R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

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Latest from R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

The Boston Marathon, San Bernardino and now Orlando. It goes on and on, as Donald Trump might say. And it will continue to worsen, as Trump has already said. He is the most prescient campaigner in this race for the presidency. Hillary Clinton made progress Monday when she enunciated the words "radical Islamism," words that she thitherto refused to utter and her old friend and boss President Barack Obama still will not utter. 



Looking back through the years I have seen it all coming: the militant ignorance of students strutting across our college campuses today, the authoritarian style of the administrators, the mediocrity of the professors and the sheer goofiness of the students. It all came out of the late 1960s. Most of my fellow 1960s graduates went on to careers in the professions, commerce and industry. But some remained on campus, becoming professors, administrators and increasingly, as the years went on, swamis of identity politics.



Madrid — One thing conservatives overlook in their worldview is tradition. We favor limited government, free enterprise, certain social issues and a strong defense. But we slide over the basic theme of tradition. Russell Kirk, an important conservative thinker, favored tradition, and he wrote about it. But I cannot think of another prominent thinker of recent years who stressed it.

 



A couple of weeks ago I heard the National Symphony perform Shostakovich’s symphony commemorating war and revolution, his Symphony 11. There was not much lyricism to it, not even a dulcet tune one could leave the symphony hall whistling. It was all ominous rumbling and groaning, with the tympani madly thundering away. Nonetheless, it was very affecting. After all, this 1957 work was about Russia on the road to the Bolshevik Revolution and the horrors of Lenin, then Stalin, his purges and Gulag, followed by the carnage of World War II. Rumble on. Rumble on.

 



The House Speaker, the honorable Paul Ryan, recently expressed his hope for a more "confident America." He went on to say "we don't shut people down. If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don't insult them into agreeing with us." He spoke of the superiority of persuasion to execration. 



If I were among the conservatives who have been throwing names like Hitler and Stalin at Trump, I would just start to practice enunciating the words "President Donald Trump" -- the sooner, the better.



As the race for the presidential nomination enters the pandemonium stage, I take solace in the soothing wisdom of my friend the British historian, Paul Johnson. He writes: "America is a big country, with vast regions and endless opportunities for polycentrism." Another way of putting it is that America is a federalist system with endless opportunities for variation



I wrote a book in 2011 with the felicitous title The Death of Liberalism. The book's title pretty much said it all. By 2011, the ideology of Adlai Stevenson, of Hubert Humphrey, of Daniel Patrick Moynihan had expired. In the book I explained why liberalism was dead. Today the evidence is even more abundant. A socialist and a liberal naysayer as the sole candidates for the Democratic nomination? Liberalism is history. 



I am certainly glad that The Washington Post reported on a controversy at Georgetown University last week, which was created by the sad death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Thanks to that informative report, I am canceling my million-dollar bequest to old Georgetown and channeling it elsewhere, probably to Donald Trump's super PAC, if I can find his super PAC.



Recall if you will those unforgettable royal figures from yesteryear with their peculiar cognomens. Some of my favorites are Ethelred the Unready, a famously tardy English king from the Middle Ages. Or how about Charles the Bald, the Holy Roman Emperor whose glabrous head was widely remarked in his time and still is to this very day? And who can forget Pepin the Short? Even standing on his tiptoes he was the diminutive King of the Franks. Now, early in the 21st century, we have another epic curiosity, Hillary the Inevitable.



Well, well, the stock market has, of a sudden, caught up with the Obama economy. The spectacle is not pretty. 



In the many decades I have had the pleasure of covering the Clintons, I have developed several themes about them that have, over the years, been validated by fact. One theme is that there is a Clinton curse. 



 The question is after all these years, will the American electorate put an end to the Clintons' business? If Clinton ever makes it to the White House her corruption could be fatal to our Republic.



"A couple of weeks ago, [Donald Trump] was scrambling within a tight pack of Republican also-rans. Now, thanks to the media's almost ceaseless coverage, he is near the top of the Republican heap. In some polls, he is atop the heap. The fact that the media were endeavoring to ambush his candidacy should tell you quite a lot about the media's own ineptitude in politics and about Trump's cunning."



Mirabile dictu! Fully 28 profs and former profs from the Harvard Law School have taken a stand for freedom and for the rule of law. They are on the side of the Constitution and simple fairness. As Ivy Leaguers go, their stand took courage.



Immediately after his telephone call consoling the Foley family on their son's grisly murder at the hands of Islamofascists, President Barack Obama took a powder. He headed for the golf course. Yes, the golf course! He had golfed eight times in 11 days, as the world was in tumult the likes of which we have not experienced since the late 1930s. There is something very odd about this man. He seems to think he can duck his obligations by lolling on the golf course. Does he believe no one is looking?

In his brief life, my guess is, he has been posing all along. He had no role model as a father. He had no lasting role model as an adult. Now he has to produce. No one else can serve as his hidden advisor. He has to lead and he has not a clue as to what to do. Thus, to the golf course he goes, no matter how his critics complain or how a growing number of journalists express their dismay.



WASHINGTON — I have been vindicated! For years I have been comparing the Clinton family to the family of Warren Gamaliel Harding, our 29th president and a president of dark memory at least to most liberal historians. For me, Warren was sheer slapstick, as to some degree his modern-day equivalent was, Bill Clinton. And forget not their gruesome wives.

I began my historical comparisons in the 1996 bestselling book, "Boy Clinton: The Political Biography." For years, I punctuated my syndicated column with references to the two families. Then in my 2007 book, "The Clinton Crack-Up," I clinched the comparison in a reminder of how that Little Rock monstrosity, the Clinton Library, compared so favorably with the Harding Memorial in Warren's hometown, Marion, Ohio. But now, you ask, how am I vindicated? Well, America's historical memory is not very strong. Comparing Bill with a 1920s president to a modern American audience was not easy. Yet, by month's end it will be much easier. In fact, the comparison will be inescapable.



When asked on left-leaning MSNBC why President Barack Obama refrained from describing the Boston bombings as a "terrorist attack" David Axelrod, Obama's longtime political advisor, readily saw a political opportunity. The blood had not yet been washed away from the streets. We had yet to count up the casualties. Yet Axelrod saw a political opening, an opportunity to advance one or another of his pet political issues. So he said, "I'm sure what was going through the president's mind is — we really don't know who did this — it was tax day." Yes, tax day!

This is not the response of a normal mind. A normal mind would not, given the promiscuity of public bombings in the Middle East and now another bombing here in America, think it was provoked by "tax day." Conceivably the bombs in Boston were the work of small-government libertarians or of Tea Partiers. They could even be the work of vegetarians, but that was not the question. Axelrod was asked why the president was not describing the bombings as a terrorist attack. It certainly looked more like the work of terrorists — either left-wing lunatics or right-wing lunatics — than tax protesters.



I have long contended that public policy issues are as complicated as they appear because the giants of Capitol Hill like it that way, particularly the giants of the left. Bills can be written more simply. Decisions can be phrased with a certain lucidity. Yet, if they were, the electorate would mull them over and, after a cup of coffee, make a decision on them. As things stand today, with talk of budget imbalance and of esoteric matters such as "sequestration," voters scratch their heads, blink their eyes and walk away. Who gives a hoot? It is time for my morning nap, perhaps, two naps.

This is another anti-democratic way that Washington politicians have bootlegged our legislative process. Make policy so confusing to normal people that they will take little or no interest in it. It is all a game reserved exclusively for the political class. Al Gore in his new book, prosaically titled "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change," bangs on about the power of lobbyists and giant corporations in shaping legislation — do you know anyone who sits on more corporate boards than Gore? Has he considered the unwieldy nature of the legislation in the first place? Debt piled atop debt that even Warren Buffett cannot conceptualize. Sequestration, indeed — why not segregation or constipation? It is a geek to me.