BORDERS AND BALLOTS
Re: Philip Klein’s The Immigration Trap:
The scenario that Mr. Klein lays out — i.e., the defection to a third party by a sufficient number of Republicans disgruntled over the lack of a tough immigration stance by the eventual GOP presidential candidate opening the door for a Clinton victory even with substantially less than a majority of votes — unfortunately seems all too plausible, and would be a textbook case of how those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history (a la Ross Perot in ’92) are doomed to repeat them.
But here’s what I don’t get. One presumes, or at least hopes, that an incoming president starts off with a level of solid support of at least 50 percent, ideally more. Then throw in another 10 percent to 15 percent, or maybe more, of qualified support from those who may not have voted for the new president but who are willing to give him or her a chance. However would that be the case with a President Clinton? Surely the polls don’t suggest it. Quite the contrary — she would start off with roughly 50 percent of the electorate not only opposed to her, but passionately and implacably opposed to her. Hardly the stuff upon which to build a successful administration.
Why then would she wish this upon herself and upon us, especially in these oh-so-challenging times? Why would she want to try to lead when it’s clear that comparatively few are in the least inclined to follow? I just don’t get it. Well, actually I think I do get it, and that is what is so troubling.
— C. Vail
In your article you write: “Romney, meanwhile, in one of his last acts as governor, authorized state troopers to detain illegal immigrants — a move that drew kudos from Pat Buchanan.”
FYI… upon taking office, one of the first things Deval Patrick did as governor was to rescind this authorization.
He has also appointed a woman of Arab descent as Homeland Security advisor. Juliette Kayyem is co-author of the book Preserving Liberty in the Age of Terror and has proudly stated that she ” …is interested in striking a balance between protecting citizens’ privacy and fighting terrorism.” Ms. Kayyem was previously a lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s JFK School of Government and had worked as a policy advisor for Janet Reno in the Clinton administration.
Needless to say… I’m devoting most of my free time into relocating.
— John Paul Filip
Re: Quin Hillyer’s A Meeting of Message, Messenger, and Moment:
I think Mr. Hillyer has hit on a good idea. Tony Snow is one of the best things to happen to the Bush Administration in a very long time. It is always a pleasure to watch him “handle” the press. Cool and calm and with the knowledge to back it up. He would win hands down against the crop of conservatives we have running today. I am not happy with any of them and am hoping the GOP can come up with someone other than the old standbys. You go Tony…we will be watching and hoping.
— J. Sherrill
Hillyer said, “But if Snow can’t exactly pull off a race for president in 2008, there is another public office he ought to consider. Virginia’s senior U.S. Sen. John Warner will be just shy of 82 when the next election rolls around.”
Remember that senators do not usually get elected to the Presidency. Why not go for the Governorship. Perhaps a better idea?
Quin has a point — Tony Snow certainly has been showing the Right Stuff. Before John Warner made the grade as senator, he served ably as Secretary of the Navy, but from the press conference room to secretarial office is quite a step. One pair of shoes fit for Snow to stretch his political legs are those of Under Secretary of the Navy, an entry level Presidential appointment that did no harm to the career of TR or FDR.
— Russell Seitz
A note to Quin Hillyer: Who doesn’t want Tony Snow for their husband, son, president, senator or talk show host?
I love watching him take on the snotties in the White House press room. He surely handles Helen Thomas in a delightful way.
The president and his message have improved, but I hoped Mr. Snow could have done more. I guess our President is just un-helpable. On the other hand, I am hoping President Bush is so busy with plans for taking out Iran he doesn’t have time to craft a coherent message — Tony Snow notwithstanding.
— Judy Beumler
As long as Tony didn’t toe the amnesty line on the campaign trail — the same line he currently defends on a daily basis for his boss — I would have no problem voting for him in a Senate race.
— Owen H. Carneal, Jr.
Great article on Tony Snow. I’d vote for him in a second. Plus — and this is purely from a woman’s perspective — he’s hot!! He has the whole package: smart, handsome, charismatic, a good speaker, a man who loves his wife and children. And, he has an uncanny understanding of the world and can navigate in political Washington. Good call, Mr. Hillyer. I doubt he’ll run, but keep the pressure on him. Maybe we can get Warner to retire early (that traitor to our troops!). There should be an age limit on congressmen (and the Supreme Court), but that’s another letter.
— Deborah Durkee
I could not agree more with Quin Hillyer’s assertion that Tony Snow might be the man for the U.S. Senate from Virginia in 2008. That’s one of the frustrations with many of the politicians running for office today — they mouth the words, but aren’t loyal to the principles behind them. I have never wondered where Tony Snow stands, and he has no trouble telling us — nor does he have any difficulty in explaining why he believes as he does. How refreshing!
— Warren Mowry
Tony Snow for Senator, or even President?? Heck yes. I’d vote for him In a heartbeat.
— Bob Parrick
Quin Hillyer replies:
Via personal e-mail as well as in these letters, I have received a tremendously enthusiastic response to the idea of Tony Snow running for one or another high elective office. Just goes to show that Snow’s character and talent are readily apparent, and very real.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Re: Philip Klein’s The Candidate:
Those who want to win, choose the one that can win and his name is Rudy Giuliani. My wife saw Rudy speak at a USBank financial consultants meeting two years ago and said the entire place was in an uproar, with hotel guests, servers, cooks, management and every person within earshot cheering and raising the roof. You want to see a leading candidate, wait till Rudy officially declares. The man will absolutely win by 60 percent, no matter the opponent. The several social issues that so-called “divide” the social conservatives from Rudy are minimized by the fact that he was a political leader in a very liberal city and the fact that he, at core, is a true blue conservative where it counts: the freedom of the individual. So open your eyes and see the truth and then get on board: you’re looking at the next President of the United States.
— Steve Heafey
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch’s Where Have All the Poets Gone?:
Poetry is not a commercial proposition. Nor does the craft lend itself to academic exegesis in any form. Hal Colebatch asks, “Where are the poets?’ The answer is that practitioners of any potential talent have long since sold out to college English Departments. They may not starve in garrets, but bardic wit has fled.
Samuel Johnson distinguished “good” from “bad” poetry by brutally simple criteria: Any poetical text read bottom-to-top, or that skips random lines, yet makes apparent sense is meaningless, “bad.” “Optometrists,” those of “The Big I,” are equally unreadable, as are those descending to sitcom phraseology in preference to any creative use of English as she is writ. Genuine poets know history, possess distinct points of view, descant ideas and themes… for some years now, Pullet Surprise awards have uniformly gone to PCBS exemplars violating every canon. These –how you say?– compositories spill forth blank verse, not even prosody; abjure phrasing; affect neither meter nor rhyme-scheme, misuse kindergarten-level vocabularies, and chant an unforgivable Boomer narcissism, “I — I — I.” Soapbox jingles exhibit more true talent.
As composer and lyricist, crafting poems as well –“Honored This Day,” “Flourish of a Rose,” “Stars and Stripes Forever” (to Sousa’s drum-roll Chorus), “Tom o’Bedlam” et al.– we perform and write to approbation and testimonial plaudits (“High Midsummer”), but reserve a healthy disrespect for any preferring the Singer to the Song. Cliches apply: I’ve been a merchant seaman, military officer, New York cabdriver, financial analyst and designer of quant-model hedge funds. Standard rant is that numbers equate, words rhyme, but they both sing.
Poets are out there. We still starve in garrets, with the difference that old-line litterateurs abominate Derrida and his arrogant, solipsistic ilk. Eliot was a bank manager, Wallace Stevens an insurance executive… Yeats was of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, where food and shelter just came naturally. Fuhgedabudit! We are Merry Ones, who go our ways. You will not find poets, digging down… we are not deep, but we are far-removed. We love the English Language, and we turn a phrase.
William Faulkner for decades lived but a few short miles from Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi. Even after his Nobel Prize, not once did that institution’s English Department so much as invite him to a seminar, never mind award an Honorary Degree. True, Southerners’ vile old post-Reconstruction prejudices still obtained. But those were nothing to what we see today. Anyone seeking recognition as a poet since (say) 1965 would be better off (as Patton put it) “shoveling [effluent] in Louisiana”. But ars longa, vita brevis. The old straight track yet traces ley lines over hill and dale, where Cadmus sows his dragons’ teeth and Gwydion celebrates Grammayre.
No finer sound than Silence.
P.S. Owen’s Alligator, a fable concerning Wise Learning and Right Choice, is due out this fall.
Re: Reader Mail’s Civil Warring and H.W. Crocker III’s Robert E. Lee: Icon of the South — and American Hero:
Wow. I expected some blowback to your paean to Robert E. Lee, but that was impressive! Who knew a general from 150 years ago could stir such passion?
To those who would condemn him, I would suggest that you are guilty of what is usually a liberal fallacy, which is to judge a historical figure by modern standards. By the standards of Lee’s time, it was not unusual to self-identify with one’s state more than with one’s country. The United States at that time was still relatively young, had formed as a collection of sovereign states, and had not yet suffered any of the national traumas which would eventually strongly bind us together as one country.
Actually, it was Lincoln and not Lee who had the more radical idea at the time, which was that armed struggle could be used to forcibly bind the country together. It is both fortunate and provident that Lincoln’s vision prevailed. I think there is a strong consensus on this. It is, after all, Lincoln’s and not Lee’s portrait that appears on the penny and the five dollar bill.
How then should we judge Lee, who was on the wrong side of history? I suggest we look at how his contemporaries judged him. My understanding is that he was widely respected by those on both sides of the war, both before and after the war. Historians have subsequently treated him sympathetically. It is certainly possible to accept these judgments without secretly longing for the South to rise again. We should continue to do so. My respect is not so much for Lee directly, as it is for the judgment of those who have already measured the man.
— Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey
R.E. Lee was morally blind. He could not see, as many others did, the evil that surrounded him.
How pitiful is the modicum of goodness that he espoused when compared with mountain of human misery, the evil institution, that he chose to defend.
It is sad that the light of Christ could not penetrate the opacity of his moral vision.
Lee is not to be honored but pitied and is best passed over in silence as we strive to repair the human damage that is his legacy.
— Ed Morrow
All one has to do is go to Gettysburg, stand on Cemetery Ridge and look down on the mile long uphill path taken by Pickett’s Charge to realize that ol’ Marse Robert was no only a traitor, but a rather poor general also.
— Tom McGonnell
I am among the millions who are sick and tired of hearing about the nobility of the Southern rebels and the nobility of the cause for which they fought. The Civil War is a perfect example of a “Rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight.” The upper class of the South convinced the ignorant farm boys that the farm boys were fighting a noble battle for their rights — except the “their rights” referred to the slaveholders’ wealth and power, not the farm boys’ rights to a political society based on Calhoun’s theory of the Concurrent Majority.
The bottom line on Lee, Jackson, Davis, and all the rest is that each of them was a traitor, pure and simple. Each of them owed much to the Union; each of them had taken an oath, of one kind or another, to support and defend that
Union; and each of them, Lee included, was an oath-breaker.
Did we celebrate the birthday of Lee and of Jackson? Is Mr. Crocker kidding?
— James F. Csank
Seven Hills, Ohio
I wanted to see how the Northern Intellectuals would respond to H.W. Crocker III’s piece on Robert E. Lee and I wasn’t disappointed. As usual I was amused. First off, 50,000 men did not die at Gettysburg. Must be that Northern Public school math. Second, Lee did not commit treason against the United States. He resigned his commission in the United States Armed forces. He was free from his obligation at that point. Third, not even the bulk of the Union Army of the time or its General’s looked upon Robert E. Lee or any other Confederate soldier as a “traitor” on any level. With 385,000 Union dead, if the case was going to be made that Robert E. Lee and others were traitors and had committed an act of Treason against the United States. it would have been made in spades in 1865. It wasn’t. Why? Even U.S. Grant knew he could not “out General” Lee or gain the devotion that Lee had from his soldiers. Both Lee and Grant wanted the war to end and they both knew how best to achieve that. For all those that can’t see anything through Southern eyes, ask yourself this question. Which side would you have wanted to be on at the battle of the Wilderness in 1864, Grant’s or Lee’s? Grant’s command right down to the rank and file revolted when he ordered a second attack on Lee’s positions after suffering 7,000 causalities in 20 minutes.
As with most things in life, it is a bit more complex than the simple intellects of some can comprehend.
— Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia
I have always been fascinated by the history of the “Civil” War, both how it was fought, what led up to it and the aftermath. But I have never heard from any of the strident “northernists” a satisfying explanation of the legal rationale for why the north was entitled, nay obligated, to use blood and iron to force on pain of death the continuance of a union unwanted by those that, in my opinion exercised their legal rights under the umbrella of the constitution to seceded?
A fascinating mental exercise I think is to transport a secessionist movement of a large number of states to now, and envision what would happen if they attempted to leave the nearly socialist federal government behind. I think it would again be a bloody exercise in suppression, after all the federal government is very comfortable in killing anyone who threatens its power, control and face it, its existence, Behind enemy lines.
— Craig Sarver
To all the detractors of the importance of Robert E. Lee, might I suggest reading a letter one of our other great military leaders wrote regarding his opinion of the man? A critic wrote him a letter dated Aug. 1, 1960 expressing his surprise that this man considered Lee a role-model:
Dear Mr. President:
At the Republican Convention I heard you mention that you have the pictures of four (4) great Americans in your office, and that included in these is a picture of Robert E. Lee.
I do not understand how any American can include Robert E. Lee as a person to be emulated, and why the President of the United States of America should do so is certainly beyond me.
The most outstanding thing that Robert E. Lee did was to devote his best efforts to the destruction of the United States Government, and I am sure that you do not say that a person who tries to destroy our Government is worthy of being hailed as one of our heroes.
Will you please tell me just why you hold him in such high esteem?”
Leon W. Scott, DDS
New Rochelle, NY
August 9, 1960
Dear Dr. Scott:
Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of Secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.
General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.
From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.
Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
— R. Fairless
Talking Rock, Georgia
To those of you who think General Lee a traitor:
It’s you who put the “Damn” in Yankee.
Re: Ralph R. Reiland’s Subsidized “Free Trade”:
As I recall, we didn’t trade much with the USSR in the 1960s, but the threat that they could nuke us remained nevertheless.
The good professor also tries to, erroneously, tie in international trade with individual spending by stating “lending us back the money we spent for steel and spent at Wal-Mart for all those blinking Chinese reindeer at Christmas.” As if it were not for the “benevolent” foreigner, Wal-Mart — or any other retailer for that matter — would not have the funds to stock their shelves. It’s an inane statement that only goes unanswered in a pedagogic setting.
This also misses the larger point. That money comes back for a reason — because the U.S. provides the most liquid and highest risk-adjusted rate of return in the world. If the Chinese, or any other trading partner, didn’t want to hold U.S. dollars — and thus U.S. assets — they wouldn’t engage in the trade in the first place.
Yes, trade does hurt some Americans and some industries, but only in the short term. Over the long run, the whole of society benefits. We can see this in the 2,180 percent increase in the S&P 500, the creation of 46 million jobs, rising rates of productivity improvements — and hence benign inflation, and strong rates of economic growth since 1981.
What’s more, this formation of capital allows the U.S. to increase rates of productivity and hence raises profitability, real wages and living standards. It’s ridiculous to state that trade is hurting us.
Regarding the issue of people illegally traversing our border, it would be much better to criticize our weak and harmful border policy than to fault trade for this problem. If someone breaks into your house, do you look the other way? No, you shoot them. There’s a reason hot burglary rates are much lower in the U.S. than in Britain. Put a bullet in a perpetrators head and their ilk will take notice. The same is true for the border. Border agents retreating from drug smugglers for fear they’ll be prosecuted sends an entirely different message.
Further, if the Mexican leadership would get their act together and curtail widespread corruption, privatize more industries and drastically lower regulations and price controls things would be much better for their economy and workers. This problem originates with Mexico. By the way, I don’t recall Mexico being an economic powerhouse prior to NAFTA. Also, Mexico’s unemployment rate is slightly lower today than it was when NAFTA took affect in Jan. 1994.
And I’m so sick of people stating that we are sending the Chinese money, money that is used to increase their military and potentially attack us. Meet that challenge! There is not a reason the U.S. should allow a still backwards country like China to make ground on us militarily — this is not a trade issue. Furthermore, if a foreign country has an increased financial stake in the U.S. they, by definition, will be less likely to harm that investment. For the professor, I guess he believes the Chinese are willing to take the U.S. down economically, and thus sacrifice trillions in investment.
That said, we should always remain vigilant, and continue to create the greatest and most powerful military the world has ever known — show some balls regarding Islamic fascism and the Chinese, Russians, and North Korea will certainly think twice.
I don’t trust the Chinese, or a plethora of other international players, any more than the next guy — and likely much less. But to blame trade? Please. Typical academic.
I’d put this guy on your “get rid of” list. Either that or create some special Pat Buchanan section and he can write about his protectionist tendencies there.
— Brent Vondera
Perhaps if Ralph R. Reiland would learn to examine the complete picture he might find himself a full professor instead of an associate.
He complains that real wages in Mexico’s manufacturing sector are lower 13 years after NAFTA than before, but then admits that the reason is China’s cheap labor costs. What he doesn’t supply is an analysis of what Mexico’s real wages would be if NAFTA hadn’t been passed and if China still undercut Mexico’s labor costs. Isn’t it likely that Mexico would be even worse off?
If he has discovered a better way to create wealth than specialization and trade, he should write about that instead of some trifle about a single trade agreement.
— James Brogan
The article by Mr. Reiland was interesting, but I have a question. If cheap subsidized corn is driving Mexican farmers off their land why did I read articles recently about soaring tortilla (made from corn) prices in Mexico?
— Frank Gizinski
Re: Ben Stein’s The Lynching of the President:
I just received the commentary by Ben Stein on the President’s State of the Union address and I must say, once again, he is one of my favorite commentators. I have sent it on to many, some who hate President Bush and some who like him, and I will probably make some people unhappy with my personal commentary on the situation….but Mr. Stein was so on target (and I do hate this war as much as anyone) on what he said, so thank him for me and tell him to keep up the good work.
— Mary C. Graves, Mayor
City of Bellbrook, Ohio
I do appreciate your total overview of the President’s State of the union address.
I do have a few points, as well. Totally full employment — hmmmm — I have been unemployed since December 20th. Merry Christmas.
And, the only reason gasoline prices are down is because it’s winter. Folks aren’t going up to their cabins in the woods.
Wait and see…once Memorial day is here the prices will sky rocket as they have in the past. And, everyone will pay the price — as usual.
I do agree the media is oppressive. And, that’s why I don’t watch their propaganda.
And, YES — I do vote…the one and only freedom we still have in America.
— Jenny Kay Ohman
Good article. It was forwarded to me by a friend who, like me, feels we can only sit back and watch as the liberal media continues its ignorant corrosion of our country. What can we do about it? Nothing. They have the money, they have the power, and they have the glamour of Hollywood (that all the young and impoverished listen to). They have taken away our God from our schools, from our Court House steps. I am sick of “politically correct.” THE WAR IN IRAQ IS NOT A MISTAKE. The only mistake is we have not used enough bombs. We have not gone through the country in a forceful enough manner to rid the place of the scum. What would that country do to us if they had the upper hand and came over here? Do you think they would have a humanitarian heart? And now there are complaints that we did not send enough trained people to help them establish their new democracy properly. We have forgotten, to some degree, what war is. This is a fight to the death. We don’t create a war because we are pissed, we are to rid the world (or situation) of the evil that is trying to prevail. No, the war is not wrong, it needs to be escalated. But this will not happen. We are all wanting our Service men and women home, but it would be a great tragedy for those who have given life and limb, to be in vain. FINISH THE JOB.
— David Lands
I am very impressed with this column. And no, I will not vote for Osama.
— Barbara Lamar
Re: James Bowman’s Becket:
James Bowman groups Becket, Lawrence of Arabia and A Man For All Seasons in “the genre of what Judith Crist described as the ‘intellectual’ spectacular.” Whether or not Crist was implying “falseness” by scare quoting “intellectual,” I don’t know. But in 1966, when A Man For All Seasons was released, the Jesuits at my high school, at 85th and Park in Manhattan, gave us the afternoon off to attend its premiere, which we did. It was then, and remains now, the ultimate intellectual drama of conscience, no scare quotes required.
It was also the ultimate drama of the law. Although Robert Bolt wrote both the play, and the screenplay, Robert Bork would surely have given his imprimatur! Bork was “Borked” because he understood that the law meant what it said, for everyone, without exception, and was not to be “interpreted” to suit the whims of the moment, so matter how politically correct the whim. And what could better dramatize the urge to “interpret” the law than when the target of the “interpretation” was the Devil himself (in the days when the Devil was understood to be Evil incarnate, before the moral relativism of our present milieu let the Prince of Darkness off the hook)?
Recall the debate between Roper (Corin Redgrave), Sir Thomas’s future son-in-law, seeking the hand of Margaret (the never more appealing Susannah York), and Sir Thomas himself (the peerless Paul Scofield), on the matter of just how far the law should be unquestionably honored:
ROPER: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on ROPER) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you-where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast-man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down-and you’re just the man to do it –d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
And when we are tempted, and wonder if the “reward” of the temptation is worth the danger of the punishment, recall Sir Thomas’ admonition to Richard Rich (John Hurt), whose perjured testimony would send Sir Thomas to the
MORE: I have one question to ask the witness. (RICH stops) That’s a chain of office you are wearing. (Reluctantly RICH faces him) May I see it? (NORFOLK motions him to approach. MORE examines the medallion) The red dragon. (To CROMWELL) What’s this?
CROMWELL: Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General for Wales.
MORE (Looking into RICH’S face, with pain and amusement): For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But for Wales! (Exit RICH, stiff-faced, but infrangibly dignified)
No, they don’t make ’em like they used to. Six Oscars and two additional nominations. And the talk of the town these days is about a Dakota Fanning forcible rape scene? Where is Sir Thomas when we really need him?
— Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey
James Bowman isn’t the only one who got those actors confused in their roles in the movie. I did too, and I would not be surprised if other letters come in saying the same.
— David Barlett