You can say you are going to correct your drive down the fairway or your down the line backhand shot in ’15, or for once find an intelligent stockbroker and actually follow his advice, or definitively and finally restructure the third generation’s trust funds so that whatever happens to you while on some godforsaken halfassed harebrained mission to nowheresville they will be set and while you are at it you can make sure your funeral costs are all paid up in full, you follow? A lot of things you can resolve to do.
Go ahead, I certainly am not the man who will stop you.
I will even applaud.
I will not believe what you say, though. I will not say so. I am not a negative sort of individual and I believe in giving my fellow man the benefit of the doubt and the old go-for-it. But if I know you, my skepticism will be on high alert, because frankly, if you have not done these things already, why should your will-to-power, your determination, your resoluteness, your courage, in short your strength of character change during the week of the year when you are at your flabbiest worst?
Last week of the year, and what have you been up to? Boozing and eating. Saying perfectly stupid cornball nonsense to relatives you do not even call on the phone the other 51 weeks. Making advice lists for everybody. No one will take them seriously. There is an even chance no one will even read them. So, this is when I am supposed to believe you, on the last most self-indulgent sentimental self-deceptive day of the year? No, sir, forget it.
Take public policy. Why should you believe any politician who says he resolves to “fight” and “work” to “curb government spending” or what all. So you see my point.
Now what if we resolved to put non-politicians in charge of things? Would that be better? We could, for example, resolve to put brainy guys in charge. Intellectuals. Word boys (and girls). I can hear Allan Bloom laughing at that idea — “Sophists! You want to put the sophists in charge? Hee hee hee.. Wait till I tell Werner.” (He meant Professor Werner Dannhauser.)
Piqued, I would offer a model cabinet. “Look here, Allan,” I see myself saying. (My gosh, how I miss him — here is a resolution: try to write some intelligent reminiscences of great souls we should remember, instead of sentimental low humor.) “Why, you could put, ah, I don’t know, John Bolton at State, you know, James Wilson,” (alas, alas, another one) “at social policy, you know, Health and Human Services or whatever they call it, and, you know, Bennett at Education, until we abolish that department, ah, Chuck Norris or Angelo Codevilla at Defense, Bill Kristol at Chief of Staff, Condoleezza Rice returns to government as ambassador to UN and gives the world the straight dope, need I go on? Norman Podhoretz out of retirement and head of USIA, war of ideas and so forth, and Bob Tyrrell can do the job at Treasury, we need a sound financial guy at Treasury.”
What would Bloom say to such a brilliant idea? He would say one of several possible things. “Where did you say we are going to dinner?” or, “Umm, that suit fits you beautifully, who did you say is your tailor?” or, “You know in The Symposium, where Alibiades insults Socrates by suggesting…”
So that idea is out. Actually, the fact is that putting intellectuals in charge is a sure fire way to make bad government even worse. In the exceptional period of the early years of our Republic, the situation was propitious to intellectuals-in-government — Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Jay, e tutti — because they had just invented a new regime. That was the one time it was possible. They had to stay real, because it was so easy for them to be swept away. In other situations, it is like giving kids matches and gasoline.
So, if you cannot resolve to do that, why resolve to do anything? If you want, you can resolve to solve the immigration issue. No more Mexicans. I am not against Mexicans, but you have to be fair and non-discriminatory, and my idea is, let us resolve to let no one in for six months (allowing for six-month extensions if we have not solved the issue by then). Then Mexicans, as well as Italians and Egyptians and Greeks and Russians, have to be told politely to wait until we have solved our Immigration Question. You know, decided on a sensible public policy. We could also, to show the world we are not selfish bastards, say, no one out, either. Exactly what you read, pal, nobody leaves.
In other words, we should pass a law closing everything down. Nothing like it to concentrate our minds on the question. Because it will be a pain in the ass: nobody in, nobody out. Me, for example, I would not be able to travel overseas to cover the tennis tour, and that, after all, is my livelihood. But in the national interest, I agree to abide by the rules, because sacrifices must be shouldered by one and all.
Forget about your honeymoon in London or your visit to the Scottish Highlands or your Irish great-great-great-grandparents’ hometown. No, nothing. The only exception would be military operations to stop our enemies. Observe that the good thing here is that it would halt in their tracks all the redundant striped pants and democracy busybodies who get in the way of stopping our enemies with cold steel and hot ordnance. Meanwhile, we would become aware of the need for fresh, dynamic, hungry people in our midst: immigrants.
Successful American foreign policy requires immigration, because the truth is that we influence other lands by means of the news emigrants send home, and strong defense, which is to say second-to-none war-making power. Beyond that, I am not sure we need to worry about foreign policy. Resolved: abolish the State Department except for Consular services.
Indeed, I think when everything is closed down, our enemies will cringe and sue for peace. They will sue for peace before we even declare war on them. We could even resolve not to declare war on anybody, they still would cringe and sue. They will figure that we are keeping everyone at home so we can unleash our mighty bombers and other righteous kinetic apparata without risk of killing innocents abroad. The terms will be simple enough: conform to our international armaments regime, and conform to our international migrations regime. We will not even have to add “or else.”
As to said regimes, we can figure those out in our own good time, though I guess we will do so quickly. After all, closing down the borders will be an inconvenience — for, though personally I would be happy to cover Indian Wells instead of the Brazil Open, once is enough, you know? And I still think we at TAS should be covering the Australia-and-Pacific (as it is now called) Open. And that’s in a few weeks, so we better hurry.
Consider: we Americans, when we set our minds to something, move fast. Time is money. The reason we have not devised a sensible policy on immigration (and a few other Big Social Issues) is that we have not set our minds to it. And that is because it is in the interests of the rascals in our legislatures, as well as certain Interest Groups, to keep these problems festering.
Maybe I will just resolve to concentrate on my backhand. And to play more with my grandson. He has awfully good groundstrokes for a 9-year old but he is still too small to give me a hard time. Just to put it this way shows how selfish I have been. Okay, I will play with him regular. Resolved: I will not smash my racquet when he beats me. Which should be by the third week of June, if I am lucky.