Grim's Hall

On Manly Virtue:

A few days back, speaking of a former President, I wrote: "Courtesy and chivalry are important components of the manly virtue of honor[.]" I see today that the New Criterion has a piece on Theodore Roosevelt. The author frets -- that is the only word for it -- that Rooseveltian manliness is gone from the national character.

"Somehow America in the twentieth century went from the explosion of assertive manliness that was TR to the sensitive males of our time who shall be and deserve to be nameless," he says at the beginning of the piece; at the end, "And Teddy Roosevelt was more a philosopher than he knew. His advocacy of manliness reflects the difficulties of pragmatism and tells us something about our situation today. We have abandoned—not reason for manliness like the pragmatists, nor manliness for reason like their tender-minded opponents—but both reason and manliness. We want progress without a rational justification and without the manliness needed to supply the lack of a justification."

It seems to me he misses an obvious parallel with a more modern President:

A New Yorker by birth, he went to the Wild West, and became a Westerner by deliberate intent, or sheer will-power. He became a cowboy by impressing the other cowboys....
Surely that reminds you of someone of more recent vintage?

The argument examines the philosophy of Roosevelt, the author attempting to explain it and then to seek contradictions within it. First, the explanation:
Roosevelt had his own, brazenly exclusive moralism; he liked being "in cowboy land" because it enabled him to "get into the mind and soul of the average American of the right type." His democracy satisfies not merely the average American but one of the right type. “Life is a great adventure, and the worst of all fears is the fear of living.”
I suspect a lot of this fretting comes from the author's position as a professor at Harvard. We've talked about this recently, but there are other things to say.

So much of this arises from the reaction of the upper classes to the First World War. Almost everyone knows the poem Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen. But the words, from Horace, that he called "The Old Lie" are engraved in stone at Arlington. And not only there.

Today I stopped in Lexington, Virginia, passing through on the way back here. We passed by the Virginia Military Institute, which is one of the finest military colleges in the world, along with West Point, Annapolis, and The Citadel. We stopped, by chance, just in front of Washington and Lee College. There is a memorial there, constructed to honor the students who had died in the First World War. And on a great arch above the memorial, engraved in stone, is the same line.

Is it an old lie, or is it a grim and terrible truth? Through the arch at Washington and Lee is visible the tomb of Robert E. Lee. That tomb lies beneath a chapel named for him but dedicated, as he was, to higher service. It is through such devotion -- only through it -- that what good there is in this world can arise. That was Roosevelt's insight as well.

Roosevelt's explosive devotion was, as the piece explains, the moving force behind a great wave of Progressivism that outweighs anything attempted or envisioned today precisely because there is no similar motivating force. Roosevelt rejected talk of rights, and spoke instead of duties -- another regular theme at Grim's Hall. Modern liberalism talks a great deal about rights, but has little enough concept of duty. We have surely reached the high water mark of this tide with the current movement to restore voting rights to felons, "who have paid their debt to society." No, indeed they have not; that is only a saying.

The debt owed is far greater and more demanding than that, having done wrong, you should endure your sentence. The debt is owed by all citizens. The true debt owed is this: to love and to improve the civilization into which you are born; to defend and sustain the common peace; to preserve the Republic and its freedoms; to suppress rather than to become the unjust; and to uphold the weak.

Roosevelt understood this, and it animated him in great labors to protect the poor, to preserve the land, and to raise the Republic and her principles. A Democrat today, had he the thundering voice of TR, could hammer the Republicans on this question. This recent bankruptcy reform bill is a perfect example. Exploiting people with proven incapacity to handle easy credit is immoral, like selling whiskey to the homeless. We who are not weak have a duty to protect, in at least a minimal fashion, those who are. The government has let down this duty, and allowed immoral behavior to become even more profitable than it was before. And, as with the whiskey to the homeless, this "profit" will create costs for the Republic as well as for the homeless man.

But there is no vocabulary for discussing this among the powerful of the Democratic party. The first error lies here: It wants to speak of the rights of the poor rather than their duties, and so it is incapable of adequately condemning the weakness of those who cannot handle easy credit. It will not do to make assertions that people are poor, and can't be expected to pay their bills. That sounds like an invitation to higher taxes and welfare payouts, rather than a call to restore order so that credit companies do business fairly. The first will not move the heart of much of America; the second would.

This first error gives rise to the second error: they cannot speak of the duties of the rich with any authority if they do not address the unfulfilled duties of the poor, and so they do not do that either. Instead, they appeal to guilt: that you, doing relatively well, ought to feel bad for doing so well while these others are doing badly. But you, presumably, are doing your duty to the Republic, to your family and friends. You are the only actor in this transaction who is doing his part: the debtor is not, the creditor is not, and the politicians certainly are not. You, alone, have no reason to feel bad about this. The appeal to guilt also collapses.

Therefore there are expanding Republican majorities, with the Left scratching its head as to why these common American people don't 'vote their pocketbooks.' There is a one word answer: duty. There is a seven word answer: They feel their duty to the Republic. Roosevelt, understanding that, living it, worked wonders for the Progressives.

So very much comes back to the words: Dulce et decorum est, pro patria... We think of these words, and the feelings they inspire, usually only when pondering the great national questions. They touch them all, however, from the largest to the smallest. The divide in our nation is between those who feel that the words are "the Old Lie," and those who engrave them in stone.

Indiana Printing & Publishing Co.

Welcome Home:

I'm home. This weekend marks the first time I've ever been snowed off the road. About the time we reached the southern gap of the George Washington National Forest, the weather got so bad that there was no point in trying to continue. We ended up spending a late night at a hotel in West Virginia. The roads were clearer this morning, however, and we made the passage across the Alleghenys this morning. More on that later.

There are other homecomings this week, and while heading out I encountered one of them. I flew out with three soldiers returning from Iraq. I got to talking with them because our flight was delayed for an hour. Two were Sergeants, and the other was a Specialist.

The conversation started because I asked the older of the two sergeants about his unit heraldry. I knew the 1st Cav insignia, but not the subordinate unit insignia. I haven't been able to locate it at the Institute of Heraldry, but it is very similar to the Indiana STARC. It's apparently attached to the 1st Cav, providing aviation support. They were on a long trip home, with many stops: but this was the last.

The other sergeant came over when he saw me with his companion, and he brought a great big cardboard box with him. He nodded to my hat, and said, "Let me show you my Stetson." He had lovingly packaged the thing in plastic, built the hatbox for it, and carried it to Iraq and back separate from the rest of his gear.

You can always tell a real American man because of the love he shows for his John B. Stetson hat.

We finally got underway. Because the US Army is so very generous, these fellows were seated all the way in the back for their flight home. As a consequence, I got off the plane in Indiana before they did. I knew that the old Sarge would have family waiting, because he'd had a teddy bear tied to the outside of his bag, but they had more family than I expected.

Their whole unit, from their Major down, had come out to greet them at the airport.

We're getting close to the 17th of March, when I expect that a number of you will be out somewhere hoisting a pint or two. Most likely, there will be a band playing traditional Irish music. If they're taking requests, have them play "Gary Owen." Drink one of those pints to the good lads of 1st Cavalry, who take care of their own.

On the High Road

I'm going to be travelling for the next few days. I'm not sure how much access to a computer I will have, as I'll be enjoying the beautiful (frigid, icy and snow-bound) scenery of our nation's highways. Fortunately, I'll have my 4x4, my faithful wife and a firearm, so with any luck we'll be back in good order by the end of the weekend.

In the meantime, visit some of the links on the sidebar. And maybe Eric and Daniel will take it upon themselves to keep you entertained while I'm gone.

And don't forget Eat An Animal for PETA Day. For the first one, I invented a dish called "PETA Pie," which goes something like this:

2 squirrels, skinned and butchered
1 pound ground wild turkey breast
Venison sausage to taste
3 strips bacon
1 double-crust pie shell (either frozen or, preferably, fresh-made with cracked Red wheat flour.)

Fry bacon; crumble and reserve grease. Brown all other meats; drain. Fill pie crust with meats, crumbled bacon & bacon grease. Spice to taste, including vegetables if you must. Cover with pie crust top; crimp and brush with any remaining bacon grease. Cut three slits in the top of the pie for steam. Bake at 425 degrees until contents are bubbling through the slits at the top.


MSNBC - Interview: 'People Are More Hopeful'

On Courtesy:

I'm sure you all saw this interview with former President Bush, since Drudge linked to it. The same thing that interested him interests me:

I'll give you one example of the courtesy he showed me. There is one bedroom on that plane -- a government 757. There's a kind of VIP bedroom with its own bathroom. Then the next room has two tables and eight seats. He decided ahead of time that we want President Bush to have the front room, which was heaven for me, because if I don't stretch out, lie flat, I really hurt my body these days -- spoiled -- so anyway, he was going to have the other room. Well, he got in there and he wanted to play cards at night, and the next morning I got up and stuck my head in and I found him sound asleep on the floor of the plane. We could have switched places, each getting half a night on the bed, but he deferred to me. That was a very courteous thing, very thoughtful, and that meant a great deal to me.
I have very strong, negative opinions about some most of the policies the Clintons pursued while in office. When they were in office, I had very strong negative opinions about them, too.

With time to reflect, though, I have to say that Bill Clinton was a far better man than I thought he was. I retain a perfectly negative opinion of much of his staff, especially Ms. Reno. I know, too, that many of my readers retain a wholly negative opinion of Clinton himself.

Still, I can't help but feel a certain kinship with a poker-playing Southerner who feels it is important to give up the bed to an older gentleman, and who would never think of waking that gentleman out of his sleep halfway through the night in order to improve his own comfort. It is even more impressive when remembering that Clinton is himself a heart patient who nearly died only months ago.

Courtesy and chivalry are important components of the manly virtue of honor, and they impress me when I see them. The fact that there is so much to disagree about, the fact that I was sometimes horrified by certain actions the man took as President, the unfair and tenditious speeches he gave in favor of the recent Democratic presidential candidate, these things remain.

I think we must, though, remember the new facts too: his boldly pro-American words when speaking abroad to anti-American audiences; this kindness to an old gentleman. I salute the man for what he has done well. It is the sort of thing that means a great deal to me, too.

Michael Ledeen on Peter Malchin on National Review Online

Eulogy for the Invisible Man:

Zvika, as he was known. Ledeen isn't a big influence of mine, but I thought this was a well-written and insightful portrayal of one of the 20th century's master spies.