“But I think we can take it there won’t be any air raids, not on London at any rate,” Sir Joseph Mainwaring says confidently on the day the Second World War, and Put Out More Flags, both begin. “The Germans will never attempt the Maginot line. The French will hold on for ever, if needs be ...” For the rest of Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Sir Joseph's taste for of lofty predictions—“But there is one thing of which I am certain. Russia will come in against us before the end of the year.
Embarrassment is an important element in the pedagogy of experience. There are mistakes I will never make again because I made them once and was usefully shamed. In the winter of 1974, when I was a bright and callow student, and did not yet grasp the difference between knowledge and knowingness, I endured such a lucky education at the hands of Diana Trilling. The subject was the danger of simplification in the intellectual engagement with politics.
Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush By John Yoo (Kaplan, 544 pp., $29.95) Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State By Garry Wills (Penguin, 288 pp., $27.95) I. In December 2008, Chris Wallace asked Vice President Cheney, “If the president, during war, decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?” Cheney’s answer included a reference to a military authority that President Bush did not exercise.
Conservatives would have us believe that they hold a monopoly on common sense. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and many other right-wing rabble-rousers regularly portray themselves as defenders of the good, old-fashioned common sense of average Americans against an out-of-touch liberal elite.
Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America By John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev (Yale University Press, 637 pp., $35) If one were trying to define the lowest point in the long and venerable tradition of American anti-communism, surely it came in 2003, with the publication of Ann Coulter's Treason.
Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America By Ted Morgan (Random House, 685 pp., $35) NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO the United States Senate voted to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy. Within three years of his disgrace, McCarthy was dead, his health destroyed by heavy drinking. His time in the limelight had been brief.
Ross Perot lives on Strait Lane in a world of his own. On the most exclusive street of millionaires in North Dallas, he has surrounded himself with alarms and sensors, fences and security guards. He has frequently deployed private investigators to uncover personally discrediting material about competitors. Those determined to humiliate and destroy him, he has explained, publicly and privately, include terrorists, drug lords, the CIA, and a criminal cabal of high officials in the Reagan and Bush administrations in which the president of the United States is complicit.
WHEN SEN. Joseph McCarthy arraigned General Zwicker before his Committee and branded him unfit to wear the uniform of the United States, he did more than humiliate a lifelong soldier and wartime hero.