color-coordinated fan uniforms and stayed in a Fancy-Dan resort. What happened to them?
Our guess is that these people from Louisville and Lexington and Paducah are just petrified of New York. You see a lot of this kind of thing in Washington. The outer suburbs of Virginia are full of people who think of Washington as we think of Beirut or Bogota, and yet are forced to work somewhere in the metropolitan area, which is where all the jobs are. So they limit their employment search to the Virginia suburbs, as if Alexandria?which is incredibly crack-addled and violent in parts?were safer than DC. When I worked in Northern Virginia myself?20 minutes' walk from the nice restaurants and pretty streets of Georgetown?there were a couple of women who had never been to Washington. They'd ask you how you could possibly live there. One of them once said to me: "My husband has to go downtown once a month, and he has his one route in and out of the city. But we would never go out to dinner there, and I worry about him staying at work after dark." The husband in question happened to be a guy who shot drugs and got into drunken bottle-fights at strip joints after tractor pulls. But it's somehow more wholesome when you do it in Podunk.
Conquest and Empire Even if Hillary Clinton weren't such a Leninist at heart, the best guide to her thinking would still be the great Sovietologist Robert Conquest. Having just finished reviewing Conquest's latest book, I begin to think he is the great aphorist of our age?as, for instance, when he accuses communists of practicing an "idolatry of texts common to communities of closed minds." Or when he questions the point of revolution by saying: "Radical change is not necessarily quantitatively greater than gradual change." Or when he pooh- poohs activists' "idealism": "In most humans, a component of hatred for the designated oppressor has usually been quite as motivating as sympathy for the oppressed."
I've forgotten the source of what I consider to be Conquest's greatest bon mot of all so I can only paraphrase it. Call it Conquest's First Law: People are more right-wing about the things they know about than about things they don't. Cuba looks like a worker's paradise to lots of people in New York, but to nobody in Havana; business taxes look sensible to a government worker but not to someone who has to pay them; and so on.
The truth of Conquest's Law was splendidly illustrated last week, in a couple of polls that surrounded Hillary Clinton's lukewarm affirmation that she "intends" to run for Senate. Americans are still red-hot for Hillary. According to CNN, 66 percent approve of her performance as first lady, while only 30 percent disapprove. True, that's down from 80-17 last February, but you don't get to play the patron saint of the Women-Who-Hate-Men-Who-Hate-Women-and-the-Women-Who-Love-Them forever. But look at the most recent Zogby poll of New Yorkers, which appeared on the eve of Hillary's I-Promise-Maybe-I'll-Announce-Next-Year announcement. There?once you focus on people who've actually come to know her?her approval ratings have dipped into the negatives. Forty-eight percent have a favorable impression of the First Harridan, while 49 percent respond unfavorably.
You can understand their suspicion. Why the caginess? What's this "formal announcement" stuff anyway? It's a measure of what thoroughgoing political hacks the Clintons are that Hillary's effort to be "straightforward" was carried out in the least straightforward way possible, via a planted question from teachers' union head Randi Weingarten. But even after her announcement, she's still losing almost 2-to-1 in the suburbs, where she has to break even. She's splitting the Jewish vote, which a Democrat has to clean up. She's losing among women. She's got a 10-point lead among union members, when N.E. Democrat should win the New York union vote by 30.
Translated into New Yorkese, Hillary's "press availability" was not an announcement so much as a time-buying strategy. If these numbers don't change by the time she has to make her "formal" announcement, there's not going to BE any formal announcement.
Kosovo Korner There's routine political mendacity, and there's the kind that goes a step beyond. When Greeks rioted in Athens over President Clinton's visit, he immediately apologized for America's conduct in accepting the "Colonels'" Coup during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. Clinton is willing to apologize for anyone's conduct but his own. But the rampaging Greeks weren't complaining about that. They were complaining about America's?sorry, about President Clinton's?conduct in Kosovo.
And during his visit to Kosovo later in the week, the President made it clear he was not at all interested in hearing their complaints. The KLA and its affiliates continue to murder dozens of people a week?as if having expelled roughly 90 percent of the Serbs in the province weren't enough. It's hard to count such things, but it's quite possible that the number of Serbs killed by the KLA since the start of Operation Yuppie Self-Aggrandizement exceeds the number of Kosovars killed by Serbs before it. "Thanks to you," President Clinton told the troops later in the week, "we have reversed ethnic cleansing." He's right: Reversed ethnic cleansing is exactly what we have.
Meanwhile, the President told a group of assembled Kosovars, "Mr. Milosevic wanted to keep control of Kosovo by getting rid of all of you, and we said no." Getting rid of all of you? This is an extraordinary statement, and not just because it reflects a lunatic misunderstanding that there are questions of scale in foreign policy. It amounts to a claim?belied by every scrap of evidence that has emerged since the war?that Milosevic was in the midst of an all-out, Hitlerian genocide at the time we began bombing. If these are the terms on which the President thinks he routinely goes to war, then he must think he has carte blanche. Who wouldn't give absolute military power to one who is out to stop Hitler?
Combined with his "apology" for past U.S. conduct in Greece, what this says about the basis of Clinton foreign policy is horrifying. An apology in foreign policy has a specific meaning and a specific protocol. If you commit crimes against humanity the way Germany did this century, you pay reparations. You disarm. You lock in constitutional protections to keep your country from menacing other nations the way it once did. What price is Clinton willing to pay to make Greece whole for the damage he thinks Johnson and Nixon did in trying to save the country from Communism? Is he willing to pay reparations? (He's certainly not willing to listen to the country's feelings on a matter like Kosovo.) And if he thinks countenancing a military dictatorship during the Cold War is worthy of apology, what is the fit course for a country that installed them? Should we refuse to readmit Russia into the company of civilized nations until it issues an "apology" to Poland? Of course not. The Clinton apology is just empty fluff. But what makes it dangerous, especially alongside the moral pretensions of his Kosovo adventurism, is that he thinks one president, by choosing the right few words, can absolve a country of its own history?at zero cost. Under this understanding, Clinton can conduct a foreign policy wholly unencumbered by the reality of the choices his predecessors have made. This is a model for an "idealistic" foreign policy?which is just another way of saying a foreign policy based on the President's personal whimsies.