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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

The Paul Blackout

(Reprinted from the issue of August 2, 2007)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo 
for The Paul BlackoutIf 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 Bushpress: National Review, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, or The New York 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 taboos.)

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 government!

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 others.

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 sincere.

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 conservatism.

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.

Read Joe Sobran's columns by e-mail!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 involved.

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 http://academic.shu.edu/chesterton/chestertonreview.htm for subscription information?

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission
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