Tuesday, May 25, 2004

In response to my comments that Republicans did not show support for Bill Clinton when he tried to go after Osama bin Laden during the impeachment struggles (Wag The Dog), I received this response from John Podhoretz of the New York Post:

"An interesting blog -- One caveat, though -- if you look back, you will find that the Weekly Standard, the New York Post, and other supposed Republican mouthpieces were firmly in support of the Clinton administration's actions in Kosovo, and that Newt Gingrich (for one) offered firm backing to the administration."

Thanks for looking at the blog, John.

I am curious as to what Bill Clinton's memoirs will say about support for his Osama efforts. I remember the Wag The Dog crowd being much louder than the voices John Podhoretz mentions in his e-mail. Pundits often mistake their comments for pronouncements of official policy. Although a lot of pundits are quite powerful at influencing policy, they are no substitute for the lawmakers themselves.

As for Newt Gingrich, sometimes elected official. Yesterday I mentioned Ulysses Grant. Today, I mention Stephen Douglas. A lot of politicians and thinkers go from left to right in the course of their careers (anyone who is a conservative at 20 has no heart. anyone who is a liberal at 40 has no mind.) Douglas, the great shibboleth to freedom lovers everywhere, cared more about his country (well, his white-man country, at least) and its Constitution and his own integrity than about any particular label that could be placed on him. Of course, integrity is hard to spell. Many thought that Douglas spelled integrity "business interests". Many feel likewise about Gingrich. I expect that Gingrich, like Douglas, will continue to surprise us, and that his greatest work, for good or ill, is still ahead of him. I would not be surprised if Gingrich, who often cites de Tocqueville, is Douglas-conscious -- that Gingrich knows Douglas's story and is either emulating him, or trying to avoid the traps, as the case may be.

I sent some of you my article about Douglas and the Lecompton Compromise last year. Smithsonian Magazine ran an nice little article on the Kansas-Nebraska Act in its March or April ediition. I will get a link when I am less pressed for time.

In speaking of Civil War matters yesterday, I made a technical error in discussing the press bias. I referred to classified advertising as a source of income. What I should have said was that in the absense of government printiing offices, publishers received significant income from government contracts to print official documents, etc. Therefore, when Democrats were in power, certain papers made money, and when Republicans were in power, other papers made money.