Close Readings - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Close Readings

In response to John Corry’s July 14 column, “Taylor Made in Liberia,” I agree that Bush’s presidency could be far better for Africa than Clinton’s was. I seldom support Bush on any matter, so this is no small concession. I feel that Clinton should have acted in Rwanda when everyone knew that carnage would ensue. Clinton was more concerned with approval ratings after Somalia, and gambled that Americans would not care so much about his inaction. Bush will get little domestic, political capital from intervention in Liberia, but doing the right thing rarely earns political reward. Far too much suffering transpires in Africa, regardless of why, and with Liberia, we have a special historical link. There is integrity in honoring that link, and I applaud Bush for his forceful demand on Taylor, regardless of what physical commitments the U.S. ultimately makes.

We should consider that more money leaves Africa as interest payment on the accumulated debt of despotic rulers than returns in foreign aid. Perhaps it is both kind and wise, as we consider pushing others to forgive Iraqi debts, to forgive African debt and re-direct aid in a string-attached manner that rewards true democratic development. We should make that aid count in real terms, not simply for what it translates into for domestic political gain. I praise Bush for bringing up Liberia, regardless of his true motive. As for the AIDS money, I will retain judgment until the $15 billion actually shows up in the President’s budgets.
Aaron Shur
Seattle, WA

Re: Jeremy Lott’s Faux of Orwell:

I enjoyed Jeremy Lott’s review of the recent writings of Christopher Hitchens, but was a bit confused by his conclusion: “Hitchens tried for a sort of ‘Politics of the English Language lite and wound up with a bad McGuffey reader impression instead.”

The McGuffey Readers, contrary to the impression Mr. Lott conveyed here, were a distillation of religious instruction, culture, manners, and knowledge unparalleled in the annals of the American Education system. Those who studied with them are better for it. If Mr. Lott would consult the originals, he would retract the parallelism with “lite.”

I think he means “Dick and Jane.”

But then again, maybe he was just drunk.
James N. Ward
Paris, France

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Politics Breeds Contempt:

Mr. Tyrrell concludes: “A more intriguing point for me would be to know how many members of the political class enter politics free of anger. Is it possible that the commonweal is the product not of benevolence but of malice?”

Is it not agreed that politics is merely war without bullets? And,
according to Churchill, more dangerous? There is no doubt that hatred of the enemy is a primary driving force.

The difficult question when precisely does one enter politics? For Dick Armey, it was when he said, “I can do a better job than that.”

My entry was far less well-defined. I have often referred to myself as a “Clinton Republican,” my fear of that regime having motivating me to become a political activist. It is an error, however, to state that I entered politics at that time. I entered politics at the age of ten, when I decided that the freedoms in this country were worth defending, and that, when the time came, I would pay the rent on them. I did not realize at the time that our freedoms were under a greater internal threat than external.
Nathan Zook
Austin, TX
(veteran, USAF; veteran, Tenn. ANG)

Re: George Neumayr’s Acid Raines and Hired Keller:

George Neumayr’s piece on the Raines/Rose interview reminded me of why I’m eager to read the Spectator. Apart from pointing out Keller’s contempt for the Catholic Church (about which I was unaware), Neumayr concisely translated exactly what I was thinking after having read the Raines/Rose interview last week.

Rose’s interview was my first exposure to Howell Raines personally, and I’m incredulous that he was highly regarded by, of all people, the publisher of the New York Times. I read this gem of stock-in-trade liberal excuse for getting canned:

“…it came at a time when I, coming in as the change agent to raise the creative metabolism of the paper to make it more performance-oriented, was increasing demands on the staff at the same time that for budgetary reasons we were not expanding the staff as fast as we should be and I should have been quicker to recognize that I was more and more putting tremendous work pressures on this staff, which responded wonderfully. I worked them too hard and didn’t rest them enough.”

Then Raines mused, “…the young reporters in his department felt that I had pushed the expectation level too high for journalistic performance. That’s probably my saddest moment as executive editor.”

Two things sprang to mind, an image of the sad and confused plantation owner porch-rocking with a Julip musing about his exhausted, underpaid, and rebellious slaves, and the cowboy wisdom I’d heard all my life, “The first thing to do when you get somewhere is take care of the horse you rode in on”. Having failed to take care of those he rode in on, Raines was destined for an even rougher ride toward his Eldorado of “competitive excellence.”

And finally, thank you, Mr. Neumayr, for hammering this precise anvil strike: “Raines amusingly alternated between praising his ‘talented’ staff and implying they were losers unable to recognize his genius.” Amusing, perhaps, but upon first reading my skin crawled.
Doc Watson

Re: The Washington Prowler’s Bill Clinton Does Africa:

You should know that in our local Books-a-Million in Bradenton, Florida, that Hillary’s book was marked at 30 percent off, plus 10 percent off if you were a member of their club, two days after the book hit the shelves. That I think is why it sold so well.
— unsigned

As a visiting dignitary representing the people he so truly cares about, Mr. Clinton should lay a wreath on the funeral pyres’ ashes and mass graves of Rwanda to show he feels their pain. He could get Terry McAuliffe to expense it to the DNC.

With Daily Amazement,
Marvin Hill
Lewisville, NC

Re: Enemy Central’s Nobility Prizes:

Peter Jennings is a high school dropout. He regularly proclaimed this in NYC in the mid ’60s.

Angola. Armenia. Alabama. Astoria. Andalusia. Attica. How about — can I say “Amos & Andy”? — “Anaconda Mutual” (Incorporated under the laws of the Republic of Patagonia)?
Kevin Smith
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Re: Jed Babbin’s July SGO:

Glad someone else has noticed how craven the official Air Force response has been to the charges of rape at the AFA (déjà Tailhook all over again).

As usual in these matters, when the charger is female and the chargee male, we revert to the judicial standards and procedures of the Queen of Hearts. Punishment first — trial later.

I’ve no idea what happened at the AFA. And the way the civilian Air Force establishment is going about things, we’ll likely never find out. It’s clear to me that Roche et al are not even interested in finding out what happened. He’s only interested in political sucking up and appeasing. (OK, OK — before some compassionate conservative pops a rivet — rape is a terrible crime and anyone who did it should be harshly punished. All the more reason to go about this in a judicious, not a political way.)

It’s truly amazing how powerful the feminist lobby has become – even in a supposedly conservative Republican administration. If we’re going to adopt Brother Roche’s approach as our official rules of engagement whenever we mix it up with feminists, perhaps we should take “In God We Trust” off the coins and replace it with “Yes, Dear.”
Larry Thornberry
Tampa, FL

Although I know politics is a very complicated game, after nearly two years of studying the American way I find I can understand which way the wind is blowing from reading the Prowler each and every day, as well as many others. It is an interest I cannot stop, it just gets more interesting every day!

I agree totally with your remark about the disarray. It is a feeling of too much criticism of the president by nine, count them, nine presidential candidates, each and every one going after any move he makes on any situation. Now, let’s not forget the old boy Clinton either as his mouth never stops spewing out blame and telling the world how wonderful he is, bless his little mean heart. Of course, the lady of his life does not help either. The liberals are going to let any issue, large or small to discredit him with and the Republicans need to speak out for him and themselves. If he continues to do well in the polls, and looks good for re-election in ’04, the Republicans will certainly be the winners, and it is him they will owe it to, so perhaps they can get to work defending him.

At this point in time, the president has only these few challenges on his plate. Iraq, Afghanistan, Israeli, Palestinian road map, Africa, Liberia, the coming election, the prescription bill, the judges problem, the tax bill, the unemployment problem, the EU acting like children again, the incredible gay marriage matter which I am sure is going to become an issue (sorry about that), J. Kerry’s hair, Hillary’s masterpiece, and I am sure even more. Whew, perhaps it is time the Republicans stood up here and let the world know he is not superman, and give credit where it is due. (Forgot the money he has to raise for the election!)

I watch him and his wonderful wife work so very hard nearly each and every day and wonder if all the Republicans are taking this for granted now. He is not perfect, but he certainly gives all anyone could to his position. Would you rather have old bill back and watch him golf and party?

Well, that is my rant. Perhaps he should start to focus on one area, but which would you have it be? The timing of the war and the process of peace with the election is a tough one.
Carole Graham

Re: David Hogberg’s No to Gay Adoption:

I read Mr. Hogberg’s piece and I think that opposing adoption is a sound strategy. I also wish more conservatives would abandon the barbarians at the gate mentality and think more like he does. That being said I have two observations:

The first is I believe there is an opposition to gay behavior/lifestyle choices found in all of the major religions, so I don’t understand how he could find no intrinsic judgment on gay parents given the clarity of the major religions. All good causes have moral grounding and I really didn’t think that your argument against changing the building block of society is strong enough on its own. For me it would be enough, but Americans have pretty much signed on to divorce so I am concerned about putting all of our eggs in that basket.

The second point really ties into the first, that we are going to be up against a tidal wave of pro-gay sentiment. The media and the courts have taken sides. The sympathetic coverage of gay adoption is going to be widespread. I can see it now: It’s going to be conservatives opposing the “love” of two lesbians (who by the way are upstanding members of their community) and they’ll have a cute young kid who is hugging both gay parents while Diane Sawyer emotes in the background. So it is my humble opinion that we’ll need not only Mr. Hogberg’s “changing the building block of society” argument, but a strong religious argument that attacks the immorality of homosexual behavior if opposition is to have any chance.
Anthony Dicello
Bethesda, MD

Re: Lawrence Henry’s Naked Politics Is Local, Too:

Do you suppose it’s too late for a compromise in North Andover? Why not build the transfer station and have topless attendants?
Wm. Kelly
Fort Madison, IA

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