New Report Says More Law Needed - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
New Report Says More Law Needed
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International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, Rhode Island (Joy Brown/Shutterstock.com)

William Kristol wants John Legend, whom he calls “our Zelensky,” to stand as the Democrats’ nominee next election. That would be in 2024, but these days you cannot take anything for granted, even when it is written in our law.

Knowing Mr. Kristol, indeed being one of the happy few who can call him not only Bill, but Billy, I am inclined to think he was engaging in jest. Observers of our public affairs sometimes suggest unlikely candidates for appointive and elected positions as a way of calling attention to an urgent need that is missed by the herd of independent minds and the political class.

Is it sensible to rewrite history? Is there no harm in wrecking memory? These are the tools of tyrants. Forget your origins, o sons of liberty, and your liberties you will lose! High oratory, that. I do not know who said it, but I am fairly sure it was not John Legend. Maybe William Kristol?

In fact, I credited Bill with this rhetorical device, known as counterintuitive journalistic irony, when in the last desperate days of the 2016 campaign he supported a third-party effort, whose nominee would have been a retired federal government person residing in Utah. I thought the idea was to show the time was nigh for an anti-Swamp candidate, and this was a witty way to throw his support to the Man from Queens after a year of making vigorous and highly principled arguments against his qualifications, one of which being that he was promising to drain the Swamp.

But no, he was serious then and by all evidence still is. Consistency is a wonderful quality, notably in tennis, which I have been playing on the immaculate grass of Newport’s classy Hall of Fame Club these days.

Well, I shall ask Bill next time I see him, as I cannot place anyone named John Legend any better than I can remember who that federal employee was in 2016. For sure, if he has Mr. Kristol’s blessing, the fellow must be a patriot and an anti-communist and a free-market man — after all, those are the rock-ribbed themes around which Bill and I used to build our conversations. But the “our Zelensky” stung. Lately I have been losing sleep due to writing, early on in the eastern Europe horror show, that “we,” meaning us Americanos, ought to find politicians like Mr. Zelensky, the Ukraine president (elected in a free-and-fair). My short piece was premised on the notion that a man who tells Joe Biden (our president, also elected in a free-and-fair no more nor less than theirs, with Bill’s endorsement I might add), “send me bullets, not a ticket out” is our kind of guy.

My meaning was clear enough to me, but Mr. Pleszczynski often chides me that what is clear to me is not necessarily clear to anyone else. Several girlfriends and wives said the same thing, and they were not as kind and long-suffering as Mr. P. The one I love (like crazy) says the same, but she goes with it because she’s crazy in love with me. I am a lucky guy, and I keep telling myself I’m gon’ change my way of living.

Surely the virtues of foreigners should be admired, but that does not mean we should emulate them or suggest they should lead our country. Human qualities are universal and timeless, of course, but societies vary profoundly, and a man’s qualities as he learned to use them to serve his homeland may be inapplicable in another one.  Abstract as this point may be, failure to grasp it can have baleful consequences in choosing our fights, selecting friends, committing our resources and prestige in foreign lands.

Maybe we need foreigners to help us defend our republic, for example Von Steuben and Lafayette and some of those interpreters President Biden left behind in Kabul at the mercy of the crazies (not crazy in love, no), but not as C-in-C. We should not go abroad in search of saviors or even presidents. In the Old World it was not uncommon to do this, viz., even our English forerunners, who invited a Dutchman, William of Orange, to rule over them and put an end to the wars between Roundheads and Cavaliers and restore Magna Carta.

Our Constitution says you have to be born American to be president. And we should seek them out for qualities that we understand and that they learned and applied in dealing with life here, not out there someplace.

We have our own national character. Which, with sectional variations, is recognizable. You want a freedom fighter, look no farther than Davy Crockett. You want a Solon, wisest of the ancient Greeks, to put an end to corruption and demagogy, look no farther than George Washington and John Adams.

America needs a Charles de Gaulle, a colleague wrote in these very pages. Readers of this space know my view about the leader of Free France — the leader of Fifth Republic France is another matter — but no, we do not need “our” de Gaulle, any more than we need “our” Zelensky. “Our” Churchill may be the exception. Not only because my friend Bill used to quote him profusely, but also because, from his mother’s side, he was the most American of England’s great prime ministers. The only other possible candidate would be Disraeli, but few remember him, even in England.

Better keep it simple: If we cannot produce the man — or woman, but an actual real woman — we need, we may as well call it a day, or better yet, start over. Easily said, I know, but that is what Franklin meant when he said the Constitution was designed to enable such a radical contingency without war: “a republic if you can keep it.” Starting over, or fixing things, depends with knowing the Constitution and guarding it. In which realm recent presidents, and others in government, do not get passing marks.

Now in Rhode Island, as in Texas, starting over is always latent. Rhode Island until last year was called Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, but most people did not know this, so the name-changers, same gang as statue-wreckers, were able to sell it as a sensible no-harm move.

Is it sensible to rewrite history? Is there no harm in wrecking memory? These are the tools of tyrants. Forget your origins, o sons of liberty, and your liberties you will lose! High oratory, that. I do not know who said it, but I am fairly sure it was not John Legend. Maybe William Kristol?

Rhode Island, where I happen to be stopping, was pioneered by a man named Roger Williams, a champion of religious freedom who got sick of the don’t-do-your-own-thing spiel of the stuffed suits next door in Boston. He was a good man, a believer no less than they, but not a fanatic who thought the Roman Church should be banned.

It is a little gem of a place, paradise of sailors and fishermen and wind surfers. There are many Catholics here, as well as Jews — oldest synagogue in America. The accents remind you of what they call the Irish Channel in New Orleans. Love these melting pots, I do. And Rhode Island has a maritime climate, favorable to land as well as water sport.

The annual tennis tournament a couple weeks ago, on the lush green grass courts of the Hall of Fame Club, showcased American grit. What else is character but grit and courage? Maxime Cressy came from behind to outlast the Russian Kazakh Alexander Bublik in a thrilling third-set tiebreak, while veterans Steve Johnson and Will Blumberg, past winners both, won the doubles trophy against top-seeded Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo. International amity in sports: better than the fakery at Turtle Bay.

Maxime Cressy — 6-foot-6 (unusual for a native Parisian), lean, fit, earlier in his career a top player at UCLA — has a game based on serve-and-volley, well suited to grass. He had a slow start and Alexander Bublik, who is six-five and also lean and fit but not Parisian, outplayed him with shrewd and daring passing shots, 6–2.

Bublik plays under the Kazakh flag, as does this year’s Wimbledon ladies’ draw winner Elena Rybakina, who is a native Muscovite. Bublik is from a city farther north that was briefly renamed for Leon Trotsky, one of the Bolshevik terrorists who led the Russian Revolution. He fell out of favor, and the place is now named something or other. This fate has befallen a number of American venues. We might ought to worry about what the name-changing, statue-wrecking frenzy says about monument and memorial policy in some of our towns and private places.

Also, it is not sporting to ban athletes from tournaments on account of their race or nationality, which is what happened this year at the All-England Championships. To be sure, the officials who run the AELTC (All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club) were following guidelines set by Mr. Tyrrell’s pal Boris Johnson, who, as PM, meant to do the right thing for Volodymyr Zelensky, in this case deprive the Russians aggressors of bragging rights on English soil. Sadly, it makes our side — the Western side, the Free World side — look like chauvinists, not patriots.

Neither Mr. Bublik nor Miss Rybakina chose Kazakhstan for anti-war reasons. Like many Russians, they emigrated to the ex-Soviet Central Asian country years ago in search of opportunity, just as Mr. Cressy came to California. They felt underappreciated by the Russian tennis authorities, which is one reason why it is best to keep government, and a fortiori authoritarian governments, out of sports, a point the Title IX or what-all crowd ought to have digested by now but cannot because they depend on it for their jobs. But that is another matter.

The Kazakhs sought to gain fame, friends, and influence by associating their flag with Big Sports. Numbers of Arab petro-despots are doing this as well, buying into European soccer clubs and using slave labor to build venues for the forthcoming round-ball World Cup (many have been killed due to the working conditions).

No one in his right mind plays soccer, a sport invented in England, in these deserts. Nor golf, another English invention. The profit motive is fine, but it must be tempered by moral sentiments — this from another English mind (Scottish, rather), and there is no clear evidence that these Arab sports entrepreneurs in soccer and golf have more morality that the fat cats who sat in the Roman bleachers watching the gladiators kill each other and the lions kill the Christians.

Kazakhstan is a somewhat different story and its climate is more propitious to sports, and Russians have been moving there since the 19th century, and, in fact, there have been decades when there were more “ethnic Russians” there than there were “native Kazakhs” (part of it was due to Stalin’s mass-death policies). The Kazakhs are again in the majority, but the Russians are numerous.

At the Hall of Fame, Bublik’s dominance continued in the second set with his passing shots and shrewd slices to the sidelines. He is a master of improvised tactics that throw his opponents off their games. Cressy is no give-upper, and he stopped the bleeding at 0–3, found his zone at the net, and climbed back, breaking in the seventh game with a pair of sizzling returns of serve and coasting to a solid 6–3 win, forcing a decider.

At 5–3 in the tiebreak, Cressy served big over the alley and got it away from Bublik’s long reach. The championship point came so fast that I suspect many watching from the grandstands in Stadium Court did not see Cressy’s forehand return of serve on the ad side — it may even have escaped Bublik; more likely he knew he could only look. It was a fine match, and, in his impeccable California accent, Cressy, a poster-boy for American immigration policy, showed his sportsmanship is up to his game.

It speaks well of colonial Rhode Island that the ex-colony-then-independent-state resisted signing the Constitution. It is the best constitution since Solon’s, indeed better than his, but for that very reason it is to their credit that the Rhodes, or Rogues as they are sometimes aptly known — stiff-necked in their individualism — thought it through, rather than take it on a dare or from fear of being called nasty names.

Our public life can stand brutal language, likely even draws energy from it. I am scarcely the first to notice that the brutality has been overtaken by vicious nastiness, reflecting the intolerant narrow minds of ideologues.

This is most alarmingly demonstrated by the no-brains who rail against the Supreme Court and insult and threaten the men and women who fill its seats. The court-packers and term-limiters are wreckers. They are against not this or that decision but the process (one of Clarence Thomas’s oft-used words) that is indispensable to protecting liberty. They despise due process, checks and balances — to which life-tenure on the Court makes an irreplaceable contribution — and the federalist safety valve against centralizing tyranny. What they want is the rule of the mob, which means the rule of the dictator.

This was no less true when the Court had a majority whose intellectual affinities were far from Justice Thomas’. Decisions made in a lawful process are worthy of respect; otherwise, why bother taking the time to overturn them?

I sincerely do not know if the answer to democracy’s problems, as an eminent philosopher noted, is more democracy. I think his thought here was more qualified than what the oft-cited quote suggests. I am pretty well convinced that the response to problematic or outright bad law is more law — not more laws, but adherence to our law. As Bill Kristol, student of Harvey Mansfield, knows.

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