Monday, February 18, 2008
Personal Asides: Adeline Geo-Karis Apology to M. Stanton Evans for Believing a Review in National Review The Romney Valedictory the Andy Jackson Legacy. .
We need not be too respectful of the mediocre dead, should we? State Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis was an old pro-abort battleaxe endowed with a flatulent ego who swaggered as a vehement blunderbuss character in the Lake county GOP. She took positions viscerally without a moments concentration on the reasons they should be adopted. She was a hack, a close friend of Jim Thompson, a log-roller par excellence who after many years of service to the Republicans was dropped from reelection at an advanced agefor which she supported the nominee of the Democratic party. Nothing utterly nothing unusual about her except that this vain know-all was a breakthrough for women, Illinois Republican ones especially, in roughly the same way that John Stroger was for Illinois Democratic blacks (but I repeat myself). Neither public servant was exceptional, demonstrated courage or innovation. So shes dead. She has collected a good many lachrymose obits from journalists, mainly liberals. But she shall receive only this from me which is meaningful nonetheless: R.I.P.
I owe the eminent conservative author and journalist M. Stanton Evans a deep-felt apology and myself a severe self-condemnation for believing a review that appeared in the National Review about his book concerning Joe McCarthy. The review was by one Ron Rodosh whom I understand to be employed by the Hudson Institute. Rodosh savaged Evans book on Joe McCarthy, Blacklisted by History: the Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His fight Against Americas Enemies. I did not know McCarthy, having come to Washington shortly after his death. But I have been fascinated with him for years and have in my library William F. Buckleys McCarthy and His Enemies along with as few others including Thomas Reeves Joe McCarthy and His Times which is unfavorable. Walter Judd had a distinctively mixed opinion of McCarthybelieving that he was in the main exactly right about Communist penetration of government but who lost credibility because of a recklessness in presentation.
Hoping to get the right answer, I thumbed Evans book in Barnes & Noble and was initially impressed. Then I read a review my damned fault for absorbing it unchecked for which I could kick myself in National Review by Rodosh. Rodosh alleged that Evans did not give him credit for research. When next I went to the bookstore I looked at the documentation and did not find references to Rodosh. Thats when I went wrong. I wrote my impressions of Joe and recited Rodoshs charges of credit pirating. After being called up short on this by Stanton, I checked again more deeply and found that Rodosh was trying to wangle credit as a secondary source and that in fact Stanton Evans had credited the original sources in all his laudatory and exemplary work.
Now I have Stan Evans book and guarantee that I shall never read a review or commentary by Rodosh again. If you, like me, have heard that the National Review is going soft and weasely let the Rodosh review be a clue. That should be the last time Rodosh is published in that magazine: Ill keep checking. My latest and lasting impression is that Rodosh is a self-serving phony.
Romney Valedictory Speech.
I have very proud that for most of the campaign my candidate for president was Mitt Romney and never more proud of him was I than when he delivered his valedictory speech, which was the announcement to the Conservative Political Action Committee that he is pulling out. I commend it to you. It can be found in Realclearpolitics for February 8, 2008. Pull it up. It is a masterpiece.
The thing I liked about it is that it begins where any precise criticism of current public affairs shouldwith the culture. I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st centurystill a great nation but no longer the leader of the world, no longer the superpower.
He cites Simon Peres who in a visit to Boston said, America is unique in the history of the world. IN the history of the world, whenever there has been a conflict, the nation that wins takes land from the nation that loses. One nation in historyand this during the last centurylaid down hundreds of thousands of lives and took no land. No land from Germany, no land from Japan, no land from Korea. America is unique in the sacrifice it has made for libertyfor itself and for freedom-loving people around the world.
He cites David Landes, a professor emeritus from Harvard whose work has traced the coming and going of great civilizations throughout history.
Landes concludes that, in Romneys words, as follows: If we learn anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes all the difference. Culture makes the difference. What is it about American culture that has led us to become the most powerful nation in the history of the world? We believe in hard work and education. We lost opportunity: almost all of us are immigrants or descendents of immigrants who came here for opportunityopportunity is in our DNA. Americans love God and those who dont have faith, typically believe in something greater than themselvesa purpose-driven life. And we sacrifice everything we have, even our lives, for our families, our freedoms and our country
The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960s welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare but liberals havent given up. At every turn they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to pay more people on Medicaid and to remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drugwe have to fight it like the poison it is!
The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornographyeven celebration of itand sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to todays grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out of wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children and 25% of white children. How much harder is it for these children to succeed in school and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children and raised without fathers in the home. Do get a copy of the speech and read it closely. This man is going to run for the presidency againand I hope he will be more successful.
When I think of our passing up the chance to have this man run for president as the Republican nominee brilliantly successful entrepreneur, manager, Massachusetts governor, civic leader I am desolate. However there just might be some truth in what my old staffer friend told me not long ago as we had lunchthat John McCain could be the man for this time. For one thing it may well be that he is the only Republican who can get elected by bringing in independents and some Democrats to join with the Republican base that Rush Limbaugh allows to survive after he wreaks his juvenilia in his daily broadcasts.
The Jackson Legacy.
A faithful reader of this website and an exceedingly thoughtful discussant and occasional breakfast partner after Mass at St. John Cantius, Mike Buck, points out that some years ago when I wrote several columns about great, mediocre and poor presidents, I listed Andrew Jackson in the latter category. I take him at his word since today I cannot find my summation of Jackson but I recall the effort at synthesizing presidents in one or two sentences as part of a 700-word package was a very dissatisfying one. Jackson was indeed an irascible president who though a southerner stood for preservation of the Union at a time when to have faltered would have made the difference. The twin toasts made by his vice president, John C. Calhoun and Jackson testify to this Jackson: The Federal Unionit must be preserved!....Calhoun, the principal advocate of the Souths right to nullify federal laws: The Unionnext to our liberty the most dear!
Mike quotes me as approving Jacksons willingness to fight for the Union with the symbol of Tariff of 1832, less drastic than the so-called Tariff of Abominations. This displeased South Carolina which quickly enacted the Ordinance of Nullification that declared the tariff null and void in that state. Jackson responded with a proclamation warning South Carolina to comply with the tariff law and rightly pronouncing that the Ordinance of Nullification was uncompatible [sic] with the existence of the Union. To those toying with secession he declared; Disunion by armed force is treason. Are you ready to incur its guilt? If you are, on the heads of the instigators of the act be the dreadful consequences; on their heads be the dishonor but on yours may fall the punishment. He got from Congress the power to use armed force to collect import duties. The matter ended with passage of the Tariff of 1833, a compromise by Sen. Henry Clay that was acceptable to Jackson and the South. A weaker man or even a more civil man possibly a more balanced man would have dithered at the Calhoun challenge. With all his faults, the tide of incipient treason and disunion broke on the rock that was Andrew Jackson. Then you had the incalculable waste of the patronage system Jackson abused, his pigheaded stand on the Bank of the United States, the Senate censure he received after he distributed federal funds to pet banks (withdrawn in 1837), the fact that the state banks touched off a round of inflation and land speculation which Jackson sought to adjust with the Specie Circular which is thought to have prompted the Panic of 1837 under Van Buren.
I am far from sanguine that Jackson was the calm, even-handed president this country should repair to but in my estimation the coming years are going to be horrendous and require a strong hand on the tiller. The fact that he is regarded by historians as very high in the firmament or was at least in 1962 has to do with how he managed this main challenge: threat of disunion. His treatment of the Indians was heartrendingly appalling but contributed to the up-building of the country. He dismissed Indian claims of sovereignty in the Southeast by supporting Georgias efforts to remove the Cherokee from that state. He encouraged various tribes to accept a federal offer of land west of the Mississippi where, he promised, they would enjoy sovereignty foreverthe Great White Father lied. The Supreme Court ruled in Worcester v. Georgia in 1832 that the Cherokee nation was a distinct community over which the laws of Georgia had no force. As president Jackson was sworn to enforce the law including this one: he did not. Instead federal troops led 15,000 Cherokees on a forced march from Georgia to what is now Oklahoma. One out of every four Indians died in a journey the Cherokees refer to as the trail of tears. For this he could well have been impeached.
Not pretty I know. But there was a kind of majesty about him, the same leadership that characterized George Patton. With all the sufferings he went through POW in the Revolution as a near child incredible hardship in the army brash and daring in war short-tempered and irascible in his presidency he was seen to have survived because divine Providence was on his side. Take the assassination attempt on his life in 1835, the first attempt on any president. As he was leaving the Capitol following a meeting, a deranged housepainter, Richard Lawrence, 32, approached to a distance of 13 feet and fired a single-shot derringer at Jackson. Although the percussion cap exploded properly, the gunpowder failed to ignite. Jackson lunged forward and took a swipe at him with his cane. Lawrence then produced a second derringer and fired, this time at point-blank range. It too did not fire. After Lawrences trial his derringers were examined and found to be in working order. The odds of two such weapons malfunctioning in succession was put at one in 125,000.