The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells the New Hollywood is the title of an upcoming book by Tom King, a respected Wall Street Journal reporter who it seems has hit pay dirt?and it's dirt, all right?with his exposé of the unspeakable Geffen. Actually it's poetic justice. Geffen invited King to write a book about his amazing rise to the top, and allegedly named dozens of former boyfriends, many of them now famous stars. Indiscretion aside, Geffen is a lowlife sans pareil. I haven't read the book, but I am sure that some of the so-called boyfriends did it with His Grotesqueness out of burning ambition and despite their heterosexuality.
I do not exactly hang out with scum like the Velvet Mafia, but about 10 years ago I got some firsthand information about how they operate. Libel laws do not permit me to name names. One of Europe's greatest directors of opera, stage and screen gave a letter of introduction to an ex-assistant (and boyfriend) addressed to a very rich and particularly well-known tycoon, a member of the VM. I know both the director and his younger ex-assistant and they are gentlemen of the old school. Both are gay. As the assistant presented himself to the tycoon, he offered his CV and gave the director's regards. "Screw the regards and the CV, let's see if you know how to..." came the answer. My friend fled in disgust.
But what bothers me is not the bestiality and arrogance of the Velvet Mafiosi. It is the message they send out through their movies. American Beauty, for example, is said to be a well-made film?I haven't seen it?that will probably win many Oscars, but carries a subliminal message against the family. (Geffen, as rumor has it, is supposed to have been thrilled that in the movie a homophobe father beats up his son when he suspects him to have had a gay affair with Kevin Spacey's character, and even more thrilled when it is later revealed that the homophobe was actually a repressed gay.) Geffen, of course, denies there is such a thing as a homosexual cabal, and, typically, charges anti-Semitism.
According to King's book, friends like Barry Diller, Sandy Gallin and Calvin Klein, among many others, keep a lower profile but apparently indulge in the sexual bacchanals that go with the territory. Alleged weekend-long orgies fueled by drugs at which Geffen and his powerful buddies run a " meat market" selecting young men for sex are apparently described in detail in King's opus. Here is one of Bill Clinton's close supporters, one who had a free run of the Lincoln bedroom, and was, I believe, once even called an adviser to the Draft Dodger, pushing a gay agenda of promoting stars and directors who make movies and records sympathetic to the gay lifestyle. Geffen is a natural for the Clinton White House. Sleaze is the operative word. Just think what Sid (the scumbag) Blumenthal would have done to Geffen if the tycoon were straight and a Republican. Has anyone in the Clinton administration?and that includes Al (the Liar) Gore?bothered to ask whether the Geffen agenda undermines our most important values? If anyone has, I'm Monica Lewinsky.
Which brings me to the point I wish to make. Political correctness is the best way the left has to stamp out thought it doesn't agree with. As the Spectator of London wrote recently, "If it's impossible to say or write certain things, then it becomes impossible to think them and conformity is guaranteed for ever and ever." George Orwell's 1984 is alive and thriving with p.c., except that this time it's for real.
What the left and its p.c. adherents have managed to do is to turn everyone who is not mainstream into a persecuted racial minority. As Paul Craig Roberts (the best columnist by far) pointed out in the John Rocker case, "Bud Selig thinks that kids with purple hair, repeat felons, welfare moms and homosexuals with AIDS are 'ethnicities.'" Selig, in his haste to please the politically correct, misinterpreted Rocker's remarks. Most kids with purple hair are white, not black, and repeat felons are criminals, not a racial classification. There are many white immigrants who don't speak English?as in Russians?but try to explain this to p.c. commissars. Geffen and his ilk know all this. Ergo the anti-Semitism defense.
Hollywood has never exactly been a moral place, far from it, but until the 60s and 70s it preached a hell of a moral lesson. God, the family, patriotism, even Mom were sacrosanct. Now it's the exact opposite. Criminals are sympathetically portrayed, cops always negatively; people who think same-gender sex is wrong are fascists; businessmen are all crooks, while crooks are nice and quaint; drug-takers are cool, drinkers are fascist bullies. Well, you get the point. AIDS ribbons are in, while battle decorations are a real no-no. HIV, like lung cancer, is a lifestyle disease, but HIV carriers are celebrated in the manner winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor used to be.
It is a topsy-turvy world, Hollywood, and I can't wait to read Tom King's book. In the meantime, don't hold your breath before the Geffen spin machine, in cahoots with such Clinton flacks as the grotesque Geraldo Rivera, go to work on the author. After all, if a phony like Jeffrey Toobin can demonize Starr and acquit Bill Clinton, think what his kind can do in defense of the ghastly Geffen.
Bruce Antonio Laue Feature
French Farce For those of us who love France, recent political developments have given rise to genuine concern. Recent tense relations with the United States began with a series of statements made by French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine bemoaning the fact that the world had become "unipolar" (American dominated), and advocating instead a "multipolar" (French-led European) global political design. This is most unsettling.
The postwar years for France, as for all other European nations, were not auspicious, and successive governments followed the vision of President Charles De Gaulle in trying to restore France's greatness. But in the last 20 years, other policies, domestic in nature, have posed a great challenge to France's destiny.
Perhaps we can be forgiven for offering a bit of advice to an old friend. Firstly, a great nation does not abandon its currency. Instead of overhauling an antiquated educational system, a widely derided technology industry, a confiscatory tax structure and an unrealistic social agenda, France's politicians conceived of a supposedly easy and painless remedy: collaboration with Germany on the introduction of a single European currency. By making use of Germany's business acumen and high labor productivity, France would become partner in an enterprise that could rival America's global economic influence. But the euro's value against the dollar has fallen steadily. It's impossible to challenge another nation's monetary superiority when your own currency keeps losing value. The very real specter of French labor unions marching for higher wages and being told by their government that it is powerless to grant their demands due to the budgetary constraints imposed by the European Central Bank may lead to the largest civil disturbances on the Continent since the 1968 Paris student uprising.
Secondly, a great nation does not abandon its borders. In the 1973 film The Day of the Jackal, the protagonist, driving from Italy to France, is stopped by police and customs inspectors at the Menton crossing; his papers are examined, his bags searched, the nature of his business ascertained. A visit to the same crossing today would find no gendarmes, no customs personnel, indeed no physical indication of a national boundary. One need not be a member of the Surete to appreciate the value of such an arrangement to those involved in terrorism, narcotics, illegal immigration, prostitution, money laundering, etc. With the open borders mandated by the Maastricht Treaty, France cannot control the entry of people and goods into its society. How can such an obvious threat to the security of a nation be allowed to exist? My Parisian cousin probably said it best: "I don't know. But you can be sure someone is making a lot of money out of it."And you can also be sure that the money is not in the form of euros.
Fianlly, great nations do not abandon their people to a veritable invasion of foreigners. Following the granting of the independence demanded by its colonies, France began receiving a small but steady stream of immigrants from those regions. The French allowed this for the selfish reason of acquiring cheap labor, but also out of sense of obligation toward their former citizens to provide, if only for the few years permitted by a work visa, a better quality of life. But the immigrants didn't return to their respective countries. In fact, they began bringing their families.
To most Americans Paris is still the epitome of romance: soft accordion music gently drifting out of quaint bistros, little children carrying baguettes as big as themselves, the nuns of St. Vincent de Paul. The reality of today's Paris is 45 years and a heartbreak removed. At twilight, gangs of black and Arab youths travel in wolf packs down the Champs Elysees shadowed by pairs of gendarmes toting semiautomatic weapons, garishly lit stores sell junk to suspecting tourists while at Fouquets, tables full of "Dodi"s talk for hours on their cellphones to Allah-knows-who.
Police buses filled with criminals screaming obscenities speed past talon-fingered, blow-dried, half-dressed "Nabila"s. Everything seems a dark, crude imitation of what it once was. Jonathan Fenby in his entertaining but deeply biased France on the Brink writes: "The country may receive people from different nations and cultures but it requires them to conform to the unity of the republic." Why is this a cause for surprise? If a person chooses to live in another country, shouldn't he expect, and be expected, to obey its laws and traditions?
A friend met me for drinks at the Cafe de La Paix two years ago and put it rather succinctly: "Eighty percent of the crime in this country is committed by 10 percent of the population. This is a known fact. But nobody says a word because the minute you say something you are called 'racist.' So everybody keeps quiet." What has happened to the freedom to speak the truth? The freedom to be French in France? The greatest threat to the latter is not from American movies or music or McDonald's, but from the near-suicidal policies formulated by France's leaders. And, ironically, some of these policies seem to have been instituted to mimic American society and values. But what may work in America, as Americans themselves have discovered, may not work in other countries. This is the great lesson that France and other nations must learn: that American wealth and power cannot be attained by adopting the outward appearance of America, whether politically, culturally, ethnically or socially. It can only come from the efforts and genius of their own peoples.
There is a great painting in Versailles' Hall of Battles, showing Napoleon on horseback reviewing his guard. A soldier in the rear ranks suddenly shouts out a greeting?or is it a warning? The ruler of Europe looks over his shoulder and seems impressed. France may do well to imitate its Emperor?to pause, look over its shoulder and heed the cry.
Peter Eavis Feature
The Day Trade The newest bugaboo to emerge out of cyberspace is, in fact, wholly respectable and legal. It's daytrading, the practice of frequently trading stocks online. However, you'd think the country's daytraders were gambling with all the gold in Fort Knox, judging by the drubbing they've gotten from their detractors.
In recent months, these active amateur stock-traders have become a favored target of those who like to create a fuss where there really isn't one. And the alarmists are using the same sort of tricks deployed against other out-of-favor groups, like Serbs, Christian conservatives, the NYPD and anyone who dares admit they don't like Law & Order. As well as being the subject of media scare stories, these small-time investors have had to face hostile congressmen and dubious academic studies.
There are two types of daytraders: those who trade at home on their P.C.s and those who go to the offices of special daytrading firms where they pay to use powerful computers to trade. The latter burst into the news in the summer of last year, when Mark Barton, a struggling trader, killed nine people at daytrading offices in Atlanta, and then shot himself.
The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs examined daytrading firms in late February, hearing a tiny number of witnesses describe how they'd allegedly been fleeced and misled by such outfits. And, to be honest, if the witnesses' statements are taken in isolation and at face value, they'd probably be enough to get Ayn Rand in bed with Ralph Nader.
Here's testimony from Sandra Harlacher, a Committee witness who describes the alleged actions of an executive at daytrading firm All-Tech Investment Group: "Mr. Parish was constantly harassing me and others, often making suggestions about which stocks to buy and sell, including when to buy and sell. When I was hesitant to trade, he would egg me on, telling me that I would never get experience or learn to trade or make up my losses unless I traded often," Harlacher said. No doubt about it: if this Parish guy had been living in Dickensian England, he'd be driving small children up chimneys.
In addition, The Wall Street Journal recently showed what a great tabloid it can be by running a story on John Nyquist, an online investor who lost a ton of money trading. His wife, Kate, claims he tried to kill her so he could get at the proceeds from her life insurance policy. Mrs. Nyquist said that her husband was "not a wacko. He was an intelligent, caring husband and father who got involved in something beyond his control."
Sad. But, as is often the case with such matters, a step back helps put things in perspective. While daytrading firms probably attract more criminal types than, say, midwifery, figures don't put them in a bad light at all. The Securities and Exchange Commission, the stock market's chief cop, said this in a recent report: "The SEC has received relatively few complaints from the public concerning day trading. In calendar year 1998, the SEC's Office of Investor Education and Assistance received a total of 10,326 complaints, of which only 37 (or 0.36%) involved day-trading broker-dealers."
Further, one has to assume that this near-hysteria is being stirred up by trial lawyers, who have gotten a heavy whiff of daytrader blood. Kate Nyquist, for example, is suing her husband's former online brokerage E*Trade, "charging the firm with negligence and recklessness," the Journal writes. This is not the time to blather on about America's litigiousness, but Mrs. Nyquist's case rests on the premise that if a man gets drunk and drives his Jeep into a wall, he automatically deserves damages from Chrysler. As for the Senate witnesses, most people screw up big once in their lives, and learn much from the experience. These poor souls lost money doing so, whereas most of us lose more important things, like good jobs, teenage sweethearts or the chance to play for the Yankees.
Perhaps most sneaky in all this have been the efforts of some journalists to make do-it-yourself investors look stupid. Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times tried?unsuccessfully?to do this in a front-page story a few weeks back. In it, she approvingly quoted two academics from the University of California, Davis, who claim that individual investors' returns go down as they trade more. But Morgenson's experts lack rigor, going by a December 1999 study they did into amateur stock trading.
The sample in their study was minuscule. The UCD duo looked at only 1607 frequent online traders, when there are now about five million people using the Internet for brokerage services, according to the SEC. And they used very stale data. The study measured performance only from 1992 to the end of 1995. Since 1995, the NASDAQ index, which is crammed full of the tech stocks daytraders love, has rocketed over 300 percent, a phenomenon that is bound to have skewed the academics' findings.
Look, these two academics may be proven right, but that's not the point. It's that the standard of evidence is so low when it comes to getting a conviction in the court of public opinion. In fact, this shoddy treatment of daytraders is the latest manifestation of the disdain faced by any supposedly unsophisticated group that tries to better itself. Blue-collar Republicans know how it feels. Make no mistake, thousands of daytraders are going to lose their shirts, pants, everything, when the stock market crash comes. But, somehow, one doubts that concern for future losses is behind the anti-daytrader feeling. No, one has to conclude that it's the sort of thuggish envy seen in this description of rentiers as "people who live by clipping coupons, who take no part in any enterprise whatever, whose profession is idleness."
The author? One Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who clearly would've felt very much at home in our age.
George Szamuely The Bunker
Race Race Frank Rich follows a formula as rigidly as any Hollywood "buddy" picture. The New York primary was coming up. So out came his old "anti-Semitism" standby. In a recent column, he claimed that Bush operatives were "targeting [Warren] Rudman." Why? Because he is "the most visible Jew in the McCain campaign."
"'There's no question in my mind that it's anti-Semitism,' [Rudman] says. 'The way they pronounced my name in phone calls! They're unhappy it's not Finkelstein.' Nor did he think the Bush campaign was clueless about what was going on." Of course it wasn't. How do you win elections in Frank Rich's America? You target the Jews. However, the hatred allegedly directed at Rudman is nothing compared to the hatred he directs at others. A nauseatingly obsequious profile published the same day in The New York Times has him describing the religious right as being made up of "anti-abortion zealots, would-be censors, homophobes, bigots."
Warren Rudman is a wealthy man who's been a senator and an attorney general. Today, he is a partner in one of the world's leading corporate law firms?Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. The people he fulminates against are not wealthy. They did not attend Ivy League colleges. They hold no prestigious jobs. In fact, they do not get much of anything in America. Rudman has nothing but disdain for them. His view is one widely shared by America's elite. The Christian right has no business being part of the public debate at all. Its concerns must be resolutely ignored. Politicians can pander shamelessly before any voting bloc?blacks, soccer moms, gays, Latinos, Jews. But let George W. Bush visit Bob Jones University and it's as if he has been caught hobnobbing with Hitler.
There is something hilarious about The New York Times' horror that Bob Jones University "promotes anti-Catholic views." What on Earth does the Times do? From abortion to the ordination of women to priestly celibacy to Corpus Christi to homosexuality to "Sensation" to papal infallibility, the Times always takes the anti-Catholic position. At least Bob Jones' objection to Catholicism is about theological doctrine?about something more than just sex. As for its prohibition of interracial dating, Bob Jones justifies this by opposition to the "one-world system?.one world, one church, one economy, one military, one race, and unisex. God made racial differences as He made gender differences. Each race and each sex should be proud to be what God made it." It is hard to see how this view differs from that of Alan Dershowitz, who devoted his book, The Vanishing American Jew, to agonizing over Jewish intermarriage. "I do not want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to break our link with Judaism," he cries there, "I do not want them to become the first non-Jews in our family history. I do not want them to assimilate, to melt into someone else's pot, to join a different religion, or to become part of another tradition or heritage. I do not want their Jewishness?to disappear in the next generation? I want them to stay Jewish?because Jewish is what we have been for thousands of years."
Our elite is a very ungrateful lot. It should consider itself extraordinarily lucky that America's middle class is so preoccupied with religion. Every year people are working longer hours and making less money. So it is really very nice of the denizens of the heartland?who derive so few benefits from American-style capitalism?to believe fervently that the free market rewards the meritorious and punishes the vicious. It is very nice of them to believe that there is nothing about the economy that needs fixing, that the only problem in America has to do with our souls. It is very nice of them to leave the day-to-day running of the country in the hands of people who have such contempt for them. Yet the Warren Rudmans of this world will not even allow them to discuss their few issues.
The other day, Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt announced that the U.S. is the first country in history "which is going to have to reinvent itself as a microcosm of the entire world." Americans were not consulted about getting reinvented as a "microcosm" of anything. The "reinvention" is the result of a policy of large-scale immigration pursued by an elite eager to get rich. America's middle class seems blissfully unaware how firmly it has been locked out of the nation's prizes. There is no better example of this than the elite universities. In 1998 Ron Unz published an article in The Wall Street Journal pointing out how unrepresentative of America the Harvard student body is. Asians, who comprise 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population, account for about 20 percent of Harvard undergraduates. Jews comprise 2 percent of the U.S. population, but between a quarter and a third of Harvard undergraduates. Jews and Asians, therefore, constitute about half of Harvard's student body. Blacks make up another 8 percent and Hispanics 7 percent. Taking into account the large number of foreign students, that leaves about 25 percent of available slots at Harvard for non-Jewish white Americans?about 75 percent of the population.
Recently Bill Gates announced a $1 billion Gates Millennium Scholars program to finance college and advanced degrees for poor children. It turned out, however, that the money would be available for minorities only. Poor white American children, who could also use the money, need not apply. The "initiative?is aimed at expanding access and opportunity to higher education to those citizens who will reflect the diverse society in which we live," according to the Foundation. For Gates, as for the rest of America's elite, it is much better simply to ignore the majority population and create, instead, easily controlled minorities forever beholden to it.
Toby Young The London Desk
Dunkirk Spirit I'm writing this from Verbier, a ski resort in the Swiss Alps, having come here for a week of skiing with my girlfriend. Actually, to be perfectly honest, she's come for a week but I'm going to be here for 12 days. That may sound excessive, but so many of my friends are either in Verbier at the moment, or arriving later this week, I thought I'd indulge myself. I've always believed that one of the nicest things about being abroad is meeting other English people here. One reason for this is that we can make believe the British Empire still exists. Back in Blighty, there's no getting around the fact that Britain is a second-rate power that doesn't really deserve its seat on the United Nations Security Council. The reminders are everywhere, from the diminished state of our armed services to the tarnished reputation of the royal family. Our GNP isn't much larger than California's, for heaven's sake. But once we set foot on foreign soil we can once again feel like the builders of an empire on which the sun never sets.
One of the manifestations of this is our habit of making fun of foreign languages, as though anyone who doesn't speak English is some sort of uneducated savage. For instance, in Verbier there's a popular apres-ski bar called Le Fer a Cheval which means "the iron horse" in French. To the Brits, however, it's become known as The Furry Shovel. Another example: Given that Switzerland has large numbers of French and German speakers, the polite thing to say to a Swiss mountain man after he picks you up off the piste, wipes the snow off your jacket and hands you your poles is, "Merci vielmals," a combination of the French for "thank you" and the German for "very much." In British mouths this has become "mercy fieldmouse," a variation on that other well-known French phrase "mercy buckets."
However, the main reason it's so much fun to hang out with Brits abroad is that class differences become much less pronounced when we're away from home. Back in the UK, where you can pinpoint people's social origins with laser-beam accuracy as soon as they open their mouths, we tend to feel a faint condescension toward those we think of as beneath us and a faint hostility toward those above. Indeed, these feelings aren't always so faint. The moment we're embroiled in any sort of conflict with each other?such as a car accident?they become much stronger. Naturally, being British, we never give voice to these feelings, even in the heat of argument. Class may be our national obsession, but it's completely taboo to discuss it. It's the great unmentionable of British life. In that respect, it's a bit like race in America.
As soon as we find ourselves away from home, by contrast, class distinctions fall away and whenever we encounter one of our fellow citizens we feel a spontaneous surge of warmth. We may come from different ends of the social spectrum, we think, but compared to these bloody foreigners we might as well be brothers. Suddenly, all the things we have in common, such as our famously bad teeth and our uniquely disgusting diet, seem much more important than what separates us. Unlike Americans, who rarely forget what it means to be an American, the only time we feel truly British is when we're abroad. Actually, that's not strictly accurate. We also come together as a nation whenever we feel threatened by a foreign power. If England is competing against Germany in a soccer tournament, for instance, the atmosphere in the country completely changes. I remember walking down Upper Street in Islington on the eve of England's semifinal match against Germany in the 1990 World Cup and getting a palpable sense of a nation having united against a common foe. People were smiling at each other and complete strangers were striking up conversations. Normally, we don't even make eye contact, but for a few fleeting moments Britain had become much more like America.
The term for this welling up of brotherly sentiment in the English lexicon is "the Dunkirk spirit," a reference to one of the most extraordinary episodes of the Second World War in which tens of thousands of small boats were able to rescue the Allied Armies from Dunkirk after their defeat by Germany in 1940. Indeed, one of the reasons the British are able to draw on such enormous reserves when their backs are against the wall may very well be because class distinctions suddenly become irrelevant, producing a great wave of energy. If this is true, then the British class system, far from being a hindrance to Britain's welfare, is one of the things that has preserved us as a nation. Unfortunately, though, most of the time it feels like a cage we can't escape from. The only occasions on which the door of that cage swings open?outside of wartime and international soccer tournaments?are when we bump into each other overseas.
Certainly it's possible to overestimate the importance of this fraternal feeling. On my first trip to Verbier, back in 1989, I witnessed a fight between an Englishman and two Frenchmen in a nightclub. Suddenly, I felt myself in the grip of the Dunkirk spirit and rushed to the assistance of my fellow countryman. Together we battled the frightful foreigners, hurling chairs and bottles at them until, eventually, they retreated. I turned to my companion in arms, expecting to be offered a drink at the very least, whereupon he punched me incredibly hard in the mouth, chipping one of my teeth. He turned out to be some drunken yob who thoroughly deserved to be beaten up by two Frenchmen. Christ, I thought, Verbier's not all it's cracked up to be. It's full of working-class oiks.
John O'Sullivan Traveling Light
McCain's Maneuvers Is John McCain self-destructing? Recently, he seemed to be playing a canny game: creating a new coalition of Republicans and independents?similar to the Reagan coalition that existed until Ross Perot destroyed it in 1992, but larger and differently composed, with returned Perotistas, fewer blue-collar "Reagan Democrats" (a shrinking breed in the information economy), some pre-Perot independents and the present GOP. That couldn't be done by adhering to current GOP orthodoxy. Independents and Perotistas have specific concerns: hence McCain's grandstanding on tobacco taxes, campaign finance reform and paying down the debt in preference to cutting taxes. Although those policies may not be part of post-Reagan conservatism, they're not a significant dilution of its spirit either. You can even argue that they reflect old-fashioned, flinty, "responsible" WASP conservatism.
One could interpret McCain's strategy as one that would widen the GOP by bringing ex-Republicans and independents into a larger tent. Polls suggested he was succeeding: two recent ones had him 15 points ahead of Al Gore in a national match-up, a 10-point improvement on Gov. Bush's score. But there was an obvious flaw in these calculations: where was McCain's appeal to Republicans? Until his Michigan victory, he was replacing Republicans with independents rather than uniting them?a "counterproductive" strategy in open primaries, a suicidal one in Republican-only primaries. McCain realized the danger himself after Michigan, proclaiming himself a "proud Reagan Republican" and citing his high conservative ratings to win over the party faithful. But it seems he has no wish to win over all Republicans. Indeed, he may wish to drive some out of the GOP altogether. For there came, in quick succession, his scripted attack on the religious right leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, his denunciation of them as "evil" and his unapologetic defense of paid phone calls suggesting Bush was soft on anti-Catholicism. Some McCain supporters argued that this was indeed his considered strategy: to shed evangelical Protestants in order to make the GOP more appealing to Catholics and "secularized" voters. If so, then McCain's strategy is, as they say in Yorkshire, bloody daft, for several reasons:
1. To drive away potential supporters deliberately is questionable; to do so for reasons not of high principle, but of electoral advantage, is foolish; and to do so in the hope that other voters who dislike them will be impressed is the action of an incapable strategist: voters don't notice when others are being dissed, just when they themselves are being dissed.
2. Here's a simple calculation based on McCain's politics of subtraction. The Religious right provides roughly one-third of the national Republican vote. Anyone who abandons it must be able to replace one-third of the GOP vote, plus one. Catholics cannot make up the loss: almost half of them already vote for the GOP. Nor are they as hostile to Southern evangelicals as they were 40 years ago. At an elevated theological level, the magazine First Things has brought together Catholic and evangelical Protestant intellectuals to mount a common criticism of the cultural hegemony of antireligious secularism in American life. At the political end of the public square, Pat Buchanan not only defended Bush against anti-Catholic charges; he's also pointed out that Bob Jones U. is not hostile to Catholics as people, merely critical of Catholicism as religious doctrine.
3. "Secularized" voters are not secular; they are mainline Protestants in the Methodist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches. That they are "secularized" is a Catholic or evangelical joke that has apparently taken in the sophisticated McCain consultants. What makes those voters interesting is that they are the solid WASP middle-class in the Northeastern tier of the U.S. who founded the GOP, who have drifted away from active Republican involvement without finding a permanent political home elsewhere, and who warm to such causes as environmentalism, population control, fiscal responsibility and "good government" probity. But, as with Catholics, most already plump for the GOP; the rest aren't numerous enough to compensate for the loss of evangelical Protestants.
Here, perhaps, lies the explanation for McCain's recent crashlanding in the center. These Northern WASPs are natural McCain voters, uncomfortable drinking martinis in the same caucus as the religious right, and differing strongly with it on such issues as abortion. As such they can give vent to the only bigotry now approved of in America: bigotry against anyone who takes his religion seriously enough to want to spread the good news. That is one taste they share with the liberal media. McCain therefore found himself being egged on by the secular liberal media to please these "secularized" new friends by distancing himself from Robertson and Falwell and, inevitably, from their millions of supporters. He fell into the trap where Bush was already writhing, preferring a reliable, congenial, small party over a large, boisterous, electable one. For the votes of evangelicals, Catholics and "secularized" Protestants are all needed to elect a Republican president.
Washington state, where the GOP is divided evenly between "secularized" WASPs and Christian conservatives, and where McCain lost heavily, is a warning that the politics of subtraction is a dead end. And an unnecessary strategy. If McCain wanted to cut the religious right down to size, he should have remembered the paradox of coalitions: the larger the party, the less influence any one faction enjoys inside it. The factions themselves are prepared to accept the loss of internal influence since they know the second half of the paradox: the larger the party, the more influence each faction exercises on the outside world. And if even Robertson, Falwell, Ralph Reed and Gary Bauer can calculate that Paris is worth a Mass, McCain should be able to accept a baptism of immersion as the price of power. As for Bush, all he need do to reassure Northern WASPs is to forget that he is a teetotaler these days and order a very, very, dry martini.