Thursday, December 27, 2007
Personal Asides: Thank God for the Permanent Campaign Time Magazine Has Disqualified Itself Then the Periodical Reading List.
Conventional wisdom holds that the presidential campaign season is much too longthat it no sooner ended in 2004 than it began in earnest for 2008. Thats correct for which I for one thank God. Short campaign seasons in this era of instant communications can be disastrous for this country. Think what could easily have happened had we spent only a few months with candidates campaigning before the 2008 conventions.
First, wed have started off with an almost dead certainty that Rudy Giuliani would be the Republican nominee. He still might but hes been losing ground after going months upon monthsuntil late breaking events forced more public attention: (1) the Bernard Kerik indictments, (2) the linkage of the two worst ideas politically ever to be contained in one sentence(a) presidential candidate and (b) girl friend. The disclosure that Judi Nathan was guarded by New York police while she was being courted by Giuliani caused me to decide that Rudy is nothing more than a national reincarnation of Eddie Vrdolyak. You knowEddie the charming rogue. You want him to beat the latest rap but newer raps keep coming along all the time, leading you to the conclusion that he is, through his own fault, highly accident prone. So is Giuliani. I admire Giuliani. If, God forbid, we have another terrorist attack on these shores there will undoubtedly be a drive to Giulianigaining him the nomination and the election. In that eventuality he might be unbeatable. But we can and should be able to do much better initially than to nominate the man who Jim Thompson says is Big Jims kind of Republican. I confess: that did it for me.
Second, the long-long campaign season gave rise to Mike Huckabee and then the continuing strafing of Mike Huckabee. I still say that if someone can convince him to ditch the Fair Tax he could be an excellent vice presidential candidate. Why? For pragmatic reasons mostly. Though he is solidly pro-life, he brings to the table a sizable chunk of blue-collar, evangelical and beneficial anti-Wall Street aura that is needed to win the election. And with a number of years with the experience of the vice presidency under his belt, he might very well be a superb presidential candidate and president. The flyspecking criticism raised about him dont bother me for a moment. A governorship is where a trade of presidentiality should be learned. He was a remarkable governor albeit with some mistakes. And, after all, hes only 52, far younger than most of the other candidates.
Third, the overlong campaign has given the benefit of a lot of seasoning to Mitt Romney, my choice, testing him with all kinds of problems which might make him a better presidential nominee. Fourth, it may very well be that the super-enlarged season allowed John McCain who is a noble candidate and one who wisely declared our goal in Iraq should be victory to re-attain his stature. Because I am a thorough-going Republican, I could easily support McCain although he is not my first choice.
Fourth, the very extended campaign showed us the folly of a media hyped candidateFred Thompsonwho really doesnt have much to offer something we might not have discovered sufficiently if the campaign hadnt drawn on interminably. Long-long campaigns should be de rigeur in these times when the Internet and cable television play a short-range kaleidoscope effect on our consciousness. Besides, since politics have never bored me, I enjoy it rather than speculating about which team will do best chasing a pellet around a field.
The choice of Vladimir Putin by Time magazine as its man of the year is only slightly less outrageous than its bypassing of Ronald Reagan in 1999 to pick as its man of the decade Mikhail Gorbachev. It showed that the magazine was run by liberal elitists unsympathetic with the facets of history. How anyone could imagine that Gorbachev rather than Reagan contributed more to international affairs is beyond me. Yet all you have to do to understand the liberal mindset is to read the Putin article. No, Im wrong. There is one more thing you have to do in order to understand the liberal mind-set. You have to read Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.s postmortem book Journal which contains his (supposedly) innermost thoughts from the 1950s through the early beginning of this century. I recommend you get it and read it. You will never again be intimidated by those who Stand Tall in Georgetown.
There is no doubt that if Time was an American publication it would have chosen Gen. David Petraeus for the cover honor. That it did not shows that, increasingly, the liberal cause has moved from patriotism to a rooting against America.
Because I realized this when the magazine chose Gorbachev, I have resolved never to read it. Let me tell you what newspapers and journals I do readand invite you to tell me what you read.
Daily and Weekly Reads.
I start off each morning with the Sun-Times ghastly though its National Enquirer burlesque is. I chortle over Jack Higgins, admire Fran Spielman, look for the latest by Abdon Pallasch, devour Dan Millers excellently edited business pages. I think Tim Novak richly deserves the Pulitzer.
Then the Tribune which on the whole has gotten significantly better in the past two years. I am always touched by Kass think he is long overdue for a Pulitzer and am impressed that the editorials have begun to have some bite to them. Then the Wall Street Journal which to my mind is the best national newspaper published. Followed by The New York Times which is, no matter how I chafe at it, is extraordinarily well edited. I look for David Brooks although he has become ponderous lately; I gush over Maureen Dowd who is about as good as Ann Coulter in her way.
Each week I devour The Weekly Standard with which I appear to agree on almost everything. National Review has gotten a great deal better since when old Bill ran it winding on and on about his yacht races and how he thrills to rattle off Bach on his harpsichord (advertisements for himself); I like the cut of its jib. I cannot miss The Economist especially its book reviews. Human Events is a must, especially John Gizzis politics. I read The New Republic because I think its style of writing is superb. The New Yorker which is as snooty as ever but fascinating. Vanity Fair for a dash of spice. First Things published by Richard John Neuhaus for one thingNeuhaus commentaries in the back of the book. When rarely I find I cannot sleep I delve into an article by Cardinal Dulles especially when he writes about sex and go off to slumberland in a minute. It is exceedingly difficult to write boringly about sex but Dulles and the late John Paul the Great found the knack.
In The Weekly Standard I like Bill Kristol best of all; Fred Barnes comes second but I think he is sometimes echoing a favorite White House line. For a witty and wise, albeit sardonic, bit of humor I like Joe Epstein.
All in all, for international affairs I read Commentary. I am gratified that its new editor will be John Podhoretz. I would like to meet his father Norman since Ive been reading him for years and generally subscribe to his viewsbut I find Norman is a bit too-too chauvinistically pro-Israel for me. Not that I am anti but I do not wish to decide my foreign policy on the grounds of what is satisfactory to Israel. I fear Norman does but then he is very scholarly, a crisp writer and very good. John, his son, is more balanced. Also a witty film reviewer.
I read The Wanderer of course among Catholic newspapers, not just because they allow me to write for it but because I am grateful that there is a publication with its guts around that is not overly timorous about the bishops. Also Catholic Answers and This Rock. Catholic World Report published by Ignatius is outstanding. I read John Allen online in The National Catholic Reporter and find he has a truly mature knowledge of the Vatican and the papacynot his newspaper necessarily. The publications I conscientiously veer away from are Time, Newsweek and U. S. News. ThereIm sure I have forgotten some but do tell me what you read.