Tuesday, July 26, 2005

George W's Mystifying Foreign Policy

From an essay in the Claremont Review of Books, a staunchly conservative counterpart to the venerable New York Review of Books:

'No one seems to know quite what to make of the foreing policy of George W. Bush. Realists attack him for his excessive idealis, but idealists want nothing to do with the man or his policies. Most liberals view the Bush policy as arrogant or hypocritical or cynical, or all of the above. For certain conservatives, the Bush policy in its universalism is an ugly stepchild of the French revolution. Meanwhile, his supporters often do not agree on what they are supporting. Some characterize his policies as a kind of idealism; othrs, taking a contrary view, describ ehis policies in terms of a higher realism or natural law. As for intellectual sources, supportes and critics have variously invoked Thomas Paine, John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Leo Strauss--even Jesus Christ. The Bush Doctrine, in truth, defies easy definition or classification.'

I especially love the bit about trying to surmise Bush's "intellectual sources,"as if they were more complicated than a blend of Rove's cynical ruthlessness, Cheney's dark misanthropy, a filial need to distinguish himself from his smarter and more accomplished dad, and perhaps most importantly, his mother's inherited hair-trigger petulance. Folks, no big mystery about his foreign "policy": George W. is simply making it up as he goes.

Need Another Reason to Hate Wal-Mart? Here it is.

Those Remarkable Irish-American Women. Maureen Dowd's moving
tribute to her recently deceased mom, which appeared in last Sunday's Week in Review section, was interesting on several levels. After years of slashing and burning her way through politics and pop culture as the paper's unofficial savage stylist and later op-ed successor to the less tart Anna Quindlan, Dowd has only relatively recently begun writing about her own life and that of her family. Judging by anecdotal reactions I pick up, readers have found these slivers into her personal life even more interesting than her renderings on politics. And now we understand why. Judging by her affecting portrait of her mom, she's the product of a singular kind of female bravado and verve, the intellectual equivalent of a barnstorming female pilot. But it's also the portrait of a classic "Greatest Generation" figure, a woman steeled by the Depression and formed by decades of holding the family--actually an entire community--together, sometimes on little more than grit and determination.

Dowd's mom was apparently a classic Irish-American woman, rather in the mold of my sainted mother-in-law, Mary O'Toole Kerrigan. Mary wields rather less irony but a far sunnier disposition, and she combines that with all of Mrs. Dowd's tremendous work habits and her ability to glue extended families together with her charm and bustling resolve. After nearly a quarter century of watching this lady and admiring her in every possible setting, I'm finally beginning to understand the type. This energetic Irish matriarch is of course near to my heart for another crucial reason: the job she did in forming my spectacular wife into a woman of similarly remarkable qualities, with that same energy oozing from her pores, that same sunny determination to do the right thing, to look for the good in everyone and everything, to work her way through any hurdle, any challenge with an indomitable resolve.

To me, these women are national treasures, people to cherish and to give thanks for. And so I do, every day.


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