Ah, nostalgia! Merriam-Webster online defines it as “pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.” And so it was that I experienced an acute pang of pleasant wistfulness as I watched Hillary Clinton’s hair-tossing attempts at school-girlery when trying to explain her way out of her claim that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House. Oh the memories conjured up watching a fawning press, with their puerile devotion to Barack Obama fading fast, returning to their first love; the smartest woman in the world.
The recent tragedy at the University of California, Santa Barbara has reignited debate over the fraught issues of gun control, mental health, and school safety. The loss of any life is of course tragic. Parents, community members, and policy makers are right to ask questions about how each attack might have been prevented.
But some perspective is in order. Type “mass shootings” and “common” into a search engine and you’ll get all sorts of breathless commentary that might lead one to believe there Americans face a genuine epidemic of shooting rampages. A few headlines:
Vox: “Mass shootings on campus are getting more common and more deadly.”
ThinkProgress: “Mass Shootings Are Becoming More Frequent.”
NPR: “Study: Mass Shootings Are On The Rise Across U.S.”
Washington Post: “Why are mass shootings becoming more common?”
To coin a phrase, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. has forgotten more about politics than I’ll ever know. His familiarity with great ideas and thinkers, his personal ties to some of the most important conservatives in recent history (Ronald Reagan visited his home!), and his affable writing style — not to mention that he founded the publication I write for — give me pause when considering even a modest contradiction of the man.
Perhaps RET is much more congenitally optimistic than I am about politics, but I cannot share his counseled optimism that a renewal of the “Liberal Death Wish” may cause the left to “go the way of the dinosaurs.”
It was inevitable. The president is going to Europe. He plans to “soothe European friends,” declared the New York Times. He “aims to stress U.S. commitment” to the continent, said the Washington Post.
That’s certainly what the Europeans want to hear. Former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski said: “We will have a difficult time getting through the next four or five months without very clear and very determined American leadership.” Naturally, that means “something concrete” rather than just “empty words,” explained Bohdan Szklarski of the University of Warsaw.
For most Europeans, especially in the east, action means the U.S. putting more boots on the ground. Opined Heather Conley of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “They need the physical reassurance.” Reinforcement of the eastern border is required, “and potentially we’ll have to reinforce it for a very long time.”
Yes, Estonia is quaking with fear over potential Russian aggression. Tallin devotes two percent of its GDP to defense.
Last week's bipartisan chorus’s calls for Secretary Shinseki to resign showed that members of Congress would rather give tough speeches than tackle problems that began well before the Obama administration.
Take, for example, the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Hospital in 2007 when Bush was still president. After a few people resigned and the hospital closed, the media stopped covering the story. There was a “mission accomplished’ feeling. The same will likely happen with the VA hospital scandal now that Shinseki is gone.
Shortly after Shinseki's resignation was announced, both Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and Republican Sen. Jeff Flake tweeted that it was good for Shinseki to resign and now we can fix the problems at the VA hospitals. After “can” the operative words are likely to be “but “probably won’t.” Even though Shinseki dismissed top management at the Phoenix hospital, what about the other 41 VA facilities that had fake waiting lists? If Washington history is a guide, the scandal will slowly leave the front pages — to the great relief of President Obama.
The latest instance of a federal judge striking down a state ban on “gay marriage” (a bit like striking down a ban on square circles, but set that aside for the moment) has social conservatives reeling again, with many of them wondering what happened to our culture.
Leftists in Western Europe, following the lead of Italian intellectual Antonio Gramsci, famously called for “a long march through the institutions” of Western Civilization. The left answered the call, entering and reshaping everything from popular media and the public schools to the ivory tower and the courts. Meanwhile, many conservatives, whose DNA should have them taking the long view of history and the future, have focused a disproportionate amount of their political energies no further than the next presidential election, high court decision, or bill on the Hill. We have been blindsided by a run of defeats in the federal courts because we were first outflanked.
Many years ago, in upstate New York, there was a lady who was caught in a fierce snowstorm that produced conditions called a “whiteout.” That's when the snow is falling so thick and fast that all you can see in any direction is just sheer white. This lady wandered around in the storm, struggling to try to get home, but there was no way for her to know where home was.
Eventually she collapsed in the snow and died — something like 50 feet from her home that she could not see.
All too often that image comes back to me when I see so many people in poverty wandering off in all directions, either alone or following some of the many local or national messiahs — often not very far from a way out of their poverty but, like the lady who died in the snowstorm, unable to see the way.
Karl Rove drew considerable heat when he allegedly said Hillary Clinton had sustained brain damage during a fall late in 2012 during a panel discussion last week. The GOP strategist also called Hillary’s age into question. Rove said, “My head tells me she runs, my gut tells me this is a more complicated calculation and she might not. Two weeks before the 2016 election, she’ll turn 69. If she were to serve two terms, she’d be 77.” (1)
Considering that Rove is only four years younger than Clinton, I’m not sure if he is in a position to deliver that message. However, the considerably younger RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (who is 42) concurred with Rove’s assessment during an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. Priebus stated, “I think that health and age is fair game. It was fair game for Ronald Reagan. It was fair game for John McCain.”
This past weekend I crossed off two more artists off my concert bucket list. On Friday night, my roommate Christopher Kain and I went to see Rodriguez perform at Boston’s Orpheum Theater. Twenty-four hours later, I flew solo to Scullers Jazz Club to see Ramsey Lewis.
It was unseasonably warm on January 20, 2017 when Michelle Obama approached the podium. If it was due to global warming she had no complaint. It was nice to go without a heavy coat, which would have obscured her designer dress purchased for the occasion. It made a particularly nice contrast to the dowdy outfit worn by the defeated Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton.
As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shuffled forward Obama turned her head and caught the eye of former President Bill Clinton, seated in the front row. The president-elect winked, sparking a big smile in return—in sharp contrast to the glum expression on Hillary Clinton’s downward-looking face. Outgoing President Barack Obama was too busy modeling the perfect profile for the crowd to notice, but a lucky photographer captured the moment. That picture was sure to go viral as soon as he could file.
Michelle Obama raised her right hand to take the oath of office, and thought back to that fateful May morning.