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Does unified mediocrity contribute more to domestic tranquility than fractious brilliance?
ANY CANDIDATE WHO WANTS to answer that last question should first promise to read up on the Constitutional Convention responsible for the most important of our founding documents, and the script for The Third Man. Cinephiles will remember that Orson Welles as Harry Lime intones that “In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed — but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and what did that produce? — the cuckoo clock!”
Harry is not being entirely fair, because the Swiss infantry was once the best in Europe, which is why Swiss Guards attend the pope to this day — but he makes a point that would-be presidents tend to overlook.
Moreover, the venality of Harry Lime, war profiteer, segues naturally into another series of questions about unity:
Does a president’s unifying capacity, whether real or alleged, not push him or her perilously close to that “one ring to rule them all” territory of which J.R.R. Tolkien warned us about, back in the pre-Rowling day when the wizard fraternity had only two famous members, Merlin and Gandalf?
If, as totalitarian regimes have taught us, political unity is made manifest by outside threat, does that dynamic not imply an ongoing need for a crisis around which to rally?
If unity is the fruit of shared attention to borders, language, and culture, will any candidate of either major party credit talk show host Michael Savage with having been ahead of the game?
RONALD REAGAN, ARGUABLY the greatest president of my lifetime, put a higher premium on integrity, freedom, and vision than he did on unity, which is why he was able to talk tough with Gorbachev, fire striking air traffic controllers, and kill the misnamed “Fairness Doctrine” before it strangled conservative radio in a fibrous embrace right out of Little Shop of Horrors.
You see where I’m going with this. I’d like to hear more pointed rhetoric from professional journalists. If we can’t have pointed, then thoughtful would be a welcome respite from the usual round of “softball with Caesar” right after the AccuWeather forecast and the announcement of winning lottery numbers.
Sadly, people like John “Mr. Contrarian” Stossel and Mika “Paris Hilton is not my lead story” Brzezinski have long been outnumbered by cheerleaders, stenographers, and moonlighting publicists who insist on educating the rest of us through their oft-expressed desire to “make a difference.” Here’s a slogan they seem to have forgotten, even though it’s less obscure than “Frodo Lives!” and pithier than “War is not healthy for children and other living things”: Question authority.
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?