Thursday, December 26, 2013

McEnroe, A Thousand Laughs

One of the problems with columns written by humorists is that they may be taken seriously when they are intended as humor or – worse – they may be taken humorously when they are intended to be taken seriously. This was the curse that followed Mark Twain to the end of his days.

So too with Mr. McEnroe. “Give me the right guy,” he has said , “and I’ll vote GOP for once.”

Mr. McEnroe’s humor rests, like a coiled snake, in that “for once.” Has he ever voted for a Republican?

Not likely. Let the word go round at the Hartford Courant that any of its columnists voted Republican, and they would never survive the shattering laughter that would greet them when they sit down at their keyboards to advise Republicans who they ought to nominate to run against, say, U.S. Representative John Larson in the 1st District, or Rosa DeLauro in the 3rd District, both of whom are certain to die in office, Ms. DeLauro dressed as a 1930’s flapper, hip to the last.

Mr. McEnroe goes on to list the “wrong” guys: Tom Foley for governor; Mark Greenberg for the Congressional 5th District; Martha Dean for…  well, anything at all.

Perhaps the Republican GOP should take Mr. McEnroe at his word and offer him an opportunity to run on the Republican ticket in the 1st District against Mr. Larson. Mr. McEnroe, of a certainty, would be the “right guy” and someone on the GOP ticket he could vote for – “for once.”

Here is the ticklish question: Supposing Mr. McEnroe were to accept the GOP offer to run against Mr. Larson, how many votes would he garner from the editors and columnists and reporters at the Hartford Courant?

He should not be hasty in answering the question.

Years ago, when Barbara Kennelly held the seat, the sacrificial offering put up by the GOP was a very sweet, intelligent engineer who worked for Combustion Engineering, which went out of business after Connecticut became impatient with nuclear producers.

One day, the hapless GOP challenger called and lamented that he was not being covered properly by Connecticut’s left of center media, and could I do a few columns on his effort to overthrow the daughter of Connecticut’s last Democratic Party boss?

Of course I could – and did. He turned out to be a very respectable candidate. But the 1st District was then, as it is now, an unassailable Democratic fortress. He lost. But that was not what grieved him. What busted him up was that Combustion had given more money in campaign contributions to Mrs. Kennelly than to him -- a faithful employee of Combustion.

I wrote a last commiserating column that said, “If the Democratic Party were to run a fire hydrant in the 1st District and the GOP were to run God, the hydrant would undoubtedly win.” Ms. Kennelly’s communications’ director was not amused.

The GOP should seriously make Mr. McEnroe an offer and run him against Mr. Larson. Everyone would benefit from the arraignment: Mr. McEnroe would – "for once" – be able to vote for a Republican acceptable to him; the campaign would produce a thousand laughs, and the GOP would lose nothing in the venture they would not have lost had they run Martha Dean or God in the First District. 


Bill Hosley said...

McEnroe would give Larson a rare run for his money - is my guess. As a regular reader of his prolific output - I can also say that Colin is pretty careful to keep his distance from the most egregious liberal shibboleths. He is, in fact, to the right of the democratic machine on some issues, clearly does not worship at the shrine of the unions or entrenched interests and is way to the right of D'Lauro. What CT does not need is GOP candidates so hopped up on gun rights and pro life that they wind up unappealing to all but the 10% (if that) of voters who are GOP hard cores. I would love to see CT become less reliably dependably in either party's pocket - which here - means the Dems. Putting Colin McEnroe up as a GOP candidate would be a way to claw their way back to relevance without - in my view - betraying core principals.

Don Pesci said...


I agree with most of that, although I very much doubt Colin would be willing to run against Larson – or anyone else. He would be giving up a fairly lucrative position; then again, who would want to leave the winning side (journalism) for the losing side (politics)? The influence of conservatives on the Republican Party in Connecticut has been negligible, despite all the caterwauling from left of center politicians such as Lowell Weicker. I doubt any commentator in the state could name three conservative General Assembly incumbents in the last 20 years. Most campaign cash coughed up by obscenely rich CEO goes to Democrats. Campaign financing problems have been caused largely by incumbent Democrats in the General Assembly, the only people who can pass campaign finance laws in Connecticut. I can’t be sure that Colin fully appreciates any of this.

Don Pesci said...

Recruiting him is worth a try though. Don't let me discourage you.

peter brush said...

What CT does not need...
Agree with Hosley that at this point the most pressing problem Connecticut faces is not the "social issues." On the other hand, it is because of the neo-puritanical liberal movement that the State's fiscal house is about to collapse. And, who made abortion and gun control matters of pressing import? The U.S. Supreme Court upset the apple cart with Roe the Nutmeg Supremes joined the Nutmeg Dems in eviscerating the State's Constitutional right to bear arms.

It seems to me that a moderate, or even a liberal, should be able to look at our situation, and vote for someone disagreeable on social issues if he were solid on fiscal ones, which is to say someone who would cut programs and spending. Moderates have kids who are going to be saddled with the debt we're presently incurring to, for example, build and operate a "busway" or pay inflated pensions to bureaucrats. The program we spend the most on is the hideous governmental "education" hustle. Everyone with eyes can see that it is a horrible failure in itself, and is segregating society/ruining our towns to boot.
Colin McEnroe gives few figs for public policy. His concern is style, identifying jerks for a laughs. When he focuses on an issue,"gun-control" for example, he spends little time actually analyzing policy, but a lot complaining about the rhetorical stance of his opponents. As far as I can recall he's said not a word about Benghazi, IRS abuse, or Obamacare.
It would be entertaining to have him run against our First District Hack. Unlike Larson, he is smart, erudite, and witty, but we would not likely see many substantive differences on policy between them. I admit that it's almost true, as Hosley notes, that the Nutmeg Republicans would sacrifice little in the way of principle with him as a candidate. What principles our Republicans may have are generally liberal light. (It was founded, after all, as the party of natural rights and social engineering in 1854.)
Ultimately, as things fall apart, I anticipate greater popularity for pols previously identified as extreme or even as "tea-baggers." My favorite pol of the past twenty years, Pat Buchanan, would fare much better today than in 92. And, I can see Ted Cruz beating Hillary Rotten despite her amazing achievements, integrity, and progressive view on infanticide and other aspects of the sexual revolution.
But, while I can see it, I'm not betting on it. And, while we can try to stop or retard the destruction, in the long run we are, with Pat B., on the wrong side of history. Even if we were to have charismatic, principled conservatives take charge in the occasional election, the People is increasingly an ill-educated, non- or even anti-American, selfish ass.

Don Pesci said...


I agree with most of that. Mr. Buchanan is more right than the neo-conservative on, say, Afghanistan. On foreign intervention generally, Bill Buckley use to defer to John Adams, who said the United States was the friend of liberty everywhere, but the custodian only of its own. I don’t think Republicans anywhere should just give up on social issues; it is possible to take a moderate position on abortion, if one is neither a Catholic nor a scientist. To a certain extent the labels “social conservatives” or “social liberals” are false categories. The opposite of an “economic conservative” is not a “social liberal.” We both know the economy shapes society and to that extent has a social dimension. Barack Obama won the election on left of center social issues, partly because rational Republicans refused to engage him on his extreme social programs. You don’t win a war by ceding to the enemy half the battle field before hostilities have commenced. Was slavery in the pre-Civil War period a social issue? The abolitionists in the North thought it was, and they were right. But Lincoln realized the problem had lingered so long in the Republic because it was also an intractable economic issue. The South had become economically dependent on slave labor.

peter brush said...

Was slavery in the pre-Civil War period a social issue?
I certainly didn't mean to give the impression that I think that Republican pols should drop the "social issues" in order to attract the imagined voters made uncomfortable by any demand that traditional and/or reasonable restrictions on sexual behavior, for example, be maintained or restored. My point is that those moderates, the ones who don't mind when liberals mock and attack tradition to impose their new rational world order, those moderates should be able to swallow their prejudices at election time if doing so would help elect pols who have some common sense when it comes to spending, taxing, and regulating.

Slavery was obviously a "social issue." Many in the North thought it was immoral. As far as I know, this judgement was not based in Jewish/Christian revealed law, nor based in Aristotelian natural law. Lincoln himself explained the basis of the abolitionist objection; natural rights as expressed, they believed, in the Declaration of Independence. It is a violation of Lockean principles,the individual right to life, etc., to deny a worker the fruits of his labor.
However there was nothing unConstitutional about it. The obligation the abolitionists had was to speak out about it if they liked, but abolition itself was obviously beyond the power of the federal govt. to achieve. And, obviously, the slave states would not have signed on to the Constitution in 1789 if they had believed that it had contained the provision Madison first brought forth in the Philadelphia Convention; a power of the federal government to nullify state laws.

That power was taken by the feds as part and parcel of the Republican conquest of the Confederate States of America, notwithstanding the fact that they, those states, had rightfully invoked their natural right to secede as they'd done in 1776. In particular, the Constitution was amended to do away with slavery and to require the states to give citizens "due process of law" and "equal protection" of same. Not only did the Civil War itself suggest a national commitment to this brand of morality, a new centralized progressive ethos of higher authority than statutory law, but now the States would have to conform. It is this mechanism, the Fourteenth Amendment's
"equal protection" and
"due process" clauses, which has allowed the progressives in D.C., particularly the lawyers on the Court, to impose themselves in the areas of birth control, abortion, gay rights, religious establishment, freedom of speech, on the states. Recall that the Bill of Rights did not originally apply to States, but has now been made to through the doctrine of "incorporation" and through the diligence of generations of activists. Don't want to exhibit, let alone pay for, that Robert Maplethorpe photo of himself with a whip or a fist where Mr.Duck thinks it doesn't belong? Too bad; "history" has passed you by. It's not as if Honest Abe knew entirely what he was doing, but the same could probably be said for the French who initiated their little Revolution in 1789. Stuff happens even when intentions are good.

The problem we have at this point is an utter lawlessness in all three (or four if one counts the administrative sector) branches of the federal government. We had a government of express limits, and now we have one with virtually no limit except the ultimate achievement of Social Justice. A social issue indeed. I would have had our recent presidential candidate bang on Obama's lawless behavior. We knew in 2010 that the Obamacare is both illegal and fraudulent. I'd have pols now who would not be afraid to raise the social issue of tyranny in an impeachment procedure.

peter brush said...

Bill Buckley
Than whom few 20th century men, certainly few men of the chattering class, deserve our honor and respect.

I remain disappointed in Buckley's treatment of Buchanan. He went to the trouble in about 1990 of writing an essay on the nature of "anti-semitism." My recollection of it is that it was like a Platonic dialog in coming to no firm conclusion. Nonetheless, Buckley went out of his way to declare that Buchanan displayed anti-semitic tendencies. Why? What purpose is served? Similarly, disappointed in Nat. Review's treatment of Joe Sobran, Peter Brimelow, and John Derbyshire. Buckley did reportedly come to the defense of M.E. Bradford when he was attacked by the neo-cons and thrown overboard by Reagan.

I heard Stan Evans recently claim, “A paleoconservative is a conservative who’s been mugged by a neoconservative.” I don't know if that's apt, but it does accurately describe the direction of the immoderate animosity within the conservative caucus. It might be that the difference between neos and paleos is that the former are uncomfortable with the "social issues." If they don't love the welfare state in its awful socially destructive playing out , they don't want to appear heartless, and are quick to dismiss any notion that we rip the monstrosity's 1932 roots. They are loathe to be seen associating with southern yahoos or to be castigated for that un-holy-est of present day un-holies, i.e.,racism. So, they throw our own guys overboard for show.
My attitude is if you disagree with Ted Cruz, et al, do so privately, and certainly without reference to "wacko-birds."

Don Pesci said...


The book you are referring to – “In Search of Anti-Semitism” – gives full voice to Mr. Sobran’s view of Israel and what he calls its “Arab neighbors.” Those neighbors, we all know, are not disposed to wish Israel well. They have become far more menacing than they were when Mr. Buckley’s book was published in 1992. In fact, Mr. Sobran’s views are fully ventilated in the book – by Mr. Sobran, and those views are answered politely but firmly by Mr. Buckley. Mr. Sobran’s views on Mr. Buckley’s view of Mr. Sobran is also included in the book – in an essay written by Mr. Sobran. This is what we call in the journalism business “fair treatment.” It seems to me that Mr. Buckley had the better of the argument (Israel’s neighbors have in the past shown themselves to be rather blood thirsty, and U.S. relations in the Middle East ought not to turn chiefly on the pivot of oil) and I said so in the book; see pages 182-3,195. I have it from Mr. Buckley that this book caused him the loss of more friends than anything else he had written, not excepting his very public break with the John Birchers. It did not and will not cost him my friendship. The book is concerned with rebutting charges made -- by others -- that Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Sobran had engaged in anti-semitism; Mr. Buckley did not believe they had. He thought they were wrong in several points about Israel and concluded finally that Mr. Sobran could not be convinced otherwise. The book contains a communication written by Mr. Buckley and shared with Mr. Buchanan that is a defense against the falsely imputed charge that Mr. Buchanan is a closet anti-semite. You should read it.

peter brush said...

You should read it.
I will. Thanks.
Sobran seems to me to have gone off the rail a bit. My understanding is that he and Buckley made up before Sobran passed.
I am pro-Israel, and my sense is that Buchanan is neutral. He's much more sympathetic with the Palestinian Arabs than am I. Frankly, I think it may have to do with an Irish anti-Brit-imperialism, etc.
My recollection is that the event that brought the house down was PB's saying that the only people interested in the 1990 war against Iraq were Israel and her "amen corner" here. In my humble opinion, there's nothing hateful about it, even as I favored that war. And, I fervently share his opinion that we should be (have been) reconsidering our far flung military commitments from Korea to Bonn. He was prescient and courageous on the immigration issue, upon which the neos are disastrously mistaken.

Don Pesci said...

Thanks for your perceptive comments. It's a joy to have them here.

peter brush said...

Kinda off the track here, but just a last word. I do believe the treatment of Pat Buchanan indicates why folks on our side shy away from "social issues." It's funny, while he's hated by the neos, particularly the Jewish ones, for sympathies with the Arabs/Persians, Michelle Bachman and Louis Gohmert(sp?) were castigated for pointing out Muslim Brotherhood connections to Mrs. Klinton and the present administration. It's hard to please the open society enforcers.

Say what you want about Pat Buchanan, unlike Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol he's been pro-American all of his life.
“The big story in the Republican Party over the last 30 years, and I’m very happy about this,” said Kristol, is the “eclipsing” of the George H.W. Bush-James Baker-Brent Scowcroft realists, “an Arabist old-fashioned Republican Party … very concerned about relations with Arab states that were not friendly with Israel … .”

That Bush crowd is yesterday, said Kristol. And not only had the “Arabists” like President Bush been shoved aside by the neocons, the “Pat Buchanan/Ron Paul type” of Republican has been purged.

“At B’nai Jeshurun,” writes Weiss, “Kristol admitted to playing a role in expelling members of the Republican Party he does not agree with.” These are Republicans you had to “repudiate,” said Kristol, people “of whom I disapprove so much that I won’t appear with them.”

“I’ve encouraged that they be expelled or not welcomed into the Republican Party. I’d be happy if Ron Paul left. I was very happy when Pat Buchanan was allowed — really encouraged … by George Bush … to go off and run as a third-party candidate.”
William F. Buckley wrote of Buchanan: ”I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said during the period under examination amounted to anti-Semitism.”

Don Pesci said...

I see your points, but we want to be sure that we are not being driven by either “neo-cons” or “Arabists” into a false dichotomy: Israel or the Arabs. So long as Arab states, considered in the past friendly to the United States, support a salafism that encourages terrorism, a profoundly anti-Western creed, we cannot even rise to John Adam’s charge that the United States should be friendly to democracies but remain the custodian of its own creed. Whatever may be said of Israel, it is a democracy, hunkered down in a bitter religious and ideological sea and surrounded by profoundly anti-Western states that long for its destruction. I know Bill Buckley. Bill Buckley was a friend of mine, and he did not consider Pat Buchanan an anti-Semite.

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