Spectator’s Journal

Spectator's Journal

Tyrrell Opens the Bartley Gala of 2015

By 2.13.15

Does anyone remember that classic of left-wing thought written back in 2009, The Death of Conservatism? This extended exercise in sophistry was written by Sam Tanenhaus, and naturally it was celebrated by all the mainstream media’s walking dead: the walking dead at the money-losing New York Times, the walking dead at the money-losing Washington Post, the cadavers at the major networks, led by NBC News and its drop-dead beautiful star, Brian Williams, whose mythical helicopter crash-landed just last week. Tanenhaus’s book actually came out just months before a disconcerting event took place. That disconcerting event would be the off-year elections of 2010. You will recall that the 2010 elections were what we now call a wave election in which conservatives sprang from their sepulchers and swept in the conservative House of Representatives and 29 governorships, and many state legislatures.

Spectator's Journal

Writing for Love of Country

By 2.11.15

A week or so before the annual Robert L. Bartley dinner, which The American Spectator again will be hosting tonight in Washington, Bob Tyrrell got to a restaurant he favors a few minutes before me; it was one of the periodical sit-downs at which we bat ideas around and assess the general situation, which we find, as regular conservatives and straight-ticket Republicans, by turns hilarious and appalling. I hate late; I always assume everyone else, and with good cause, feels the same way, and — this is righteous conservative dogma — you pay for your sins. I know Bob Tyrrell pretty well, but dogma prevailed over knowledge, and I expected he’d be mad and I’d be sorry.

But Bob was genial and affable as ever as I sat down and the thought crossed my mind there were few people in his position, which is after all the position of a major force in journalism, not conservative journalism whatever that is, but journalism, American current affairs, who would not, one way or another, let an impolite sonofabitch of a writer know he is out of line for making the boss wait five minutes. Bob never was that way.

Spectator's Journal

Dad & Dylan

By 12.3.14

When Bob Dylan was bestowed with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2012 (while wearing shades), I recalled seeing him in concert in my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario in August 1992 and concluded my reminiscing in this manner:

So perhaps the time has come to see Dylan again — or perhaps not. Like a Presidential Medal of Freedom (or a Rolling Stone), some once in a lifetime experiences are best experienced once.

Well, sometimes once in a lifetime just isn’t enough. Last week, I received the following voice mail from my Dad, “Bob Dylan is playing at the Beacon Theatre. I’m going to the box office to get tickets for the both of us.” Usually when I want to go to a concert, I’m the one who has to persuade him to come along. Not this time.

Spectator's Journal

The Liberation of Paris — Three Score and Ten Years Ago

By 8.28.14

No doubt, Champagne corks were popping on the Champs Elysées this week to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris from the prolonged four-year German occupation in World War II.

Despite repeated orders from Hitler that the French capital “must not fall into the enemy’s hand except lying in complete debris” to be accomplished by bombing it and blowing up its bridges, General Dietrich von Choltitz, as commander of the German garrison and military governor of Paris, surrendered on August 25, 1944, in a simple ceremony at the Hôtel Meurice, the newly established headquarters of French General Leclerc.

The liberation of France came at a tragically steep cost: 134,000 Americans were killed, wounded, missing, or captured; casualties among the British, Canadians, and Poles totaled 91,000. In half a million sorties flown during the summer, more than 4,000 planes were lost, evenly divided between the RAF and the U.S. Army Air Force. A total of 600,000 tons of Allied bombs were dropped on occupied France, the weight of 64 Eiffel Towers, resulting in the deaths of between 50,000 and 67,000 French civilians. The campaign was expensive indeed. 

Spectator's Journal

Panama 100 Years Later

By 3.19.14

Begin with one of the most famous (to some, infamous) quotations from a generation ago: California Republican Senator S. I. Hayakawa (served 1977-83) said during the election preceding the 1977 signing of the Panama Canal Treaty, “We should keep the Panama Canal. After all, we stole it fair and square.” Yet in 1978 the senator would help shepherd the treaty through the Senate and win ratification.

Spectator's Journal

Churchill Survives Chris Matthews

By 11.11.13

Liberal commentator Chris Matthews was the emcee at the closing banquet of the annual International Churchill Conference last weekend in Washington, D.C. Citing the dedication earlier in the week of a Winston Churchill bust in the U.S. Capitol, with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders presiding, Matthews hailed Churchill as a rare unifying figure in partisan Washington. Of course, Matthews being Matthews, he still inserted a gibe against the Tea Party.

Afterwards, Matthews’ loud voice could be heard in the hotel men’s room, where a dinner participant had confronted him about his Tea Party comment. Attentive men in tuxedos circled around to hear the confrontation in front of the lavatory sinks as Matthews defended himself. So indirectly, maybe Churchill still provokes controversy.

Spectator's Journal

Ted Cruz: ‘There is Another Way’

By 11.6.13

Senator Ted Cruz addressed the audience at The American Spectator 2013 Robert L. Bartley Gala on October 23. It was Cruz’s first major speech since the government shutdown ended, and his last speech before he hit the campaign trail in Iowa:

Here are some excerpts:

“Well, we’re at the end of the evening and I will tell you I will do my very best to try and keep my remarks under 21 hours, but you will know that I am nearing the end when I pull out and begin to read The Cat in the Hat. Look, 21 hours is a long time. It’s a really long time. I mean, it’s almost as long as it takes to sign up on the Obamacare website."