Editorials/The Nixon Doctrine/Video Proliferation

Tyrrell, R. Emmett Jr.

EDITORIALS The Nixon Doctrine by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. History moves abruptly, particular- ly in Russia. In February of 1917 the Czar's regime, which annually executed a dozen or so political...

...One of the ironies of our time is that, at the end of the world's most politicized century and at the expiry of a Cold War that once threatened Adapted from RET's weekly Washington Times column syndicated by King Features...
...We have sent some 200 Peace Corps workers into a nation of nearly 200 million...
...I once thought that award would go to the atomic bomb...
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...Eventually whole classes of people were being butchered, not for political mischief but for their occupation or their ancestry...
...On this last point he anticipates one of the most perceptive plans that I have encountered, that of Sergei Grigoriev, a former deputy spokesman for Mikhail Gorbachev and at the height of the Cold War an officer at the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, North American Desk...
...There was a day when radio and television recognized that in the discussion of politics, for instance, those who play different roles see politics from different levels and have different agendas...
...Actually, of course, there is no country on earth where the unpowerful and penurious have occasion to run for president of anything, and there never will be...
...Thus in Russia, after a brief fling with liberty, modern genocide was born...
...It is now a commonplace to complain that political oratory has been condensed into an idiot series of sound bites...
...Generally speaking, not much coherent thought is going to come from a conversation that mixes a failed female politician in with a political hack, a political reporter, and me, a polemicist from a political journal...
...No, I dissent from the popular notion that power and money explain our presidential candidates' lack of substance...
...He is television's latest casualty...
...Consequently political discussions were something other than the incoherent cacophony of shouts, grunts, and whines we now have...
...I participated in such a disorderly drama not long ago and it was as senseless as a film discussion involving a screen writer, a producer, two drunken actors, and a dozen stage hands...
...In past decades there were Adenauers, Churchills, DeGaulles, and a fine contingent of Americans in both parties...
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...Others lurk in the shadows, hoping that inflation, poverty, and social collapse will return them to power...
...Boris Yeltsin is Russia's first freely elected president in a thousand years, and the first Russian leader to encourage market capitalism...
...He has peacefully supplanted Lenin's despotism, but the beneficiaries of the old despotism remain at large...
...Owing to that disciplined mind, he had me on the night of the Illinois primary to talk politics not with a former cabinet member on the make, or an unemployed political adviser whom he roomed with in college, or the presidential candidate of the American nudist party, but with a fellow editor of alaunched...
...Television trivializes everything it encounters...
...Not one has made even a trifling reference to the momentous events in Russia, and some have actually chided the man they would replace for paying too much attention to foreign affairs...
...But television allows no serious political dialogue whatsoever...
...In our time the buildings still stand and bodies remain intact, but minds seem to be completely gone...
...He would send thousands more, for there are plenty of interpreters in Russia to translate this commonplace but vital information...
...To be sure, many foul influences have corroded American presidential politics, but the preeminent cause of today's unspeakable mediocrity must be television, the most baleful invention of the twentieth century...
...Nixon prescribes rescheduling the debt incurred by Gorbachev, deferring interest payments, opening Western markets to Russian exports, stabilizing the ruble, creating "a single Western-led organization to assess Soviet needs and coordinate wide-ranging governmental and private aid projects," and creating a "free enterprise corps" to send thousands of Western managers to Russia to pass on "free-market know-how...
...the very existence of civilization, our political leaders are mostly mediocrities or gaudy frauds...
...Has any conservative presidential challenger ever relied on a sound nibble like that...
...Grinning, uttering inanities, moving fluently from being the Democratic moderate to being the hearty populist, he puts one in mind of nothing more dignified than a game-show host...
...Emerging from a totalitarian society until recently sealed off from modernity, his countrymen need a crash course in aspects of modern life that Americans take for granted, e.g., private property, contracts, taxation, and an understanding of how to price a product, market it, and transport it...
...Some, who stand as living proof that mankind can learn from experience, have chosen democracy over despotism and joined Yeltsin in his attempts to bring prosperity and the rule of law to Russia...
...He replaced the Czar's secret police force of 15,000 with the Cheka, a force of 250,000, and soon this precursor of the KGB was executing 1,000 people monthly...
...I care," says one candidate, and they all care...
...14 The American Spectator May 1992 "Blank checks will kill reform," Grigoriev says...
...Erwin scorns the vacuity of all the presidential candidates (save, perhaps, Jerry Brown), though every one of the candidates is at one with Erwin in admonishing against the corrupting influence of power and money...
...The only instances of the poorand relatively unpowerful rising to power that I can think of in this century involved such dubious saviors as Lenin, Mussolini, and Hitler...
...What will come next from Russia, and how rapidly...
...Here is irony for you...
...Rosenberg knows better, and the other night while Mayor Daley's workers were making the rounds of the Cook County cemeteries to assure that every corpse had cast a vote, Rosenberg asked the editor of the conservative American Spectator and the editor of the left-wing Progressive, Erwin Knoll, why we both found this campaign so underwhelming...
...but they are today reduced to sound nibbles intoned by all candidates in both parties...
...Well, we haveólong in the tooth and off on the sidelinesóRichard Nixon, who writes in a celebrated memo to friends and foreign affairs associates, "We are at a watershed moment...
...With the utmost urgency he admonishes the gabbling pols of Washington to come to Yeltsin's assistance with temporary humanitarian aid...
...In February of 1917 the Czar's regime, which annually executed a dozen or so political prisoners, was heaved out, and there followed all things bright and beautifulóbut only for nine months...
...Erwin, ever the repository of all that palms itself off as radical and enlightened, explained that the problem with American presidential politics is money and power...
...Then came Lenin's revolution...
...But paying ordinary Americans in need of work to instruct Russians in the elementary tasks of commerce and citizenship is the ticket to getting democratic Russia properly T hanks to Chicago's Milt Rosenberg and his disciplined mind, I have a satisfactory explanation for the general imbecility of the 1992 presidential primaries...
...I stand for change," says another and they all do...
...Such presentations as The Federalist Papers or the Lincoln-Douglas debates were splendid anomalies...
...All are after "the soul of the party," a "new future," "the middle class...
...It encourages sham, quirkiness, and bathos...
...2319 HILLALE OLLEGE Video Proliferation 16 The American Spectator May 1992...
...It made for conversation that was at least coherent and fruitful...
...Its emphasis is on surfaces, images, poses...
...Confronted with the colossal infantilism of the present field of presidential contenders and the senselessness of most political commentary, I now believe the idiot box has surpassed the bomb's early promise of annihilation...
...Nixon observes that at the end of World War II America was more solicitous of Japan and Germany than it now is of Russia, though the Japanese and the Germans cost us infinitely more in life and treasure...
...It was his sad-eyed countenance...
...Rosenberg is the erudite, thoughtful, and fair-minded host of a fine radio talk show...
...Even Pat Buchanan sheds principle for votes, as he warns against "vulture capitalists...
...Almost no national figure in the West speaks of the gravity of the events now taking place in Russia...
...Today who do we have...
...What was the essence of the complaint against his only plausible opponent, Paul Tsongas...
...And we have the most pathetic field of presidential candidates in this century, probably in any century...
...Television grows impatient with serious discourse...
...Grigoriev notes that, though his country has well-trained scientists, engineers, and others, they lack a grasp of economics, commerce, and even civics...
...This is not to say that serious discourse was ever a constant in American politics...
...And consider the Democrats' frontrunner, Boy Clinton...
...The historical significance of the democratic revolution in the Soviet Union compares only with events like the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, and the creation of NATO and the Marshall Plan in 1948...

Vol. 25 • May 1992 • No. 5


 
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