The Irrepressible Rothbard
Essays of Murray N. Rothbard
Edited by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
COPING WITH THE INAUGURAL
It was an Inaugural from Hell. The big issue that faced me, now that our Jacobin Festival has burgeoned from Inaugural Day to Inaugural Eve to Inaugural Week, was how to stay sane during this living nightmare. As a political junkie, I couldn't stop reading the papers altogether, but I could skim through my five daily papers, keeping a keen eye out for the lone gripe, the dissenter amidst this veritable avalanche of pap. But as for TV, I had to forswear it altogether, punctuated by a quick daily foray into the half-hour of Limbaugh sanity amidst the hoopla.
Generally, I kept my TV resolve, but a couple of times, forgetting myself for the moment, idly seeking a sports score, the horror struck:
Bam! TV anchorman, standing outside the festivities: "Last week (before the inaugural), the magic seemed to go out of the Clinton story (because of the various criticisms that had piled up during the week). But now," the anchorguy's face lights up, "the jets are flying overhead, and the magic is back!"
Bam! Simpering Katie Couric, a huge emerald around her neck, oohing into the camera; "Ooohh! Pres-i-dent Clint-on has gone over to talk to his mother! Isn't that wonderful?" Byeccchhh! Where Oh where was the death's head at the feast?
They all gathered at the Potomac, this nightmare vision of America, the whole cruddy coalition, from the Lawn-Chair parade to the Gay and Lesbian Band to the millionaire Hollywood leftists to the rap groups.
The line in my summer L.A. Times article for Bush over Clinton that really drew the hate mail was my saying that at least Bush would "hold back the hordes" for four more years. "Who are those hordes, Mr. Rothbard?" my critics chorused. Well, there they all were, the tens of thousands that poured in ecstasy into Washington, for their Inaugural. They all said much the same thing: "Whoopee, now it's our turn."
Two of them, these hordelings, put it almost identically: two of my least favorite people in the world: Barbra Streisand and Betty Friedan. Two clones: Betty is shorter, older, and uglier than Barbra, but not by a heck of a lot. (Sign of either a flagrant liar or someone with hopelessly debased tastes, the guy who says thoughtfully: "You know, she (La Streisand) is really beautiful.") Betty may be shorter and uglier, but at least she doesn't assault our eardrums with alleged "singing."
Barbra, overjoyed at the Inaugural: "We did it; we're responsible for this, we the people of color, the Jews, the women." Barbra's joy, however, was momentarily dampened when the adoring anchorguy introduced her as "Miss Barbra STRY-zend." "No, no, it's STRY-SAND," Barbra snapped irritably.
As befits a theoretician rather than an "entertainer," Betty was a bit more formal, more non-U, in her summation: "I had this indescribable thrill at the speech and the whole thing. I feel it's our inauguration all the people I've been on the barricades with from 1966 on all the barricades, liberal, peace, new democracy, feminists, even the Jewish."
And then of course there was the generation thing. Diane English: "I would have come all the way from Timbuktu if I had to. It was a wonderful exciting moment for my generation."
And what of those of us of another generation, those of us on the other side of all these barricades, those of who never had "our turn"? Clinton likes to compare himself to Jack Kennedy, that previous revolt of the youth. But miGod, this ocean of crud made one long for Kennedy, for Jackie, for Camelot, yes, even for the thought of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., being playfully tossed into the White House pool.
But the key of course was ideology not generation, and Lauren ("Betty") Bacall demonstrated that you didn't have to be a young fool to be a fool. Bacall gushed about how Al Gore, whom she introduced at the Inaugural, offered her his coat to protect her from the cold. Chivalry! But isn't that profoundly "sexist"? And then Hillary Herself reached out a gloved hand to draw Betty into the singing of the collectivist hooey of "We Are the World."
Want more of the rebarbative horror? There was Belgian jetsetter Diane Von Furstenburg: "I'm a Clinton groupie," she burbled and she planned to become an American citizen because of Clinton. Why? "I was so frustrated that I couldn't vote for him" Aww, poor thing! Actor Ed Begley, Jr., weighed in with this esthetic pronouncement: "The great thing about being here is learning we have a president who can clap on the counts of two and four, he can hit the downbeat. There is hope for the country!" Not while there are people like Begley making such profound observations.
Such events would not be complete without sage statements from the professoriat. There was "very Andrews, history professor at George Washington University, after getting a glimpse of Clinton on the inaugural walk. "I could see him clearly," said the professor. "He was looking out the window, waving." OOOhh, gee. See Clinton and die, professor what more in life could you possibly achieve?
The best comment on the Inaugural was the immortal line from Monty Woolley in The Man Who Came to Dinner: "Are we to be spared nothing?" The answer, of course, was no, for the piece de resistance was the Poem, the drivel emitted by the monster Maya Angelou, she of the phony Brit accent. So beloved was this tripe, this dimwit paean to the multicultural, that even USA Today, the master of the condensation, the paper that would even condense Jesus's speech at the Second Coming, actually reprinted this junk in full. The Rock, The River, The Tree, the Jew, the Sioux, the Cherokee, well you get the idea.
The Pome reminded me strongly of the Commie Ballad for Americans, put out during the Communism-is-Twentieth-Century-Americanism period of World War II, sung by Paul Robeson in his most portentous and stentorian tones. The Ballad celebrated every conceivable occupation and group: the worker, the farmer, the teacher, the sailor, etc., all groups but one that was carefully omitted: the businessman. The difference between the Reds of that more innocent era and of today is that workers and blacks were about the only two Oppressed Groups they needed to include. But now, of course, Maya had to list dozens: the Jew, the Sioux, etc., all except, as Mona Charen pointed out, the British who actually founded America and gave it its ideals and institutions. Where were the Brits?
And that cretinous "Good morning" with which Maya ended the pome! When Ronald Reagan talked of "morning in America," he was ridiculed by the sophisticates, but compared to Maya, Ronnie was a veritable bard. But worse than Maya were her legion of groupies. The usually plonky black columnist Barbara Reynolds waved rhapsodic: about the "uplifted spirit," the "outstretched hand." Reynolds's citations about "looking like America" were oddly one-sided: Ray Charles, Whoopie Goldberg, and Marilyn Horne. But the toperoo for her, of course, was Maya: "her dignity, her scholarship (sic), her sharing of life" blah blah. And she wound up, burbling about an America where we "can face daylight and, in the 'poet' Angelou's words, say, 'Good morning.'"
But Miss Reynolds was topped by Neil Simon, who virtually swooned with delight. Maya Angelou's poem, said Simon, "just swept me away." "That last line 'Good morning' I could hardly contain myself."
Yecchh! How can we go on? And it was all topped by black actress Cicely Tyson, who I guess summed up the Clintonian reaction to The Pome: "God speaks, and will continue to speak, through Dr. Maya Angelou." Well, that settles that. But what is this "Doctor" nonsense? Isn't "Doctor King" enough?
The only line I could think of worthy enough to counter this chorus of "Good Mornings" was the great line from Bela Lugosi's Dracula: "Good-BYE!"
Look as I might, I could find only two bits of surcease in this ocean of Inaugural swill. One was Bob Dole's statement a bit before. Dole was marvelously prophetic even though of course he had to retract and apologize almost immediately: "Bill Clinton's honeymoon will be as short as that of the Bride of Lammermoor (who of course killed her husband on their wedding night)."
The other refreshing note was the response to the Inaugural festivities by humorist Fran Lebowitz. Even though Miss Lebowitz is a left-liberal, and voted for Clinton, the great thing about her is that she embodies the spirit of the true New Yorker: the man or woman who works at night, rarely see the day, NEVER "works out," and hates cant, pretension, and New Age psychobabble with every fibre of his or her being. Miss Lebowitz pronounced herself, in an interview in the New York Times (Jan. 19), "out of my mind, on a new planet of fury," as she sat watching the inaugural on TV in her Manhattan apartment, watching what she called the televised "Hopi/Cherokee/Hispanic/African-American/college student festival of ring-a-ding-ding-a-long." Miss Lebowitz perceptively dubbed the entire gang "the religious left." And while the ditzy Lauren Bacall was so "thrilled by the generosity" of Al Gore and Hillary that she now has "a sense of hope," and has decided to stay in the U.S. instead of emigrating to Europe (lucky us!), Miss Lebowitz's reaction was very different. She commented: "If you're switching back and forth between the inaugural and the (Iraq) war, you think, where would I rather be less? And find yourself thinking, well, it's not that bad in Baghdad. They didn't hit the targets."
As we slog our way through the horror of the inaugural, the Big Question keeps popping up. "Is it too late? Are the American people too debased to bounce back? Or will there be a mighty backlash, as the American masses sound at the core storm their way back to sanity and health?" The returns are not yet in, but I am enough of an optimist to believe that Goodness, Truth, Beauty, and Justice will eventually triumph.
Previous Page * Next Page
Table of Contents