Reader Mail

The Joys of Republicanism

Jews, the GOP, and the Democrats: How dirty was Harry Truman? Earlier first ladies anticipate Laura. Whose party crisis? Plus much more.

5.9.05

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POLITICAL TABLES
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Love is Blind, Deaf, and Dumb:

Wow! Jackie and Raoul really let us Jews have it -- to the point where it the article reads more like a caricature than the real thing. However, have the two of them take heart, there are lots of Jewish Republicans, just take a look at this super website.
-- Lana Fayman
San Diego, California

I think it worth mentioning that Messrs. Felder & Mason omitted two very substantial reasons for Jews being loyal to the Democratic Party, aside from some of the shopworn arguments they offered. Reasons which are directly relevant to today's Republican Party. Specifically the quality and quantity of its outreach.

When Jews first came here, like all other minorities, it was the Democrat ward healers that gave them a place at a political table. Not a meaningful place mind you, but a place in exchange for votes at election time. What, if I may ask, did the Republicans offer the Jews? Trading illusory favors they had no right to bestow, the Democrats got the Jewish votes. Starting low and slow, Jews have steadily climbed the ladder to political power in the ensuing five decades. Coming from Europe where Jews more often than not had no votes at all, no rights, no power, and no prospects for any of the above, not to mention human survival. To them, the Democrat's pathetic largess must have seemed like manna incarnate. I hasten to remind that many of that generation are still alive today, and in possession of excellent memories. Having fought their way to the apex of the Democrat hierarchy, why on earth would Jews be interested in swapping that position for lower seniority rungs of Republican power?

It also needs to be pointed out that the majority of Jews arrived more recently than most other minorities who have undergone conversion to Republican supporters. Like the Irish, English, Germans etc. The definition of a Republican as a Democrat that has been mugged, is only true over time. A long time. Republicans need to recognize that an effort to bring the Jewish voter into our tent will take time and much patience. Anger and resentment will not work.

If the Republicans keep giving bupkes to immigrants, that's what we will keep getting from incoming minorities. I'm sure that if the Republican Party could produce an iota of evidence that we welcomed the Jews more, or shunned them less than the ugliness of the Democrats as alleged by Felder & Mason, it would have received much attention by now. But I fear we can't, and that's the bottom line.

I sympathize with the frustration of Felder and Mason, as well as the dangers to Israel. But fully understanding the history, especially as it concerns what the Republican Party did and did not do is important. Democrat big wigs may have behaved like disgraceful pigs, but what did we do to counteract or capitalize on that? I enjoyed and largely agreed with their gripefest, but Mason and Felder could have offered some constructive ideas as well as a little more balance in their chronicle of the how and why. On the brighter side, world events and the increasingly dishonorable radicalism of the leftward tilting Democrats may well accomplish for us what our Party neglected for so long. Let us all hope it will not require the loss of too many human lives.
-- Christopher Keefe (print subscriber)
Riviera Beach, Florida

Your authors' generalization about the double-edged Jewish fixation on the Democratic Party and hostility towards the Republican Party stands up well as a generalization. I hope they don't imagine that they discovered it. It is in every book of political enquiry on the shelf.

But the savage, mindless, diatribe against the most decent President of the twentieth century is off the wall.

As one who has researched thoroughly the record -- not the gossip, but the record -- of the Truman-Jacobson connection I am appalled by this slanderous caricature. Only someone who has read nothing of the record of the wall-to-wall contempt for Zionism within the whole Foreign Policy establishment -- including the principal Cabinet Offices responsible -- could display such total ignorance of the significance of Truman's heroic efforts on behalf of the Jews of the world. Harry Truman's devotion to the Jewish people in their hour of greatest need followed from humane instincts nourished in his childhood in his father's home and in his Sunday School.

"It is a historical fact," say your authorities, "that Truman never invited his partner to his home." The historic fact is that Harry Truman didn't have a home until after he left the Presidency. Through all the years of his friendship with Harry Jacobson, he lived in the home of his mother-in-law, who set the terms for admission through the front or back doors. Every standup comic that ever was knows that you don't denounce a man for the vices of his mother-in-law.

They say: "He [Harry] never even asked him [Eddie] if he was happy or healthy... etc." Comedians don't do their own research, as we know. But our scholars could not so much as glanced into the large box of Truman-Jacobson correspondence, covering about thirty years and which is on deposit at his Presidential Library. Every page illustrates a frank, affectionate, tone; every letter ends with enquiry into the health of wife, mother, daughter, etc.

Where do they get this stuff about "the vulgarity of the language with which Truman reacted to Eddie Jacobson's pleas for the recognition of Israel [which] would add up to enough filthy words to produce five pornographic movies?" Where is any of this written? I have read every word of the record, and I defy my learned friends to give me the box and file number. Truman never uttered a pornographic word in his life. In all of Truman's published correspondence the researchers, trying as hard as they can, have found only a couple of offhand lines reflecting a weakness for racial stereotypes that drifted around rural Missouri at the turn of the century. He regretted these remarks the moment they were out of his mouth.

And who is Jackie Mason, of all people on earth, to impugn anybody, living or dead, for an occasional, offhand, racial slur?
-- Paul Merkley
(author of three scholarly books on Christian attitudes towards Zionism, the Jews and Israel, of which the most recent is American Presidents, Religion And Israel (Praeger, 2004)

Depend on it: The Democratic Party will forsake the Jews and Israel as soon as American Muslims contribute more votes and money than do American Jews. Then, only the Republican Party will stand between Israel and the engulfing sea of Muslims.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

LADIES SING THE BLUES
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's Milking the Horse and the letters in Reader Mail's How Funny Was She? , Lightened Up, and (under "Laura One Last Time" ) Up to Speed:

I'm one American conservative who's a little irked with the criticism aimed at our venerable First Lady, Laura Bush. This is precisely the prissy-lipped, hand-wringing tut-tutting that gives conservatives their party-pooper image. How are we ever going to capture the cultural fancy of greater America when we can't even laugh at a good, earthy joke? To hear the criticisms of Laura Bush, you'd think she was the first First Lady to tell a traveling salesman joke.

But of course she isn't.

The tradition of First Ladies regaling audiences with salty humor dates back to, well, the first First Lady Herself, Martha Washington. Consider this zinger she issued at the banquet celebrating her husband's second inaugural.

"There's a reason everyone is calling George the Father of his country. He can uphold your Constitution. And there's a reason we don't have any children. He can't hold up his own constitution!"

Edith Roosevelt wowed the crowd at the Bull Moose Party Convention with this insight on Teddy. "The only thing that surprised me when Teddy mounted San Juan Hill was that it took him almost fifteen minutes. In my experience, he's usually finished mounting in about two minutes."

Helen Taft, wife of President Taft and friend of Edith Roosevelt, shared this belly-buster with the press in 1909. "When James ordered a bathtub big enough for two, I thought, oh boy! We filled it with hot water and he squeezed in, and suddenly there wasn't room for anyone else, not even me. I went to my room and spent the next hour reading Anais Nin."

As you can see, the elegant, gracefully and publicly told bit of blue humor has a long tradition with First Ladies.

Next Issue: Hillary's top 20 bedroom jokes about Bill.
-- Happy Feder
Ashland, Oregon

STAND UP
Re: Michael Van Winkle's Whose Crisis Is This Anyway?:

Mr. Van Winkle makes some excellent points regarding the incompatibility between "Conservatives of Faith" and "Conservatives of Doubt." However, as is typical of politicians and pundits now days, he misses the salient point of this debate, one I hear made over and over again by Americans of all stripes: why are we still talking about gay marriage, abortion and the "culture of life"? Most Americans are concerned with our massive deficits, tax reform, Social Security solvency, WOT, jobs, the economy, health care, education and the massive spending increases under Bush and the Republican Congress. However, the politicians and special interest groups (read the religious right) are concerned with one Florida woman in PVS for 15 years, a SCOTUS decision from 1973, and the possibility of a couple of thousand gay people who might get married (even though they are completely unconcerned about the 50% divorce rate and rampant adultery which is what is really destroying marriage). Oh, and 10 judges that are being filibustered. When are our elected officials going to deal with the mundane, yet important issues that are critical to this country and leave the social issues and the political pissing contests alone? The real crisis among conservatives is whether to deal with emotional, well funded special interest issues or boring, important ones that will impact generations of Americans.
-- Ben Berry
Washington, D.C.

While you make cogent points, there is another glaring problem facing the GOP. For a time, many of us believed the party to be a more adult, realistic, truthful and effectual alternative to what is really the Democratic Socialist Party of America. But the fact of the post-Reagan era is the sad perception that politics is not a calling directed toward some higher and nobler course of state. It is simply a business, a career alternative offering some very luxurious perks. Today, participation in government, especially representative government, is like gaining a seat on some kind of exalted Futures Market, where the commodities traded are money and power. In this context, one really does not like to compromise one's essential working relationships with one's peers, regardless of their ideology; and in fact, ideology can become a hindrance to one's staying in office and doing business. Thus the GOP has become adept at hand-wringing, and utterance of stock-phrases such as "oh golly gee whiz" when faced with serious national and cultural issues. Oh, they can get on TV and rant over Terri Schiavo (who?) in order to get some face time while looking like nice guys. But when it comes to issues like the Necessary Rebuilding of our Military, True Intelligence Reform, Realistic Dealings with the UN, Energy Independence, Border Security, Social Security, True Education Reform, Tax Reform, Restraining the Headlong Growth and Cost of Government, etc. etc. the GOP can be found in the cloak room exchanging French Wine Lists with the Ted Kennedy's while making golf dates with the Joe Bidens. Cosi fan tutti. So one must consider this additional problem, perhaps the greatest one the GOP now is facing: People like me voted for George W. Bush only because there was no alternative last year. With his escalating absence of leadership of a party which itself is dedicated only to its own office-holding while making as few waves as possible, people like me now have nowhere to go.
-- Gene Wright
Laguna Niguel, California

The author states that Republicans are now involved in things they used to think the government should not be involved in.

The question must be asked who bought those things before the government? Not the Republicans. Most, not all, and a handful of Democrats are defending the decency our country always stood for. There are certain issues that may not be compromised. Life, and the protection of traditional marriage. Embryonic stem cell research will never work. A scientist has pointed out that embryonic stem cells promote growth and development while adult cells promote health and healing.

The crisis as I see it is that the Republicans, even after ten years, do not seem to know that they are in charge. Hence you have stupid things happen like deposing Senator Lott. That was disgraceful. Democrats have done far worse by giving at times aid and comfort to the enemy, with no consequences.

If the Republicans don't wake up and stand up on their hind legs and let those extreme liberal Republicans as well as Democrats know who is charge these bad guys, yes I said bad guys, will be back in power. After all if they can control what judges we get, and who we send to the U.N. they are already in charge.
-- Patricia Tobin Kennedy
Poughkeepsie, New York

The problem for the Democrats is that the more vulnerable Americans feel, the more likely they are to turn to religion. All Demo actions now foster the feeling of vulnerability and malign the religious, so it seems Democrats have no desire to win.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

YOU LAWLESS LEFT-LANERS
Re: Eric Peters's Passing Fancy and "Move Over" letters in Reader Mail's Up to Speed:

I can't tell you how annoying I find articles such as Eric Peters' recent "Passing Fancy" to be. His article makes some sensible points, such as that people should only be using passing lanes to pass other vehicles and should not remain in those lanes and obstruct faster-moving traffic. What annoys me, though, is the underlying assumption of the piece which seems to be that people who continually violate speed limits and drive everywhere at the fastest possible speed somehow have more rights to the road than other people. The unstated but implied message seems to be that people are somehow entitled to break the law and drive around as fast as they like, and other people who do drive legally are only permitted to get out of their way. Mr. Peters also seems to feel that if a person feels that a law isn't "sensible," as he feels that our speed limits aren't, he is free to violate the law with impunity, and that, again, everyone else should just meekly get out of his way. And don't dare "bleat" that you are following the law and driving legally, as you will then be in "self-righteous high dudgeon." We are assured by Mr. Peters that people who drive too fast are really driving safely, and that people who drive a bit more slowly "cause" speeding drivers to "angrily jockey" for "position," and to make an attempt to pass on the right, thus being the "cause" for unsafe conditions. Perhaps instead of doing all that "jockeying" and flying angrily around other people, these people could just SLOW DOWN, if only for a moment or two! The Autobahns of Germany are cited as most excellent examples of speed-limitless driving, which in some mysterious way is supposed to be better or even safer than driving within speed limits. I can never quite figure out how such high speeds are supposed to be safer, especially in the event of an accident or other circumstance (which must happen once in a blue moon, even in Germany) in which traffic might be forced to abruptly slow down or stop. Even if the assertion that higher speeds are somehow safer really is the case, (and I have serious doubts about that) I would only like to "bleat" that people who don't feel the need to set a land speed record on each and every driving excursion and who do actually attempt to drive within waving distance of the legal speed limit are also entitled to be on the roads, and are even permitted to move into the left lanes occasionally to pass trucks or other slower-moving vehicles without having their lives imperiled by all the "safe" speeding drivers who feel entitled to fly down the roads and threaten to flatten anyone or anything that they perceive to be in their way.

The letters of support for Mr. Peters subsequently printed in your reader mail merely confirm my theory that what all these "safe" speeding drivers really want is the freedom to fly around everywhere at the highest possible speed and for everywhere else in the world to just get out of their way. Again, I doubt this is really the safest use of our highways. Thank you.
-- Sheryl DeMille

Slow drivers are supposed to drive in the right lane. Well, isn't that special. If the speed limit is 65 MPH, and the "slow" driver in the right lane is going 65 MPH, then there is no reason to pass him, now, is there? If the speed limit is 65 MPH, the fastest that I am supposed to proceed down the highway is er.. um.. 65 MPH, that means if someone is in the left lane, the fastest that he can be driving is... (bah rump bump on the drums here) 65 MPH! Passing is for moving around someone proceeding SLOWER than the posted speed limit.

The same goes for any speed limit. I am willing to place some money on the proposition that those who complain about "left lane" hogs are generally those people for whom the speed limit is a mere suggestion to be ignored as their superior driving skills, and obvious life priority are much greater than those of us willing to proceed at the posted speed limit. Of course our right to stay safely out of the merging traffic lanes is a serious inconvenience and must be thwarted by traffic regulations that demand that the law abiding keep to the right and allow the scofflaws to roar past unimpeded.

The truth is that the right lane is dangerous. It is crowded with slow moving traffic, lumbering trucks, debris, cars decelerating to leave the highway and accelerating to enter it. The left lanes should be reserved for through traffic. The right lanes should be reserved for those vehicles of differing speeds and travel conditions.

If you are going 55 in a 65 zone, then stay to the right. If you want to break the law by speeding and are impeded by a person abiding by the legal limits, then tough luck. Maybe you should back off and quit driving like a maniac. We definitely could use fewer of those on the highways, that's for sure.
-- John W. Schneider, III
Bristow, Virginia

Like most of your commenters, I resent the folks who camp out in the left lane and proceed to fall asleep there. I think it was Dave Berry who first argued that drivers of demonstrated maturity should be licensed for the use of low-yield nuclear devices to handle these situations.

However, I do want to point out that, at least in Virginia where I live, the commonwealth is doing all it can to encourage driving in the left lane. Virtually all turns in the Washington, D.C. metro area are made from the left lane. Route 95 in Maryland has its rest stops in center of the roadway forcing drivers to leave the interstate by the left lane. Divided highways like the Fairfax County Parkway have all turning lanes to the left. Drivers, knowing they are going to have to get in the left lane eventually, simply fall into the habit of going there as early as possible and ignoring everyone behind them.

The much maligned state of New Jersey has virtually all of its turns from the right lane, and lane discipline is much better in the Garden State as a result, even if driving there is regarded as a martial art.
-- William L. Roughton, Jr.
Wall, New Jersey

NORTH OF ALASKA
Re: Peter Hannaford's Cosmic Dustbin:

Peter Hannaford's recent article on Darwinism in the schools, favoring the inclusion of "intelligent design" (ID) theses, ends with the killer: "If the Universe was created from a Big Bang of accumulated cosmic dust, where did the ... dust come from? Who put it there?"

This is reminiscent of a well-known debate on General Relativity, conducted at Cambridge University in the early 1930s, that pitted humanist philosophical types -- the "Wyckhamist Greats" -- against Arthur Eddington, the mathematical physicist (and sometime mystic) who verified Einstein's theses by observation of a solar eclipse in 1919. A spokesman for the Greats, of deep philosophical learning but otherwise scandalously ignorant, asked Eddington a propos of Einstein and Hubble, "If the Universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?"

Of course, it is not "expanding into" anything; by definition, the Universe is not "embedded" in some larger construct. Disputing such a concept means only that you have failed to register the equations of General Relativity. And so too for Hannaford's over-assertive query: Who says the Universe "was created"? What do you mean, the dust "came from somewhere," "put there" by "someone"? This embarrassment is not even logically, never mind "scientifically," coherent. Standing at the North Pole, why not ask what's north of it on Earth's surface? Peter, my Wyckhamist friend, we suggest you read some elementary physics, beginning with thermodynamics.

As for Darwin, from the late 1980s there has been an upsurge of interest in Prigogine's studies of "emergent order" that basically puts statistical principles of growth-and-change in contexts amenable to biology's "neg-entropic" processes. (Ilya Prigogine, you may recall, became a Nobel Laureate for this work.) The real question is, why do ID advocates never do their homework? After nigh 150 years, one would think the level of discourse might have improved beyond querulous self-assertion... "Cosmic dust" that pre-dates the Big Bang, that's north of the North Pole -- now, really! What, no energy equivalence, no super-symmetry, no zero-point Planck fluctuations after Heisenberg? Get a grip, PH! We could quote Eddington on such cases, but Sir Arthur really was not kind.
-- unsigned

BILL SPEARS
Re: Paul Beston's Ilario Pantano, Patriot and the first letter under "Hardly the Hero" in Reader Mail's Lightened Up:

The letter from the Marine Corps lawyer comparing Lieutenant Ilario Pantano with Lieutenant Bill Spears in Band of Brothers made one colossal mistake. Band of Brothers, both the book and the TV series made it clear that Bill Spears was only alleged to have shot a bunch of German prisoners in Normandy -- nobody ever said that they actually saw him do it, although there were many men in the company who claimed that they knew somebody who had seen it. It was nothing but latrine gossip, from beginning to end. Bill Spears was also alleged to have shot one of his own men who was drunk while on sentry duty at night, but nobody ever claimed to have seen that themselves either. Bill Spears was never charged with an offense, let alone convicted of one (and murdering one of your own men is one hell of an offence, in anybody's book), because the simply fact was that there was no evidence against him -- scuttlebutt is not evidence, as any half baked, barrack room lawyer knows. If military lawyers are comparing Ilario Pantano with Lieutenant Bill Spears and confusing facts with mere gossip then it is easy to work out where the problem lies, and it sure isn't with Lieutenant Pantano by the sounds of things.
-- Christopher H.

If Pantano is found guilty, America will be dead one year later. If this young warrior is sentenced to die for this ridiculous charge then America is truly finished. Who will Congress get to fight her wars then, more little private Englands who stand all of 5 feet tall and weigh roughly 100 pounds? You think it is tough being a recruiter, now wait until America starts refusing to send her sons and daughters off to war. What will you do then, Mr. Bush? I have three teen sons and after this court martial is finished I know none of my sons are going anywhere. More and more vets are saying the same thing and will not allow their sons to serve if it means their own government could kill them for what amounts to doing their duty. Just whose side is the Pentagon on anyway?
-- unsigned

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