We really are pretty far gone.
Here I am in Houston. I flew here on a Continental flight last night. It was an absolutely perfect flight. There was even great food — yummy mushroom soup and a cheeseburger. I have never had a well-prepared cheeseburger on an airplane before, but this one was darned good. I sat next to someone I have completely forgotten, so he must have been fine. The people in front of me hardly put their seats back at all, the usual curse of my existence on an airplane, and I arrived in Houston feeling happy.
At the gate was a young man named Gary who had been sent to make sure I didn’t get lost. He was a high school physics and chemistry teacher and quite realistic about the crisis in American education. He teaches at a school that is almost all African American and Hispanic.
He told me the kids have such chaotic home lives, live in such turmoil, and are often so drugged they can barely think straight. Their classrooms are unruly and undisciplined and far too many of them arrive in school exhausted and chemically loaded.
Nevertheless, said he, occasionally one comes out with quite a smart answer to a chemistry question. He was a kind, caring guy, and I was impressed that he was earning a few extra dollars working as a greeter at the airport.
We were picked up by a driver in an electric cart who took us through the airport at a breakneck pace. He kept calling out, “Cart coming through” and then he would say “move left” or “move right” and the passengers on the concourse did just as he said. He had an amazingly authoritative voice. Commanding, but not insolent or rude.
Gary noticed it, too. It was one of the most unusual voices I have ever heard. A perfect voice for a field marshal.
(“Croyez-vous la parole d’un Rosenthal ou d’un Marechal?” asks Erich von Stroheim of a French aristocrat who is a POW in a WWI German prison camp along with a wealthy Jewish fellow named Rosenthal.
The aristocrat says something like, “Ca vaut la même de la mienne,” which means, “It’s as good as mine.” I know I have the French wrong. Maybe some kind reader will correct me.)
However, the voice was at Houston George H. W. Bush airport, not in Europe on a battlefield.
A capable driver whisked me to the J. W. Marriott Hotel in downtown Houston where my pals Joe and Ray Lucia were waiting for me. We went off to a restaurant called Del Frisco. We had a fairly good meal. I noted with great pleasure that the clientele at this very expensive restaurant was extremely racially mixed. Everyone was getting along with everyone else and it was swell.
When I was a child growing up in Maryland and D.C., it was unheard of to see African American customers at high-end restaurants. Come to think of it, it was in New York, too. It makes me happy indeed that blacks and whites enjoy the restaurants together and all in a great mood. This is amazing progress that never gets talked about.
Then back to my room to ruminate on the economy. I am speaking about it in the morning. I had to navigate through an immense crowd of Syrian Maronite Christians, who are a presence in Houston. They had been having a big party at the hotel. They were well dressed and pleasant, and why not? Finally, I got to my room and started writing. I find I think better as I am writing.
A few thoughts on the economy:
1. The recession was caused by human error, by the banks, by the borrowers, by the Fed, by the Treasury. Despite overwhelming evidence that you must never let a large bank fail in a crisis, Bernanke and Paulson let Lehman fail. This was as big a mistake as has ever been made in finance. There are still a lot of confused humans out there in positions of high power.
2. The recovery was swift in the finance sector, and TARP was a great piece of work. Credit where it’s due, to Paulson and Bernanke, who thought it up and put it into play. I am well aware that many of the same people with whom I share beliefs about the sanctity of life and about Mr. Obama’s contempt for the Constitution loathed TARP. But I am not running for office and, with great respect to those fine people, TARP was an immense success. It stabilized the whole financial system at trivial cost to the taxpayers.
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?
H/T to National Review Online