Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Is it OK to tell all concerned with the French film The Artist 'merci beaucoup'? I mean, we have the word from Newt Gingrich that primary voters should abominate Mitt Romney, his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, because he speaks French.

Hard, though, to feel empathy with the linguistically burdened Mr Romney.

He himself assailed Ambassador Jon Huntsman, the sanest in the Republican asylum, for being able to speak Mandarin.

This is double treason by the lights of Romney and his xenophobic Tea Party chorus in their tricky tricorne hats. Citing the toxic atmosphere, Huntsman has now dropped out. The punditocracy writes him off, but he's a possible for 2016 when, the way things are going, everyone in the States will be required to speak Mandarin.

See how easy it is to be diverted by the spectacle of the party of Lincoln losing its marbles. The trouble is that I've seen presidential elections close up since I was one of Adlai Stevenson's student groupies at the University of Chicago, when we tried to deny Dwight Eisenhower a second term in 1956.

We lost - and justifiably, since Ike went on to be one of the greats, though his presidency has only lately had the benefit of scholarly research showing how much good he did by stealth. It was disconcerting to have President Obama casually diss Ike (and Clinton) during a year-end interview for CBS's 60 Minutes. He asserted he'd put his own administration's legislation and foreign policy 'against any President - with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln'. Nice touch, that 'possible', egotism masquerading as deference. It was prudent of someone (his handlers? Obama himself? ) to confine that provocative bit to the text. It was excised from the broadcast segment of his interview, seen by 14 million.

Never mind a Democratic President's snub. Eisenhower would be drummed out of today's Republican party. Hey, he spent $400 billion of public money on a single project! Ike's logistical sense, enhanced by leading the Allied armies in Europe, impelled him to build 45 million miles of interstate superhighways.

Without them, America would not have enjoyed the boom years, every dollar invested yielding $6 in return. Now his old party is so obsessed about deficits it won't vote any money to repair America's decaying infrastructure. …

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