2010 According to Katie Couric
From the Scrapbook.
Well, then. The atheist establishment types are saying all the right things about their diversity goals, but can we really take them at their word? After all, if they really cared about it, wouldn’t they take the sort of radical measures that the diversity police routinely force on fire departments, government contractors, and the rest?
If atheists can’t increase minority participation through recruitment, then it may be time for some selfless white atheists to suspend their non-belief and start going to church, for the good of the cause.
Meanwhile, the folks over at the Stuff White People Like blog need to update their list. ♦
Read, Learn, Enjoy
Upon returning from its holiday revels, The Scrapbook found not one but two excellent gifts of the season in the mailbox: sparkling new issues of two of our favorite quarterlies, the Claremont Review of Books (Fall 2010) and National
Affairs (Winter 2011).
The Claremont Review features many writers familiar to readers of this magazine—Christopher Caldwell and Matthew Continetti, James -Ceaser and Harvey Mansfield, Cheryl Miller and Jeremy Rabkin, to mention only some. They and their fellow contributors are all at the top of their form. Curious about Barack Obama or Somerset Maugham, the state of democracy or the strength of the West? There’s an amazing amount of high-quality reflection and lively writing on these and other topics in this issue’s 70 pages.
And when you’re done with that, pick up National Affairs—a little less polemical, a little more policy-oriented, but equally thoughtful and stimulating—and consider James -Capretta on the budget, John Hood on the states’ fiscal crisis, Jeffrey Miron on redistribution, and, for a change of pace, Ralph Lerner’s charming and penetrating reflections on Abraham Lincoln and the Declaration. And by the time you’re done with that . . . you’ll be just in time for next quarter’s Claremont Review and National Affairs. ♦
Barry Zorthian, 1920-2010
Not too many civilian officials emerged with distinction from the Vietnam war, but Barry Zorthian, who died in Washington last week at 90, was an honorable exception. Chief spokesman for the United States government in Saigon (or in formal terms, head of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office) during 1964-68, he had the difficult, and deeply unenviable, task of explaining the American mission to the South Vietnamese—and to an increasingly contentious and adversarial American press corps. It is to his great credit that he served his country’s cause with energy and success while retaining the admiration and respect of reporters.
After Vietnam, he became a senior executive at Time Inc., and up until the time of his death was a familiar, and much admired, figure in the Washington public relations and policy-making world. His life was also an interesting sidebar to the American dream: Born in Turkey to Armenian parents who fled for their lives in the early 1920s, Barry Zorthian was a Marine artillery officer in the Pacific during World War II, and a Yale graduate, Class of 1941, where he was tapped for Skull and Bones—not bad for an immigrant’s son who had landed in America with nothing but hope. ♦
The Fake-Tocqueville Virus Spreads
John J. Pitney Jr. of Claremont McKenna College’s government department sends word that the -celebrated “fake Tocqueville” quote—“America is great because she is good”—continues to proliferate. Pitney first chronicled this plague in our pages 15 years ago (“The -Tocqueville Fraud,” November 13, 1995). He notes at his blog, www.bessettepitney.net, that its most recent victim is TV host Glenn Beck, who cited it on January 4. “De Tocqueville said this,” said Beck. Nope. Its earliest known appearance is in the 1940s. Eisenhower popularized it, and it has been suckering the speechwriters of great (and not-so-great) men ever since: Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Ross Perot, John Kerry, et al. As Pitney says, “It’s the quotation that will not die.” ♦
Sentences We Didn't Finish
"If everyone in America was very, very pleased with his or her health insurance and had no complaints and had access to quality, affordable health care in our country, it still would have been necessary for us to pass the health care reform care bill . . . ” (outgoing House speaker Nancy Pelosi at her -January 4 press conference). ♦