- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Need for speed

“The [Toyota] Prius is selling well and no doubt is the harbinger of better hybrids to come. But with gasoline prices steady at about $1.60 a gallon, an economy beginning to seriously percolate and more Americans eschewing the delays, shakedowns and interrogations involved with air travel, the lure of the open road increases by the day. With it comes the romance — perceived or otherwise — of a freedom ride at the wheel of an automobile. This is a hateful thought for greenies, social engineers, media elites and intellectuals everywhere, but the lunatic love affair with the car remains in a state of steamy passion.

“There is no debating that hybrids and fuel cells make sense in terms of the environment and reducing fossil-fuel dependence. But until these new powerplants can equal current conventional gasoline engines in terms of performance, cost and durability, auto makers will respond to the harsh realities of the marketplace. No amount of government mandates, media pressure or high-minded pontifications can replace the simple laws of supply and demand. …

“Two-hundred-mile-an-hour super cars are manifestly useless and, yes, ‘illegal in all states.’ But they may serve as a talisman of optimism even when parked, shiny and silent — inert symbols of an ardor for freedom more important to the national psyche than to real-world transportation.”

Brock Yates, writing on “Somewhere, Steve McQueen Is Smiling,” Jan. 14 in the Wall Street Journal

National spirit

‘Germans — think with your blood!’ Bismarck’s exhortation goes far to explain why liberal thinkers have often had difficulties with nationalism. It exalts the visceral above the intellectual and conformity above individuality. It is suspicious of internationalism and neurotic about ‘foreigners,’ and its bottom line always seems to be the use of force to secure the national way of life or ‘national identity’ — what German pioneers of nationalism called the Volksgeist.

“The era of nationalism, launched by the French Revolution, has been the era of ‘total’ world wars, in which nation-states have pitted their every last resource in what were held to be life-or-death struggles. …

“When French revolutionaries abolished the monarchy and crushed the church, they invoked the people as the true source of legitimacy. After that, it was the nation that legitimized the state, and the days of dynastic empires were numbered.”

Charles Townshend, writing on “God of Modernity,” Jan. 16 in the Financial Times

Former ally

“During the debate on the war on Iraq, the American public realized that France was not our ally anymore. In fact, when France’s Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin was asked whom he wanted to win the war, he flatly answered: ‘I don’t know,’ and 33 percent of his countrymen wanted Iraq to win. …

“A month ago, ‘The Man Who Ruined 2003’ was the title on the cover of the conservative, popular French newsmagazine L’Express. The picture on the cover was not that of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden or Yasser Arafat, but that of George W. Bush. …

“France has a long history of anti-Americanism, which has now turned into an obsession. Everything negative occurring in the planet, or for that matter even in France, is the fault of the U.S.A. Blame it on America has turned into a national sport.”

Olivier Guitta, writing on “Blame it on America,” Monday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

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