President Biden and the ‘Lets Go Brandon’ thing

President Joe Biden looks on after delivering remarks on the November Jobs Report at the White House in Washington, DC on December 3, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

On manners and conservatism; Hong Kong and democracy; the late Desmond Tutu; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Americanism; and more

BBy now you have heard of an exchange that President Biden had with a man on December 24th. Sitting with the First Lady, Biden said to the man, “Well I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas. The man replied with “Merry Christmas and let’s go, Brandon.”

“Let’s go, Brandon”, as you know, is a replacement for “F *** Joe Biden”. (If you want to learn more about where this came from, check out Wikipedia.) The tagline is hot in Republican circles. A GOP congressman ended a ground speech by pumping his fist and saying, “Let’s go, Brandon.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sells merchandise that says, “Let’s go, Brandon. Donald Trump too.

“You’ve probably heard him sing everywhere Patriotic Americans gather,” Trump’s campaign team said. “Well, now President Trump has put America’s new favorite phrase on a personalized shirt. It’s true. President Trump has just authorized the release of his brand new limited edition “LET’S GO BRANDON” shirts. “

And so on.

Trump’s oldest son Donald Jr. said the man who said “Come on, Brandon” to Biden was a “hero.” Without a doubt, millions of other people feel the same way.

There is something great about a country where a citizen can say to the chief executive “F *** you” (or the equivalent) – can say it without being jailed or worse. At the same time, I remember an old lesson, once articulated by Bill Bennett, when he argued with Michael Kinsley on television: “Don’t confuse what you have the right to do with what is right to do. To do.

Long ago, in a galaxy far away, good manners were seen as a component of conservatism – with limited government, free enterprise, personal responsibility, American leadership abroad, moral character in power, etc. The founder of National exam, William F. Buckley Jr., did a lot of good manners and exemplified them. He despised bad manners, whether they were done in the name of politics or something else.

Like I said, it was another time. Today many on the right laugh at this sort of thing as “peacetime conservatism”, rascality, sissy and everything. Rawness is in the saddle – rawness of thought, rawness of expression, rawness of action. But times come and go. And maybe better conservatism (true conservatism, I would say) will reaffirm itself.

Stranger things have happened.

• I smiled like this: “The COVID variant disrupts vacation travel but not shopping. (Article here.) You can’t keep the American consumer down. May it always be so.

• Another headline: “More Hong Kong Universities Remove Artworks From Tiananmen Square Protest. »The article begins,

On Friday, two other Hong Kong universities withdrew public works of art commemorating the 1989 Chinese crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The statue of the Goddess of Democracy was taken before dawn from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Before dawn, eh? Could it be that the authorities were sort of. . . shameful? Why not do it in broad daylight?

In 2014, I wrote about the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, DC. Let me quote a few paragraphs:

VOC’s most visible achievement so far has been the erection of a memorial near Capitol Hill. It is a replica of the “Goddess of Democracy”, fashioned by students in Tiananmen Square. . . .

Money for the memorial in Washington came from various quarters, especially the Vietnamese, Baltic and Hungarian communities there. While president, George W. Bush was invited to serve as VOC’s honorary president – and he did. He was the one who spoke at the inauguration of the memorial in June 2007.

Another sample, please:

In a monumental city, the memorial to the victims of communism is modest – small in scale – but moving and appropriate. Its sculptor is Thomas Marsh, not only an artist but a believer: he waived his fees to carve this memorial. And let me say, in a free aside, that he’s a long-time subscriber and that he warmly admires National exam.

• Did you catch this? The latest news from our Saudi friends? “US intelligence agencies have assessed that Saudi Arabia is now actively manufacturing its own ballistic missiles with help from China.” Inflate.

There are a lot of Americans who are hot against China but nice to Saudi Arabia – or at least on the “Kingdom” defensive. What will they do with the last one?

• Desmond Tutu, the South African prelate, anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has died at the age of 90. During his lifetime, I wrote about him very critically – on the subjects of Israel and the United States, to name just two. I sketched Tutu, along with many other people, in my Nobel Peace Prize story (here).

Now, however, I would like to record a few positive things, only. When I looked into her life, I found a lot to love and admire. Anyone would.

He could be very frank – disarmingly. As soon as I received the Nobel Peace Prize, he observed, I became an instant oracle. Almost everything I had said before was now received with something like awe. “

Of the Nobel Committee and its prize he would sometimes say, “They probably thought it was time to give it to a black man.” Also: “Maybe they thought, ‘And, ah, he has an easy last name: Tutu.’ What if I had a last name like Waokaokao?

Tutu was part of the nonviolent opposition to the apartheid regime when it was difficult – sometimes dangerous – to be.

When he won the award, Tutu said, “God tells us that he is by our side. Tutu also said the prize was not really for himself but for “the little people whose noses are rubbed in the dust every day”.

In his Nobel lecture, Tutu said: “Several times, in the same family, a child was classified as white while another, with a slightly darker tint, was classified as colored, with all the horrible consequences for the latter. to be excluded from belonging to a very privileged caste. There have therefore been several child suicides. It is too high a price to pay for racial purity.

He led his country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission – which many played on – and he led it very skillfully.

He was good – very good – on China. (On human rights in China, I mean.) He was a staunch supporter of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan cause.

He was one of the few – very few – to criticize the dictator next door: Mugabe. In 2007 he said: “We Africans should be ashamed of themselves. How can what is happening in Zimbabwe elicit barely a word of concern, let alone condemnation, from us African leaders? “

He liked to tell a joke (a joke transferable to an assortment of countries). A Zambian and a South African were talking. The Zambian bragged about his country’s Minister of Naval Affairs. The South African said, “But you have no navy, no access to the sea. How then can you have a minister of naval affairs?” The Zambian replied, “Well in South Africa you have a Minister of Justice, don’t you? “

Desmond Tutu has campaigned relentlessly against a rotten, discriminatory and undemocratic regime in power in his country. There are worse ways – a lot – to spend your time.

• Have you seen Mitt Romney’s Christmas card? Rather his family photo and his message? Go here. Romney’s riding – or someone like him – is tiny. Romney is hated by both the left and the right. Its values ​​are very, very old-fashioned. But you know? There is still a riding. Maybe he will grow up – like the Romney family itself! They alone form a nucleus of hell.

• Have you read about Arnold? “Arnold Schwarzenegger” celebrates early Christmas “by visiting 25 military veterans he donated homes.” And the caption of the article: “The actor paid to build 25 houses in Los Angeles.”

Immigration is a complex and multifaceted subject. But the contributions immigrants have made to our country in countless ways – undeniable, in my opinion.

• You may know Russell D. Moore, a writer and evangelical leader. When evangelical America made a big pivot in 2016, it stayed put, which was not easy.

Moore tweeted on Saturday,

With Christmas we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the USSR. Without it, we would not have our sons, adopted from a Russian orphanage in 2002.

Tomorrow, one of them, Ben, is sworn in with the US Air Force.

To see the tweet – with a photo of father and son in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City – go here.

• I have some pictures for you my own bad me. Here is a beautiful facade, in New York:

And here are some pictures of a village, about a hundred kilometers east of the city:

Merry after-Christmas everyone and a happy new year before the New Year. See you soon.

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