Short Takes on the News - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Short Takes on the News

I have a terrible fault as a columnist. It doesn’t affect you, my readers, so much as it affects me. For some reason, I won’t allow myself to write the same thing more than once. Check out the estimable Mark Steyn, for example, who has no such qualms. He will write up four or five versions of the same idea for different markets in any given week. And he has repeated his demography-as-destiny theme an untold number of times.

So it gratifies me to have written, way back in October, in a column titled “Giuliani Time,” most of the things that everybody is writing now. I should probably write them again.

Instead, I will confine myself to one observation. Giuliani has done one thing that no other candidate seems to have the self-control to do: He has kept his mouth shut. He makes speeches, of course. But he doesn’t seem to feel the urge to blab away to a variety of audiences about how much he’s like them, how much he sympathizes with them, how much he identifies with them. As a result, he doesn’t put his foot in it, the way, say, Hillary seems to do. And he doesn’t need to triangulate furiously to explain his positions.

Admirable. It bespeaks both honesty and self-control.

DAVE BARRY DOES A HILARIOUS TAKE in one of his books on how newspaper executives meet from time to time to try to figure out how to bolster falling circulation numbers. They always come up with the same answer: Go after a more youthful audience. They always try to same thing: bolder graphics, youth-oriented features, “lifestyle” correspondents. And they always fail.

It appears that The American Spectator faces a problem similar to those newspaper executives. The readership of our print magazine skews old. What are we to do about that?

We could exploit it, I suppose, by selling ads for Poligrip and Geritol. But, if we hope to change our reader profile, it might work better to reach out actively to young conservative journalists — specifically, to the network of conservative newspapers that have sprung up on campuses all over the country. Those papers are replicating the early efforts of our own founder at Indiana, after all. Could be some promising strategic partnerships formed there. And we could find some young contributors with something to say to their contemporaries.

THE SUPPOSED BOOMLET for Albert Gore amuses me. If you have children, you get to listen to the soundtracks of TV cartoons. And you know that such cartoons often employ popular voices in the news as objects of satire. Bill Clinton’s voice is common. So is Al Gore’s.

The problem for Gore boosters is that, while Bill Clinton’s voice evinces fun and jollity as so employed, the Gore voice inevitably adheres to some prissy, stuck-up character who doesn’t have a clue. So if, or when, teachers show Al Gore’s film to their classes, the children have been conditioned to think, “Who’s that stuck-up dweeb?”

It’s a small cultural indicator, true.

SOMETIMES THE TRUTH GETS out by accident. We have heard dire warnings about “unprotected sex” for a couple of decades now. Supposedly, HIV runs rampant, not only in obvious at-risk populations (gay men, intravenous drug users), but throughout the “heterosexual community” as well.

By accident, many years ago (I saw his name in a phone book), I rediscovered one of my old college friends in Los Angeles, during the heyday of the AIDS crisis. Pete was gay. He worked for the AIDS Action Committee. He would tell you the bald truth about anything, including some things you’d rather not know.

The risk of sexually-transmitted AIDS? “Your chance of getting it from a woman is almost nil.”

Now, in a story in the Los Angeles Times about a parasite being carried to the U.S. from South America, come these statistics about the U.S. blood supply:

In 1996, using an experimental test, the American Red Cross found that one in 9,850 blood donors in the L.A. area tested positive for the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. Two years later, it was one in every 5,400. By 2006, a more refined test detected the parasite in one in 3,800 donors. About 10% to 30% of infected people develop symptoms of chronic disease, experts say.

By contrast, HIV, which blood banks screen for, shows up in one of every 30,000 donors, said Susan Stramer, executive scientific officer for the Red Cross.

Got that? Granted, there are other sexually transmitted diseases. But it does appear that the fear of heterosexually transmitted AIDS may be a bit overblown.

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