A War of Attrition

GSTAAD—Writing in the Spectator diary, Lady Antonia Fraser, widow of Harold Pinter, recounts how then vice president Lyndon Johnson stipulated at a Jamaican party that he would dance as long as no words were exchanged. Toward the end of her dance with Lyndon, Antonia noted how well Lady Bird looked, and LBJ simply walked off the dance floor. A later occupant of the White House, Jimmy Carter, was not as discourteous as the Texan but in somewhat similar circumstances left the poor little Greek boy standing alone surrounded by Secret Service heavies.

It took place at a grand New York dinner party given in Carter’s honor by a real estate lady, and I was seated with Norman Mailer, who was busy trying to make whoopee with my ex-sister-in-law Betsy Kaiser. Norman and I had talked about democracy at the start of the dinner and whether someone who had contributed nothing to the betterment of his fellow man deserved to have an equal vote to that of someone who had contributed a hell of a lot. Trying to provoke the novelist, I proposed a 10-to-1 ratio for, say, a scientist who develops a cure for cancer versus a drug dealer. “Why don’t you ask Jimmy what he thinks about this?” said Norman, pointing at Jimmy Carter while trying to get rid of me and concentrate on my ex-sister-in-law. After dinner, and well into my cups, I approached the peanut farmer and posed my question. Jimmy Carter heard me out, smiled, and said, “It’s an interesting ahdea,” while simultaneously giving a slight sign with his eyes. I then found myself being moved without anyone laying a hand on me from where I stood with the ex-president to the next room. I have no idea how they did it, but they did, end of story.

The man who preceded Jimmy Carter by one wrote the most wonderfully encouraging and flattering letter to me while I was doing graduate work at Pentonville and had me to dinner a couple of times at his New Jersey home. Richard Nixon was and remains the most underrated and unappreciated president, a man whom the media and the swamp hated because they knew he knew what they were all about. He ended the war in Vietnam, opened up the Soviet Union and China, and won 49 states in 1972, but the same media lefties who run D.C. today and control the country got him in the end. He was never openly bitter, and I remember his unique insight of the then Soviet Union and how he dealt at times with the Soviet leaders. “Whenever Leonid Brezhnev brought up the Middle East, I’d fake being a bit drunk and warn him not to even think about it. We’ll end up nuking each other over that place…”

With the present war of attrition (because that’s what it is), and with no end in sight, I wish Richard Nixon were around with a solution. Every decent human being except for those profiting from the war knows that an armistice offers the best hope for peace in the Ukraine. Neither side seems likely to deliver a knockout blow on the battlefield, and even less likely is Ukraine’s desire to pursue a comprehensive peace deal. Hence it’s up to the gaga in the White House, although any 12-year-old might be a better choice at this point. Owen Matthews said it all a couple of weeks ago: The U.S. will decide Ukraine’s fate.

Read the Whole Article