BOY OH BOY
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s The Boy Speaker:
Thank you for articulating my exact impression of Newt Gingrich. Only such a narcissist and self-promoter would entertain serious thoughts about being president. A bad taste enters my mouth every time I hear his name bandied about. And I am a conservative Republican. I hope his dream of the presidency dies the early death it deserves.
— LaVerne Simon
What an engaging article. I had always seen similarities between Mr. Gingrich and Mrs. Clinton in that neither of them ever discussed any opponent’s thoughts on their merits, but both went personal and nuclear in response. They came across as small, angry, vituperative people. The similarities to King William the First almost entirely escaped me.
Having been educated (the reason a daily read of the Spectator is a priority), I would offer one more similarity. Both King William and Mr. Gingrich have made scads of money by writing execrable books!
— Jay W. Molyneaux
So how do you really feel about the former Speaker Mr. Tyrrell? Personally I wouldn’t make too much effort to argue your points save for one: John McCain a more sturdy candidate? Perhaps a discussion of the intended meaning of sturdy is in order.
— Roger Ross
As much as I enjoy the pieces on TAS, I found this one distasteful.
Newt’s a fine man and would make a fine candidate (though others would as well, to be sure).
I believe RET might give this some more thought and, as time passes, perhaps reconsider.
I just didn’t care for this piece.
Wow, Emmett really doesn’t like Gingrich. What an attack! I, on the other hand, do like Newt and would consider him as my presidential candidate. But there is a caveat to that. Newt’s lapses with morals, and specifically women, do concern me and unlike Democratic voters who don’t mind ethical lapses by their candidates, ethics does matter to me. But I love Newt’s ideas. They are largely grounded in sound conservatism and his Contract with America was awesome.
There are other Republicans that do interest me such as George Allen, Mitt Romney and Rudy. I know Rudy is more liberal on some social and fiscal policies than I would prefer; there is just something about him that is presidential and I think he would govern as president more to the right. Anyway, it ought to be interesting, huh?
— John Dyslin
Mr. Tyrrell is, at the very least, a minor treasure. His zesty analysis of Newt (was there ever a more appropriate name for a preening little lizard) Gingrich and his self-important suggestion that he be made the leader of the free world were delicious. This is the impressionable lad who confessed to being intimidated by the aura and charm of Bill Clinton. Now he would have us believe that he is impervious to the charms and blandishments of the world class leaders, hucksters, murderers, and assorted political flotsam and jetsam floating in the petri dish of international life. Give us a break, Mr. Speaker. Give us a break and have a seat.
— J.C. Eaton
I think that this article comes to the right conclusion regarding “Mr. Newt” and his prospects. Few candidates for POTUS would be guaranteed to bring on a more ferocious attack from the Dems and their handmaidens in the MSM.
Mr. Gingrich is, in my humble opinion, a really good strategist and tactician. His contributions to the putting together of the Contract With America and then its marketing were brilliant. Unfortunately, like the witch in the Wizard of Oz, once the mirror is broken and the smoke clears, the view is not quite the same. As a behind the scenes force, Newt if truly great. As the star of the show, not so much. We saw that after he accepted the Speakers gavel, didn’t we.
Now, if there were a position in the administration for a Strategist-in-Chief with appropriate behind-the-scenes marketing responsibilities, well…
— Ken Shreve
The piece: “The Boy Speaker” was an excellent and insightful analysis of Mr. Gingrich. Thank you.
— Andrew E. Malone
New Milford, Connecticut
— Annette Cwik
THE NEW EPISCOPAL BIBLE
Re: R. Andrew Newman’s The Other Is Never Wrong:
It sounds to me like the Episcopal Church has thrown out the Bible in favor of the Communist Manifesto. Someone should remind them of a few passages from the Bible such as, “And do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” Romans 12:2, or “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21.
— G. Sorrentino
This article hits the nail on the head regarding the Episcopal Church. What a pity that the once-great denomination of J.C. Ryle (albeit an Anglican) has fallen so far, so hard, and so fast.
Sadly, today its leadership seems to consist of America-hating white liberals who live in an echo chamber. Nowhere was this more evident than in 1998, when the U.S. Episcopal Church proposed allowing homosexual clergy, and they were overwhelmingly voted down by the worldwide Anglican Church. The folks of the Episcopal Church were aghast. How did they respond? Just a few years later, they elected a gay bishop! How is that for chutzpah?
As a young boy, I spent a few years in that denomination. It is all formalism, no substance. The sermons usually have nothing to do with the Scripture, and on those rare occasions that they do, the text’s plain meaning is always attacked.
A few years ago, I spoke to an Episcopal priest, and the subject of inter-faith services with Muslims came up. He commented that he and his colleagues would always bend over backwards not to offend the Muslims. How did the Muslims reciprocate? “They lost respect for us,” this priest said, stunned. He just couldn’t understand why a devout Muslim (or Mormon, or Jew, or Christian) could possibly disrespect him for going out of his way to compromise his beliefs!
Can this denomination find its way back? Granted, “with God all things are possible.” And yes, one certainly can pray that the Episcopal Church would change its ways; there is nothing wrong with doing that. However, the leadership of this denomination has lost its way, and in the process its soul. With (increasingly) few exceptions, Episcopalians are ashamed to admit that Jesus Christ declares that He is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6). Instead, they are far more interested in promoting the latest liberal fad, as the article made clear.
Call me intolerant, but I don’t think that’s a denomination any Christian should want to join, absent a modern-day Reformation.
— Name Withheld
Mr. Newman, sir, the answer to your insights and complaints against the Episcopal Church are quite simple really. After growing up and being thoroughly schooled in the high Episcopal Church inside the Washington, D.C. beltway, I implemented the necessary steps and proved their efficacy.
First, one closes one’s purse and one’s checkbook to the Episcopal Church USA in all its forms. Second, one ceases to present oneself every Sunday for worship services that amount to little more that further indoctrination. Third, one presents oneself on the doorstep of a church that adheres to scripture. This different church could be a more fundamentalist denomination, or it could be the more observant Anglican Church as administered out of Asia or Africa.
The cure is simple really. God is still God. Jesus is still Jesus, and He still resurrected from the crypt and ascended. He is still the Savior of mankind. But you know what else? You will be happier and actually look forward to attending worship services. You might even find yourself taking part in other activities in the new church community, but you will probably find yourself giving larger donations on a more consistent basis.
God be with you, Sir. You ought to try it.
— Ken Shreve
After reading the ECUSA list of resolutions, I looked in vain for the final one which simply states, “On the seventh day they rested.”
— Charles Dana
East Hartford, Connecticut
THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE
Re: David Holman’s Spinning Webb:
David Holman in describing James Webb has reminded me of the Woody Allen movie where Woody keeps popping up in meetings and photos even though he really wasn’t there. James Webb has always struck me as just an image with a resume who was never really there. It is fitting that the hard left adopt him as they have never really been there either.
— Howard Lohmuller
I think that there is an important aspect to the Jim Webb story that the media is deliberately ignoring. He is attractive to the liberal bloggers and the mainstream Democratic powerbrokers mainly because he is a legitimate, war-hero, ex-Marine who opposes the war in Iraq. I have yet to see coverage of his views on Vietnam, however. He was a fine Marine officer and an average Navy Secretary, and for that he deserves respect. I think Webb’s opinions about the Vietnam conflict and the activities of anti-war activists during the 1960s are in stark contrast with the deeply held beliefs of the bloggers. Once they figure out that he is not “one of them” (i.e., anti-military, anti-American) his support from them will diminish drastically.
I also think there is a personal issue here with Mr. Webb. His name will always be linked with a famous classmate, Oliver North. They had (and still have) a famous rivalry going on. North ran for the Senate from Virginia and lost, and I think Webb’s decision to be a candidate is strongly influenced by that.
— Daniel McNamee
Somerville, New Jersey
The problem with Jim Webb is that the man who won the Democrat nomination to the Senate is not the real Jim Webb. The new Jim Webb like “Weasely” Clark is a political prostitute selling out his real convictions and principles for the illusion of power. This proves Democrats are truly petty, partisan and putrid politicians and not patriots. George Allen is going to defeat this sell-out wannabe despite the hopes of the Kossacks.
I hope like Webb the MINO (Marine In Name Only) John “Cut ‘n Run” Murtha goes down in flames. Conservatives, now is the time to rally and purge the Congress of terrorist sympathizers.
— Michael Tomlinson
Just finished reading your brilliant article on the Webb Senate campaign and also Mr. Webb’s 1997 discourse, “The War On Our Military Culture,” reprinted on the Weekly Standard website today.
QUESTION: WHY is Mr. Webb now joining forces with the very same group of clowns who declared war on our military culture in the first place?
— F.S. Lewis
5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
III Corps Area
Republic of Vietnam
In reference to the claim that Webb’s victory was solely the result of strength in NoVA, I recommend that you reference this (this is map with breakdown totals per VA region).
The reality is that, in a two-month campaign with minimal funding, Webb focused all of his attention along the Blue Ridge, NoVA, and in Norfolk areas (with a focus on the shipyards and military areas). Miller out-campaigned Webb in Hampton Roads with 10 visits, multiple mailings, TV ads, and robo-calls. Webb had absolutely no presence in the Hampton Roads area — not surprisingly, Miller crushed him here.
However, even disregarding NoVA altogether Miller’s victory margin throughout the rest of the state would have amounted to about a 900-vote margin out of 100,000 votes cast. Once again, the reality is that Webb out-campaigned Miller in areas where he actually had a presence. Webb beat Miller even though he had a two month time disadvantage and 2-to-1 spending disadvantage. Those of us who live in Virginia can attest that this was an extremely low-visibility primary — so money and the textbook campaign by Miller should have made a difference.
It’s also worth noting that Virginia primaries are open to all registered voters. While there certainly wasn’t a highly coordinated effort by the Allen campaign to undermine the will of the state’s Democratic voters, there was an undeniable effort among Allen’s most rabid supporters to influence the primary outcome. I would not be at all surprised if 2-4 percent of the vote total that Miller received throughout the state came from a pro-Allen contingent.
Also, your characterization of Harris Miller as “extremely liberal” has no basis in fact. I’d be interested to know what your source for this judgment is. If you actually research Miller’s positions you’d find that he’s what’s generally considered a “moderate” by most Virginia Democratic standards (pro-business, pro-death penalty). Miller certainly attempted to position himself as a “liberal” during the campaign, but his actual positions and track record are anything but “extremely liberal.” He received support from the Washington Post and the Washington Times editorial boards — which also should have helped him in Northern Virginia.
Finally, while I don’t think anyone would discount the uphill battle that Webb faces in the general election; the reality is that George Allen is not Virginia’s senior Senator John Warner. He has a popularity rating that hovers just above 50 percent — which is dismal for an incumbent. I suspect these ratings are due in no small part to Allen’s poor bona fides as a fiscal conservative, social moderate, and actively engaged independent voice in the Senate. I doubt that moderate Republicans in NoVA will jump party en masse to support Jim Webb, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see many NoVA Republicans stay home in November. For Allen this could be a decisively negative factor. On Webb’s side, the key is bolstering support in traditional Democratic strongholds in Hampton Roads. I don’t think there’s any question that Webb will have a decisive advantage with independents throughout the state — independents proved to be the difference in the past two gubernatorial contests (which resulted in Democratic victories). Either way, this should be a very interesting contest.
— Jim Terp
David Holman replies:
Mr. Terp’s letter demonstrates that politics is very much a matter of perception. For example, Allen’s popularity tracks very closely with John Warner’s.
My characterization of Miller was not scientific. Besides his pro-abortion stance, which Webb apparently shares, a couple economic issues sent up red flags. When I had a chance to ask him about windfall profits taxes on oil companies, he seemed to have no understanding of markets and supply and demand. Strange coming from a self-described businessman, I know. Also, he opposed the tax cuts. Relative to the Democratic Party, he is fairly mainstream. But I regard mainstream Democrats as extremely liberal.
Mr. Terp is correct that Webb made a late showing. It was so late that he waited until June to ramp up major efforts. No matter how you slice it, the enthusiasm on the ground does not match the enthusiasm for him on the Internet.
One additional note: Brendan Conway, TAS contributor and Washington Times editorial writer, reports that the Times never endorsed Harris Miller, nor mentioned him this election cycle.
Re: Steven M. Warshawsky’s Jack Kemp’s White Guilt:
I said it before and I’ll say it again.
Washington D.C. should be reduced to, the White House, Congress, Supreme Court buildings and the National Monuments. All other areas should return to Maryland and Virginia. High-rise apartments should be constructed next to the Senate and House for Senators and Congressmen to use while in session. A low-rise apartment to accommodate the SCOTUS. There should be no residents of Washington, D.C. for voting purposes. Also have plenty of audio and video surveillance set up and stream it over the Internet so “we the people” can keep an eye on our tenants.
— Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan
As a resident of Maryland I think creating a new state of Columbia out of D.C., Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and selected areas of Howard and Baltimore County, Maryland would make perfect sense (Virginia might want to contribute a county or two also). It would concentrate the majority of Maryland’s Democrat voters into their own cesspool. This would free the “Old Line State” from their negative influence resulting in a net gain of freedom and lower taxes. Plus, there would be a gain of two new Republican Senators from liberated Maryland. This would be gerrymandering at its best.
— Michael Tomlinson
Shelby Steele, Michael Steele, Condi Rice, Thomas Sowell,
On and on goes this impressive roll
Of sons and daughters whose forefathers bore
With quiet dignity the chains they wore.
On the shoulders of giants they stand with pride
And take to the full what this land can provide.
Humble beginnings won’t stop their progress.
Clarence Thomas, Ken Blackwell and others no less
Distinguished. Men and women of this stalwart band
Are the harvesters of the Promised Land.
— Mimi Evans Winship
Re: David Hogberg’s Feed the Beast:
The conventional wisdom says that liberals want higher taxes so as to have a bigger government and conservatives want lower taxes in order to have a smaller government.
The Laffer curve (which has proved to be correct) says lower taxes mean more revenue and higher taxes mean lower revenue because the GDP grows more with lower taxes and less with higher taxes.
I maintain that what liberals really want is for the government to have control of a larger percentage of the economy. Higher taxes and more regulations mean the government has more control even if the economy is caused to shrink and the government has less revenue than it would if the GDP were growing. Lower taxes and less regulation mean a higher GDP and thus more revenue for the government but the government then is less in control of the economy. Liberals are addicted to government power so that is why they demand higher taxes, not to have more revenue but to have more power. Conservatives should cut taxes and lower regulations even if it means that government has more revenue because it also means less government control and a higher standard of living for everyone. That should be their goal. Forget about the dollar amount of government and look to the GDP percentage to measure our progress in cutting government.
— Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan
Well done putting the lie to taxer/spender crowd. But, you didn’t mention that the current “deficit” has been reduced markedly, as it always is, as a result of tax reduction (a.k.a. “cuts”) which inevitably, always, and everywhere increases government revenue markedly, not to mention the creation of real jobs, as opposed to government bureaucratic ones — a.k.a. rent seekers. The taxers are rent seekers, nothing more, with an added fillip of power while they are at it.
As you point out, starve the beast does work — we just don’t go deep enough. Let’s abolish at least half a dozen cabinet level, useless at best, agencies (you pick ’em, even at random) and the creation of wealth, not to mention the salutary effect on freedom and liberty, would astound the casual observer, but certainly not the “true believers” who espouse the religion of modern day liberalism.
— P.A. Melita
Re: Eric Peters’s Can GM Come Back?:
Reminds me of an old saying my daddy always said: “GM sucks.”
— M. Scott Horn
Mr. Peters’s article is accurate, though I may be able to provide some perspective behind why GM does what it does. It is, of course, only my opinion, but I don’t think it is far off the mark.
When Toyota does reuse components, they build the Highlander on the Camry chassis and you would never know. All automakers reuse components, GM being no exception, though what most people see is what is known as a “badge job” where the Suburban has a Cadillac badge and is called an Escalade. Mr. Peters is exactly right when he says that this dilutes all the brands associated with this vehicle. They did this with Saab when they rebadged a Subaru WRX.
But why do they do this?
My conclusion after a bit of study was that many in middle and upper management don’t actually like cars. That, and many in the same reaches of the company want to build their own little kingdoms inside GM, but are given relatively small budgets for vehicle development. This, unfortunately, explains much of the incoherence of the company and much of the lack of originality plaguing the designs. Each mid/upper manager wants to be behind their own vehicle, but have to do it a minimal cost. That, and most managers only see cars as a box with wheels (Bob Lutz being an exception) so as long as things look good, who cares how the vehicle performs?
If you now look at the head of research, he came up from the planning side (once explained to me as the art of carefully rearranging the deck chairs) and his vision for the future of GM is a hydrogen powered skateboard platform on which anything could be built. This is the ultimate commodity, so actually all cars will truly be the same, they just will look different. This is also GM’s idea of diversity — look different, but act and think exactly the same. In my humble opinion, this type of Orwellian/Stalinist vision is horrifying, but *typical* of the vision shared by many in the upper reaches of the GM food chain.
THEY DON’T LIKE CARS! They probably never tinkered with a 1970 big block Chevelle at the drag strip, trying to eke a few more tenths of a second out of it so that it could outrun the 1964 Fairlane in the other lane. No passion, no individuality, no freedom — only a bland sea of turd shaped transportation modules shuffling from home to work. Yuck. The public is voting with their dollars, and they have rejected that vision despite what I would consider considerable loyalty to GM for days past.
GM has lost 2 percent market share per year for the last 30 years. This started when Roger Smith (an accountant) took over the chairmanship of the company. It used to be that GM had two people at the head, one from engineering who understood the product and one from the accounting side who understood the business. Once Roger took over, the technical side was shut out, the product suffered and market share dropped. In later years, they realized they were behind, but *always* shot for parity instead of superiority.
Things will get worse for GM before they get better. I was reading one interview with a GM executive who mentioned that for every 100 cars GM makes, it supports 30 people. This is more than double what Honda and Toyota carry. Additionally, the average GM line worker makes $65/hour including overtime, if they get laid off they get 95 percent of their salary (!) and if there is nothing for the line workers to do (line shutdown or change) they can go to a “job bank” where they sit around watching movies. This must change — the union is killing the host. If your costs are too high, you cannot put money back into the product to make it better than your competition. A vicious cycle ensues which has been going on for decades and has brought the big three to the brink of bankruptcy or even existence.
I don’t envy Rick Wagoner or Bill Ford one bit. Their tasks may be impossible to achieve. Personally, I don’t think GM will survive another 10 years. I hope it does, but the problems may not be surmountable.
On second thought, I’m not gonna get a Cadillac.
A NEW CONSERVATIVE CONTRACT
Re: Ben Stein’s Let’s Stand for Something:
Thanks for Ben Stein’s contract.
I agree with most except the “agonizing reappraisal of whether we should be in Iraq.” No, how about a forthright statement that Iraq is, at least now, central to the war on terror whether one thought it was at the beginning or not? Clearly, we are killing TERRORISTS! Let’s be bold about the clear morality and necessity of that!!!
Next, how about dismantling a Kremlin-style bureaucracy, over time? Have we achieved “energy independence” because of the Department of Energy? Has education improved because of the Department of Education? NO!!! Stop it and begin to dismantle it!!
Third, government is a monopoly. Monopolies, unless where absolutely necessary, should be abolished, i.e., most government functions should be privatized except those directly related to national security, with perhaps a very few other exceptions. Here, I propose the government “functionaries” should be “gatekeepers and policy makers” not “doers.” Hire that out under strict bidding processes.
Fourth, a bold statement that what made America great was its commitment to political, religious, economic and press freedoms! Further, it should be stated that we will never compromise these away.
Fifth, that America will continue to seek to be the world’s strongest military power for the foreseeable future because emerging threats from China, Russia, Africa and the terrorist world not only threaten us but the rest of the free world.
Sixth, reform our “Defined Benefit” (Social Security) retirement system and gradually (over 50 to 75 years) migrate to a “defined contribution” system.
Seventh, a “Marshall Plan” for energy development and use efficiencies.
Eighth, Improve legal immigration and enforce laws against illegal immigration.
— John Sorg