- The Washington Times - Friday, November 22, 2002

Now he tells us

"The economic downturn really began in March of 2000, and the markets went down steadily from March through Election Day."

So said Al Gore on NPR yesterday. Funny. I seem to recall him running on a boom and blaming President Bush for the downturn. But now that the truth actually serves Mr. Gore's spin, he's happy to deploy it. Same old new Mr. Gore.

A Schwarzenegger-Granholm Amendment

Odd, isn't it, that two of the brightest emerging stars in politics will never be able to run for president. In California, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking like his party's best hope for the next gubernatorial election. His name recognition is through the roof, he just pioneered a winning ballot initiative on classroom size, he's a foreign policy hawk but a social liberal ideal for California. Jennifer Granholm, in contrast, is the newly elected governor of Michigan the first woman in that office. She's a graduate of Berkeley and Harvard Law School, hyper-liberal but a formidable campaigner. Both she and Mr. Schwarzenegger are exactly what politics needs.

But both are barred by the constitutional insistence that only native-born Americans can become president. Mrs. Granholm was born in Canada; Mr. Schwarzenegger in Austria.

This restriction might have made some sense in the early days of the Republic, but barring immigrants from the highest office in the land is a truly bizarre provision for an immigrant country. It's especially noxious today when an historically high number of Americans are foreign-born. Why not, say, change the Constitution to make the presidency available to anyone with 20 years or so of citizenship, an idea George Will recently floated (but didn't endorse)? It would be a win-win for the GOP. It would help recast the GOP as an immigrant-friendly party. And it would open the way for Mr. Schwarzenegger to make his move. Can't see the downside myself.

The Times vs. Jerusalem

Another Freudian slip from the New York Times. An article yesterday treated the attempted hijacking of an El Al plane earlier this week purely as a human interest story. The perpetrator, Tawfik Foqara, was a crank, a sweet guy, harmless. His family was even given space in the article to decry some Israelis as racist. No surprise there. But the real beaut is contained in the following sentences: "Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Israel's prime minister, said Israeli investigators had not yet questioned Mr. Foqara. But Turkish news reports quote investigators there as saying that Mr. Foqara confessed to planning to turn the plane around and crash it into Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel." Tel Aviv the capital? Only in the New York Times's dreams.

Prince Charles' hate crime?

First off, Princess Anne confesses to letting dogs maul some children. Now Prince Charles could be deemed guilty of a hate crime. At least that's the implication of an arrest last week in Britain. A rural protester, Robin Page, who has helped lead a grass-roots movement in defense of the English rural way of life, made some public comments at a county fair that worried the authorities. "I urged people to go on the [Countryside] march and I urged that the rural minority be given the same legal protection as other minorities," Mr. Page told the London Daily Telegraph yesterday. "All I said was that the rural minority should have the same rights as blacks, Muslims and gays." This is exactly the point Prince Charles made in a letter to Tony Blair, subsequently leaked to the British press. But when Mr. Page made this comment, he was arrested by Gloucestershire police, on the grounds that he was stirring up racial hatred.

In Britain, it's a crime to incite racial hatred by word alone, just as it is now a crime to offend people's religion. In fact, Mr. Page was asked specifically by police if he was a racist. The right response is to ask them why it's any of their business. But in Britain, such liberties no longer exist and the cops can ask you about your politics and ideas in a criminal investigation. Prince Charles' private letter doesn't meet the same test because it was private. But the thoughts expressed in it especially equating country-dwellers with other more politically correct minorities are indistinguishable from Mr. Page's and clearly criminal under British law.

Aren't you grateful for the First Amendment? Without it, the political correctness police would be merrily dragging you into jail for incorrect speech. Liberalism: In today's world, it increasingly means the prevention of diversity of thought.

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