all over the map. Some said: Yes, its a Texas thing. Heard it all my life. Others said, Nope, lived in Texas all my life in the following various cities and never once heard it. Got to be a Bush thing. Others said theyd heard it in the South, or the Midwest.
I only know it from W.
While were on the subject, a Texan sent in a couple of phrases that he identified as Texasisms, or at least found in that great state: might oughtta for should (We might oughtta pick up a bottle of wine on the way to the dinner party). That reminds me a little of a cherished phrase of my mother-in-laws (a West Virginian): Heres what lets do. Similarly, I had a friend from Georgia who said, I dont hit it that far anymore. [This is golf.] I used to could hit it beyond that trap. Used to could it sings in my head.
My Texas correspondent also shares, box lunch and beer, meaning a great distance: Its a box lunch and beer from here. (Sorry to have golf on the mind, but this reminds me a little of, He lives only about a 4-iron from her.)
Well, even though W.s a politician and we know what theyre supposed to be like, uniformly (its not true) I take him for his word.
A letter from a reader:
A blurb on the back of the Dallas Morning Newss Texas Living section caught my eye on Monday. It was about an article from the AARP magazine Modern Maturity describing how young folks (aged 20-30) think certain older folks are Eldercool. The name blaring from the page? Fidel Castro.
I went to [Modern Maturitys] website to read the entire article, and found this abhorrent tripe:
And yet, a handful of vintage TV stars, well-preserved legends, hard-living music artists, and assorted has-beens, survivors, and elder statesmen seem to have gained a mysterious new cachet. Any way you look at it, its a motley crew: Cuban strongman Fidel Castro, heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, and starship captain William Shatner are members of the club (though you may have a hard time finding a young person who idolizes all three). Former president Jimmy Carter has a bit of Eldercool in him, but then so does former Batman Adam West.
. . . I find it disgusting that an entire generation of Americans think a Communist brute is anything above utterly repugnant and long overdue to plunge into the pits of hell. [Say it straight, brother.]
This same article, by the way, described Noam Chomsky as a libertarian.
Beautiful. As for Castro, this isnt as bad as CNNs featuring his office in its Cool Digs segment. Wouldnt it be nice if the network visited some of his political prisoners not so cool digs?
Another reader sent me an article by some ding-a-ling writing in San Francisco. He (the ding-a-ling, not the reader) said, At 76, Castro soldiers on, charismatic, engaging and long-winded. [Well, one for three.] No world leader has been in power longer. [Wonder why.] He is Fidel, El Comandante. For 43 years, he has bedeviled American politicians, survived nine presidents [I didnt realize he was ever up for reelection], roiled the diaspora in Miami [sent them there, actually] and ruled the people of Cuba. He is the idol of millions for bringing health care, literacy and free public education to his country [although none of these millions is in Cuba, and this propaganda about social progress is false], though he is reviled by millions for denying the same people the right of free expression.
And there you have the American leftist line, in a nutshell: that Fidel is a wonderful socialist provider everyone is materially happy and satisfied but only denies the people freedom of expression.
Its true that he denies freedom of expression but that, if I may journalist and lover of the First Amendment that I am is the least of it. Really, the least of it. Theyre not risking their lives on rafts in dangerous seas because they want to write op-ed pieces and draw satirical cartoons. Believe me.
Finally, a word from one more reader: I enjoyed this mornings column. Although it is not exactly on point, I was reminded by your teachers-union discussion of a printed sign that appears on the public elementary school in my Chicago neighborhood.
The school is being renovated. Scaffolding necessitates a sidewalk detour. The sign, bearing the Chicago Public Schools logo, reads: Chicago Public Schools: Were Sorry for the Inconvenience. I think that sums it up perfectly.
I told you recently that Implement Beck! is my all-time favorite right-wing rallying cry. Well, certain favorite indeed, totemic statistics, I keep in my head. Remember how, about a decade ago, all of us pushing for education reform recited that 43 percent of Chicago public-school teachers send their own kids to private schools? I loved that statistic, and line. They werent subjecting their own kids to the kind of education they knew better than anybody.
Wonder what the percentage is now.