June 18, 2013 | 102 comments
June 13, 2013 | 54 comments
June 11, 2013 | 215 comments
June 6, 2013 | 91 comments
June 4, 2013 | 55 comments
Tom Wicker’s Christmas rage at Reagan over a private dam and public dollars.
Requiem: Hymn or dirge for repose of the
— Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
Tom Wicker was upset.
The longtime New York Times political reporter turned columnist, an icon of liberal journalism in the day, was furious with President Ronald Reagan and his conservative administration. So he sat himself down during the Christmas season and penned a column titled “Requiem at Christmas.”
That would be requiem, as in a hymn for the dead.
The subject of Wicker’s fury is worth a look this Christmas, twenty-five years later. His tirade was delivered as Reagan and the conservative movement were riding a wave of public popularity just a year after Reagan’s 49-state re-election over former Vice President Walter Mondale.
Why is this important enough to take another look? Because this tale of a supposed political Scrooge and the Christmas Past of 1985 provides a glimpse of Christmas Future for conservatives in 2011.
Wicker, you see, was waxing eloquent about a pond at his rural retreat in historic Rappahannock County, Virginia. There, some twenty years earlier during the height of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the columnist built his pond on his own property. Perhaps understandably for a man who had spent his life as a liberal wordsmith, Wicker saw this moment of pond-building as “perhaps the single most constructive act of my life.”
He also paid for the construction of the pond himself. Good man. A liberal who believes in private sector job creation.
But wait! Paid for it all himself? Then why in the world was Tom Wicker so furious at Ronald Reagan and conservatives?
What was this business of a “Requiem at Christmas”?
Well, there was actually more than a pond involved, you see. First, the government of the Commonwealth of Virginia arrived to stock Wicker’s pond “with large mouth bass, bluegills and channel catfish,” the latter, Mr. Wicker assures us, “to establish a natural cycle” in his new private pond. But there was something else. There was also a dam. And instead of hiring a private sector contractor to design his dam, Mr. Wicker went somewhere else. Guesses, anyone?
That’s right. Instead of pumping his New York Times earnings into this task, Mr. Wicker turned to — you. You as in the taxpayers funding the federal government of the United States circa 1965. Specifically, in Wicker’s words, he turned to “Eddie Woods, the district agent for the Federal Soil Conservation Service, (who) designed the dam so well that the water eventually rose precisely to the little red flags he had set out to predict the shoreline of what he called a ‘water impoundment.’”
Said Wicker as his fury rose to what might be called the liberal anger impoundment shoreline of the Times print pond: “That’s only an infinitesimal incident in the annals of one of the Federal services dedicated to the American earth and to those who work and cherish it.” Indeed, indeed. “Infinitesimal” is precisely the word for whatever federal tax dollars were spent on his pond. Then, without missing a beat or evidencing a solitary thread of irony, Wicker moves his readers from the pond-designing Federal Soil Conservation Service to another agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture: the Agricultural Extension Service.
There, he fingers Scrooge. Otherwise known as President Ronald Reagan.
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?