In high school, the consensus among boys was that girls cried too much at movies and weddings. That didn’t bother me. In fact, I wanted more. I wanted a girl who cried, not only at movies and weddings, but also at UNC touchdowns, bar mitzvahs and Republican Conventions.
Popular columnist and novelist Robert Ruark once told of his Japanese nanny, who saw a sunrise one morning and started crying. When asked why, she said, “That’s so beautiful, I want to die!” I understand “happy cries.” Mine are mostly political. I remember crying about Lebanon, which, before the Iranian thug-masters took over, had the only Arab democracy on earth. There were dangerous factional forces then like today, but the clever Lebanese devised a power-sharing arrangement under which the president was always a Maronite Christian, the vice president was a Muslim of the Sunni sect, and the speaker of the parliament was a Muslim of the Shia sect. What a great way to contain three tornadoes in one wet paper bag! Pass the Kleenex, please!
Most Americans impressed with the American system (at least the way it was when I started writing just now) confine their praise to our “checks and balances”, three separate branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial, each with the power to keep one another from roaming too far away from where they belong. My tears of pride and joy flow equally at civilian control over the military and at the military’s inability even to criticize their civilian bosses out loud.
Do you know the secret of your success? Is it your looks, as it often is? Do you speak a language crucial to your firm’s operations? Do you have tenure? Have you, through wit and charm, managed to win “the favor of the court”? One often-overlooked secret of America’s success is that we are a large, powerful democracy in which any abrupt and hostile change of leadership is unthinkable. And that stability draws investment. That makes America a highly desirable place for individuals, their loved ones and their money.
The major media are either unable or unwilling to report accurately on the unusual and praiseworthy actions of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Too many media think they can shove across the notion that, through idiocy or alcohol or both, the general didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. That’s like saying Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had no idea there was a beach involved in the plans for D-Day.
Gen. McChrystal knew there were important things that had to be impressed upon the American people. The war, he felt, could not be won Obama’s way, a way showing less grasp of military reality than the normal Chicago gang fight. You can get away with “playing” part war and part nonwar when you’re politicking to increasingly ignorant masses of Americans – but you can’t do that in a war. What if McChrystal had merely resigned, held a press conference or gave an interview to National Review and Fox News and laid out his warnings forthrightly? Not bad. Good story; lots of coverage, but like dropping a honeysuckle down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo, compared to what the general ultimately did.
Invite a publication so far to the Left it belongs in a zoo and speak clearly into the tape recorder. Now we’re talking “legs,” day after day of coverage that corkscrews the argument into the central nervous system of the American public. To save his troops, those of our NATO allies and Western civilization against a Taliban victory that would unleash the inventory of hell itself into our faces and our futures (remember bin Laden’s “weak-horse, strong-horse”?), the general knew he had to outpoint the oil spill, the World Cup and even the anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson at the water cooler. Thank you, Rolling Stone. The best “useful idiots” are the ones with the stupid smiles on their faces who walk away saying, “Wow! Look at the gold mine that fell into our laps!”
Did Gen. McChrystal make a “mistake”?
This takes us back to the telephone call to the public-affairs officer at Fort Jackson, S.C., from the aristocratic headmistress of a nearby exclusive private girls’ school, who asked if the base might send 80 soldiers to escort her girls to their graduation ball in Charleston. “All at least six feet tall, Captain, impeccably groomed and attired, with everything crisply creased and polished, in their best summer dress uniforms. Can you, please?”
“I think we might be able to help you,” said the captain.
“Oh, one more thing, Captain. These young ladies are from the cream of Southern society. So please, no Jews!”
“As you wish, ma’am,” said the captain.
On the appointed evening, the Army bus pulled up in front of the luxurious school and out marched, in disciplined military precision, 80 tall, impeccably groomed, summer-uniformed soldiers, every single one African-American. The aristocratic headmistress answered the door and went into mild cardiac arrest.
“What is this?” she stammered. “Who are you?”
“We’re from Fort Jackson, ma’am, as per your request,” said the black sergeant.
“Oh, dear,” she gasped, “There … there … there must be some mistake.”
“No, ma’am,” said the sergeant. “Capt. Ginsberg doesn’t make any mistakes!”