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W H TO IS AT S L T TO UC IK RU D C EL M L IN E Y P DB ED ER A G T DECEMBER 5, 2016
. . . on art of the American Revolution, football, the Harvard Lampoon, Henry V, and more!
Contents December 5, 2016 • Volume 22, Number 13 2 5 7
The Scrapbook Casual Editorials
Joyce Carol Oates on JFK, condescension on campus, & more
Lee Smith phones home Keep Your Panic Dry by William Kristol Change in the Legal Climate by Mark Hemingway
10 Very Special Relationship
Trump, Farage, and a transatlantic triangle
His favorite weapon
Democratic losses in the age of Obama
Democrats lose a Southern holdout
But we probably didn’t learn them
11 Tweeter in Chief
13 The Butcher’s Bill
14 Not so Blue-grass
15 Lessons from an Election 10
Features 18 His Reelection Plan
Things Trump is likely to succeed at
Slowly but surely, blue has changed to red
22 Turning Pennsylvania
Nathan Benefield & Gerard Alexander
Books & Arts 26 The Rebels’ Art
28 Laugh Fiercely
Pictures from a revolution, and after
Does Harvard have a sense of humor?
Nehemiah, from cup-bearer to constitution
How, and why, there is an Audubon Society
The transformation of football, one coach at a time
There’s more to Henry V than victory at Agincourt
Albert Murray, philosopher of jazz
Fred Basset’s contribution to the Special Relationship
The Americanization of the Jesuits, and vice versa
The story of English in the history of the OED
A priestly avocation for murder
29 Jerusalem’s Reformer 18
30 Birdman of America
32 Running on Empty
36 Upbeat Downbeat
M. Banner Jr.
38 Transatlantic Hound
39 Looking Outward
40 Stuff of Language 42 Felonious Monk 26
Christoph Irmscher by
34 Renaissance Hal
David J. Wolpe
AP style in the Trump era COVER: GEOFFREY CHAUCER BY MARK SUMMERS
ast week was the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which the Washington Post observed by inviting the ubiquitous novelist Joyce Carol Oates to review a memoir by the granddaughter of Abraham Zapruder, the man whose 8mm movie of Kennedy’s shooting by Lee Harvey Oswald may well be the most analyzed—indeed, overanalyzed—26 seconds in film history. In general, The Scrapbook believes that after 53 years, there isn’t much more to learn about Kennedy’s fatal encounter with Oswald or, especially, about Abraham Zapruder. But curiosity overcame The Scrapbook. We were interested to know what Joyce Carol Oates has to say on this unlikely subject (her Twitter account is a source of unintended merriment) and to our regret, we soon found out. Oates not only holds conventionally bumptious views on the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath—she thinks that it “inaugurated an era of exceptional violence in the United States,” culminating in urban riots several years later—but she is something like a conspiracy theorist as well. We know this because she puts the Kennedy assassination in historical context in this way: It is instructive to recall that the political climate of November 1963 was as bitterly polarized as our present-day United States. Reactionary
Scrapbook has long suspected that the first rash of antipathy toward Sarah Palin—the immediate, vituperative, sputtering hatred that was manifested within hours of her announcement as John McCain’s vice presidential pick—was triggered not by her politics but by her family. Palin has a gaggle of children and one of them, Trig Palin, has Down syndrome. To a certain kind of liberal he
2 / The Weekly Standard
climate of November 1963 will find Oates’s description of a “bitterly polarized” America a debatable assertion, at best: Just 11 months after the Kennedy assassination, the Democratic candidate for president (Lyndon B. Johnson) was elected by the most lopsided popularvote margin in history. But what The Scrapbook finds especially annoying, and a little saddening, about Oates’s Oates essay is that after describing the scene of the crime as a right-wing “ground zero,” she says virtually nothing whatsoever about the man who actually shot and killed John F. Kennedy. Which, of course, is instructive as well as annoying. For far from being “ultraconservative,” Lee Harvey Oswald was, in fact, a classic disaffected leftist, of his time and ours. A self-described Marxist, he had literally defected to Moscow in 1959, married the niece of a colonel in the Soviet
Ministry of Internal Affairs, and lived and worked in the USSR until returning to the United States in 1962. Nor did his repatriation affect his left-wing politics: In New Orleans, Oswald was active in an organization called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and, before killing President Kennedy, had tried unsuccessfully to assassinate the ultraconservative retired Army general Edwin Walker. None of this is mentioned by Joyce Carol Oates, who characterizes Oswald, at one point, as Kennedy’s “alleged killer” and, at another point, as “deranged”—and nothing more. Whether Oswald was deranged is a matter of speculation; but what is incontrovertible is that, the political temperament of Dallas notwithstanding, Lee Harvey Oswald was sane enough to hold political views not very distant from the political opinions of Joyce Carol Oates. Of course, what is saddening about all this is that by deflecting the uncomfortable fact of Oswald’s left-wing rage and violence with lurid descriptions of “reactionary” Dallas, Oates and her fellow progressives continue to inspire the lurid conspiracy theories that cloud the truth about Kennedy’s murder. Five American presidents have been shot in our history, and four of them were Republicans. There may be a reason for this, not that Joyce Carol Oates knows it. ♦
mind, children with Down syndrome are a walking, talking rebuke to the abortion-on-demand regime. They are a provocation. The connection has just been made explicit in France. In 2014 the nonprofit Jérôme Lejeune Foundation aired a short, two-and-ahalf-minute video on three French TV networks. Titled “Dear Future Mom,” it featured a number of children and young adults with
Down syndrome, along with their mothers, talking about what life is like for them. It is one of the most heartwarming acts of witness you will ever see, and if you have ever known a mother who has learned that her baby has Down, you can imagine what a comfort it might be. Especially considering that most of the civilized world encourages the abortion of babies with Down. And most mothers comply. In most
hostility to the “liberal” Kennedy was at an all-time high at the time of the assassination; indeed, Dallas had become “ground zero” for a small knot of ultraconservatives . . . who vehemently opposed him.
Those of us, including The Scrap-
book, old enough to recall the political
December 5, 2016
LARRY D. MOORE CC BY-SA 4.0
53 Years of Evading the Truth
countries with prenatal testing, the abortion rate for babies with Down is well north of 80 percent. In many of them, it is above 90 percent. In France, the figure is 96 percent. This explains why Down syndrome advocacy groups have made a real effort in recent years to explain that children with Down are typically happy and able to lead beautiful, fulfilling lives, contributing a great deal of love and joy to the world around them. This is the message of “Dear Future Mom.” But after the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation persuaded French networks to air “Dear Future Mom” as a kind of extended public service announcement, the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (a French version of the FCC) received complaints and ruled that the video could not be broadcast as a commercial. Why? It was “inappropriate” because the testimonials were “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.” Last week, the foundation lost its appeal in a French court (though it says it will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights). The cult of “choice” will brook no provocation. Even—or rather, especially—from the smiles of children with Down syndrome. ♦
Clueless and Condescending
n the annals of academic condescension, there can be few equivalents in modern times to the letter, signed by 110 (and counting) college presidents, addressed to Presidentelect Donald Trump. “In light of your pledge to be ‘President for all Americans,’ ” it declares, “we urge you to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name.” To be sure, the letter fails to acknowledge that a significant percentage of the “harassment, hate and acts of violence” to which it refers have been perpetrated by opponents, rather than proponents, of Trump’s candidacy. As is often the case, acts of December 5, 2016
vandalism and symbolic gestures of bigotry—on campus and off—have been committed by the putative targets of such harassment and violence in order to discredit their adversaries. This is a common tactic. So the letter goes on: “In our schools, on job sites and college campuses, on public streets and in coffee shops, members of our communities, our children, our families, our neighbors, our students and our employees are facing very real threats, and are frightened.” However, as The Scrapbook is constrained to point out, the public spectacles of violence, abusive speech, and civil disobedience in America since the election—in Portland, New York, Philadelphia, Oakland, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and innumerable locations—have been committed not
in Trump’s name but by his detractors. Indeed, it could well be said that the likeliest victims of “harassment, hate and acts of violence” since November 8 have been Trump supporters, not the “children . . . neighbors . . . students,” and so on, cited by the college presidents. In one sense, the letter is partisan business as usual, and the signatories are the usual suspects. The organizer is the president of Bennington College, and among the signatories are the chief executives of Antioch, Sarah Lawrence, Goddard, Wesleyan, Bard, Haverford, Wellesley, Middlebury, Guilford, Swarthmore, Sewanee, Earlham, and Williams. The Scrapbook can safely assume where their sentiments lie on the political spectrum. The Weekly Standard / 3
As with most political pronouncements, however, there is a measure of irony here. The presidents counsel the president-elect to “reaffirm the core values of our democratic nation: human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination.” And yet, if there is one place in America where the core values of human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression, and freedom from discrimination are imperiled, and demonstrably under assault, it is on America’s campuses, where the drift toward mob rule and uniformity of thought in recent years has been painfully evident. If Donald Trump were inclined to do such things, he should send each president a telegram: “Pedagogue, heal thyself.” ♦
Paranoia Will Destroy Ya
Scrapbook has been experiencing déjà vu recently. Our memories of the vast left-wing paranoia during the Bush years had become hazy, but this week they all came flooding back. The left was already displaying unusual difficulty in coming to terms with Donald Trump’s election victory, but then New York magazine ran an article headlined “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States.” Of course, calling these people “experts” is something of a stretch. The gist of the article is that some liberal academics and activists claim to have found voting irregularities between areas using paper ballots and those using electronic voting machines, and they say this is potential evidence of foul play. It just happens that these putative irregularities are in three states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—where overturning the results would hand a victory to Clinton. Remember, Clinton won Minnesota by just a 1 percent margin, which was dramatically less than polls predicted, yet no one is wondering about voting irregularities there. Respected liberal election wonks such as Nate Silver and the New York he
4 / The Weekly Standard
Times’s Nate Cohn immediately threw cold water on the idea that these ballot irregularities suggested something sinister. They noted that once you control for demographics and other relevant factors, the discrepancy between paper and electronic ballots disappears. “There’s nothing about Trump winning WI that’s odd, given how well he did in IA/MN—where there’s a paper ballot,” observed Cohn. Nonetheless, a glimmer of false hope was enough to send many credible voices on the left off to the races. CNN’s Dan Merica picked up on the “hacked election” story and ran with it, failing to note any criticism of the claims. (Merica was last seen in a WikiLeaks email, where one Clinton staffer noted that he was so friendly to Hillary, “they are basically courting each other at this point.”) Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman went on a Twitter rampage: “Conspiracies do happen.” Even Adam Johnson, a leftist journalist who writes for the Nation, responded dismissively to Krugman, saying, “log off, my man.” Invoking voter fraud is a curious turnabout, because the line from the left during the Obama years was that voter fraud was “a myth” concocted by the right to support racist voter ID laws. For the record, Clinton lost Wisconsin, where they require ID to vote, but won Virginia, where they also require identification. She also lost Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, where there is no ID requirement. Voter ID laws aren’t a legitimate reason why she lost. Ah, but if you don’t see the conspiracy here, you’re just not looking hard enough. Proud liberal Joss Whedon, the hugely successful creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and director of the Avenger movies, went full bugnut ballot-truther: “The crafty move was forcing the Dems to debunk voter fraud, so when the Trump/Putin cabal ACTUALLY COMMITTED it, we’d sound hypocritical,” he tweeted. Well, Whedon’s right about sounding hypocritical. The rest of it is bonkers. If liberals are sincere about wanting to win future elections, we’d advise them to doff their tinfoil hats.♦
www.weeklystandard.com William Kristol, Editor Fred Barnes, Terry Eastland, Executive Editors Richard Starr, Deputy Editor Eric Felten, Managing Editor Christopher Caldwell, Andrew Ferguson, Victorino Matus, Lee Smith, Senior Editors Philip Terzian, Literary Editor Kelly Jane Torrance, Deputy Managing Editor Jay Cost, Stephen F. Hayes, Mark Hemingway, Matt Labash, Jonathan V. Last, John McCormack, Senior Writers Michael Warren, Online Editor Ethan Epstein, Associate Editor Chris Deaton, Jim Swift, Deputy Online Editors Hannah Yoest, Assistant Literary Editor Priscilla M. Jensen, Assistant Editor Tatiana Lozano, Editorial Assistant Jenna Lifhits, Alice B. Lloyd, Web Producers Philip Chalk, Design Director Barbara Kyttle, Design Assistant Teri Perry, Executive Assistant Claudia Anderson, Max Boot, Joseph Bottum, Tucker Carlson, Matthew Continetti, Noemie Emery, Joseph Epstein, David Frum, David Gelernter, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Michael Goldfarb, Mary Katharine Ham, Brit Hume, Frederick W. Kagan, Charles Krauthammer, Yuval Levin, Tod Lindberg, Micah Mattix, Robert Messenger, P. J. O’Rourke, John Podhoretz, Irwin M. Stelzer, Contributing Editors
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December 5, 2016
called my mother on her 80th birthday last month. My b rothers and sister and I were emailing each other as we’ve done every birthday of hers since she died more than six years ago. One of them remarked, “You know her phone is still working, right? You can hear her voice on her outgoing message.” It hadn’t occurred to me before. I called immediately. “Hi,” my mom said. “I’m not here right now. But you know what to do.” Of course, what she meant about knowing what to do was to leave a message. And in her thick Spanish accent it was kind of an inside joke between her and her friends and kids about the kind of old Hollywood movies she watched all day and too late into the evening, the kind of movies in which femmes fatale use that kind of language, and often in a foreign accent, to talk to their paramours. I remembered how her efforts at vamping always made me laugh. It reminded me of the last conversation we had before she became ill. We were in Puerto Rico to bury my grandmother who had died at the age of 106, Thanksgiving Day. Her daughter, Maria de los Angeles, my mother, would survive her only by a month and a half, dying at 74. My brothers, sister, and I sat with her at a restaurant by the ocean that we’d been visiting since we were children. It was only partly the death of her mother that brought out her own most maternal instincts. “I’m worried about you,” she told us. “I’m worried about all of you when I’m not here anymore.” Maybe that’s most of what m otherhood is, preparing your children for when you are not here, so they know what to do. You know what to do. I imagined I might call a lot, like at times when I didn’t know exactly what to do or I needed to talk it out to know December 5, 2016
what to do. Certainly she’d be a sympathetic listener. Or maybe I’d just call to hear her voice, which could not fail to make me smile. I have a friend who goes to the grave of a dear friend of his every year on his birthday to tell him a joke. I wanted to tell my mother a joke but couldn’t think of one. Still I imagined her voice breaking into her crazy staccato laughter, and I started to laugh,
imagining she was telling a story. They were usually about her against the world, more particularly her squared off against another emissary from the dark continent of rudeness and cluelessness. The narrative turn—indicating that the black hat was about to get his comeuppance from the white hat, my mother—was premised on the same phrase for every story. “So, I said, ‘Excuuuuse me.’ ” That was my sister’s working title for my mother’s autobiography: “So I said, ‘Excuuuuse Me.’ ” I imagined I wouldn’t call her at all. Isn’t that the default position of most children, at least as the mother sees it? “Why don’t you call me? Is it so hard to pick up the phone?” “Mom, you died.”
“That’s a terrible excuse.” “Okay, okay, I’ll call.” I imagined other people calling too. I’d tell friends to call her if they needed help or just wanted a friendly ear with lots of experience. “I’m not here right now, but you know what to do.” You know what to do. She would like lots of people calling her—St. Angie of the Cell Phone. It would’ve been like that time my grandmother had a plant with the leaf on it that looked like Jesus praying. Word got out about the plant—it was a miracle! A sign from God! There were lines
around my grandmother’s apartment building in San Juan for people waiting to take the elevator upstairs nine flights and see the plant. I imagined millions of people calling my mother at the same time, asking for help, praying, telling a joke. If there were that many people who needed to hear her voice, they’d never shut down her account, they could never take her away from the millions who needed her now and those who might need her in the future, even if she wasn’t really here. And maybe it was just right now she wasn’t here, but everything would be okay. Because you know what to do.
Lee Smith The Weekly Standard / 5
Keep Your Panic Dry
‘Render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws . . .’
have no worries” about Donald Trump’s presidency, the Dalai Lama said this week. Lacking the Dalai Lama’s spiritual serenity and cosmic confidence, we do have some worries. But we also have some hopes. The worries are not trivial. They center around Donald Trump’s character, judgment, and temperament. They also have to do with many of his professed policies—in particular, his strong inclination to be friendly to Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin abroad, and his plan to spend hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars on another bloated stimulus package at home. In these areas, Trump will be basically continuing failed policies of the Obama administration. They were wrong and ineffectual under a Democratic administration. There’s no reason to think they’ll be any more successful under a Republican one. But there are grounds for hope as well. There is the prospect of generally sound appointments to key cabinet positions, appointments whose policies will strengthen our military and intelligence services, recommit us to the rule of law, advance education reform, and liberate us from some of the tentacles of an overburdening welfare state and an overweening nanny state. There is the prospect, too, of the appointment of impressive Supreme Court justices and federal judges who will strengthen the
December 5, 2016
Constitution. There is—somewhat paradoxically, after so bitter and divisive a campaign—the prospect of the development of a strengthened political center, independent of the Trump administration and the Democratic leadership, committed to liberal democracy against both the alt-right and what deserves to be called the alt-left. So a couple of weeks into the Trump transition, we’d say: Beware of premature rejoicing. But also resist premature panic. We go to press on the eve of Thanksgiving. As it happens we were rereading George Washington’s original Thanksgiving proclamation, which strikes us as especially worthy of reflection this year. The father of our country urged that we acknowledge that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our The Weekly Standard / 7
safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Washington’s words surely remain as instructive now as they were eleven score and seven years ago. —William Kristol
Change in the Legal Climate
n November 16, United States District Judge Ed Kinkeade ordered Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey and New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman to be deposed by ExxonMobil lawyers in December. The two are further subject to legal discovery from ExxonMobil’s legal team. These are extraordinary things to demand of such prominent public officials; but then again, it appears they have committed extraordinary abuses of their offices. Healey, Schneiderman, and other Democratic attorneys general have been pursuing a radical legal strategy of trying to charge energy companies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law designed to take down mobsters. And all because energy companies haven’t completely subjugated themselves to the policy agenda of climate-change activists. Requiring discovery and depositions from Healey and Schneiderman represents a remarkable turning of the tables. The two AGs have been trying to compel Exxon8 / The Weekly Standard
Mobil to cough up decades’ worth of records, a wide-netted fishing expedition looking for ways to pressure the company politically and legally. Judge Kinkeade is now entertaining the idea that Healey and Schneiderman might just have inappropriate political motivations. And as it turns out, there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that politics, not law enforcement, is driving the efforts against ExxonMobil. Christopher Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Energy & Environment Legal Institute has been dogged in obtaining and cataloging public records demonstrating as much. One such record is a letter sent in March from Schneiderman and Vermont attorney general William Sorrell to fellow state law enforcers encouraging them to be active in the “informal coalition of Attorneys General” pushing for “the adoption of stronger federal climate and energy policies.” The letter calls for “ensuring that the promises made in Paris become reality,” referring to the Paris climate accord. Never mind that the Paris agreement is a nonbinding nontreaty that is nonenforceable (at least as far as federal law is concerned): What business is it of a state attorney general to use his or her office to promote energy policy? And yet, Schneiderman and Sorrell are explicit in stating that the goal of the AG coalition is “to stem climate change and expand the availability and usage of renewable energy.” Judge Kinkeade also took note of an email in which Schneiderman’s office tells an “outside advisor”—environmental lawyer/activist Matthew Pawa—to mislead a reporter about his role in their efforts. Records documenting the AGs’ coordination with outside political and environmental groups are extensive. But obtaining these public records hasn’t been easy, according to Horner, who writes that the AGs and their allies have responded to publicrecord requests with a coordinated campaign of “widespread foot-dragging.” For all their stalling, the activists’ agenda has been hiding in plain sight. Interviewed by the Nation in 2015, Pawa encouraged bringing racketeering lawsuits because passing climate change laws had proved too hard: “Legislation is going nowhere,” Pawa said, “so litigation could potentially play an important role.” Schneiderman and Healey originally tried to get nearly 20 AGs to sign on to their climate crusade, but now they’ve been largely abandoned. The ExxonMobil probe is collapsing and deservedly so. The witch-hunt against ExxonMobil may offer an explanation, at least in part, of the liberal hysteria at the prospect of a Trump administration: pure projection. The left abuses the power of its offices for political purposes and naturally assumes its opponents do the same. It’s a good idea to stay vigilant regarding whoever is in power, but we welcome the opportunity provided by a Trump administration to turn away from the abuses of the law that have been so widespread in the Obama era. —Mark Hemingway December 5, 2016
Trump, Farage, and a transatlantic triangle. by
Before launching UKIP and forcing the most dramatic events in recent British history, Farage worked as a commodities trader in the City of
Dominic Green, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, teaches politics at Boston College.
London. In the Brexit referendum, he ran a successful populist campaign against the “elites,” mass immigration, an allegedly corrupt media, and the leaders of the established right-wing party. He derides professional politicians as incompetent frauds and calls British politics a “cesspit.”
he insertion of Nigel Farage into the dealings between President-elect Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has yet to make the U.S.-U.K. Special Relationship more special, but it has already made it more complex and unpredictable. Is this Twitterbegot triangle a preview of how President Trump will conduct his foreign policy? “Many people would like to see Nigel Farage represent Britain as their Ambassador to the United States,” Trump tweeted about the leader of the U.K. Independence party (UKIP) on November 21. “He would do a great job!” Theresa May is not one of those many people. Nor is the current ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, a diplomat with thirty years’ experience. He arrived only last January and must now be wondering whether it is time to start packing. May has declared that there is no room for a “third party” in the transatlantic marriage, but she is powerless to stop Nigel and Donald from meeting. They have so much in common. Farage claims to represent the 52 percent of British voters who did not want to be ruled by the opaque and corrupt EU, and Trump the 52 percent of Americans who did not want to be ruled by Hillary Clinton. Farage beat the path from business to politics that Trump has followed.
10 / The Weekly Standard
December 5, 2016
Very Special Relationship
Farage is not a member of May’s cabinet. Nor does he hold UKIP’s solitary seat in Parliament. His essential contribution to the Brexit revolt did not lead to a role in Brexit negotiations. Even Conservative Euroskeptics seem to have expected that Farage, having persuaded a rabble of English deplorables to vote on their behalf, would go back to the fringe. Less than two weeks before the U.S. election, the BBC aired a comedy special called Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back. It lampooned Farage as a man without a cause or a party: delivering speeches at the bar of his local pub and watching politically incorrect seventies sitcoms in his slippers. Meanwhile, Farage won at the game whose rules he has torn up. Farage was the only British p olitician to support Trump’s campaign. In August, Farage addressed a Trump rally in Jackson, Mississippi. Trump introduced him as “the man behind Brexit” and promised “Brexit plus, plus, plus” for America. “After I did my bit, he did say to me, you’ll be my friend for life,” Farage said in September. On November 12, four days after Trump’s victory, Farage was the first foreign politician to consult with the presidentelect in Trump Tower. “Trump likes the U.K., talks about his mother’s Scottish birth, owns golf courses here, and is entirely comfortable with our culture,” Farage wrote in the hours after Trump’s victory. “More importantly still, he supported Brexit, and he says post-Brexit Britain will be at the front of the queue when it comes to trade relationships. What a pleasant change this will make from Obama and Clinton, who have looked down and sneered at us.” Theresa May was the tenth foreign leader to speak with Trump on the phone. Perhaps this is because she and her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, have sneered at Trump—though not
without reason. In December 2015, Trump suggested suspending Muslim immigration into the United States. May, then David Cameron’s home secretary, criticized Trump as “divisive, unhelpful and wrong.” Trump also asserted that there were “places in London and other places that are so radicalized that the police are afraid for their own lives.” Johnson, then London’s mayor, accused Trump of “playing the game of the terrorists and those who seek to divide us.” “I think he’s betraying a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him frankly unfit to hold the office of president of the United States,” Johnson said. “I would invite him to come and see the whole of London, and take him round the city—except I wouldn’t want to expose any Londoners to any unnecessary risk of meeting Donald Trump.” Ruth Davidson, a Conservative member of the Scottish Parliament, attacked Trump with Britain’s tactical weapon of last resort, the Complete Works of Shakespeare. “Trump’s a claybrained guts, knotty-pated fool, whoreson, obscene, greasy tallow-catch,” Davidson tweeted, reworking Prince Hal’s upbraiding of his debauched retainer Falstaff in Henry IV, Part I. “Donald Trump is a chump,” tweeted Fiona Hill, one of May’s two chiefs of staff at the time. May’s other chief of staff, Nick Timothy, did not pick up the Shakespearean gauntlet, but made his opinion equally clear. “Urgh,” he replied, “as a Tory I don’t want any ‘reaching out’ to Trump.” Now May is reaching out, and Johnson tweets that he is “looking forward” to working with the Trump administration on “global stability and prosperity.” Will Trump work according to stable precedents? In the Farage case, the first time since the election that Trump has addressed a close ally’s internal politics, the president-elect appears to be following the protocols of business. The loyal are rewarded, the disloyal dismissed. Those who failed to get in on the ground floor face a long trudge up to the penthouse. Nobly, Farage consented to entertain Trump’s ambassadorial suggestion for the good of Britain. “It’s not December 5, 2016
his to offer, but it’s a very flattering comment,” Farage told Britain’s ITN News on Tuesday. “This is entirely up to the British government. If they assess that I could be of some value, and that perhaps I can build some bridges between Mr. Trump and indeed members of his team, many of whom I know well—if they think that’s in the national interest, then I could do something constructive.” There is no formal precedent for one state selecting another state’s ambassador, but there is a long history of “informal diplomacy.” Not all of its precedents are those of the medieval court or the mafia movie, where power is personal and sustained by family loyalties and quasi-feudal patronage. In Anglo-American relations, informal and personal connections have always counted. Elizabeth II’s state visits are exercises in soft power. George VI served in Churchill’s charm offensive against FDR, submitting with good grace to a dinner of hot dogs at Hyde Park in June 1939. Before that, Dana Cooper argues in Informal Ambassa dors (2014), American heiresses who
married into the British aristocracy helped to create the Anglo-American alliance in the early 20th century, through “uncompromised and unlimited access” to the men who formulated foreign policy. One of those women, Jennie Jerome, also gave birth to Winston Churchill, who coined the phrase “Special Relationship.” The problem is not just that Farage is constitutionally undiplomatic, or even that his idea of Brexit surely differs from that of May, who voted to Remain but now insists that “Brexit means Brexit,” or of Johnson, who hedged for years before campaigning to Leave. The problem, in the words of one of Farage’s tweets, is that “The world has changed.” Jennie Jerome lived in the dark ages before Twitter and the Internet. Trump’s tweet disrupted the domestic politics of a close ally and undermined its leader’s authority at a time when its political and economic future is in the balance. What will happen when a president, from pique or from principle, does this to America’s rivals and enemies? ♦
Tweeter in Chief His favorite weapon. by
majority of Americans— 59 percent—want Donald Trump to stop tweeting and close his Twitter account now that he’s been elected president. This is advice Trump is likely to ignore, and should. For Trump, tweets are a way to fight back against the media and the political class. He uses Twitter to reach his nearly 16 million followers, plus another 10 million or so through retweets, without his words being filtered or distorted. And the press has to follow his tweets because they often make news. Fred Barnes is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard.
On Twitter, Trump is a combination of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, cunning and pungent. Many politicians have tried, but none have used tweets more effectively than Trump. President Obama also tweets, but his read like they were written by a cautious staffer and edited by a committee. Tweets aren’t the only weapon in Trump’s defensive arsenal, but they are an important one. After he was denounced at the Democratic convention by the Muslim father of an Army captain killed in Iraq, Trump tweeted in his own defense. He had a “right to respond,” he argued. He usually wins tweet wars, but not this one. The Weekly Standard / 11
Millions of Americans are justifiably frightened by the tide of racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia that has swept the country since the election of Donald Trump, whose campaign stoked these views and who named Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News his chief strategist in the White House.
What tide was the Times referring to? Heaven only knows. The editorial complained that “white supremacists” are “getting a hearing in mainstream political discourse.” That’s true. But that’s a decision made by the editors of the New York Times, among others. The media cover their events to discredit Trump by falsely linking him to them. 12 / The Weekly Standard
Some but not all Democrats have echoed the hate and bigotry message. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio is running to oust Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader in the House. In a press release, he said Trump has appointed “open racists, xenophobes, and misogynists” to his administration.
Tweets aren’t the only weapon in Trump’s defensive arsenal, but they are an important one. After he was denounced at the Democratic convention by the Muslim father of an Army captain killed in Iraq, Trump tweeted in his own defense. He had a ‘right to respond,’ he argued.
“Let me be clear,” Ryan said in the release. “Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, and Steve Bannon will never be welcomed in my office if I am elected Minority Leader, and I will fight every day to prevent the Trump Administration’s destructive ideas from tearing our country further apart.” Ryan seems to assume this pitch will appeal to House Democrats. He said Sessions, Trump’s appointee for attorney general, is a racist and Flynn, the pick for national security adviser, “an ardent Islamophobe.” As for Bannon, his ex-wife had “sworn during testimony that he refused to allow their children to go to school with Jews.”
Democrats and the press cite comments by people loosely connected to the Trump transition as evidence of his bad intentions. One mentioned a registry to keep track of visitors from countries with active terrorist threats. This would be a “Muslim registry,” Democrats claimed. Except it wouldn’t be. The reference was to a post-9/11 program of the George W. Bush administration to keep tabs on individuals from countries with ties to terrorism, which turned out to be mostly Muslim-majority countries. It was killed by President Obama. And a spokesman for a pro-Trump super-PAC had mentioned the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This prompted a letter by Star Trek actor George Takei, who said internment was cited as a “model.” It wasn’t. The spokesman said internment shouldn’t be repeated. That didn’t stop Takei. “I was outraged,” he wrote, “because I remember the tears streaming down my mother’s face as we were torn away from our home.” Trump didn’t respond to Takei, but he did to the cast of Hamilton after it lectured Vice President-elect Mike Pence as he departed from a performance of the show. Their statement was condescending and insulting, but Pence said he wasn’t offended, though he was booed. Trump was offended, and he tweeted for two days on the matter. He demanded an apology (which he didn’t get). Damon Linker of the Week wrote that Trump’s tweets “distracted media attention from two potentially radioactive stories— his far-right Cabinet nominees and his $25 million settlement in the Trump University lawsuit.” It also “ensured maximal, extended coverage of Pence’s treatment.” Best of all, from Trump’s standpoint, it provoked “a freak-out among liberals.” This will inspire them to “engage in actions that inspire the next round of indignant Trump tweets,” Linker predicted. And Trump will win the battle of tweets once more. ♦ December 5, 2016
Giving up tweets would amount to unilateral disarmament as his adversaries assail him as no president-elect ever has been. Trump may not be “besieged” for the next four years, as Pat Buchanan predicts, but Trump will be under attack for the foreseeable future by journalists, Democrats, the left, protesters, the professoriate, and the entertainment mafia. During the campaign, the press invoked the notion of “false equivalence” between Trump and Hillary Clinton to justify a singular crusade against Trump. The rationale: Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president and also crude and irrational. Clinton got a pass. With the campaign over, nothing has changed. The elite media, print and broadcast, are still committed to castigating Trump. The traditional honeymoon for a president-elect doesn’t exist in his case. He is treated as an unsavory interloper. On the day last week when Trump visited the offices of the New York Times, the paper featured two front-page stories critical of him, two anti-Trump columns, and a third referring to him as “cruel, vulgar and misogynistic.” Then there was the lead editorial under the headline “Mr. Trump Rages, at the Wrong Target.” It began:
Democratic losses in the age of Obama. by Jay
resident Barack Obama has declared he might not follow the tradition of ex-presidents refusing to comment publicly on their successors. In a postelection press conference, he said:
in the New Jersey governor’s race, which was inconsistent with the hypothesis of Republican doom. Perhaps more striking was Bob McDonnell’s 17-point victory over Creigh
I want to be respectful of the office and give the presidentelect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance. As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes.
This might not be a good thing for the Democratic party. While Obama’s standing with the country has held more or less firm, he has overseen a down-ballot rout during his tenure. When President Obama took office in 2009, Democrats claimed 257 House seats, 60 Senate seats (after Arlen Specter switched sides), 28 governorships, and total control of 27 state legislatures. Many pundits figured that the Republican party was turning into nothing more than a regional coalition, with little strength outside the South. Such fanciful notions were dispatched at the end of that year. Chris Christie beat incumbent Jon Corzine Jay Cost is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard. December 5, 2016
Deeds for the governorship of Virginia—a formerly red, newly purple state that was supposedly on its way to becoming solidly blue. Three months later, the political world was shocked once more when Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat in Massachusetts by 5 points, thereby ending the Democrats’ filibusterproof majority. Those races served as a prelude for the Democrats’ midterm debacle of 2010. The party lost a net 63 seats in the House, as the GOP claimed its biggest majority in the lower chamber since the Great Depression. The Democrats also lost 6 seats in the Senate,
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The Butcher’s Bill
including in blue redoubts such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. On net, the party lost 6 governorships and its total control of state legislatures slipped to 16. The next cycle was a rebound of sorts for Democrats, but the details were less impressive than the headlines. Obama won reelection comfortably over Mitt Romney, but he did so with 3.6 million fewer votes than he received in 2008. Such a victory is without precedent. Every incumbent president who has won election to a second term did so by increasing his total votes—except Obama, in 2012. Down-ballot, the Democrats’ performance was similarly mediocre. The party netted eight House seats, two Senate seats, and total control of three more state legislatures. Meanwhile, they lost the governorship of North Carolina. The 2014 cycle was another disaster for the Democrats. When the dust settled, the Republican party—which had been all but left for dead just five years prior—was clearly the dominant coalition in the states. The GOP held 247 House seats, 54 Senate seats, 31 governorships, and total control of 30 state legislatures. The only major elected office still controlled by the Democrats was the White House, which, of course, the party just lost. The recent election amounted to no substantial change in the balance of power throughout the rest of the country: The Democrats picked up two Senate seats but lost a net three governorships; they won six U.S. House seats, but on balance the GOP consolidated its hold on state legislatures. To be sure, it is typical for the party of the president to shed offices during his tenure. Generally speaking, voters tend to utilize the opposing party as a way to check the president—and over the course of eight years this can amount to a fairly substantial shift in power. Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, for instance,
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Not so Blue-grass Democrats lose a Southern holdout. by
itch McConnell didn’t have majority of the 100-seat state house. much to complain about On November 8, 2016, that’s exactly on the night of Novem- what happened—and it was bigger ber 4, 2014. In that day’s elections, than any Bluegrass Republican could Republicans gained a net nine Senate have expected. By night’s end, Repubseats, securing a majority and ensur- licans went from holding 45 seats to ing McConnell would become Senate holding 64—making Kentucky the majority leader. This was a crowning 25th state to have both the legislaachievement in a turbulent year for ture and the governor’s office under Republican control. To top the Kentucky senator, who it off, the state’s imperihad faced a tough primary ous Democratic speaker of challenge from businessthe house, Greg Stumbo, man Matt Bevin. After lost his bid for reelection. dispensing with Bevin, The banner night for KenMcConnell had a real fight tucky Republicans wasn’t in the general election a surprise, but the sheer against supposed rising size of the wave sure was. Democratic star Alison “Most of us observers Lundergan Grimes. He figured Republicans would beat Grimes by 16 points ‘But I AM smiling!’: take the house, but none in the general. McConnell on of us expected them to Plenty to be pleased November 9 win the supermajority,” about, but McConnell saw something in the election returns he said Al Cross, a veteran political jourdidn’t like. He had carried all but 10 of nalist in the state who is now director Kentucky’s 120 counties, the GOP of the Institute of Rural Journalism won all but 1 Louisville-centered con- and Community Issues at the Unigressional district, and the party had versity of Kentucky. held on to its majority in the state “Getting to 64, it was just. . .” Scott senate. But the state house of repre- Jennings, a GOP operative with ties sentatives had remained out of Repub- to McConnell, said before bursting lican reach—a drought of more than into laughter. 90 years, and the last state legislative What’s so remarkable about Kenhouse south of the Mason-Dixon line tucky going deep red? After all, the to resist GOP control since the 1920s. state is culturally conservative and What’s more, McConnell learned, in has been voting for Republicans at some state house districts where he the top of the ticket for decades. Since had won 60 percent or more of the 1980, Kentucky has voted for just vote, Republicans hadn’t even both- one Democrat for president—Bill ered to run a candidate. Clinton, in 1992 and 1996. Since the So a month later, on December 6, 1990s, both of Kentucky’s U.S. senaMcConnell called a meeting in Lou- tors and a majority of its U.S. House isville of the state’s Republican leg- delegation have been Republican, as islative leaders to set a goal: In the has the majority of the state senate. next election, the GOP would win a Kentucky was overdue for a Republican house, it seems. An examination of how RepubMichael Warren is online editor licans took over the Kentucky of The Weekly Standard. December 5, 2016
ALEX BRANDON / AP
all entered the White House with their party in total control of Congress but left with the opposition in total control. Even under Ronald Reagan, who was enormously popular for most of his tenure, the GOP lost the Senate in 1986. What makes Obama unique is the magnitude of his party’s defeat. When he entered office, he and his party had broad control of the government. When he leaves office in two months, the opposition will have broad control of the government. That is quite extraordinary. In fact, during the postwar era, no two-term president has lost more U.S. House seats and state legislative seats than Obama. What accounts for this? After all, Obama himself remains popular. The latest Gallup poll has his approval rating at a robust 56 percent, on par with Reagan when he left office in 1989. But that number is deceptive. Obama’s approval rating only rose into positive territory during this election cycle, when he no longer dominated the headlines. Before the media focused on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, news centered on the Iran deal, Syria, Libya, immigration, gun control, Obamacare, the stimulus, and so on. The country typically disapproved of his handling of these matters, even as it still held a favorable view of him as a person. Obama seems to have given big government a bad name. When he was elected in 2008, the exit poll found that 51 percent of Americans thought the government should do more, compared with 43 percent who thought it should do less. But in 2016, after eight years of Obama, the exit poll found that 45 percent thought the government should do more, compared with 50 percent who thought it should do less. While people still like Obama, they haven’t much cared for his policies— and time and again they have taken their frustrations out on his fellow partisans. Those hardy Democrats who have managed to survive the party’s annihilation during the Obama years may think twice before asking him to jump into the political fray after he retires. ♦
legislature demonstrates in just what dire straits Democrats find themselves among what used to be part of the party’s core base: the rural white working class. It’s still true that the majority of Kentucky voters are registered Democrats, but the national party had become so out of touch with its voters, on economics and culture, that any organized opposition was enough to topple its regime. “Organized” is the operative word here, and what Mitch McConnell found following his 2014 victory was anything but an organization equipped to win the house back. At his December meeting, he tapped a young representative from the central part of the state, Jonathan Shell, to lead the house Republicans’ electoral efforts— the party’s first formal election chair ever. McConnell’s own super-PAC, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership (headed by Scott Jennings), reoriented its mission to the goal of electing a GOP majority. “We professionalized all aspects of the campaign to win the state house,” said Jennings. That meant coordinating with other outside groups, like the Republican State Leadership Committee and GOPac, as well as with the Kentucky Republican party. Kentuckians for Strong Leadership spent $2 million in the 2016 cycle. And McConnell took a personal interest in candidate recruitment. The Senate majority leader saw to it that none of the entrenched rural Democrats in the state house would run unopposed in 2016, meeting with potential candidates to encourage them to run. Republicans in Kentucky say the biggest hurdle for recruitment was finding people willing to take the plunge. After all, Kentuckians may not have been thrilled with the national Democratic party of late, but that suspicion wasn’t guaranteed to trickle down to the state level. “These are local races,” said Cross. “People are reluctant to throw out people they know.” McConnell’s direct appeals helped get candidates on board, but so did the 2015 gubernatorial election in which McConnell’s old primary foe, Matt December 5, 2016
Bevin, defeated Democrat Jack Conway. Bevin is just the third Republican Kentucky governor since World War II, and his election presaged what was to come in 2016. “That was a momentum change,” said Jennings. “The governor controls the agenda, controls the conversation, and can raise a lot of money. It provided that confidence booster for Republicans.” Despite fears that Bevin’s promise to roll back Medi caid expansion in the state would hurt the GOP, the issue actually worked in Republicans’ favor after insurers announced another round of rate hikes for 2017. Kentucky Republicans had all the tools and preparation for their fight in 2016, but one of their greatest assets was the Democratic party and its presidential nominee. Audio of Hillary Clinton’s declaration earlier this year that she would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out
of business” found its way into thousands of homes in Kentucky’s eastern coal-mining region, through the form of a mailer paid for by Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. Republicans were eager to point out that the same triallawyer associations and unions donating to Clinton were funding the state’s Democratic candidates. The other boon for Republicans was the top of their own ticket, Donald Trump. The New York businessman earned 62 percent of the vote in Kentucky, the biggest margin for a presidential candidate there since Richard Nixon’s landslide in 1972. Trump ran up his margins in Kentucky’s rural counties, bringing the Republican house candidates along with him. Al Cross, who still writes a regular political column for the Louisville Cour ier-Journal, says he heard a common refrain from Democratic candidates in the state: “My opponent can’t beat me, but Donald Trump can.” ♦
Lessons from an Election But we probably didn’t learn them. by
ou could drive from Key West to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and never cross a state carried by Hillary Clinton. Thirty-two hundred miles, from the subtropics to the high north; from the Gulf Stream to glacier country. So much country and almost all of it colored red on the political map. There is, in that map, a validation of the old conservative faith. That would be the one that is suspicious of government in general and believes that to the extent we must have government, it is easier to restrain it and housebreak it when it is kept local. Geoffrey Norman, a writer in Vermont, is a frequent contributor to The Weekly Standard.
In their postmortems of her defeat, many analysts faulted Hillary Clinton for never articulating a compelling theme for her campaign, for never giving people a reason to vote for her. Which does, indeed, seem like a pretty serious oversight. She did manage to come up with a slogan, “Stronger Together,” but it seems entirely plausible that it might have repelled more voters than it attracted. Those voters didn’t want to be part of some grand political crusade in which they would have been allied with voters from New York and Los Angeles, didn’t want to march in that parade, everyone in step, with Washington playing the tune. The cause of limited and local The Weekly Standard / 15
16 / The Weekly Standard
December 5, 2016
government may not have rolled up a divide is cultural, and government of your sovereignty. And what you big score in the form of actual votes for would not be able to close it except get back is, for instance, people who the libertarian candidate. And Trump by force, which would have to favor promise to fix your local schools, from may be the furthest thing from a small one side or the other and, thus, make Washington. And that would include making decisions about who can and “c” conservative. Still, the election things worse. Which leads to another valida- can’t use which bathrooms. map makes a good case for weakening We invest far too much hope in the the hand of the federal government. tion, in this election, of the fundaThe election was a referendum, of mental conservative case. Namely people we elect as president. No one sorts, on Washington, and voters in that we have invested far too much in who is elected president could posthose vast domains of red made them- the office of president. Obama’s sup- sibly live up to the expectations he selves plain. They believe Washington porters, of course, went to ridiculous or she has cultivated. But we give the is both incompetent and intrusive. Not excesses of faith in their man. He was president that airplane. We play music going to heal the divide and bring us and stand when he enters the room. to mention corpulent. Donald Trump doesn’t seem par- all together. No red or blue, just the We watch him on the news constantly, ticularly interested in making the one America and so on. And he would even if he’s just playing golf. We allow presidents, in short, to government smaller or less intru- do it through the sheer wonderful get away with playing at sive. He has promised to being some sort of demchange the way things NH 4 12 3 ocratic sovereign and a are done in WashingVT 3 3 3 1 moral force. Obama was ton so that America will 10 7 especially prone to this “start winning again,” 4 10 MA 11 29 3 3 16 kind of insulting excess. and maybe he can break RI 4 20 6 CT 7 5 The American president Washington to his con6 18 20 11 NJ 14 6 is a politician and, necessiderable will and make 9 5 13 DE 3 55 6 MD 10 10 8 sarily, a very successful it “work.” Perhaps he DC 3 15 11 one. Success in that line can repeal much of the 11 7 5 9 6 of work, though, should work that Obama did Clinton 6 9 16 be a disqualification for with his pen and phone, 8 38 Trump delivering sermons. and do things like, for 3 So it is good news for instance, take Washing29 4 conservatives that neiton’s foot off the neck of ther candidate in the the coal industry. In which case, the voters in some force of his own personality and life recent election could qualify for moral of the red sections of the republic may history. He would halt the rise of the leadership and that the winner won’t be able to fake it. We all remember him herald his regime and its accomplish- oceans and then walk upon them. His loyal supporters have kept the as he was before his election. We hear ments. But the voters in the blue states are almost certain not to. They are faith and are out there saying things that Donald Trump will do damage already angry and in California some like, “Obama is still a powerful force to the image of the “presidency” and of them are even muttering about for the generation that grew up work- somehow be a permanent stain on the office. Then again, maybe he will treat breaking off from the rest of the nation. ing for him. ‘He’s our Jesus Christ.’ ” This is secession, and it has been tried Trump’s loyalists may not achieve it like a job that comes with a so-so before. People along the way from Key that rhetorical excess but plainly house and a really cool airplane. Either West to Coeur d’Alene could tell Cali- believe in his ability to “Make America way his tenure will serve to demystify fornians all about it. Great Again.” He will get things done and desanctify the office, and that is Let’s assume California decides not through, presumably, sheer power of way overdue. The election, if we’re lucky, should to take its Silicon Valley and its Hol- will. Because he is strong. lywood and storm off in a huff—that But strongmen get things done by renew interest in the old conservative it sticks around through a four-year force. That’s what they know. And the appreciation for smaller government stretch under President Trump. It people they steamroll don’t necessar- and the rule of law, not men. We might seems unlikely the state will become ily remember them kindly. Strongmen well be looking at a few months of the any less blue. Because the divide make enemies and those enemies must usual feverish activity that accompabetween red and blue is real. People in, be dealt with; to do less is to show nies the arrival of any new administrafor instance, St. Joe, Missouri, aren’t weakness and this would likely be fatal. tion. But that will pass and people in likely to start thinking more like resiThe necessary conservative view of the blue states will calm down and get dents of Manhattan’s Upper West Side the strongman is one of extreme suspi- on with their lives, as will the people any time soon, no matter what Presi- cion. When you elect a strongman to in those vast spaces between Key West dent Trump does or does not do. The fix everything, you give away a portion and Coeur d’Alene. ♦
His Reelection Plan By Tod Lindberg
o those who believed, sequentially, that Donald Trump would drop out soon after entering the GOP primary field; that this or that outrageous provocation of his would fatally turn off primary voters; that while he might be winning primaries, he had a ceiling of support among Republicans in the 40-percent range through which he could never pass; that he would never win a majority of delegates to the convention; that if he did, the party establishment would do its utmost to deny him the nomination;
A U.S. worker builds a section of a border wall opposite the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, November 9, 2016.
that under pressure from GOP defectors, he might drop out of the race; and that he could never win the general election—to all of you, I say: It’s time to start thinking about how Trump intends to win reelection. He will certainly be thinking about it, and it is likely to illuminate some of the decisions he makes. Let’s start with a preliminary list of liabilities and assets. First of all, he lost the popular vote. Of course, getting to 270 in the Electoral College is how you determine the winner in this game, and Trump has declared
Tod Lindberg is a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.
18 / The Weekly Standard
with characteristic baldness that if instead he had needed to win the popular vote, he could have—a point pollsters dispute (just as you’d expect them to do, his supporters would say). Second apparent liability: The media no less than Democrats were shell-shocked by the election result and will give him no quarter, continuing to cover every move in maximal negative light. Third, the president-elect has given no indication he intends to give up tweeting, a medium known for neither nuance nor subtlety. And he has said he has no regrets about anything he said during the campaign, because “I won.” Fourth, although most Americans have come to terms with the election result, they have not exactly rallied around the president-elect to the extent seen in years past. Some bitter-enders remain defiant, and on social media as well as in street protests, the attention they draw far outpaces their numbers and is likely to continue to do so, providing little relief from the hyperpartisan tone of the campaign season. Fifth, there’s the character issue: The percentage of Americans who see him as unforgivably deplorable is considerable. The Clinton attack on his character, though in retrospect misguided as the centerpiece of her campaign, was nothing if not thorough. Trump’s core supporters don’t care about critics’ allegations, but the damage among softer supporters and independents was genuine. Sixth, Trump showed little interest during the campaign in the details of policy, and many of his pronouncements have provoked the release of antibodies into the American system. His comments on making allies pay up, for example, have led a chorus of voices to note that we have treaty obligations that are not tied to accounts receivable, and that if we spurn these obligations, U.S. credibility would be shot. Finally, many such allies and global elitedom more broadly are in a panic, wondering what the Trump administration has in store for them. So those are the liabilities. As for the assets, well, first let’s reconsider those liabilities. On the popular vote, Trump knows perfectly well Hil lary Clinton outpolled him. If he’s running for reelection, he may indeed see it as good enough to win the Electoral College again, while likewise losing the popular vote, but I doubt it. Trump eked out his status as a winner in 2016, and he will want no doubt about that status in 2020. One could say of George W. Bush that he didn’t appear to be
December 5, 2016
Things Trump is likely to succeed at
About character, one might have thought the second fully comfortable with his presidency until after his reelecterm of Bill Clinton had settled the question of whether tion, when he finally won the popular vote as well as the vulgarity or worse was a bar to occupying high office. It Electoral College. Trump’s style is never to look uncommight go too far to say that Americans have done Machiafortable or as if he harbors a doubt, but he will certainly velli one better and now no longer require even the appearwant his job approval rating to rise over time as he builds a ance of virtue in their leaders. But they seem to be adept at plurality if not a majority for 2020. If he had won a big Reabalancing conduct they may reprehend against other, more gan 1980-style victory, that might have encouraged him to desirable qualities. In any event, Trump absorbed a full “make America great again” in ways that could cost him onslaught of revelation and allegation and prevailed. We with voters, but he has voters to burn only to the extent need a new metaphor for this phenomenon. The old one he can replace them with new supporters in greater numwas “Teflon,” for a politician to whom nothing sticks. Now bers. Another word for an unpopular populist is “loser.” everything sticks, but it doesn’t matter. With regard to the hostility of As for the absence of policy detail the media, Trump won despite it. He in the campaign and a thoroughly flabisn’t the least bit needy here. In a job If he had won a big bergasted global elite, Trump now has approval contest with the media, he Reagan 1980-style a lot of latitude to craft an agenda, and will almost certainly come out ahead. victory, that might expectations worldwide are rock botAnd he concluded long ago that he has have encouraged him tom verging on the fantastical: He’ll more to gain than lose in calling out probably win grudging respect simply the press for unfairness. The genius to ‘make America for avoiding global thermonuclear war. of his Twitter feed is that it gives him great again’ in ways So the liabilities on the balance a direct line not only to his nearly that could cost him sheet are in some respects not so dis16 million followers, but also to anywith voters, but he has advantageous. What about Trump’s one who is criticizing him on Twitvoters to burn only assets? Well, prima facie, he is someter, where the practice is to “quote” thing of a political genius. He has the tweet on which you are heaping to the extent he can just traveled the most unusual path derision, and where “quote” is Twitreplace them with new to the White House in the history ter’s euphemism for “republish.” We supporters in greater of the republic: from private citizen should note that the conventional numbers. Another to president in 18 months. If you practice for the old media is now to word for an unpopular thought Barack Obama was precoquote someone’s tweet as his or her cious, note that the 44th president at definitive statement on a subject. No populist is ‘loser.’ least had the Illinois legislature and one will ever wonder what Trump’s a successful U.S. Senate race behind views are on any given subject. him. One of the oddest features of Obama’s 2008 presAs for those who have loudly denied the legitimacy of idential campaign was the response many of his aides a President Trump, the numbers are not large. One could and hangers-on gave to the challenge that Obama, with imagine a scenario in which violent protests and Twitter no executive experience, was ill qualified for office. The mobs continued to escalate through the inauguration, at rejoinder was: untrue—because, after all, he was running which point the new president would face the prospect of a successful multimillion-dollar presidential campaign! enforcing a clampdown to “restore order”—and one can Though absurd, the claim had a certain reductionist imagine the volatile response. But for now, the protests brilliance to it, much like saying the essential element of seem to be diminishing rather than gathering strength. leadership is followers. But yes, you don’t win the presiDemonstrators and vocal critics have long been a foil off dency by accident, and Trump didn’t. which Trump plays, to the plain end of rallying neutrals Add to this, in Trump’s case, a Brechtian ability to to his side by virtue of the unattractiveness of the oppodissolve the Republican party and elect another. He saw, sition. He’s good at it. When Trump first took to Twitter or intuited, something few thought possible: a path to after the election with a complaint about the “unfair” prothe White House through the upper Midwest and Penntests against him, Twitter lit up with a chorus of there he goes sylvania. Many now step up to take credit as the avant again, he can’t even control himself after he’s been elected presigarde for this vision, including his boosters on conservadent, etc. Yet I suspect anyone even remotely dispassionate tive talk radio. True, he was (eventually) their man. But was entertaining the possibility that it might indeed be a their working political assumption had been that the bit unfair to demonstrate against someone who hadn’t yet right presidential candidate, a true conservative, could actually taken office and done anything.
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Villagers inspect an unexploded Russian rocket that landed west of Aleppo, November 17, 2016.
Well, neither is Trump, at least not in any sense conserv ative talk radio uses the term. So “conservative” was out as the prime qualification, and “antiestablishment” took its place, as if they were the same thing. But they aren’t, and acting as if they are does an injustice to Trump’s originality in his conception of the challenge and his opportunity.
e’ll leave the balance sheet there. The primary issue in Trump’s reelection is this: About two and a half years from now, as he contemplates his political prospects, what will he point to as evidence that he has made America great again (or is well on the way to doing so)? Unless they are very foolish politically, as was George H. W. Bush, presidents seem to understand that while a substantial amount of what they said to get elected can fall by the wayside once they are in office, they are obliged to keep faith with commitments their first-term voters regard as core. That’s why Barack Obama felt obliged to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq by 2012 and could talk himself into the view that any adverse consequences would be minimal. As a candidate, he presented himself as the one to end an unnecessary and wasteful war. It’s why Bill Clinton felt obliged in 1996 to sign a welfare reform bill not at all to his liking: He was hoping a Democratic Congress would write the legislation, but had to cope with a more draconian GOP Congress instead. But as a candidate, he promised to “end welfare as we know it.” So he signed. A misconception
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about the importance of core commitments caused Bush 41 to break his most famous campaign declaration: “Read my lips: No new taxes.” What were Trump’s core commitments? The first is obvious: illegal immigration and the security of the southern border. Although some have spoken of Trump’s wall as if it could be redefined as metaphorical, I read the commitment as requiring a physical barrier in order to pass muster. So he is probably going to build a wall. (As for getting Mexico to pay for it, a gimmick would likely suffice.) And if border patrol officers catch people trying to enter the country illegally, the Trump administration will send them back. There will be little of the ambiguity that seems to characterize current enforcement policies. A second focus of his campaign message on this subject was criminal illegal aliens. The Trump administration will likely have little compunction about deporting them and drawing attention to what it is doing. And for purposes of drawing attention, the Trump team will probably be happy to see protesters fill the street in defense of criminal aliens. As for Trump’s remarks about keeping Muslims out and “extreme vetting,” the question is whether he is willing to act within the reasonable limits of executive authority or whether he is going to pick a court fight he probably can’t win. I’d say the next core commitment is working-class jobs. This may or may not be tied to Trump’s promise to do something about “unfair” trade, but it seems the bigger issue. Soon after taking office in 2009, President Obama lamented the absence of “shovel-ready” projects to which to devote stimulus dollars. I think Trump will find some, probably starting with a spate of approvals for private-sector energy projects, but continuing with large-scale public infrastructure spending. A defense buildup including such job-creating elements as more ships for the Navy would also make sense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Social Security payroll tax cut for individuals as part of the mix as well. The premise of much thinking in the Democratic party on economics is that an advanced economy such as ours can’t reasonably expect economic growth to exceed 2 percent or so per year. If Clinton had won, we would have had no serious test of this proposition. Trump will test it. Rapid-fire deregulation by way of revocation of many Obama administration executive orders will certainly be an early element. Another likely move will be to find a way to repatriate the $2 trillion or so U.S. corporations have parked offshore because of the tax obligation if they bring the money home. On trade, Trump will likely feel obliged to pick some fights over dumping and currency manipulation. The big question is how seriously he will take on China. He will also “invite” Canada and Mexico to open a round of
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arouse an ideologically conservative electorate, which would then defeat liberalism. The problem with previous GOP nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney, in this view, was that they weren’t really conservatives.
negotiations on revising NAFTA, to which they will agree: Even proponents of the treaty would probably concede that some provisions could stand revisiting in light of the passage of 22 years since its approval. (There’s an opportunity here to devise a scheme whereby Mexico can be said to be paying for the wall, too.) Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership will go back to the bargaining table as well. It will be interesting to see if Trump is prepared to accept success in renegotiating trade deals in his first term or if he would prefer to keep negotiations open into his second. On foreign policy, Trump’s core commitments seem to be the destruction of ISIS, an end to what he sees as adventurism abroad, a demand that U.S. allies pay more, and (how to put it?) a reset with Russia. On ISIS, Syria’s brutal Bashar al-Assad may be the inadvertent winner in a common Russian-Syrian-U.S. front. On the other hand, one wonders how much Vladimir Putin loves Assad personally, as opposed to his utility in providing Russia a presence in the Mediterranean. Perhaps Trump strikes a deal with Putin that removes Assad to a dacha in Crimea while retaining Russian influence over Syria’s successor regime? Sanctions against Russia are probably going to go as well. I wonder what Trump the negotiator could get in exchange for that and for recognition of
Russia’s annexation of Crimea. As for an end to the U.S. propensity for adventurism abroad, that probably comes after the destruction of ISIS and the application of military power against its affiliates. As for those supposedly free-riding U.S. allies? Look for them to be increasing their defense commitments forthwith. I was at the German Ministry of Defense a few weeks before the election on other business, but my interlocutors were very eager to convey the message that Germany had turned the corner and was increasing defense spending. And that was at a time when everybody thought Clinton was going to win. Meanwhile, at home, throw in some outreach to African Americans and to primarily English-speaking Hispanics, as well as an end to the federal government’s interest in who can use which bathrooms, et voilà! America, great again. Events will, of course, intrude. But it is hardly implausible that Trump could deliver on his core commitments and as a result be well-positioned to improve on his 2016 electoral performance. Politically speaking, he is already the biggest thing to hit the GOP since Reagan. Over the summer, I was thinking of writing an article whose working title was going to be “Trumpism After Trump.” That is really going to have to wait. ♦
Business Leads Solutions to Workforce Challenges THOMAS J. DONOHUE PRESIDENT AND CEO U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The forces of globalization and technological change have transformed our economy in recent decades, causing many low skilled jobs to vanish and higher skilled jobs to emerge. Many Americans understandably feel left behind by these changes. But the solution is not to turn our backs on trade or technological innovation, which are net positives for our economy. The solution is to help displaced workers get the necessary training to reach the new and higher paying jobs our economy has created. Today there are 5.6 million jobs sitting vacant because employers can’t find workers with the skills to fill them. In fact, nearly half of all U.S. employers are struggling with talent shortages. Over the last two years, the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce has been researching, building, and testing a signature
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workforce development initiative called Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) to help solve this problem. TPM is designed to put the business community in the driver’s seat of education and workplace partnerships. Built on the principles of supply chain management, TPM helps transform the role employers play in education and workforce training systems. It enables businesses to communicate their needs to education providers and collaborate with the institutions and programs that are doing the best job of meeting the demand for skilled labor. Over the last year, the Chamber Foundation has worked with businesses and federation partners in seven communities across the country to pilot these strategies. Employers in Illinois, for example, have applied TPM toward exploring common hiring needs and creating an online tool to collect employer-demand data in real time. Kentucky is using the initiative to create a community college course to give students the critical
competencies needed to enter a career in manufacturing. To build on this success, we recently rolled out a new training program called the Talent Pipeline Management Academy (TPM Academy), supported by a $2.5 million grant from USA Funds. The TPM Academy consists of workshops to educate business leaders on talent pipeline strategies and how to implement them. We will continue to expand the program in the years ahead. The business community has a significant stake in workforce training and development. By empowering businesses to lead the way in ensuring that all Americans are prepared for the high skilled work of this century, we will help connect the millions of people without jobs to the millions of jobs without people. As a result, businesses will grow and more Americans will share in the prosperity our economy creates. Learn more at uschamber.com/abovethefold.
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Turning Pennsylvania Slowly but surely, blue has changed to red
By Nathan Benefield & Gerard Alexander
n election night, Pennsylvania shocked the country by voting for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time in 28 years. Just days before, Pennsylvania had been written off by experts who assumed the state’s streak of voting Democratic would continue. But in addition to proving them wrong, Pennsylvanians also elected 13 Republicans to the House of Representatives (out of a state delegation of 18), reelected noted fiscal conservative Pat Toomey in the most expensive Senate race in U.S. history, and expanded Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature to the highest level either party has enjoyed in over 60 years. How did this shift happen so quickly? The truth is, it didn’t. Changing demographics, voter revolts against the political establishment, and the financial strain of big government have all been transforming Pennsylvania, typically considered one of the largest “blue” or at least “purple” states in the nation, into the reddest state in the Northeast. This gives the Keystone State’s nickname new meaning. Pennsylvania stands at the cusp of enacting transformational policies that could serve as “brushfires of freedom” throughout the Northeast and the nation. And for taxpayers, that transformation cannot come quickly enough.
A STATE ON THE BRINK The backdrop for the dramatic change in Pennsylvania is the cumulative failure of big government policies. For decades, the state has hovered at the bottom of nearly every measure of economic growth and opportunity. From 1970 to 2015, the state ranked 49th in job growth, 45th in personal income growth, and 48th in population growth. The state remains saddled with Prohibition-era restrictions on liquor sales. Its public schools, while spending $3,500 more per pupil than the national average, are
Nathan Benefield is vice president and chief operating officer of the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s free-market think tank. Gerard Alexander is an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a member of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Foundation.
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underachieving. More than 100,000 Pennsylvanians have migrated from the state in just the last three years. Last year alone, Pennsylvania—still the sixth-largest state in the nation—lost one resident, net, to another state every 12.5 minutes. Over the past eight decades, the state’s representation in Congress has plunged from 36 seats to 18, cutting its Electoral College votes nearly in half, from 38 to 20. The source of many of these problems will come as no surprise to observers. Pennsylvanians suffer under the 15thhighest state and local tax burden in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. The revenue funds out-of-control state spending, which has risen $4,000 per person (inflationadjusted) since 1970. With an unfunded public pension liability of more than $60 billion, Pennsylvanians face the prospect of ever-higher state and local taxes. The state is not in the same dire fiscal condition that, say, Illinois is, but it has been heading in that direction. Public opinion surveys demonstrate that Pennsylvania voters want their elected officials to tackle these critical issues. A majority of voters, including half of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans, support fixing the broken pension system by offering 401(k)-style plans to all new state employees. Similarly, public support for expanding school choice transcends party lines. More than 60 percent of Pennsylvania voters, including majorities among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, want to eliminate the antiquated system of state-owned and -operated liquor stores. Almost two-thirds of voters, including more than 60 percent of Democrats, believe state spending growth should be limited to the rate of inflation and population growth. But for decades, reforms crucial to growth and opportunity have been stymied by the leaders of Pennsylvania’s powerful government unions and the politicians of both parties who accommodated their demands. That seems to be coming to a close.
SHIFTING POLITICAL WINDS Pennsylvania has been experiencing gradual regional political shifts for two decades. The old coal and steel industrial region around Pittsburgh was once a haven for Democratic politics. But most of Western Pennsylvania has been trending increasingly Republican. The result has been legislative pickups for the GOP, as more conservative Republicans have replaced moderate
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Democrats. In contrast, the Philadelphia suburbs, long a Republican stronghold, are increasingly blue, although moderate Republicans still hold a number of state legislative and congressional seats in the region. Combined, these trends have given Republicans growing legislative majorities in recent years. What’s more, despite no term limits, turnover in the general assembly has been high, particularly among Republicans. Eightyfive percent of the senate Republican caucus and 88 percent of house Republicans have come into office since 2002. And just as important, hidden in the party numbers is a crucial shift in ideology. The legislature has become not only more Republican but also more fiscally conservative.
particularly regarding education funding. Corbett’s first budget coincided with the expiration of the federal “stimulus”—which had supplemented state tax dollars to the tune of more than $3 billion the prior year. The result: Despite an increase in state taxpayer funding to public schools, school districts had less to spend as stimulus funding expired. For the next four years, Pennsylvania’s two largest teachers’ unions—the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers—undertook
STEPHANIE STRASBURG / PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE / AP
TAXPAYERS VS. BIG GOVERNMENT Ideology matters because this is not the first time Republicans have controlled both chambers of the legislature. They did so for much of the recent past—including from 20112015 under Republican governor Tom Corbett—without delivering major policy change. That was because Republican legislative leaders and a handful of moderate-to-liberal Republican legislators worked with Democrats to pass tax increases under Democratic governors and to thwart important policy advances under Republican governors. Those members, regardless of party label, were reliable allies of big government. One element sustaining that bipartisan dynamic was the financial and political power of government unions. Since 2007, public sector unions have spent $91 million on policies, politicians, and candidates that would grow government, pushing the state toward the same fiscal crises facing Illinois, California, New Jersey, and other large states. Corbett’s experience as governor illustrates this power. His top initial priority was school choice scholarships for low-income students. This resulted in an expansion of Pennsylvania’s highly successful tax-credit scholarship program, but the effort to create a more robust and widereaching voucher program fell flat on its face, badly eroding his reputation. The teachers’ unions led opposition to the initiative, vehemently lobbied against it, and even formed a fake antitax grassroots organization as part of their effort. Two of Corbett’s other major priorities—pension reform and privatization of government-run liquor stores— never even reached his desk despite popular support. Who fought fiercely against those reforms? Democrats, government union leaders, and their moderate Republican allies. Corbett’s experience exposed the extent of government union control even in a Republican-majority legislature. They also propagated myths to advance their agenda,
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Pennsylvania GOP supporter Georgia Touloumes, seated, and family celebrate early wins by Donald Trump, November 8.
a multimillion-dollar propaganda effort, including paid newspaper and television ads, accusing Corbett of “cutting a billion dollars from education.” They hammered this theme in the 2014 gubernatorial election, in which Corbett was pitted against Democrat Tom Wolf. Four of Wolf ’s top 10 contributors were government unions. All told, Wolf received more than $3.4 million from 12 government union PACs that donated at least $5,000 to his campaign. Additionally, three government unions funneled $1.6 million to a Democratic Governors’ Association super-PAC, which ran independent attack ads bludgeoning Corbett with the education funding-cut myth. Republicans enjoyed a generally good year in 2014, but Wolf won in Pennsylvania, maybe reinforcing for some national observers the sense that the state was durably liberal.
AMERICA’S MOST LIBERAL GOVERNOR? In fact, Wolf as governor has been left isolated by Pennsylvania’s political transformation. This is partly his own doing. He did not run as a typical liberal Democrat. His campaign portrayed him as a “different kind of governor.” Ads featuring his Jeep showed his “regular guy” qualities, touted his business experience, and played up management chops that could foster “government that works.” But since taking office, Inside.gov has rated him the “most liberal governor in America,” and the Cato Institute’s
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year, his job approval rating dropped from a high of 52 perFiscal Policy Report Card gave him an “F,” its lowest rating cent to a low of 35, rebounding slighting to 40 percent (vs. among governors. 50 percent disapproval), in Quinnipiac University polling. But Wolf ’s isolation is mainly the result of the state’s changing political landscape. Wolf may have handily won the 2014 gubernatorial election, but Republicans THE SPARK OF BRUSHFIRES picked up state legislative seats, adding to their majoriThe state’s free-market shift has been eroding the govties and dominating competitive races. Republican state ernment union stranglehold on policy, even with Wolf in house candidates earned 229,000 more votes than Demooffice. Wolf has allowed two budgets to become law withcrats statewide, and 30 house Republicans won districts out his signature—the first time in recent memory this has Wolf carried. In the 25 senate seats on the ballot that year, occurred—both of which spent far less than he wanted. Republican candidates earned 202,000 more votes than Over the objections of the AFL-CIO, Wolf felt comDemocrats, and nine Senate Republicans won in districts pelled to sign a law barring unions from engaging in harassthat voted for Wolf. ment and intimidation tactics. Shockingly, unions had long This split set up a showdown between Wolf and the enjoyed a legal loophole that let them stalk, harass, and even legislature that erupted when Wolf prothreaten to use weapons of mass destruction posed a record $4.6 billion tax increase in with impunity if involved in a labor dispute. his first budget. Not only was this the largWolf signed legislation requiring a pubest tax proposal by any governor in 2015— lic fiscal analysis of state labor contracts— it was larger than the combined tax hikes negotiated behind closed doors—before proposed in all 49 other states. Wolf ’s plan they could be acted upon. called for higher income taxes and expandWolf even signed a modified version of ing the sales tax to everything from day the liquor store privatization bill that he care, diapers, and college meal plans to had previously vetoed—allowing wine to nursing home care and funerals. In total, it be sold in some grocery stores and restaurepresented a net tax increase of $1,400 per rants for the first time since Prohibition. family of four. While a seemingly minor change to benefit Because the Republican majority has consumers, the union representing liquor Governor Tom Wolf grown noticeably more conservative, lawstore employees vehemently opposed it, in Philadelphia on election night makers successfully rebuffed this agenda. rightly seeing it as the start of an eventual When Wolf ’s tax plan came to the house floor as an move to full privatization. amendment, it received zero votes. Even a scaled-down Litigation has also stymied Wolf and his union allies. version with fewer tax increases was defeated on overEarly in his first year, Wolf took advantage of a loophole in whelmingly bipartisan grounds. This led to a nine-month the Supreme Court’s Harris v Quinn ruling by signing an budget impasse—the longest in 60 years. The final comexecutive order unionizing home health care workers. The promise was a budget with zero tax increases, a complete move gave his campaign donors AFSCME and SEIU the defeat of Wolf ’s plan. opportunity to seek dues from 20,000 home care workers— This contrasts sharply with the experience of only a up to $8 million per year. In response, a lawsuit was filed by few years before. Democratic governor Ed Rendell also the Fairness Center, a public interest law firm founded to faced a prolonged budget battle with a Republican legisdefend those harmed by government union leaders, and a lature in 2003, his first year. In that standoff, Republicans state court declared Wolf ’s executive order unconstitutional. blinked, joining Democrats to pass an income tax increase. It’s little wonder that challengers are already lining up That gave Rendell the momentum to bulldoze his policy to take on Wolf in 2018. State senator Scott Wagner—like agenda through the Republican-controlled house and senWolf a businessman from York County—has unofficially ate for the next seven years. announced his candidacy. In 2014, Wagner became the Wolf faces a more conservative Republican party and first state senate candidate to win via a write-in campaign. so has had a vastly different experience. In just two years Largely self-financing his campaign, he faced the Republiin office, Wolf has issued more vetoes (17) than his two can nominee in a special election for a vacant seat and has predecessors issued in the preceding eight years. Most established a reputation as a blunt, Trump-like agent of significantly, Wolf vetoed major public pension reform, change. Wagner is a vocal critic of government unions and a liquor store privatization, and reform to teacher seniority champion of paycheck protection legislation that would end laws, all at the behest of public sector unions. the collection of union dues by government agencies. Wolf has paid a price for this intransigence. In his first Representative Mike Kelly from Butler County, recently
reelected to a fourth term in Congress, has also expressed interest in the office. The Chevrolet dealer rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 and has established a reputation as a fiery defender of small business and of Pennsylvania’s overregulated coal sector. Others rumored to be considering a gubernatorial bid include state senate majority leader Jake Corman, a prominent advocate of pension reform, and state house speaker Mike Turzai, who has led the fight to privatize the government liquor monopoly.
THE UNSURPRISING SURPRISE Given the shifting political demographics, Trump’s and Toomey’s victories in Pennsylvania should not be shocking. They demonstrate that Republicans, even strong fiscal conservatives, can win across the state. There is even more than one path to doing so. Despite nearly identical statewide numbers, Trump and Toomey took very different paths to victory. Trump racked up tremendous margins in Western Pennsylvania and rural and blue-collar parts of the state, while winning the conservative midstate. Meanwhile, Toomey matched Trump in the midstate but ran well behind him in Western Pennsylvania—no doubt partly due to Toomey’s openness to background checks for gun purchases and his efforts to publicly distance himself from Trump. In contrast, Toomey significantly outpolled Trump in the Philadelphia suburbs, even winning the two important swing counties of Chester and Bucks. Trump’s election was not unpredictable. And Toomey’s reelection shows there is more than one way to win Pennsylvania and more than one type of Republican who can pull that off. Toomey’s three hard-fought senatorial campaigns also illustrate how Pennsylvania’s political winds have changed. In 2004 when he primaried incumbent Republican Arlen Specter, then-congressman Toomey was the outsider challenging the Republican establishment. Specter, running for his fifth term in the Senate, was an established moderateto-liberal Republican. The primary race created a schism within the Republican party—igniting Pennsylvania conservative reformers long before the Tea Party movement surfaced. Specter eventually won the primary by less than two percentage points, aided by endorsements from President George W. Bush and Senator Rick Santorum. Six years later, the battleground had shifted dramatically. Specter voted for the 2009 stimulus bill and was a key vote to pass Obamacare. His plummeting popularity led him to switch parties to avoid a primary rematch with Toomey. Specter lost the Democratic primary, and Toomey was elected to the Senate over Admiral Joe Sestak in another close election. Today, state Republican establishment figures are celebrating the reelection of Toomey, who, 12 years ago, they argued was “too conservative” to win in Pennsylvania.
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TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE ON THE HORIZON Pennsylvania’s gradual move away from its dark-blue, union-dominated past was reinforced, not revealed, by this election. As the trend continues, state lawmakers will become more likely to seize opportunities for transformational change. In 2015, the Pennsylvania senate passed a paycheck protection bill, something Republican leaders scoffed at just a few years ago but which is now supported by twothirds of state voters spanning party lines. The state house did not hold a vote on the reform, but it is primed to be a major issue in the coming session. This October, lawmakers made another run at meaningful public sector pension reform—devising a bill that the Pew Research Center called “a major turn-around among states” and which would be the nation’s largest pension reform measure in terms of dollars moved to a defined contribution plan. With no Democratic support, the measure fell just three votes short of passage in the house. The senate would have passed it easily. Recent Republican election pickups alone should provide the support needed to push it across the legislative finish line. With the right governor, Pennsylvania could be the largest state ever to reform public pensions. Liquor privatization advocates are sure to continue their reform push. And there is more to come. There is a crying need for expanded school choice, as tens of thousands of students sit on waiting lists for scholarships or charter schools. Legislation to create education savings accounts—patterned after those in Arizona and Florida—has been proposed and could be the next fight for parental choice in education. Government unions once could be relied upon to block such reforms. But their power in Pennsylvania is weakening. Their chosen candidates—including Toomey’s opponent, Katie McGinty, who benefited from $6 million in support from union-funded PACs and super-PACs—face tough headwinds. Indeed, despite the millions spent by labor leaders in 2016, they failed to oust any lawmakers who supported pension reform, liquor store privatization, school choice, or paycheck protection. While Republican lawmakers in states like Wisconsin and Michigan took on major labor reforms with success—both are now right-to-work states, for example—Pennsylvania’s transformation has been bubbling beneath the surface, less visible to national observers if no less important. And election results in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan prove that lawmakers can take on powerful government unions, win at the ballot box, and secure victories for taxpayers. Pennsylvania’s red showing on Election Day surprised many, but it shouldn’t have. The Keystone State is on the brink of reforms that could spread like brushfire. ♦
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‘The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton’ by John Trumbull (ca. 1789 - ca. 1831)
The Rebels’ Art
Pictures from a revolution, and after.
n today’s 24/7 media age, the public image of a president—or president-elect!—is inescapable. But how did Americans perceive their presidents before mass media captured them for wide distribution? What was the everyday citizen’s visual conception of a leader whose visage was understood only through artistic rendering? Paul Staiti tackles this interesting question in a new collective biography of the five most prominent portrait painters of the revolution and early republic: Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, and Gilbert Stuart. Amy Henderson is historian emerita of the National Portrait Gallery. 26 / The Weekly Standard
Of Arms and Artists The American Revolution Through Painters’ Eyes by Paul Staiti
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., $30
What Staiti illuminates best is how each artist understood the historical importance involved in depicting the new nation’s Founders, but also how a painter would stamp his portrayals with artistic individuality. Each artist’s perception of George Washington was decisively identifiable as Washington, but one artist may have emphasized the broad brow while another focused on the strength of Washington’s jaw. Whatever the artistic differences, the
intention was to portray a heroic revolutionary figure as an iconic symbol of the new republic. When George Washington was born, colonial America lacked any artists of note. But the onset of revolution provoked artistic growth. Staiti writes that “war and art were unlikely but welcome companions.” Young Charles Willson Peale began painting small portraits as a soldier, rendering miniatures for military comrades as “mementoes of service and sacrifice” and, sometimes, as memento mori for soldiers’ families. For Peale, Staiti writes, the war “stimulated the urge to record and commemorate.” The artistic mentor for Peale, and most other leading American portrait December 5, 2016
COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
painters, was Benjamin West, a native Pennsylvanian who had long supported the Patriot cause but who spent more than a decade “in the eminent post of court painter to George III, who was both his friend and benefactor.” West “deftly navigated” his political inclinations in what Staiti calls “a political high-wire act of the first order.” When the Provisional Treaty of Peace was signed in 1782, West assumed he could declare his own independence. He wrote Peale that he intended to compose “a set of pictures containing the great events which have affected the revolution of America” and asked his former student to send him detailed drawings that illustrated costumes and “the conspicuous characters” he would depict in his history paintings. However well-intentioned, West never followed through and stopped work on the project in 1784. When John Trumbull had come to London to study with West, news of his military service in the Continental Army preceded him. He was arrested for treason in 1780 and only rescued from the gallows when West defended him in an audience with George III. Trumbull was imprisoned until 1781, when his bail was covered jointly by West and John Singleton Copley, another young American artist who had come to London to study with West. West turned his revolutionary history project over to Trumbull, and over the next several decades, Trumbull created a dramatic narrative that would be showcased in the United States Capitol. In 1818, he completed Declaration of Independence and took the 216-squarefoot painting on a triumphal tour across the Northeast before delivering the “GREAT NATIONAL PAINTING” to the Capitol. Trumbull’s other enormous works were delivered in 1820 (Surrender of Lord Cornwallis), 1821 (Surrender of General Burgoyne), and 1824 (General Washington Resigning His Commission). All were “majestically installed with gilt-trimmed frames in the newly completed Capitol Rotunda in 1826, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. This was now the symbolic center of the United States.” Another prominent portrait painter, December 5, 2016
John Singleton Copley, first left Boston for London in 1774, where he studied with West, kept quiet about politics, and “vigorously pursued his artistic career.” Copley often painted American Loyalists, but is best known for his spectacular Watson and the Shark, which was shown at the Royal Academy in 1778. One of the most delicious stories recounted here is about the portrait John Adams commissioned from Copley in 1783. Along with Benjamin Franklin, Adams had just signed the Treaty of Paris, but Parisians ignored Adams and, instead,
Samuel Adams by John Singleton Copley (ca. 1772) trumpeted Franklin’s genius in a barrage of adoring portraits, medals, miniatures, and sculpture. It even became fashionable for Parisian men to wear Quaker-style hats. Staiti writes that to remind people of his role in the history-making treaty, Adams hired Copley to paint “a colossal eight-foot-tall, full-length portrait.” He viewed art as a visual statement about America’s greatness, and he wanted posterity to recognize his contribution in a big, unmistakable way. The result was “a mammoth portrait spectacularly broadcasting Adams’s significance. No one could overlook a picture so grand, nor now ignore the man who had valiantly waged peace abroad.” Alas, once the portrait was unveiled, Adams was embarrassed by its hugeness: Copley’s image was aggrandizing rather than virtuous. Ultimately, it spent years
languishing in a London print shop before being hung in the Boston home of Ward Boylston. (It was too big to fit into the Adams house in Quincy.) In 1837, Boylston bequeathed it to Harvard College. Perhaps the most interesting character was Charles Willson Peale, a brilliant and multitalented artist whose fame was launched with his 1779 portrait George Washington at Princeton. As Staiti writes, “This was a new day in the history of America, and Peale had condensed the new order of rule into a single image of Washington,” capturing him as “the living embodiment of republican virtue.” Peale applied his view of heroic portraiture to a new gallery he was developing in Philadelphia: a hall of fame that would celebrate Revolutionary War heroes. In addition to “Portraits of Illustrious Personages,” his museum would include everything that made the New World exceptional, including “a Collection of preserved Beasts, Birds, Fish, Reptiles, Insects, Fossils, Minerals, Petrifications.” But the most notable Founding Father portraits were Gilbert Stuart’s of George Washington. Washington was president when he first posed for Stuart in 1794-95. He had already posed countless times for Peale, Trumbull, and others, and once quipped that “I am now so hackneyed to the touches of the Painters pencil, that I am now altogether at their beck.” Stuart’s first portrait of Washington “set in motion an avalanche of commissions for more portraits,” and over the next 30 years, he would paint more than a hundred portraits of Washington. Most were copies of his own originals, allowing the artist to mass-produce them. Each of these individual portrait painters has been the subject of innumerable scholarly studies, and there have been occasional works with a more inclusive view, such as Hugh Howard’s The Painter’s Chair: George Washington and the Making of American Art (2009). But Paul Staiti has produced an overview that reveals surprising interconnections among artists in the early republic and perceptively explains the impact of “republican virtue” on revolutionary portraiture. ♦ The Weekly Standard / 27
Does Harvard have a sense of humor? by
s John Tyler Wheelwright sat in Harvard’s Holden Chapel listening to Charles Eliot Norton lecture on the fine arts in January 1876, “Ralph Curtis snapped at me a little three-cornered note—‘Come to Sherwood’s room after lecture. We are to start a College Punch.’ ” From that paper football sprang a magazine that would launch the careers of Conan O’Brien, Fred Gwynne, Robert Benchley, and dozens of writers whose names you’ve never heard of for shows you most certainly have, including The Simpsons and Late Night with David Letterman. The Harvard Lampoon has outlasted the British magazine that inspired it and today is the oldest continually published humor magazine in the English-speaking world. Wheelwright’s reminiscence is in The Harvard Lampoon Centennial Celebration (1973), a superior anthology in every respect to this one. For one thing, it is bigger. Getting the full effect of the Lampoon’s justly celebrated magazine parodies (Life, Playboy, Mademoiselle), exact down to the tiniest details of layout, really does demand a book the size of an LP cover. Those parodies are missing, understandably but regrettably, from this present sixby-nine hardback. The older book features an introduction by John Updike, the newer by Simon Rich, who is not even the most talented of Frank Rich’s sons. The older book is entirely devoid of Andy Borowitz. However, this latest anthology has Helen Andrews writes from Sydney, Australia. 28 / The Weekly Standard
The Best of the Harvard Lampoon 140 Years of American Humor Touchstone, 272 pp., $26
‘Harvard Lampoon’ building one major advantage: It covers the years of the Harvard Lampoon’s greatest national influence. The precise moment its alumni launched their conquest of American professional comedy might be 1970, when Doug Kenney and Henry Beard moved to New York and started the National Lampoon. Or it might be 1976, when Jim Downey was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live two years out of school. He stayed for the next 35 years, give or take a few gaps, and became “Patient Zero” in Harvard’s takeover of TV writers’ rooms (in the words of Simpsons show-runner and
Bogged down by heavy-handed symbolism and millions of actual deaths, the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ would have done better to stay a few extra months in New Haven. . . . The lyrics are repetitious (“Holy, holy, holy”) and reminiscent to the point of plagiarism of many old church tunes. . . . I was also outraged that upon entrance to the show last night I was branded on my forehead with the number 666. A simple inkstamping on the back of the hand would have saved the management and the public a lot of inconvenience.
O’Donnell is not a famous name, December 5, 2016
RICK FRIEDMAN / CORBIS / GETTY IMAGES
fellow ’Poonie Mike Reiss). But whatever the exact date, this is the first anthology published since the Harvard Lampoon became a name to conjure with in Hollywood. No surprise, then, that the funniest pieces here date from 1975 and after. The earlier stuff—and the book has nearly a hundred pages of it, going back to 1886—falls into two categories: Some are pieces by authors who became famous as nonhumorists, like a painfully unfunny Charles Kuralt parody by Walter Isaacson or “Hold Up” (1954) by John Updike, which has no more laughs than the average Updike short story and qualifies as a humor piece only in the sense that there is no sex or death in it. The others were presumably chosen for historical value, such as “The Arms Conference: A Fable” (1924) or the inscrutable “Diary of an Amoeba” (1924), in which the unicellular narrator proposes electing “Amoebess Sanger” to the presidency. He adds: “The Lord knoweth it is not for me to talk, whose descendants have already founded and overfilled four towns.” The second-rate sketch “How I Was Taken at the Cleaners” (1941) by one Walter R. Bowie Jr. can only have been included in order to show just how derivative of S. J. Perelman most of that era’s humor writing was. But the quality begins to pick up with a theater review of the end of the world by Stephen O’Donnell from 1975:
having made his career off-camera as a writer for David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. Most of the standout pieces are from authors of this type—NewsRadio creator Paul Simms (who?), West Wing writer Paul Redford (huh?), Veep writer Alexis Wilkinson (is that a man or a woman?). The celebrity contributions are lackluster in comparison. Conan O’Brien’s six-panel cartoon “Nader’s Raiders of the Lost Ark” lives down to its premise. The two pieces from Colin Jost, current coanchor of SNL’s “Weekend Update,” are better than O’Brien’s only insofar as they do not feature a character called “Co-Co, the Legal Aid Chimp.” The exception to the rule is B. J. Novak, a star of NBC’s The Office, whose travel piece parodying magical realism is genuinely funny (“When she served the meal, each bite echoed with the unbearable sadness of Juanita’s limitless heartbreak. It was the worst burrito I ever had”). One quality that was lost when the Lampoon became more professional in the 1970s was any distinctive Harvard flavor, either academic or patrician. Many entries in the first half of the book are distinctly WASPy—explicitly so in the case of Thomas Feran’s “WASP Jokes,” which is three pages of exactly that: How can you tell when you’re in a WASP neighborhood? The homes are very large and well cared for. Why did the WASP throw his alarm clock out the window? As a histrionic gesture demonstrating his dissatisfaction with the regimentation of his life.
Henry Beard, the blueblood on the original National Lampoon staff, is represented by a 1964 piece imagining that Harvard’s three-dollar-a-year deans go on strike for a $1.30 raise (“A dollar doesn’t buy what it used to”), leading Lyndon Johnson to threaten to release a stockpile of dollar-a-year men left over in Washington from World War II. Beard himself was very much from the dollar-a-year men’s world: After growing up in the Westbury Hotel on the Upper West Side, and then being sent off to the Taft School, December 5, 2016
his great act of teenage rebellion was to enroll at Harvard, his father being a Yale man. No doubt, some of this change was due to demographics. There were simply fewer pedigreed students on campus after meritocracy kicked in. But the Lampoon’s very success is also partly responsible: Once it became a ticket to a real comedy career, students began to approach writing for
the Lampoon as an audition, with a national audience in mind. They were not simply trying to amuse their fellow classmates anymore, with the result that the magazine ceased to be any guide to what young members of the ruling class in particular found funny in any given generation. The later pieces are, therefore, of minimal sociological interest. But they are still, many of them, damn funny. ♦
Jerusalem’s Reformer Nehemiah, from cup-bearer to constitution. by
David J. Wolpe
rivia question: Who wrote the first political autobiography? He flourished more than 300 years before Caesar, may have been a eunuch, and lived a very eventful life. The man who wrote it was a high official in an empire, became a national leader, the restorer of a city, arguably penned the first constitution as well, and was a religious figure of historical significance. His name was Nehemiah. He was the cupbearer to the king of Persia, an important post. He carried this distinction with him when he returned to Jerusalem in the middle of the 5th century b.c. to reconstruct the city. Jerusalem, at that time, was a ruin, its walls breached, its population intermarrying and dispirited, its leadership corrupt. Nehemiah took it upon himself to restore the city to its former grandeur. As with all such projects, there was considerable opposition. First, he had individual enemies, and the nations surrounding Judah were none too keen to see its restoration. Moreover, there was a considerable social divide between the nobles and the peasants and small landowners: “We have mortDavid J. Wolpe, rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, is the author, most recently, of Why Faith Matters.
Nehemiah Statesman and Sage by Dov S. Zakheim
Koren, 262 pp., $27.95
gaged our lands, vineyards and houses, that we might buy corn because of the famine . . . and we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants . . . and we have no power to redeem them for others have our lands and vineyards” (Nehemiah 5:3-5). Through both reason and force of will, Nehemiah put through reforms that relieved the debts of many, fending off what might have been a ruinous social revolt. He also rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, a great public works project. Such an undertaking required skilled management, and Nehemiah adroitly managed the different families and factions to accomplish the task, which took a scant 52 days. His mission overlapped with that of Ezra, another major figure in Jewish history. Ezra was more religious and Nehemiah more the statesman; relations between them seemed a bit strained, but remain a subject of speculation. The rabbis, given their religious bent, resented Nehemiah a bit for crafting his own book and The Weekly Standard / 29
30 / The Weekly Standard
“Senior official, governor, statesman, legislator, religious enforcer, national leader, social reformer—Nehemiah was a man of many roles, and he excelled at them all.” Ezra is remembered in Jewish history as the man who restored the Torah to the nation; Nehemiah was the restorer of Israel’s national identity and cohesion. In that sense, both figures and their missions were complementary. Any observer of modern Israel—where questions of religion’s place in nationality are argued each day, and where a small nation is surrounded by enemies—must marvel at how little has changed in a world where so much has changed. In addition to the roles listed by Zakheim, however, there is one more
to add to Nehemiah’s résumé, perhaps the most important one: Nehemiah was the author of his own story. As Pindar wrote several hundred years later, “Unsung, the noblest deed will die.” Nehemiah both made and shaped history. Zakheim’s fluent, learned account credits Nehemiah with a more or less reliable account of the events for which he is the only surviving witness. Yet however this remarkable figure may have shaped or shaded events, it remains true that the nation he revived endured in its land for another 500 years before the Romans exiled them. Two thousand years later, when the walls of the city were refurbished, his legacy was commemorated by his descendants. ♦
Birdman of America How, and why, there is an Audubon Society. by
n 1886, the young ornithologist Frank Chapman spent two afternoons wandering through uptown New York City. He had recently given up a career in banking for the sake of collecting bird migration data for the American Ornithological Union. A few years later, Chapman would originate the tradition of the Christmas bird count, the annual winter census of birds now administered by the Audubon Society. On those two afternoons, however, he wasn’t counting birds, at least not live ones. Instead, he was scanning ladies’ hats. He must have gotten some odd looks from their wearers, but Chapman likely didn’t care. He was on a mission. For what he found, heaped high on these ladies’ wide-brimmed hats, was depressing indeed: pieces Christoph Irmscher, provost professor of English at Indiana University, is the author, most recently, of Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science.
Spare the Birds! George Bird Grinnell and the First Audubon Society by Carolyn Merchant Yale, 344 pp., $45
George Bird Grinnell (ca. 1875) of dead birds, their wings, crests, and sometimes even entire birds, heads down, feathers sticking up, as if they had just dropped out of the sky. He was only counting the native December 5, 2016
story separate from Ezra. Nonetheless, Nehemiah himself enacted religious legislation and addressed one of Ezra’s key issues: intermarriage. Unlike his predecessor, Nehemiah did not ask for the separation of intermarried couples but interdicted further intermarriage. His prohibition was not entirely successful. The struggle reminds modern Jews how eternal are the issues, religious and political, that arise both internally and internationally. Dov Zakheim is uniquely qualified to write about this. Few who write on the Bible have worked in government, and following in the very exclusive tradition of Abravanel, who served Ferdinand and Isabella prior to the Inquisition, Zakheim is a biblical commentator who has also been a public official. As an ordained rabbi with a deep Jewish education, Zakheim writes with a knowledge of the history of commentary and also political insight. Repeatedly we hear about events in modern Israel, or disputes between China and Taiwan, and of crises in American history and world history, that parallel events in the biblical book of Nehemiah. Along the way are observations from a lifetime of watching politicians operate. Commenting on the incredulity we may feel seeing priests and Levites jockeying in the temple, Zakheim comments, “But this underestimates the pettiness of even senior officials.” (Zakheim was deputy undersecretary of defense in the mid-1980s and undersecretary of defense during 200104: Who was he was thinking of as he wrote those lines?) Zakheim makes a plausible case that Nehemiah’s reforms amounted to “a new constitution, the first of its kind in Jewish history and perhaps the first of its kind anywhere.” There had been other codes of law, of course, but a constitution is “more than a code of law. It marks a commitment by a people to organize their governance according to agreed-upon principles.” Nehemiah used religious law but was not confined to it, proving a reformer as well as an urban revivalist. In his conclusion, Zakheim summarizes Nehemiah’s role in this way:
DON EMMERT / AFP / GETTY IMAGES
birds: 4 robins, 9 Baltimore orioles, 15 snow buntings, 21 golden winged woodpeckers, 23 waxwings. Chapman’s list went on. What he had seen was a perverse parade of death, a swaying, shaking, bobbing Golgotha of birds, slaughtered and eviscerated for purely decorative purposes. Unlike the feathers in the war bonnets of Plains Indians, the head ornaments of these women were unearned, symbols of wealth rather than achievement. In the millinery trade, an ounce of heron plumes was worth twice its weight in gold, about four herons were needed to produce an ounce of feathers, and more than a hundred had to die for the average 30-ounce package. We know that 1,608 such packages were sold at auction in London during one year alone. You do the math. Chapman’s colleague George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938) was fully aware of the devastating irony of the situation. In 1887, writing about his hero John James Audubon, Grinnell observed that “there are very few among us capable of realizing the full sense of what is meant by wandering alone in the primeval forest.” Carolyn Merchant movingly evokes Grinnell’s childhood, which was spent playing on Audubon’s estate, Minnie’s Land, right on the Hudson in Upper Manhattan. During lessons with Lucy, Audubon’s widow, he had admired Audubon’s original watercolors for Birds of America. And Grinnell, editor of the hunting magazine Forest and Stream, knew that Audubon, too, had harvested birds en masse—not for hats, of course, but for his art and (as Audubon would have insisted) for the advancement of science. But in Audubon’s paintings, feathers still were where they belonged, adorning the magnificent bodies of America’s birds, some of them so large that Audubon had to twist and bend their shapes so that they would fit onto his oversized sheets. In 1886, the year that Chapman made his rounds in the urban wilderness of Manhattan, Grinnell announced the establishment of the Audubon Society, a new organization dedicated entirely to the preservation of December 5, 2016
birds, not as objets d’art but as living, breathing creatures. Audubon, the subject of a never-ending stream of hyperbolic biographies, has eclipsed the quieter presence of Grinnell—and this is our loss, it seems. One of the delights of this volume, a smart mix of biography and anthology, is the encounter it affords with Grinnell the writer. Merchant takes us back to 1887, when Grinnell inaugurated the
because what he had discovered needed to be measured or eaten. For Grinnell, writing decades later and looking at these nests and describing them carefully, drawing attention represented the last chance of a rapprochement between the world of birds and our world. Birds were our friends, he urged in his magazine: We eagerly await their return in March, when they come to spend the summer with us, “building their nests
Pelicans at Merritt Island, Florida first version of the Audubon Magazine, a short-lived enterprise, as it turned out. But the articles he wrote for his new magazine, especially a monthly series of bird portraits now reprinted in Merchant’s volume, endure. Clearly indebted in style and form to Audubon, Grinnell’s essays are not about following birds into the depths of the woods or up the rocky slopes of mountains. Unlike Audubon, whose narratives drip with the solitary observer’s pride that he and only he has seen the scenes of bird life he is describing, Grinnell never refers to himself, dropping the comfortable shield of the first person plural and passive voice only when he turns to the reader to instruct or admonish her. Throughout these essays, Grinnell shows a distinct fascination with birds’ nests. Audubon wrote about them, too, but usually from the perspective of the invader, hand extended for the grab,
and rearing their broods under our very eyes.” Birds manage their lives pretty much the way we do, and watching them as they build their homes next to ours brings out the best in us: What delight is expressed, and how eagerly each operation is watched! What exclamations over the first egg that makes its appearance in the neat structure, and what agonies of anxiety lest some accident should destroy it.
Of course, not all birds are so neighborly in their choice of breeding grounds, and the ones that are not didn’t fire up Grinnell’s imagination. Night herons, for example, nocturnal, voracious, and rough voiced, live in their own cities, vast, filthy colonies near swamps that often house several hundred individuals. Birds that prefer the edge of the woods, such as the eastern towhee, live dangerously and become the easy prey of foxes, skunks, and snakes. The Weekly Standard / 31
How much more preferable are the ways of the eastern kingbird, which selects as its habitat the pear tree or sycamore tree in our yard, placing its nest so cleverly that it is supported not only by the branch on which it rests but by the twigs rising from it— an amazing artifact, a crafty mix of small sticks, weed stalks, wool, or, for extra strength, tufts of horsehair. The Baltimore oriole will use anything it can find for its nest, and Grinnell knows of one residence in particular (his own?) where each spring children would leave strands of blue and red yarn on the lawn for the orioles to take and add “a little bright color to their sober gray homes.” Grinnell’s amiable approach to ornithology might seem as quaint to us today as Audubon’s testosterone-fueled incursions into a vanishing wilderness would have seemed dated in Grinnell’s own day. But the gentle ethics of animal/human companionship he advocated mattered at a time when wealthy women prowled the streets of New York or Chicago festooned with avian body parts. As Grinnell knew, behind every wearer of feathers was a killer of birds, and the gruesome manner in which many of these killings took place quickly became a matter of public record: Birds were shot while sitting on their nests, when they were particularly vulnerable, and the hunters, once they were done, would simply leave the plucked carcasses to rot next to the unhatched eggs. In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt, an accomplished naturalist, used his executive power as president to declare Pelican Island on the east coast of Florida a National Wildlife Refuge—and therefore off-limits to plume-hunters. Other bird sanctuaries followed, 51 in 17 states. But no legal or political action—not the sanctuaries, not the protective laws that were passed—effectively ended the feather trade. One game warden in south Florida, a repentant onetime hunter for millineries, was murdered. Other sanctuaries soon began to resemble small military garrisons, protected by armed patrols. Writing in the mid-1880s, Grinnell 32 / The Weekly Standard
knew that the only lasting way to keep his beloved birds out of the reach of human greed was to do something about that greed itself. If humans believed that the only way they could interact with nonhuman nature was by killing it, Grinnell’s birds taught them a different path. And people were, he thought, capable of learning. Take the spotted sandpiper, a “trustful little fellow,” whose “distorted skin” was to be found on many a headgear worn by “good but thoughtless women.” The cure for such mindlessness: Watch the small sandpiper protect her young by leading us away from her nest, a fierce little David taking on the Goliath of humankind. Throughout his monthly essays, Grinnell made it abundantly clear where his sympathies lay, and where his reader’s thoughts should be, too:
with the purple martin, for example, that “sturdy, hardworking citizen of the bird world” who, if he makes his dwelling close to ours, will guard not just her young but also our poultry yard; with the wood thrush, who uses newspaper bits and rags for its nests and is so tidy that a lace ribbon from a woman’s cap she had taken to decorate her nest was retrieved undamaged; and with the crow, who builds her nest jointly with her partner, an elaborate, roomy affair, lined with mud and moss and covered by cedar bark and fine bits of wool or hair. And then there are the architects of the bird world, the chimney swifts, who use their saliva to attach their ingenious structures to our houses, little avian annexes that should entitle them, at a minimum, to the courtesy and respect one extends to all one’s neighbors. ♦
Running on Empty
The transformation of football, one coach at a time. by
hen I watch a football game, here’s most of what I see: either guys going out for passes and quarterbacks throwing the ball in their direction or blockers trying to push defenders aside to create holes for runners to charge through. In other words, I see almost nothing. Multiply me by millions of other weekend fans, and a fair number of sportswriters, and it becomes clear why Hal Mumme (pronounced mummy), who turns out to be the James Madison of 21st-century football, has spent his career bouncing from schools like Copperas Cove High to Iowa Wesleyan Michael Nelson, Fulmer professor of political science at Rhodes College, is the author of Resilient America: Electing Nixon in 1968, Channeling Dissent, and Dividing Government.
The Perfect Pass American Genius and the Reinvention of Football by S. C. Gwynne
Scribner, 304 pp., $27
College to, currently, Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. In a coaching career that has stretched from 1986 to the present, even Mumme’s one venture into the big time was at the Southeastern Conference’s football backwater, the University of Kentucky, and it lasted only three years. Part of the explanation for Mumme’s checkered career is ingrained in the nature of the coaching profession, and as S. C. Gwynne points out here, a football coach’s “job security is a joke. . . . The difference between being loved and being run out of town is the difference between 7-4 and 5-6.” In December 5, 2016
MATTHEW VISINSKY / ICON SMI / NEWSCOM
an average year, the turnover rate for passes that NFL quarterbacks threw Francisco 49ers’ Bill Walsh, Portland coaches in the NCAA’s elite Football was less than 50 percent, and the interState’s Darrel “Mouse” Davis, even Bowl Subdivision is about one in five. ception rate was 6 percent, double the from a 50-year-old book called Run and But most of the explanation for fumble rate on running plays. Shoot Football by the Ohio high school why Mumme’s name hasn’t (yet) Other conventions of football-ascoach Glenn “Tiger” Ellison. joined the pantheon of Knute usual struck Mumme as misguided, The Air Raid offense is grounded Rockne, Vince Lombardi, Bear Brysuch as punting on fourth down and in a small number of plays that appear ant, Bill Belichick, and other fabled jamming offensive linemen close bafflingly complex (“a whirring, highcoaches is that he was too far ahead together. Why turn four opportunities speed, multidimensional machine”) of his time. Gwynne doesn’t quote to move the ball down the field into to the defense, but are simple for the the political scientist Michael Manthree, he wondered? Why make the offense. Simple, as Ronald Reagan delbaum, author of the splendid The field narrower than the 53.33 yards it used to say in a different context, but Meaning of Sports (2004), but not easy. The Air Raid sends he could have. Mandelbaum out lots of receivers over the wrote that football was the entire width of the field and, right game for the mid- and depending on how the defense late-20th-century “machine responds, lets each of them age because football teams decide which of several possible are like machines, with routes to run instead of telling specialized moving parts them exactly where to go. that must function simulThat puts a lot of responsibiltaneously.” With the comity on the receivers and at least ing of the contemporary, as much on the quarterback, postindustrial era, he argued, which is why Mumme’s idea of football yielded much of its practice isn’t grinding through prominence of place to basa fat playbook but, rather, runketball, whose free-flowing, ning a few plays from a couple of formations again and again until networked action harmonizes the players learn how to make with the spirit of the age. maximum use of their freeWhat Mumme did, in a dom. It’s industrial-age football sense, was find a way to bring reborn as networked-age basketfootball into the postindusball—“fast break on grass,” in trial world. For many years, former Kentucky athletic directhe mark of a successful coach tor C. M. Newton’s description. was a fat playbook that told As early as 1991, Mumme’s everyone on the field exactly Hal Mumme as assistant coach at Southern Methodist (2013) teams were throwing the ball where they were supposed to 60 times per game and combe on every play. (The Chipleting two-thirds of them, much cago Bears’ George Halas bragged that actually is by bunching up your playmore than in the NFL or college his was 500 plays long.) The playbook ers? For that matter, why not run a ranks. Today, Air Raid and its variawas the equivalent of a large factory’s “hurry-up” offense all game instead of tions “dominate huge swaths of Amermanual of standard operating proceconfining it to the last two minutes? ican football . . . from the pee-wees to dures. Consequently, adapting flexibly And why assume that when you’re the pros.” In 2015, Gwynne writes, to changing circumstances on the fly backed up to your own goal line you “25 NFL teams had completion rates was hard. have to wage “an elemental war of above 60 percent” and “51 college Most of what was in the playbooks, blood and guts and slobber at the line quarterbacks had averaged 65-plus Mumme saw, were running plays of scrimmage” when, just beyond, lies percent over their careers.” Intercepbecause—well, that’s the way it had “the better part of an acre of grass with tions are down to about one per team always been done. Caution was the no one in it”? per game, “confirming what Hal had watchword, the received wisdom of Mumme’s answer to these queslong theorized: that the more you the football ages being that “there are tions, which he formulated with his passed, the better you got at it.” three things that can happen when colleague Mike Leach, was the offense Football has become Hal Mumme’s you pass, and two of them”—incomnow widely known as the Air Raid. As world, even if his current address is a pletions and interceptions—“are bad.” Gwynne shows, Mumme didn’t invent hotel room in downtown Jackson. It’s The truth of that adage was self-fulit out of whole cloth: He borrowed bits good to be right, but risky to be right filling: In the 1960s, for example, the and pieces from Brigham Young’s innotoo soon. ♦ completion rate for the relatively few vative coach LaVell Edwards, the San December 5, 2016
The Weekly Standard / 33
There’s more to Henry V than victory at Agincourt. by
James M. Banner Jr.
Battle of Agincourt, from the 1484 manuscript of ‘Vigils of King Charles VII’ by Martial d’Auvergne
ne might be inclined to laugh at footnote references on an early page of this deeply scholarly work to the Journal of the Society of Archer Antiquaries and the Henry North History of Dentistry Research Group Publication. But by so quickly dropping readers into such esoteric corners of published scholarship, Malcolm Vale signals an earnestly serious intent— that of rescuing Henry V, son of the Lancastrian usurper Henry IV, from the beloved fictions of William Shakespeare. Not that others haven’t tried. But it’s hard to imagine that anyone has gone further than Vale in the effort to make this monarch more than the warrior king he’s usually left to be. Shakespeare’s roistering Prince Harry, Falstaff ’s Hal, is not the man you find here; nothing about the Hundred Years’ War or Agincourt, no James M. Banner Jr. is a historian in Washington. 34 / The Weekly Standard
Henry V The Conscience of a King by Malcolm Vale Yale, 328 pp., $35
“band of brothers,” no “vasty fields of France.” Of course, these are the settings in which Henry entered English culture, where, unlike many other large historical figures, we first learned to know and admire him. But this book is about “another Henry V,” the unknown one kept offstage, the man hard at work, one of deep religious faith, a patron of art and learning, and like that other king, Frederick the Great, a composer of music. No Laurence Olivier to play him, no music of William Walton to surround him, no Kenneth Branagh. If the book opens with Henry’s grievous war wound (and hence the footnotes to recondite scholarship on archery and dentistry), and if Malcolm Vale puts Henry with Marlborough, Wellington,
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Churchill, and Montgomery as “one of the nation’s greatest commanders and war leaders,” he quickly moves us onto more irenic terrain. Here, Henry is a man of peace, not battle, at home as much in France as in England—“the ‘real’ historical figure,” in Vale’s words, rather than a stage character. This is “a study of rule at its most personal” of “an extraordinarily capable and successful king,” of “that remarkable individual” who was “rarely, if ever, to be seen again in the history of English rulership.” Here, Henry gets top billing for gifts Shakespeare never gave him. The life of a British monarch in our day is usually the stuff of fashion sections and gossip sheets. What does Queen Elizabeth carry in her pocketbook? What does she really think of her eldest son? What does she do with the state papers delivered to her when she has no say over their contents? It may take another 700 years for our heirs to find out. That’s how long it has taken historians—the latest of them being Vale, an emeritus research scholar at St. John’s College, Oxford—to get around to sniffing out such information about this medieval monarch. The resulting book is not a biography. Rather, it’s a composite of themes from Henry’s life: work, worship, language, writing, and the pleasures of art. None is the stuff of conventional Henrican life portraits. Nor, as we can deduce from an aside in Vale’s acknowledgments, is it what Yale University Press expected from the author, or what he anticipated when he started out. Despite its thick scholarly apparatus, the book has the feel of an adventure—of someone following his own interests where they lead and not those dictated by custom or other scholars’ concerns, a work as personal as any work of exquisitely detailed scholarship can be. What we get, in thickly footnoted pages that will daunt not a few readers, are glimpses of a king’s days, of medieval administrative life, of tensions in the church, of the realities of kingly patronage. It’s not unlike an exhibit of decorative art, which gives tantalizing, but imperfect and incomplete, entry into a vanished civilization.
UIG / GETTY IMAGES
Vale opens with “the everyday business of kingship,” especially Henry’s handling of the countless petitions that it fell to his duty to answer. This is Vale at work with his longest shovel into the deepest archives, and the book slows for the excavation. You get lost, for example, in the niceties of different kinds of wax seals. Yet such detail allows Vale to reveal Henry’s “authentic voice” as he directs his court officials how to respond to his often humble subjects’ pleas for relief. At some point along the spectrum of English history, a king’s personal self had to emerge from the court’s formal rituals and the stilted Latinate expression of law and diplomacy to put an individual stamp on his rule. Vale makes a good case that Henry’s voice was the first to do so: The king knew the particulars of distinct cases; he wrote orders in his own hand or dictated them in French and English; he personally applied his seal to documents. Here’s Henry, the first “bureaucrat-king,” ruling, not reigning, over his kingdom, exercising direct superintendence over a wide range of issues. For those interested in the history of the English language, Vale’s book also opens new vistas. The late 14th century may have been the Age of Chaucer, but English hadn’t yet replaced Latin and French as the language of government and administration. Vale argues that just as in the previous generation Chaucer’s Middle English had become the language of literature, so no later than 1417 in Henry’s reign (two years after Agincourt) it became the language of politics. The king himself played a “formative role” in that development. He drove the vernacular adoption of his birth tongue, rather than the conventional Anglo-Norman French, to greatly widened use. One reason he did so, Vale cleverly argues, is to prove to his English subjects that while he was resident in France to establish his rule there, he remained England’s king, too. As has never failed to be the case in the history of language, geopolitics played a central role in the spread of the English tongue. A contemporary of Henry wrote December 5, 2016
that the king was “better suited to be a man of the Church than a soldier.” Vale shows why. Piety was as common as breathing in medieval England, but not all monarchs led exemplary devotional lives, even if they had greater means than the ordinary churchgoing person of publicizing their faith. Henry’s was never disingenuous. He founded religious houses, appointed officials of religious establishments and hospitals, and set and applied penalties
Henry V for impiety in conquered Normandy as well as back home. As Vale concludes, “Henry’s efforts to bring about institutional reform and spiritual reawakening [in the church] were persistent and untiring.” And while he never went as far as the French kings in gaining and maintaining independence from papal authority, Henry nevertheless set limits to the pope’s authority in his realm. That didn’t keep him from resolutely going after dissent and maintaining strict, orthodox faith among members of the clergy and worshippers. His independence from Rome was tactical only and nothing like the strategic distance that Henry VIII would force
upon church and state in the 1530s. Vale is at his subtle best in laying all this out. His Henry is also a man of the book and of music. The king read widely. And as Vale shows in a stunning display of scholarship, Henry was a master of polyphony and wrote music for the Ordinary of the Latin Mass. He was also a patron of secular and religious architecture. If Vale’s portrait makes Henry V seem like some sort of multitalented paragon, it remains for all those who doubt the historian’s interpretation to challenge the picture he has drawn. For the time being, Vale’s Henry is surely the one that will take the place of others. But in what spirit, with what expectations, should someone read a book like this? There’s no question that it’s a superb example of scholarship. Examined simply as a work of modern research method, a work whose author has burrowed as far into archives (and archives in many languages) as one can go, it’s unsurpassable for what it reveals of what scholars can bring to light. Too many popular works of history display their authors’ easy use of others’ exhausting, protracted labors. Vale’s history is the kind of erudite building block upon which often-lazy, unventuresome narrative writers depend. There can be no wide, public knowledge of any historical figure, event, or development without histories like this one. But that doesn’t mean that Henry V is easy going. It isn’t. So what’s to be gained by reading such a demanding work instead of yet another popular rendering of the hero of Agincourt? You’ll learn more about medieval England and France, the 15th-century church, the rise of hands-on personal kingship, the emergence of the English language to wide use north of the Channel, and the contemporary peaceful arts. That is to say, you’ll go more deeply than was previously possible into this phase of the history of England, this particular reign, and a king even greater than the one given voice by William Shakespeare. ♦ The Weekly Standard / 35
Upbeat Downbeat Albert Murray, philosopher of jazz. by
Albert Murray (1998)
omeone forgot to tell Albert Murray that progress has disenchanted our world. Or rather Murray—writer, thinker, and philosopher of the blues—never believed in progress, in the strong sense, in the first place. How could he? “Even in the best of times,” Murray wrote, “the blues are only at bay.” To be clear, “The blues as such are synonymous with low spirits. Blues music is not.” Blues music stomps the “blue devils” that go around inflicting misery on our lives. Thus the title of Murray’s classic study, Stomping the Blues. But thanks to the “blue devils”
Aryeh Tepper has lectured at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia. 36 / The Weekly Standard
Murray Talks Music Albert Murray on Jazz and Blues edited by Paul Devlin
Minnesota, 280 pp., $25.95
being, at best, only at bay, the stage is always set for heroic action. Hence Murray’s enchanted world. No amount of progress, technological or economic, will ever change the fact that “life is at bottom . . . a never-ending struggle,” which was fine for Murray: Heroism is measured in terms of the stress and strain it can endure. . . . Thus difficulties and vicissitudes which beset the potential hero on all sides . . . serve his purpose. They make it possible for him to make something of himself.
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SUZANNE MAPES / AP
Given up for adoption at birth and raised in rural Alabama, Albert Murray (1916-2013) made something of himself by earning a bachelor’s degree at Tuskegee and then serving in the U. S. Army Air Force during 1943-62, retiring with the rank of major. Along the way he earned a master’s in literature on the G I Bill and cemented a lifelong friendship with Ralph Ellison. The collected correspondence between Murray and Ellison, Trading Twelves (2000), demonstrates how Ellison and Murray conversed as equals even as Ellison rocketed to literary fame in the 1950s while Murray labored in obscurity. Murray, of course, was hard at work all those years, and in 1970 at the ripe age of 54, he published his first book, The Omni-Americans. A collection of essays that took on social science theories, protest fiction, and black separatism, Murray’s central thesis was that American culture is manifestly mulatto, and that black Americans are quintessential Americans compelled to live in a heroic mode: “The Underground Railroad was not only an innovation, it was also an extension of the American quest for democracy brought to its highest level of epic heroism.” This passage should be read together with Allan Bloom’s comment in The Closing of the American Mind regarding the increasingly anti-heroic tone of American life: “the contempt for the heroic is only an extension of the perversion of the democratic principle that denies greatness.” Murray’s literary career can be viewed as one long counterstatement to this perversion of liberal democracy, as he celebrates “great books,” “standards of excellence,” and, of course, “heroes.” Primary among Murray’s culture heroes were jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Lester Young, artists who extended, elaborated, and refined the blues. Rejecting art for art’s sake, Murray argued that music, like literature, possesses a “telling effect,” conveying a story in rhythm and tune that supplies essential equipment for flourishing. Not all musicians are aware of the import of their craft, but true artists like
Armstrong know. Riffing on Constance Rourke, Murray wrote that “Armstrong was . . . a culture hero. . . . [W]hat the elegant innovations of his trumpet and vocal improvisations added up to was the American musical equivalent of ‘emblems for a pioneer people who require resilience as a prime trait.’ ” Blues-idiom music for Albert Murray is much more than just music. It’s also a goodtime ritual of resilience through improvisation, gracefully swinging your way through changes even as the “blue devils” nip at your heels. As such, it contributes to shaping the character of its practitioners and devotees. Murray’s writings on music, at their deepest, explore themes found in the classic political-philosophical tradition that extends from Plato to Rousseau and Nietzsche and that takes seriously music’s power to shape the character of individuals and societies: the relationship between instrumental music and text (blues music contradicts the text) and the relationship between rhythm and instrumental color (the syntax of the rhythm section guards against excessive emotionalism). All of which is to say that if Allan Bloom was right that “this is the age of music and the states of soul that accompany it,” then Albert Murray is a guide for our time. Against this backdrop, we can appreciate the importance of this first posthumous publication of Murray’s work. Murray Talks Music is a collection of interviews and articles ranging from discussions with musicians, writers, and professors, to a mid-1950s lecture that Major Murray delivered in French in Morocco, to liner notes Murray composed for Alvin Ailey’s Revelations/Blues Suite. Its editor, Paul Devlin, offers that Murray Talks Music “serves simultaneously as a coda . . .and as an introduction to [Murray’s] canonical texts.” True enough, but the collection also takes us directly to the center of Murray’s thought, including his clearest statement on the problematic power of music: As much as we liked jazz and as much as I use it, I never forget . . . music is
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politically suspect; it can be just as good for something bad as it is for something good. . . .You have just as good musicians playing for the Nazis as playing for freedom.
Precisely because music is a problematic power, “politically suspect,” however, the musician’s understanding of his social function becomes crucially important. Thus, Murray distinguishes the artist from the technician: “If he’s a true artist he takes his profession as seriously as a priest as poet-priest-medicine man. He provides basic existential equipment for living.”
Rejecting art for art’s sake, Murray argued that music, like literature, possesses a ‘telling effect,’ conveying a story in rhythm and tune that supplies essential equipment for flourishing. Predictably, Murray’s untimely meditations on the use and abuse of music and the task of the true musician didn’t help make him popular inside or outside the academy. But his ideas have been assimilated by artists like Wynton Marsalis, who interviews Murray here, while Murray’s interpretation of jazz and blues deeply informs one of America’s premier cultural institutions, Jazz at Lincoln Center. Devlin contends that Murray’s discussion with Marsalis “rises to become perhaps Murray’s most comprehensive interview.” Responding to Marsalis’s question about how “the discussion of art . . . can be applied to something as down-home . . . and functional as the blues,” Murray responds with one of his favorite ideas—namely, that folk and fine art are distinguished by “levels of control.” Folk art can be “deeply
moving. . . . But the control and range is going to be limited.” With fine art, however, “you have . . . maximum control” and the attendant capacity “to deal with a wider range of experience.” When Marsalis mentions “the widely-held belief that . . . literacy actually destroys . . . the real authentic blues feeling in the jazz musician,” Murray definitively responds: “Why should Louis Armstrong not be the best trumpet player that he can possibly be?” Murray’s emphasis on control was a theme throughout his career. In a 1959 letter to Ellison, Murray laments the association of jazz with primitivism and the necessity of pointing out that “jazz represented CONTROL not abandon.” He likewise wrote, in Stomping the Blues (1976), that “blues-idiom merriment” is distinguished by “control [while] sensual abandon is, like overindulgence in alcohol and drugs, only another kind of disintegration.” But establishing control doesn’t mean stomping the blues with a grim ace on your face. You stomp the blues with a smile and a healthy portion of sprezzatura. Nevertheless, the victory is no joke. The elegance of earned self-togetherness . . . is the musical equivalent of the somewhat painful but nonetheless charismatic parade-ground strut of the campaign-weary soldier who has been there one more time and made it back in spite of hell and high water with shrapnel exploding all around him. A typical Lester Young solo on an up-tempo number . . . is as symbolic of heroic action as any fairy-tale exploit.
Maybe Murray’s interpretation of “blues-idiom merriment” was inevitable. After all, the jazz universe is populated by dukes (Ellington), counts (Basie), and founding fathers (“Pops,” Louis Armstrong). But you need only reflect for a moment on the unpopularity of this most American music to realize that nothing is inevitable when it comes to jazz, just as nothing is inevitable when it comes to heroic action. And in our time, heroic action not only deserves to be identified and celebrated, it needs to be identified and celebrated. ♦ The Weekly Standard / 37
Fred Basset’s contribution to the Special Relationship. by
t seems only appropriate, in Merrie England, that the lighthearted humor of a very British cartoon canine brightens the mornings of newspaper readers each day. Fred Basset first appeared in the Daily Mail on July 9, 1963. The philosophical basset hound, his nameless middle-aged owners, and supporting cast of characters were conceived by the Scottish cartoonist Alex Graham. Graham had created several other comic strips, including Wee Hughie (1945) and Our Bill (1946), and his 1953 New Yorker cartoon of two aliens addressing a horse (“Kindly take us to your President!”) is widely believed to be the starting point of the popular catchphrase “Take me to your leader.” Commissioned for a six-month period, Fred Basset has far exceeded expectations. The strip is syndicated in more than 200 newspapers. It was regularly read on the radio by the Australian comedian Hamish Blake. An animated television series of fiveminute shorts, created by Bill Melendez Productions of Peanuts fame, briefly ran on the BBC in 1976. There are also widely anticipated annuals, compilations, one-off volumes and calendars. Which brings us to The Best of Fred Michael Taube writes a syndicated column for Troy Media. 38 / The Weekly Standard
The Best of Fred Basset by Alex Graham
Summersdale, 112 pp., $23.95
Basset. This volume contains only a few strips by Graham, who died in 1991. The rest were created by the duo who have faithfully taken care of Fred ever since: illustrator Michael Martin and Graham’s daughter, Arran. In the foreword, the latter apologizes to readers if this decision “seems a little biased.” But she believes that she and her coauthor “have tried to remain faithful to Dad’s gentle humor and wry view of life” and hopes readers “will find something to chuckle and smile about in this book.” Why was a basset hound chosen as the main protagonist? These popular hunting dogs are known for their speed, sense of smell, and intelligence. Graham had a loyal basset, Freda, who served as the perfect model (and name) for his cartoon version. Also, Graham “often used dogs in cartoons for Punch and other periodicals,” according to his daughter: “By the early sixties, bassets were becoming fashionable, and celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe and Rex Harrison, were acquiring them as pets. . . . The basset hound
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provided the perfect character.” There’s a tried-and-true formula to Fred Basset. Strips rarely exceed two or three panels. The characters are caught in a time warp, although modern references to, say, selfies and Harry Potter occasionally appear. Politics is verboten. There are many rounds of golf, excursions to the countryside, and pints at the neighborhood pub. The jokes can be described as safe and politely amusing. Fred is always seen, but never heard and, like more than a few cartoon animals (Snoopy, Garfield, etc.), “speaks” in thought bubbles. But it’s through his observations about the foibles of everyday life that we begin to better understand the world around him—and, therefore, our world. Some examples: n A duck quacks at Fred in front of a saloon. The pub’s name turns out to be The Dog & Duck, leading the basset hound to say, “Yes, I agree. It is a coincidence!” n Fred is walking with Jock, a black Scottish terrier, to whom he says, “We’ve just had a ploughman’s lunch . . . and the ploughman’s not very pleased about it.” The look of disgust on the farm worker’s face says it all. n Fred’s male owner is playing the piano. A perturbed Fred asks, “As Shakespeare said, ‘If music be the food of love, play on.’ That’s all very well, but where’s my dinner?!” Fred Basset’s style of humor has struggled to find an audience in America. Cartoonists like Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts) and Hank Ketcham (Dennis the Menace) admired Alex Graham’s work, and the strip has long been syndicated. But few of us on this side of the Atlantic would call it one of our favorites. Which is a shame, because Fred Basset fits with the rich tradition of British strips such as Teddy Tail (1915), Bobby Bear (1919), Japhet and Happy (1919), and Rupert Bear (1920) that were conceived in a time of order, precision, and respect for society but contained a subtle humor, periodic wisdom, and a certain creative genius that invariably makes readers smile. ♦
The Americanization of the Jesuits, and vice versa. by
he Society of Jesus was founded in 1540. Its members, the Jesuits, famous for their brilliance, courage, and missionary zeal, were also suspected across Europe, over the next 200 years, of Machiavellian politicking. In 1773, Pope Clement XIV abolished the order, but Pius VII restored it toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1814. In the 19th century, the Jesuits favored the vindication of miracles, hostility toward other branches of Christianity, and papal infallibility. Today, they are known for anti-imperialism, ecumenism, and integrating Roman Catholicism with indigenous cultures around the world. In American Jesuits and the World, John McGreevy explains the twists and turns of their history and dissolves the apparent paradoxes. Jesuits feared the rising tide of liberalism in 19th-century Europe, which culminated in the revolutions of 184748. A new round of suppressions and expulsions led dozens of Jesuits to migrate to America from Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. They had hardly settled in when boatloads of political refugees also arrived, fleeing the repression that had brought those revolutions to an end. As a result, conflicts that had begun in Europe resumed in Maine, Missouri, and Louisiana, with the old antagonists still confronting each other but now in a very different setting. The United States of the 1840s and ’50s had a rapidly growing Catholic population, mostly immigrants from Germany and Ireland. Respectable ProtPatrick Allitt teaches history at Emory and is the author, most recently, of The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History. December 5, 2016
American Jesuits and the World How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism Global by John T. McGreevy Princeton, 328 pp., $35
Church of the Gesu, Philadelphia estant leaders like Theodore Parker, Lyman Beecher, and his daughter Harriet Beecher Stowe feared (and wrote against) the rising Catholic tide. The country was also crisscrossed by traveling anti-Catholic agitators, such as Alessandro Gavazzi, an Italian ex-priest, and John Orr, who called himself the Angel Gabriel, wore a white robe, and blew fanfares on a silver trumpet before stirring up Protestant crowds into a frenzy. The “Know-Nothing” party was the political embodiment of this mood: It regarded Jesuits as the frontline agents of a foreign despotism (the papacy) that was plotting to destroy American freedom. A salacious literature—with titles like Maria Monk’s Awful Disclosures (1836)— added that Jesuits used the confessional to seduce innocent young women, and that nuns in convents were the sexual playthings of lecherous priests.
The Weekly Standard / 39
COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
One of the Jesuit exiles, John Bapst, from Fribourg in Switzerland, preached to the growing Irish immigrant population in Maine. Abrasive and outspoken, he objected to use of the King James translation of the Bible in local schools and tried to use public funds to hire a Catholic schoolteacher. Local Protestants reacted by blowing up his chapel with a primitive bomb; when he came back to town, they tarred and feathered him. Even when tempers had cooled, no remorse was expressed and a local jury declined to indict the ringleaders. Meanwhile, in the South, the Jesuits were slow to condemn slavery. The Maryland Jesuits actually owned slaves until 1838. Their suspicion of individualism—which they saw as the outcome of the Reformation, made all the more toxic (in their view) by the ideology of the French Revolution—led them to look on abolitionists as worse than slaveowners. Ferdinand Helias, a Belgian Jesuit in Missouri during the 1850s and ’60s, described William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist speeches as the “mad ravings of Puritan fanaticism.” Born in 1796, Helias had witnessed the imprisonment of both his father and his twin brother for criticizing Napoleon’s attack on Catholicism in the early 1800s, and during the Civil War, both sides suspected him of disloyalty. Many of Helias’s German immigrant parishioners also disliked his provocative manner, denigration of the laity, and polarizing approach to all conflicts. During and after the Civil War, American Jesuits joined in the effort to create a Catholic subculture among the immigrants, emphasizing baroque buildings copied from European originals, Catholic schools and colleges, and new teachings such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary (defined in 1854). Building projects, funded by poor working-class immigrants, could be astonishingly ambitious. One of the most stupendous was the construction of a full-size copy in Philadelphia of the Jesuits’ headquarters church in Rome, the Gesu. It was undertaken by the Swiss-born Jesuit exile Burchard Villiger in the 1870s and ’80s. Villiger also founded a college, St. Joseph’s, whose
rigorous curriculum of Greek and Latin was based on the order’s ratio studiorum, laid down in 1599 and designed to cultivate Christian gentlemen. Miracle cures also played a growing role in popular devotions. In 1866, Mary Wilson, a Roman Catholic convert and aspiring nun in Louisiana, suddenly recovered from a terminal illness when her Sacred Heart sisters prayed for the intercession of the Blessed John Berchmans, a 17th-century Jesuit. Other Jesuits publicized the miracle, adding it to their catalogue of Catholics who were sanctified through suffering. McGreevy vividly explains the centrality of the Sacred Heart to 19th-century Catholic spirituality: [The image of Jesus] gazing directly at the viewer, with his pulsing red heart exposed and pierced by a lance, became one of the most distributed of the 19th century, stamped, printed, carved, or engraved onto countless holy cards, stained glass windows, statues, tracts, and pamphlets.
The Jesuits, an international organization, were skeptical about romantic nationalism, but it was one of the most powerful phenomena of 19th-century politics. As the exile generation died out and a generation of American-born Jesuits matured, new attitudes developed, much less antagonistic to the idea of nationalism. When the United States went to war against Spain in 1898, won, and took over the Philippines, the father general of the Jesuits encouraged American volunteers to assist their Spanish brethren in the education of young Filipinos. From being itself a mission field, the United States now became the source of Jesuit missionaries. The Americans who moved to Manila deplored the lax religious life they found there, and the hidebound, halfhearted methods of their Spanish predecessors. More to their taste was YMCA-style cultivation of manly sports such as boxing and basketball. They favored wearing suits in the streets rather than robes (less girlish, more manly), shifting the language of instruction from Spanish to English, and cooperating with the American governors. Theodore Roosevelt spoke well of the Jesuits as agents of civilization. 40 / The Weekly Standard
Trends evident during the Philippines occupation intensified during the First World War, an era when Catholics scrambled to demonstrate their one-hundred-percent Americanism. (Similarly, most German Jesuits were patriotic Germans and most French Jesuits were patriotic Frenchmen.) The power of nationalism had won out over the theoretical claims of Catholic universalism. Moreover, a movement on behalf of “Americanism,” pioneered by Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minn., had reconciled much of the American Catholic population with public schools, freedom of religion, and wholehearted patriotism. In a brilliant and concise conclusion, McGreevy surveys further changes in the landscape over the past century. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) repudiated much that the 19th-century exile Jesuits had fought for. It depicted a Catholicism more hospitable to other Christians, less censorious, less hierarchical, and more attuned to democracy and to cultural variety. Some of this emphasis could
be credited to John Courtney Murray, probably the most articulate and influential American Jesuit of the 20th century, who argued that the ideas embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights originated not with John Locke and other liberal theorists but in medieval Catholic teaching. On the other hand, some parts of the old Jesuit program now seem acutely relevant to current realities. “That Manila now matters more to the future of Catholicism than Milan, and Kampala more than Cologne, is in part an achievement of 19th-century Jesuits and their missionary peers,” writes McGreevy. “[T]heir success as institution builders, along with their linguistic facility and a willingness to travel to all corners of the globe, seem oddly contemporary.” How fitting that the papal election of 2013 should bring forth, for the first time, a Jesuit pope, and that, giving an address in 2014 on the 200th anniversary of his order’s re-founding, Pope Francis should urge on them a renewed dedication to their “outbound” tradition. ♦
Stuff of Language
The story of English in the history of the OED. by
he Oxford English Dictionary is a two-sided Kandinsky, a rare double image of grinding scholarship and popular acclaim. Unavoidably, perhaps, it is more widely esteemed than used. But somehow it has enough cachet that Mel Gibson is producing and starring in a movie about its first chief editor, James Murray, and one of its more eccentric early contributors, an American Civil War veteran named David Skinner, writer and editor, is the author of The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published.
The Word Detective Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary by John Simpson
Basic Books, 384 pp., $27.99
W. C. Minor, who mailed in citations from where he lived, an asylum for the criminally insane. The movie is based on Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman (1998). Even if the film is successful, by the way, I don’t think we’re in any danger of being inundated by dictionaryrelated movies. That’s because the OED is an only child among dictionaries and December 5, 2016
JOHN REDMAN / AP
reference books. It receives all the love. humans is surely as universal as variaThe OED is unique in other ways, tion itself. Where a certain amount of not least for being a speaker of uncomdeference is wanting in the usual way fortable truths. Not long ago new eviof putting things, we attempt to supply dence indicated a very benign origin it. As common usage produces uglifor the controversial term redskin, ness, we plot our linguistic journeys requiring a forthright correction to the dictionary’s own earlier statements on whence this term came. This the dictionary made without hesitation, it seemed. The OED is also a monument to several principles considered axiomatic by language scholars but frequently sniffed at by defenders of good English. One of these is that change over time—in meaning, pronunciation, spelling, and grammatical function—is perfectly ordinary for words and language. Another is that the job of a serious dictionary is to inventory the language, not to filter out the bad parts. As one of the OED’s founders, Richard Chenevix Trench, said about the lexicographer, “He is an historian of [the language], not a critic of it.” Fortunately for the OED, these principles were as if written on its birth certificate, with a historical point of view and neutrality toward individual words at the heart of the project from the beginning. Yet not even the Swiss-like lexicographer can stay forever neutral when the language he John Simpson (left), Edward Weiner, coeditors of or she holds dear is invaded the Oxford English Dictionary (1989) by a barbaric new lexeme. The second editor of the OED, Henry in the other direction. Our opinions Bradley, a member of the Society for about language shape how we use it Pure English, was aghast that swashand whether we genuflect before cerbuckling was a part of the English tain distinctions or walk on by. language, according to Lynda MugEven John Simpson, who retired glestone’s Lost for Words (2005), a hisas chief editor of the OED in 2015, is tory of the OED. Bradley also hated it made grumpy by certain words. Heft when people called the upper part of and hunkering, he complains, are always the face a fore-head. It seemed obvishowing up in contemporary fiction. ous to him that the h sound should be And he does not like content, which he unvoiced, and the correct pronunciacalls “publisher’s jargon that reduces text to the level of filler. . . . For lexicogtion was for-id. raphers, the opposite of content is disconThe urge to correct and improve on tent.” In The Word Detective, a memoir of what sounds fall from the mouths of December 5, 2016
his nearly four decades working on the OED, Simpson says he has no favorites among words. He is so open-minded that he even makes room for words he does not like, such as content. Many pages later, he mentions “the content and structure of the dictionary,” and while discussing a plan to update the OED, he writes, “With those changes, we could open up the content.” Simpson is actually a very pleasant and smiling guide to the world of historical lexicography. Every word is a story, and he makes the most of it by breaking up his narrative with brief essays on the histories of various words, choosing superb examples. A dead line, says Simpson, is one that the fish are not biting on, or such is the first recorded use in the OED files. Where deadline comes to life is in the American Civil War: It seems that mid-nineteenthcentury Americans did not hold enlightened views on prison management: they apparently used to draw lines around military prisons, and if a prisoner went beyond that line, he would be shot.
The work of lexicography, safe to say, is more like fishing than shooting prisoners. Simpson, who seems to credit his being hired in 1976 to a lucky draw of conversational topics during his job interview, distinguished himself at the OED by his appetite for research. On the same page he recalls volunteering to investigate the lexicons of punk and Rastafarianism, he mentions buying a used set of 18thcentury novels, which he brought on vacation and dutifully marked up. Such is his taste for busman’s holidays that, on another day off, he drives to an old diocesan archive to pursue a suspicion that an early citation for pal was being misinterpreted. To make it into the OED, a word must achieve some kind of regular existence over a period of time. The The Weekly Standard / 41
one-use inspirations of poets and wits—the so-called hapax legomenon— do not qualify. And Simpson is deeply interested in where evidence of usage is found, preferring a broad range of sources that goes far beyond the literary canon. James Murray was criticized for citing evidence of usage in the vulgar pages of newspapers, a lament that today seems especially Victorian. Simpson makes the opposite complaint: that the imperial literary tastes of early readers who contributed citations to the OED led to a misimpression that canonical authors enjoyed a greater influence over the language than was actually the case. James Joyce, for example, is listed as the first source for around 575 terms in the Second Edition, Simpson says, but in the current revision, earlier references have been found for over 40 percent of those. Obviously, celebrated literature enjoys an extraordinary advantage over less-readily-available texts and unrecorded language when it comes time to be remembered in the pages of a dictionary. As the leader of the OED’s new words group, Simpson looked for ways to democratize and thus improve the sourcing of historical evidence. Even though the OED will not allow spoken language to be used as citations, he carried around a notebook to catch language on the fly. Another great preoccupation of Simpson’s tenure was the digitization of the OED, which will surely go down as his great achievement. The OED’s unusual record of success as it transitioned into the digital age may not already be a Harvard Business School case study, but it could be. As early as the 1980s, the OED began experimenting with computerization, placing its files on computers, editing them, and, finally in 1992, selling the dictionary on a compact disc. As important as the textual riches of the Internet, the simple search function is, obviously, a major hero of the digital revolution: The ability to search the OED’s own files on a disc helped Simpson and others understand that a dictionary is not only a book but a database. And in searching 42 / The Weekly Standard
their database, OED editors made new discoveries. An earlier citation for militia was found in the OED’s own entry for folkmoot (an old term for a kind of town assembly). Unlike a printed book, a database can also be updated whenever the need arises and instantly made available to online users. It can seem as if all the limitations imposed on dictionaries by printing and retail publishing are falling away in the digital age. A dictionary can now be not just “unabridged” but infinite, forever unhalted by the need to stop and print. The bitter joke that by the time your dictionary is published it’s already out of date is replaced by a new editorial model in which your dictionary is always updating and improving. Today, the dictionary seems almost perfectible, but more than a few would-be lexicographers have been exiled from utopia. Simpson’s memoir could have done more to illuminate the churning of jobs brought on by cyclical hiring in the dictionary busi-
ness and by the disruptions wrought by digitization and the lean cost structure of contemporary publishing. As an employee of Oxford University, perhaps Simpson is shielded from some of this collateral damage, but not all of it. His reticence about his colleagues may even be understandable, but it crops an important part of the story behind the OED. Where Simpson’s humanity is on more touching display is in his own family. The arrival of a severely disabled child challenges him to love and care for a person sealed off from the world of language. His handling of this autobiographical material is admirable for its simple honesty, and it serves as an occasion for him to discuss delicate questions of linguistic appropriateness, which he does with an intellectual seriousness that should play a larger part in how we address shifting linguistic manners. These passages are, in a word, very English— a touch blunt and never lachrymose, the best of a good book. ♦
Felonious Monk A priestly avocation for murder. by
Jon L. Breen
he religious detective, dating back at least to the early 20th century with Melville Davisson Post’s Protestant layman Uncle Abner and G. K. Chesterton’s Roman Catholic priest Father Brown, has continued to occupy a distinguished (and often lucrative) niche in the world of fictional sleuthing. Most detecting clergy, for whatever reason, have been Catholics (Ralph McInerny’s Father Dowling, William X. Kienzle’s Father Koesler, Andrew Greeley’s Father Blackie Ryan), but there have also been occaJon L. Breen is the author, most recently, of The Threat of Nostalgia and Other Stories.
The Discourtesy of Death by William Brodrick
Overlook Press, 352 pp., $27.95
sional Protestants (Charles Merrill Smith’s Reverend C. P. Randollph) and Jews (Harry Kemelman’s Rabbi David Small). Recently, many historical mysteries have featured members of religious orders, the pioneer being Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael. Among currently active series is Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma. Ironically, as Great Britain in common with much of Europe has grown increasingly secular, religious December 5, 2016
GERAINT LEWIS / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
sleuths have flourished—some medieval, some contemporary, some living in the recent past. The best known, because of the television adaptation Grantchester, recently seen on PBS, may be the Anglican vicar Sidney Chambers, the creation of James Runcie, son of the former archbishop of Canterbury. Father Brown also appears on the small screen in a controversial reworking and updating to the 1950s. William Brodrick, a onetime Augustinian friar who left the order to become a barrister, has created a Gilbertine monk who took the opposite course, giving up the law to follow the religious life. Father Anselm’s official job in the monastery is beekeeper, shades of Sherlock Holmes. The Discourtesy of Death is his fifth appearance, the first to be published in the United States, a remarkable novel that succeeds both as mystery fiction and exploration of ethical dilemmas. Combining deep moral pondering with generously clued classical detection and pure thriller suspense is no easy task, but Brodrick achieves it. The theological viewpoint of Anselm and his creator is not in doubt, but they certainly don’t pretend that applying it is easy, and readers who disagree can’t claim their view is denied a fair hearing. The novel’s early scene with Anselm and the Larkwood Priory archivist Brother Bede suggests a much more conventional mystery than the complex, time-shifting narrative that follows. Anselm has become too well-known as an amateur detective, most recently being the subject of a Sunday Times feature, which he would prefer Bede not add to the monastery archives. He has been warned before not to get too much publicity and now fears the prior, Father Andrew, is about to shut down his sleuthing sideline. Instead, it develops that he is to be given greater freedom to accept cases, beginning with the death of Jennifer Henderson, a paralyzed and terminally ill former ballet dancer who was married to a prominent television personality. Did she die from natural causes, accident, suicide, or, as an anonymous letter suggests, murder? The story December 5, 2016
develops in leisurely fashion: Not until page 130 do we get an obvious possible explanation for the victim’s death, one that surely has been in any reader’s mind, introduced as a possibility. And the main suspect does not appear in person until past the halfway mark. Anselm asks musician and jazz club manager Mitch Robson, a former client from his lawyer days (guilty of embezzlement but acquitted), to help investigate the case: “I’d like you to contribute something to the system you flouted. Because whether you
William Brodrick like it or not—remorse and forgiveness aside—the law is our only means of restoring order to a disordered world.” Their relationship will remind some readers of Father Brown and the reformed criminal Flambeau: “They found common ground on the subject of oddballs, be they monks or musicians. There were only two truly sensible people left in the world, and they were both seated here in a deserted jazz club.” This is a very serious book, both as novel of character and ideas, and as detective story. Serving it well is the quality of the writing, describing people and places in inventive ways while finding humor in a subject that badly
needs it. Consider Bede’s mixed biblical metaphor on people losing a “simple understanding of right and wrong.” “I think the fishermen forgot that one day the lion would lie down with the lamb and that the sheep would be separated from the goats”—for a split second Bede faltered, like Noah wondering what the hell he was going to do with all the animals.
Or one character’s description of another: “His heart is never on his sleeve, always in a back pocket, and usually of trousers he’s not wearing.” Or the speaking style of an auto mechanic: “His voice was rich and moist, like cake, his tone careless, reminding Anselm of a silk who’d been expelled from Eton. He’d worn the disgrace like a pink carnation.” A variety of moral dilemmas are addressed: Anselm’s earlier career as a win-at-any-cost barrister; an extralegal assassination that could bring peace to Northern Ireland; the torture of enemies in war; the eating of meat; and, most centrally, the death that could be mercy killing, assisted suicide, accident, or cold-blooded murder. Some of the moral conundrums that emerge recall the work of Josephine Tey: As in both Miss Pym Disposes (1946) and Brat Farrar (1949), a conflicted character wants to tell the truth but hesitates, knowing it will hurt others. In the closing chapters, as the moral and ethical positions are sorted out, surprise follows surprise in the manner expected of any deftly constructed detective story, each revelation both believable and prepared with clues for attentive readers. The Discourtesy of Death proves that a closely reasoned formal detective story need not falsify character or obviate a serious theme. Indeed, some readers may charge that, in choosing the facts of his plot, William Brodrick stacks the cards to argue for his (and his main character’s) theological stance on the central issue. And indeed he does. But fiction always does that, one way or another—and disagreement, or the possibility of disagreement, should not discourage anyone from giving this novel a chance. ♦ The Weekly Standard / 43