Fallen From Grace - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Fallen From Grace
by

UP AGAINST A WALL
Re: W. James Antle III’s Final Countdown:

About McCain’s survival:

The Republican nomination can be had for the asking, by McCain, Giuliani, Romney or any other telegenic soul ready to keep a promise to (1) build a fence along the southern border of the United States, and (2) take all measures necessary to halt the flow of aliens entering the states from the south, and (3) systematically identify and deport all aliens in the U.S. illegally. Make that the foundation of a campaign; much can be built on it; nothing can be built without it.

The general election can be won by any semi-skilled politician willing to attach to any federal legislation an amendment making it a felony to enter the U.S. illegally. Add a passage that allows the border patrol or the National Guard to shoot back when fired upon, and the general election would be mostly formality.

Libertarians and Reagan Democrats are deserting Bush because his promise to mount a steadfast national defense rang false when it became apparent he does not want to secure the southern border. Many wonder why he demanded the abridgment of various civil liberties if he doesn’t want to curtail movement into this nation by all the flotsam coming up the trail from Mexico. Why, for example, turn license to drive into a national identity card, when a thousand people without papers walk across the line every day.

The reason presidential politics have become broad farce and dance contest is that candidates so seldom know what the issues are. This year, and next year, the principal issue is illegal immigration, and the winner will be he who addresses it as a crime and a threat to national security. (Thus making all promises of national security ring true.) Anyone who ignores it is bound to wander through the primaries wondering what went wrong, as McCain is doing now and will stop doing soon, for one reason or another.

Straight talk, anyone?

Edmund Dantes
Coshocton, Ohio

Is it possible that the wind beneath John McCain’s wings in 2000 was due more to the MSM’s visceral hatred of George Bush, which translated to servile slavering on the Straight Talk Express? Now that McCain supports the war in Iraq, coming down on the side of George Bush, even as he criticizes Bush’s “mistakes,” MSM can concentrate their efforts on picking off Republican hopefuls one at a time.

The Boys on the Bus are a fickle lot.

Besides, Senator McCain is eight years older and the open-throat shirt is a mistake, Sounds harsh, I know, but there it is.
Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Senator McCain has long behaved as though he thought he was doing the electorate a favor — deigning to grace us with his candidacy. That behavior always showed NO respect for the people he would need to get to the Big Dance.

What were those supercilious words he used to describe the Southern, religious conservatives?

I am one of those Conservatives not dismayed in the least to see him struggling for help from the little people he happily disdained for so many years. Schadenfreude? You bet!
Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

I can guarantee you that had Ronald Reagan tried to force amnesty for millions of illegal aliens on the people who supported him, he never would have been president.

And that’s exactly why John McCain is finished…he just hasn’t figured it out yet.
Dave Schallert
Parker, Colorado

Mr. Antle, like his fellow traveler at TAS, Phillip Klein, still sees McCain through rose colored glasses, hence his refusal to squarely face up to McCain’s serious flaws, which have been obvious to the base since 2000. Also, like the Washington establishment, that was recently sent reeling on its keaster, by Americans of all political stripes over the horrendously flawed Immigration bill, Mr. Antle is still pedaling the same old line about McCain’s conservative bona fides. Let me put it another way; just as many Americans said “no mas” to the government, with its empty promises of enforcement with the Immigration bill, many of us, long ago, stopped believing McCain with his repeated pleas to the base that he’s a conservative. Sorry, taking on Barbara Boxer on the floor of the Senate was not exactly a “tough ordeal” nor was it a profile in conservative courage. McCain’s actions over the past seven years, that writers and readers at TAS have analyzed ad nauseam, have never been about what McCain thinks is right for America. Rather, it’s always been what McCain thought was right for John McCain. Just as the Washington establishment was recently handed a rude awakening, so too, has John McCain.
A. DiPentima

John McCain’s last stand occurred when he promoted his plan (along with The Coward of Chapaquiddick) to turn over 12-20 million illegal votes to the Democrats. The GOP will barely survive Bush. A McCain nomination would forever doom the party (and the country)!
Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

NO LONGER CURRENT
Re: Quin Hillyer’s Surge Protector:

Quin Hillyer’s “Surge Protector” is the most profoundly depressing thing I have read in a long time. Although he states the problem clearly, if his four proposed solutions are all that is possible, it is time to man the lifeboats. Let’s go through them one at a time.

1) Create a new narrative and a new narrator — war hero stories don’t work any more. People only care about Abu Ghraibs and body counts. Even if anyone remembered who Sam Nunn is, they don’t care what he thinks about the war. That goes double with Arnold Palmer.

2) Do something dramatic — it is unusual to see a conservative use the words “dramatic” and “diplomatic offensive” in the same context. Nonetheless, any attempt to turn up the heat on Iran will be seen as more cowboy gunslinging by the left, and an attempt to change the subject by most everyone else.

3) Create new benchmarks — redefining goals retroactively to match achievements sounds sleazy even to those of us who are generally supportive of Bush.

4) Flip skeptics — even if anyone remembered who Lee Hamilton is, they don’t care what he thinks about the war. Nothing short of waterboarding will flip James Baker.

This is the point in the letter where I am supposed to lay out what Bush really needs to do. Sorry, I have nothing. At this point, even if the surge works in some fashion, there are too many people invested in its failure to allow the narrative to change.
Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

Mr. Hillyer offers four solid suggestions to correct policy mistakes in the mission to save Iraq (from itself and its neighbors). Recently another AmSpec writer suggested reducing the size of the U.S. target (i.e., troops on the ground). These suggestions, along with many recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, are logical and respect the realpolitik of the entire region; they might not be the only possible corrections, but a change is needed. Despite many press reports (misrepresentations), President Bush is not a stupid man, but he seems to be operating in a bubble or his mind is hermetically sealed. The current President Bush can learn something from his father’s boss, President Reagan. Reagan said that only two types of men never change their minds: dead men and fools. Also, when the Reagan administration was floundering, Reagan changed the deck hands, trimmed the sails and his administration sailed into the sunset with its flags unfurled and under full steam. President Bush, learn one from the Gipper.
Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

Unfortunately, the President lost what remained of his credibility when he openly supported the Senate Bill for Immigration “Reform,” which would have given citizenship to millions who have no desire to become citizens. We were treated to the spectacle of our elected representatives in Washington lecturing us as “stupid,” or “bigoted,” or any one of several other offensive terms. We, the people, obviously are not intelligent enough to “get it.” Then, they all wonder why the public isn’t enthusiastic

You see, the public, while it really doesn’t stop to think about it, has come to view this current charade of “caring” politicians as a necessary evil, because the consequences of a government without representation is unthinkable. They are very much like a low-level toothache, something we all promise ourselves that we are going to take care of soon.

President Bush, all members of Congress, the Cabinet Officers, and all members of the military, swear an oath to “Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” If what they’ve been doing the past fifteen years is supporting and defending, then God help us all.

Congress and the President have both decided that some laws are to be enforced, while some can be ignored. Support the laws of the land? Only when there’s something in it for me and my moneyed constituents, who are going to help me get re-elected in 200?. It isn’t politically correct to worry about and try to advance what’s good for the country.

Our forefathers would be at the forefront of a revolt, kicking out the scoundrels. The good citizens of this country, dumbed down in the past fifty years by feel-good public schools, and societal mores that emphasize self-satisfaction and fulfillment, slumber on. Maybe they feel just a little worried, but the government will take care of it soon….won’t they?
R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

The Marines have a saying, “always be polite but never friendly.” We went into Iraq to remove a state sponsored terrorist government and immediately became “friendly” with the three ethnic groups that make up Iraq. The only common ground these groups have to each other is that they want to kill each other. The democratic government voted into place has all the same attributes and virtues as the UN and is even less effective. For Democracy to work there must be a pretty wide swath of common ground between all those that participate and an equal amount of respect and responsibility sharing by the population in general. What is erroneously called the “Iraqi” people come up a bit short in all regards on this matter. Everywhere these three ethnic groups come in close contact with each other there is serious violence and bloodshed. The Iraqi military and police units are as much a part of the problem as the alphabet soup terrorist groups running around.

The missing ingredient in all this is the common ground that must exist before a self-governing Iraq can exist in more than name only. This common ground may never develop but with a fair degree of certainty it will take a long time with the minimalist effort we are making to bring the warring parties to heel. Defensive wars are by their nature very inefficient use of forces and resources for the side sitting on defense. We are sitting on defense and all warring parties pretty much run amok around the country while we continue the myth of there being an Iraqi people. There may never be an Iraqi people as we hope.

If the “surge” is to have value, we must do more than put our troops between the warring parties in Iraq. Fear is a great motivator and being friendly has diminished our ability to govern. Despite the appearance of an Iraqi government, we are the only force that keeps it from falling apart in about 30 seconds. If we want the various parties in Iraq to develop a respect for the gift they have been given and step up to the plate they must be given a reason to develop that common ground. We don’t have to become homicidal maniacs to accomplish this but we do have to be feared to gain the respect required to establish that common ground. It happened in post war Japan and Germany but we simply refuse to remember the lessons of the past. This “surge” may bring local stability to the hotspots in Iraq but we can not sustain that level of forces in Iraq. It will take five years to develop additional forces, train and equip them up to the levels we have now if we started today. I have as much faith in that happening as the fence on the Southern border getting built, be it the real fence or the virtual reality one.

We should always be both polite and professional when dealing with people under our charge but never friendly as we are in Iraq. Respect must be earned not given.
Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

Mr. Hillyer could well have stopped his article with his option one strategy change. This administration either flunked Communication 101 or never took the class on the way to the Bush MBA. Mr. Bush is the single worst communicator that has been in the White House in my lifetime. As bad as Jimmy Carter was, he was a better communicator than George Bush, just really, really wrong about everything else.

Now I am more interested in our American military than many folks, and I make no apology for that. However, do we all know the military members that have won the Medal of Honor in Iraq or Afghanistan? Do we know their service branch? Can we identify their picture? Are any of them still alive? Are/were they married? How many kids did they have? What did they do to earn the Medal of Honor? Do we all know the 17 Marines that have earned the Navy Cross in Iraq, a medal second ONLY to the Medal of Honor? What did they do, are they still alive? Who is the Navy SEAL known as “The One,” and why is he so named? Why did there have to be a book written about the action that made him “The One,” instead of glowing accounts of him and his Special Operations comrades, including Navy AND Army Special Operators and an Army Spec. Ops helicopter crew. The White House and/or the DoD should have seen to it that these heroes were held up as shining lights for the children of America to emulate. Why is it not prominent national news that the “good folks” of Colorado tried to stop a statute being placed in a park honoring Navy SEAL Danny (I think) Dietz, who was with “The One” and gave his life for our country.

George Bush NEVER sufficiently defined the enemy that we fight. He never sufficiently described why we fight this enemy. He never convincingly described what is at stake for America and her citizens if this fight is lost. No, Bush has just gone on his merry way, irritated that anyone would question his judgments, giving an ineffective speech now and then on some intermittent schedule, and then blaming the American people for being frustrated with his policies. This anti-war fervor did not need to, and should not have been allowed to, ever get to this level.

In WWII, when I was young, we knew and kept up to date with all the battles and outcomes of the war. The same can be said about Korea. We started to lose that when the media turned against their own country during the Vietnam war. Now, a plan to manage the information flow to the media about the doings of our troops is as important as the strategic plan against the enemy itself. Yet there is no plan, and the Administration is entirely defensive when it is even suggested that one might exist, even in part, or in beta test mode.

This administration, starting in the Oval Office, has wasted and damaged the most lethal, most efficient, most heroic military in the history of mankind. It is going to take another administration at least eight years to overcome the damage to the military that started in the term of George H. W. Bush, continued through Clinton, and has now been exacerbated by five years of combat under George Bush. If a dedicated and serious program to bring the military back up to strength in terms of manpower and equipment, a la the Reagan Administration, had been instituted on 9/12/2001, when the Congress would have voted almost unanimously for it, had been requested by the White House, we would be in a very different situation today.

Keep playing “Whack-a-mole” with the politicians, Quin. I think that I see some welts developing on their hard heads.
Ken Shreve
Ready to live free or die in my New Hampshire

Quin, this and your last article, Bush Isn’t Dead Yet, indicate to me that the man simply doesn’t have it in him for whatever reason, or he would already be doing it, you wouldn’t feel compelled to write desperate articles about it, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The Libby commutation was not evidence of the beginning of a political comeback, but simply the result of loyalty, and probably some influence from the Veep. I admire Bush for hanging in there on Iraq, but so much of the trouble he’s had over it, and we’re having now in the GOP could’ve been avoided if he were only a communicator, constantly and consistently promoting/defending his policy and keeping at least one step ahead of the Democrat hounds. That one characteristic is his fatal flaw and he can’t change it. We still expect Reagan to reappear, to reincarnate as Bush. It isn’t going to happen. He’s just not Reagan, in so many ways, but definitely he’s not Reagan as a communicator. It’s frustrating, to say the least, when the most important foreign policy effort of our generation is hobbled by a bunch of leftist loonies who have successfully persuaded much of the public that it’s a mistake, and the President appears unable to counter it.
Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

“..if we victoriously secure the peace.” Huh?

That wimpy excuse for a “leader” inhabiting the White House is the worst disaster since Jimmy Carter — candidly, his awful handling of almost everything (‘cept a few judges and cutting taxes, which he wasn’t able to make permanent…) relegates him to presidential infamy, nothing less.

Kindly stop putting that proverbial Smiley-Face on the betrayal-that-is-Bush.

The McClellans in the Pentagon? Sure, but why weren’t they replaced immediately, if not sooner? With some gutsy leadership, this fiasco could have been successfully wrapped up a few YEARS ago. Politically Correct wars are damned near as bad as those (still) wide-open borders that pretender was sworn to defend, and the multitude of other wimpy sins — not pushing for ANWR while mouthing ethanol/wind-farm/solar crap is unforgivable.

Sure, the apologists will point toward a roaring economy (as the Euro continues to jump in value — and the dollar diminishes in places like Brazil as well, from 1.62 a couple years ago to 1.92 now, as just another example), but that would’ve happened under any president, ‘cept maybe Jimmy Carter…

Please, stop defending the indefensible. Face it, Dubya’s a disaster.
Geoff Brandt (veteran too)

THANKS BE TO GOD
Re: Lisa Fabrizio’s Lex Orandi:

I commend the focus, particularly by a secular publication, on the beauty, dignity and solemnity of the traditional Latin Mass. Lisa Fabrizio painted a wonderful picture of the majesty and awe contained in the traditional sacrifice of the Mass in Latin (with some Aramaic and Greek I might add) before it was effectively discarded after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s for the new, re-written vernacular liturgy.

However, Fabrizio wrote: “some parishes have already incorporated Latin within the Novus Ordo and it is expected that the Tridentine Mass will use the vernacular in its readings.”

Indeed, Article Six of the current pope’s document on restoring the traditional Latin Mass allows for vernacular used for the Epistle and Gospel. Two things, though: 1) it is merely an option, which I highly doubt will be used much, if at all; because 2) most traditional Latin Masses today already have a practice of the priest re-reading the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular from the pulpit before the homily after having read them in Latin at the altar.

This minor detail aside, it is a great month for the Roman Catholic Church and your article was most welcome. In addition to the right of any priest to say the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, all of the sacraments — including Baptism, Penance and Extreme Unction/last rites — can be said by any priest who chooses to use the Church’s books from 1962.

Deo gratias!
Kenneth J. Wolfe
Alexandria, Virginia

I still have my St. Joseph’s Missal (Latin on the left page, English translation on the right page), given to me by my grandmother when I turned 12. Once in a while I take it out and look at it. Brings back lots of memories. Still have a few Holy Cards hidden in the crispy pages. The cloth tie markers are a bit frazzled. I followed the Mass; knew all the Latin words. I’m looking forward to attending a Latin Mass at my church, St. Peter’s. I’ll bring my St. Joseph’s Missal with me.
Clasina Segura
New Iberia, Louisiana

I do hope that Lisa Fabrizio is right and the re-introduction of the Tridentine Mass will bring more reverence to all parishes. If only so many of them didn’t look like expanded living rooms or hotels lobbies on the inside and Martian space ships on the outside. This is a good start. Will they bring back the kneelers now?
Pat Bruen

NICE AND EASY DOESN’T DO IT
Re: Mark Tooley’s Tortured Reasoning:

Mark Tooley writes, “Unfortunately, much of the debate about ‘torture’ by the U.S. revolves around vague assumptions, shaped more by fiction than by reality.”

To the contrary, I suggest that much of the thinking about “torture” revolves around the desire of a significant part of the electorate, perhaps the readily identifiable group that did not always benefit from universal suffrage, to avoid “not being nice.” Voters who desire to avoid “not being nice” elect politicians who legislate on the basis of “nice” and “not nice,” not constitutional powers or prohibitions, not strategic benefit to the United States.

Tooley observes that Justice Scalia came in for “torture” related criticism. Perhaps the conference should have also targeted two earlier justices who found themselves at wits end with litigants torturing the Constitution to read as they wished. It was Justice Robert Jackson and later Justice Arthur Goldberg who observed that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” It would appear that a significant part of the electorate and their elected representatives disagree with Jackson, Goldberg and Scalia.

Conferences against “torture” appear to never note the two very different purposes that may drive the desire to use whatever force is necessary to obtain information. One purpose is to extract a “confession.” An interesting historical variation of torture extracted testimony is noted by Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, where the author notes the need on the part of Roman authorities to torture Christians to deny the “crime” of being a Christian. If the torture successfully obtained the denial of the “crime,” the accused was free to go. In any case, no Western system of law accepts the need for torture extracted confessions. But another purpose is to extract information that is vitally needed for the security of the United States. Information obtained by such means is not used against the information provider, unless the information proves false. Blanket restrictions on the use of whatever force is necessary to extract such information may be “nice,” see second paragraph above, but is also tantamount in the present nuclear, biological and chemical warfare environment to a “suicide pact,” see third paragraph above.

I’ll take my chances with a United States that is “nice” when possible but most vigorously “not nice” when not.
Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

FREE WON’T LAST
Re: Doug Bandow’s Free At Last:

Should I thank Mr. Bandow for bringing me so far down this early on a Wednesday morning? It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry. It’s been terrible under GWB and the Republicans when it came to spending, as everyone knows. But the prospects for even more taxes and spending should give everyone reason to rethink their politics, it would seem.
Roger Ross
Tomahawk, Wisconsin

LAY OFF FRED
Re: Jennifer Rubin’s Little Things Mean A Lot:

This article has its moments that I have to agree with, but when it comes to her assessments of Fred Thompson, it seems the “strangely suggesting” is hers, not Fred’s. Of course it’s easier when it’s such a tiny sound bite that all context is lost, in both instances. What he actually said is far from what she puts forward for the sake of looking smart. Can this woman not read or listen? If her comprehension is always this sharp, why did you ever hire her?
Joyce White

PRAY FOR HIS CONVERSION
Re: Robert VerBruggen’s Standing Firm on the Surge:

Hitchens’ conversion. It will be a magnificent moment. There is a saying…”the bigger they come, the harder they fall.” This will apply to Mr. Hitchens’ meeting with God better than anything I can think of…
Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

THANKS, AMY
Re: Amy K. Mitchell’s These Guys Really Are Good:

Thanks, Amy, for telling the story
Of Tiger’s wonderful Congressional event.
It takes someone of his stature
To make our heroes relevant.

Jack Murtha and Nancy Pelosi
Or the lugubrious Harry Reid
Must have hung there graceless heads in shame
As Tiger stood and addressed the first tee.

And thanks to the mighty Tiger
For applauding those like his father with pride
I don’t know about others watching those days,
But in this house there was no one dry-eyed.

Mimi Evans Winship

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