THE UNHILLARY

A moment of silence, please, for the man who knew perfectly well what the correct interpretation of the role of First Lady was and executed it flawlessly – in pants. Denis Thatcher died yesterday. He became an iconic figure in Britain, had a brilliant parody of his letters published regularly in London’s “Private Eye,” and was known to be sometimes as colorful in his real life as in his satirists’ imagination:

During a visit to a village outside Delhi, the locals forced him to wear a vast pink turban. As he walked away, his headgear wobbling like a huge jelly, he was heard to mutter: “These blighters are trying to make me look like a bloody fool.” More humiliation came during a Commonwealth summit in Goa when the electricity failed as Sir Denis was shaving. Fellow heads of state staying in neighbouring chalets were suddenly confronted a man apparently frothing at the mouth and bellowing: “The buggeration factor is high and growing in this part of the world!” The letters were right about Sir Denis’s liking for a snort. Even at 80, he was imbibing gin “at an admirable rate”.

Here’s part of his friend Bill Deedes’ reminiscence:

[W]hen she was Secretary for Education, Margaret was seen one evening by the Permanent Secretary leaving the office early. She was going out, she explained, to buy bacon for Denis’s breakfast. There were, the Permanent Secretary assured her, plenty of people in the department who would be glad to do that for her. No, the bacon had to be just as he liked it, and only she knew what he liked.

I love that image of the Iron Lady shopping for bacon. Says a lot about her, I think. And about what marriage is really all about.

THE ARROGANCE OF SOME LIBERALS: Brad DeLong is sometimes a classic example of the arrogant liberal. He supports affirmative action and believes that individuals in 2003 bear a direct responsibility for those people who enacted slavery and made life a living hell for many black Americans in decades and centuries past. Fair enough. I think his point is strained and unconvincing but it’s a legitimate one. For my part, I don’t see why a young Korean immigrant should be denied a place in college to make way for an affluent, suburban black student who has lower scores. I simply don’t see how such a person can be held responsible for things done in the distant past by people in a distant country of which she had no knowledge. And I don’t see how subjecting a new citizen to racial discrimination makes past racial discrimination any better. But, look, people can disagree. But what DeLong says is that my more libertarian and individualistic viewpoint is simply a function of ignorance. He describes my indifference to a racially un-diverse university as follows: “I think that the politest possible response is that this demonstrates, more than anything else, that Andrew Sullivan is simply and totally clueless about what America is.” Am I being touchy here or is there a soupcon of nativist hostility in DeLong’s remark? Is DeLong aware of the millions of native-born Americans who agree with me – majorities in most polls? And then he concludes his self-righteous pirouette by accusing all those who disagree with him as somehow lacking in manhood! Here’s the beaut:

To accept one’s fair share of the collective responsibility for the evils of slavery and Jim Crow, and to do one’s part not to deny or to explain away to erase the marks it has left on our country’s African-American community, are burdens that every American who wants to be considered a man needs to stand up and bear.

Do we add a touch of homophobia to the nativism?