Aug 17, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 46 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Like Lazarus, or maybe Frankenstein’s monster, the appalling plan for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., appears to be sputtering to life once more. Only two months ago it seemed safely kaput.
The design by “starchitect” Frank Gehry aims for a deconstructionist fantasy that scatters its elements (massive stone blocks, a few statues, a vast metallic screen hoisted between 80-foot posts) across a chaotic city block just off the National Mall. It’s a sly insult to Dwight Eisenhower and the homespun virtues he typifies in the American imagination. And coming from the famously antibourgeois Gehry, it is very likely a pitiless joke—completely missed by its targets—on the aesthetic judgment of the bureaucrats and bumpkins responsible for preserving the integrity of the city’s memorials.
Having gazed upon the design—and having duly registered the opposition of Eisenhower’s family—the relevant committees in the House and Senate were properly horrified. The commission overseeing the memorial has already spent more than $60 million, without a spadeful of earth being turned. (Bureaucratic inertia can be a blessing.) It had asked for another $60 million this year in hopes of beginning construction. Instead, the House budget eliminates all funding for the project and calls for a new design competition to find a more fitting memorial. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved only $1 million to keep the Eisenhower Memorial Commission in existence for another year, with no funds for construction.
So when the final two review boards approved the design earlier this summer, it seemed a meaningless gesture. “Whether or not the current design is approved by the commissions has little relevance to the prospects of congressional funding,” Representative Rob Bishop, chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, told the New York Times.
Then Bob Dole showed up.
“I proudly served in the United States Congress for 36 years,” Dole said in a statement last month, “and it is hard for me to understand why a body I hold with such high respect is hesitant to fund this memorial . . . ”
A Kansan like Ike, a genuine hero of the war effort that Eisenhower led, Dole has joined the commission’s new chairman, Kansas senator Pat Roberts, to lobby on behalf of the memorial. The force of his reputation has had some effect. In July the government of Taiwan agreed unexpectedly to donate $1 million to the commission’s work. (The commission’s slack fundraising has been a source of embarrassment: It has spent more than $1 million on hiring professional fundraisers and, before the Taiwanese donation, raised less than $1 million in actual funds.)
At their annual convention last month, the Veterans of Foreign Wars passed a resolution in support of funding the memorial, though it was silent about the design itself. Less impressively, Dole recruited the retired newsreader Tom Brokaw, who coined the term “the greatest generation” in a bestseller of that name, to join the commission’s advisory board. Editorials this summer in both the Washington Post and the New York Times urged Congress to fund the memorial. Dole makes weekly visits to the World War II memorial on the mall to enlist his fellow veterans to his new cause.
Publicly Dole has expressed no opinion of Gehry’s design. He seems indifferent to it; what gets built is less important to him than when it gets built, and the sooner the better. His argument for the memorial sounds closer in spirit to the self-seeking of the Me Generation than the selflessness of the greatest generation. “This is not being built for the grandchildren,” he told the Times last month. “The voice that hasn’t been listened to is us guys for whom Ike is our hero, and we’d like to be around for the dedication.”
Dole has it exactly backward. Who are memorials built for if not the generations to come? All parties agree that Eisenhower deserves a memorial. But its purpose should be to impart to the grandchildren of the greatest generation, and to the grandchildren’s grandchildren, a sense of the greatness of the man and his achievements. Gehry’s design has nothing of the timeless quality required for such a living inheritance. Indeed, in its ostentatious rejection of grandeur and greatness, the design is more about the architect than the man the architect claims to honor.
He’s not like those other conservatives.Aug 3, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 44 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
‘It’s as if he never existed,” a friend of a certain age (same as mine) said to me not long ago. He was referring to William F. Buckley Jr. When he died in 2008, at age 82, Buckley was eulogized as the most consequential American journalist of the second half of the last century: editor for 35 years of National Review, founding father of the conservative movement, bosom pal of Ronald Reagan, author of many bestselling books, and host of Firing Line, the longest-running single-host public affairs show in television history.
1:05 PM, Apr 25, 2015 • By JIM SWIFT
Senior Editor Andrew Ferguson joined C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb for their Q&A series to discuss his career in journalism, the founding of the Weekly Standard, his writing process, and stories from his time on the 2016 campaign trail.
Watch the video below:
Oh my.Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Boy, that didn’t take long. Over the span of a few short days in late January and early February, three members of the top tier of Republican presidential candidates demonstrated why they’ll never be president. They didn’t do anything to disqualify themselves directly, just revealed the traits that will make them appear unsuitable to most voters by the time the campaign really heats up, say, when the presidential election is a mere 18 months away.
Feb 2, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 20 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The film Selma, which chronicles the pivotal battle in the civil rights movement, is currently in theaters and has even garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The film has an unlikely critic, however—PBS host and former White House aide to Lyndon Johnson Bill Moyers.
We can dream, can’t we?Oct 20, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 06 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Kingsley Amis, the British novelist, once explained that everything that had gone wrong with his country in the second half of the last century could be summarized in the word “workshop.” His point is sound. No two syllables better conjure up the mandatory “sharing,” the regimented bonhomie and bogus cheerfulness, the mincing
The crackpot social science of generational analysis Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
As far as newspaper corrections go, it was a whopper. On August 24, the editors of the New York Times sucked the air out of a windy essay that had blown through its pages a few days before. The original article bore the headline “Generation Nice.” It was adorned with color photos of fresh-faced teens and twenty-somethings. All of them looked nice. In case Times readers were confused (they’re not getting any younger), the subheadline drove the point home: “The Millennials Are Generation Nice.” And that was the theme of the article, too.
Haven’t we seen this movie before?Jul 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 42 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
It has been five years now since America got the news, or was supposed to: Henceforth our children would enjoy a revolutionary new approach to learning in the public schools, in the form of national educational standards. They’re called the Common Core State Standards, or Common Core for short—or if you’re in a particular hurry, CCSS. Why national standards should bear the official title “State Standards” is one of the many peculiarities that make Common Core interesting to think about.
Wrigley Field and the national pastime. May 26, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 35 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
You can tell George Will is a serious baseball fan because—I wish I could find another way to put this—he is serious about baseball. The statement isn’t (quite!) as fatuous as it sounds. Lots of people who profess their love of baseball are mere romantics and mythologists.
How Andrew Wyeth saw the world, and himself. May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Was Andrew Wyeth so celebrated because he was so misunderstood, or did it work the other way around? His reputation seems ill-fitting, whether you consider him one of the great American painters of the last century, as many laymen and a few professionals do, or a kitsch monger and conman, as many more professionals and a few sniffy, wised-up laymen do.
The perpetual adulation of Herblock.Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Herblock: The Black & the White, a documentary about the editorial cartoonist Herbert Block, had its cable premiere on HBO last week, and we can expect repeated showings for many weeks to come, creating a low-buzz Herblockfest interspersed dizzily among re-airings of Girls.
The Books and Arts Podcast is hosted by Philip Terzian.8:15 AM, Dec 27, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The new WEEKLY STANDARD Books & Arts Podcast, with literary editor Philip Terzian and his guest, senior editor Andrew Ferguson. This week they discuss Ferguson's recent cover story on Ambrose Bierce.
The brave life and mysterious death of Ambrose Bierce. Dec 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 16 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
One golden autumn morning 100 years ago, a few blocks from where I’m writing these words in northwest Washington, D.C., Ambrose Bierce said goodbye to his secretary, turned the key in the door to his apartment on Logan Circle, and went off to God knows where.