I wish I had asked Ken Starr a different question when I met him a couple of years ago at the annual dinner of the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI). Starr gave the featured address, a riveting lecture on the Michael Newdow Pledge of Allegiance case, where he was part of the defense team representing the Newdow child’s mother, Sandra Benning, before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court punted, as you will recall.
Afterwards, the MFI let a bunch of us line up at a mike and ask questions. I got there third, determined to ask one I had been thinking about for a long time.
I HAD ACTUALLY MET JUDGE STARR one on one about an hour before, in the men’s room. He and I had both done the same thing: retired there a bit earlier than was polite, right in the middle of a (bad) dessert. I was doing the usual. The judge was grooming himself for his appearance onstage.
“Oh, hello, Judge Starr,” I said. “I’m Lawrence Henry of The American Spectator.”
“Hello,” he said, beaming. Given the circumstances, we did not shake hands. (Long ago, I was reminded, I had met the late Judd Rose, ABC TV news correspondent, in a restroom before a wedding. Once again, I was doing the usual. Rose was pulling off jeans and sweatshirt and changing frantically into a tux. He was the best man.)
Before I could say more, Starr said, “You’ve got a new format, don’t you? It looks good.”
I made some response about the magazine’s restored status under Bob Tyrrell, and remarked, “I guess we started your troubles inadvertently, a long time ago.”
“Ah, well,” he chuckled.
“Nice to meet you,” I said. “I’ll be looking forward to hearing you.”
“Nice to meet you, too.”
And I left.
SO I WAITED IN THE LINE, rehearsing my long-thought-out question, which was:
“Judge Starr, back during the troubles, someone said you had a ‘tin ear for politics.’ Everybody picked it up. Do you think, in fact, you have a tin ear for politics?”
Lesson here, journalists: Do not ask veteran political figures sophisticated political questions to show how clever you are and to elicit, as you hope, some breakthrough response. Practically, it will get you nothing. Even if you make an experienced politico think an unexpected thought, he will not say it in public now, without thinking it over a long time first.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?