THE WANDERER, August 2, 2007


The Paul Blackout

     If you want to learn about the only real 
conservative running for president, don't bother 
following the allegedly conservative media. I've seen 
nary a single mention of Congressman Ron Paul in the 
POST. I don't think Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity has 
covered him either. Maybe I've missed something, but I 
doubt it. Has Fox News paid him any mind at all?

     Not as much as it has paid the pro-war atheist 
Christopher Hitchens. But then, Hitchens is quite 
acceptable to the neocons and often pops up in the 
JOURNAL. (He keeps his old irreverence about Zionism 
under prudent control these days. There are taboos and 

     George Will -- who takes Rudy Giuliani seriously =as 
a conservative= -- devoted a single dismissive NEWSWEEK 
column to Paul, treating him as an eccentric and a joke. 
Imagine, a conservative politician who both opposes the 
Iraq war and wants to abide by the U.S. Constitution! One 
who, moreover, in his private life as a physician, has 
refused to take a single dime of Medicare money and has 
forbidden his own children to take student loans from the 

     On the other hand, the "liberal" media have covered 
Paul rather generously and with respect. THE WASHINGTON 
POST has featured him on its front page and in its 
"Style" section; ABC's George Stephanopoulos has 
interviewed him at length, as have Bill Moyers and 

     Paul's notable integrity, which makes him so 
appealing to principled conservatives (as opposed to rich 
Republican hacks), also compels the attention of honest 
opponents of his philosophy. True, liberals find a few 
points of agreement with him, and no doubt they like it 
that he makes the rest of his party look so cheap and 
cynical; but that isn't all. The respect he commands is 

     Such a politician as Paul stands out like a virgin 
in a house of ill repute. He is an embarrassment and an 
annoyance to powerful people who want to claim the 
conservative label, so they pretend he doesn't exist. 
"Ron Paul? Ron Paul? Never heard of him!" This leaves 
their phony monopoly secure.

     Speaking of the Bushpress, NATIONAL REVIEW has 
performed the neat feat of virtually reading its own 
founder, Bill Buckley, out of the conservative movement 
that he, more than anyone else, helped to create. After 
all, he has become a heretic on the Iraq mess and has 
also observed that President Bush's domestic record can't 
be easily squared with anything recognizable as 

     This is the same magazine whose current editor once 
suggested a nuclear attack on Mecca. He later explained 
that he was just kidding, not seriously proposing mass 
murder. This macabre joke fell rather flat even during 
the early hysteria for war, and it seems even less 
amusing today than it did in 2001.

     After all, this is the same crowd who smeared a 
dozen true conservatives as "unpatriotic" for the 
thoughtcrime of opposing the latest war for the state of 
Israel. Is it any surprise that they don't even dare to 
acknowledge Ron Paul's existence?

Another Side of Lady Bird?

     Until she died in July, Lady Bird Johnson was my 
favorite first lady. She behaved with dignity, kept her 
own counsel, had no known political views or ambitions of 
her own, and never eloped with a billionaire.

     But when she died, the eulogies were a little too 
fulsome. Her own Episcopal pastor spoke as if he had 
never heard of original sin -- or as if it had no 
application to Lady Bird.

     Of course I have no right or desire to speak ill of 
her. But my goodness, isn't it possible that there was 
more to her than any of us knew? She was the spouse and 
partner of a notoriously -- no, legendarily -- corrupt 
man, and she became rich with him as nominal owner of a 
radio station. And she kept her perfect innocence all 
that time?

     Maybe she did; but why is this simply =assumed?= 
Did she never have to face -- or conquer -- temptation? 
Didn't she have an inner life -- an area of private 
mystery -- like the rest of us? Why this idealization of 
the bland? A curious sort of idolatry.

     Lady Bird Johnson's only achievement, as defined by 
the unanimous eulogists, was her campaign to beautify 
America -- and nobody in the media was so mean of spirit 
as to remind the public that this was done with 
government money, that it was of a piece with the Great 
Society boondoggles, or that it was also unconstitutional 
if you think about it. May she rest in peace anyway.

Good Sports?

     Even to an old geezer like your servant, whose 
interest in sports is now confined to a quick glance at 
the daily papers (and a rare visit to the ballpark), it 
is evident that sports are now corrupted by evils too 
numerous to keep track of: the rancor over Barry Bonds's 
use of steroids in his pursuit of Hank Aaron's career 
home run record; the perennial clashes of egos between 
players, or between players and coaches, managers, and 
owners; the scandal of a football star doubling as an 
entrepreneur in the especially ugly "sport" of 
dogfighting; and now the news that a referee in the NBA 
is suspected of betting on games in which he has been 

     One is ever more inclined to agree with the 
un-American view of Kevin Orlin Johnson, author of THE 
ROSARY, that such things are inherent in sports, not just 
incidental to them. It's the good things, not the evils, 
that are merely incidental to them. And I here say 
nothing about the sheer idleness and waste of time and 
energy these vanities involve.

     But try to imagine Notre Dame University honoring 
our Lady by giving up its hugely lucrative football 
program. Ronald Reagan would turn over in his grave.

In Defense of the Poles

     The current issue of THE CHESTERTON REVIEW features 
a discerning essay by Dermot Quinn on the grossly unfair 
charge of anti-Semitism against the Poles. Space 
precludes an adequate treatment here, but why not visit 
for subscription information?

                                        --- Joseph Sobran


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