On every account from now to November 6 mention Obamacare.
If you want to really have fun with Democrats, add "is a tax."
“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”
“The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part.”
“The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it.”
“In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, June 28, 2012
"I absolutely reject that notion [Obamacare is a tax]."
October 2008 : Let me be the latest conservative/libertarian/whatever to leap onto the Barack Obama bandwagon. It’s a good thing my dear old mum and pup are no longer alive. They’d cut off my allowance.
Or would they? But let’s get that part out of the way. The only reason my vote would be of any interest to anyone is that my last name happens to be Buckley—a name I inherited. So in the event anyone notices or cares, the headline will be: “William F. Buckley’s Son Says He Is Pro-Obama.” [...] As for Senator Obama: He has exhibited throughout a “first-class temperament,” [...] I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. [..] Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for. So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.
-- Christopher Buckley, Sorry Dad, I'm Voting Obama
October 2008: Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal…
So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.
While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.
So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.
-- Christopher Buckley, Buckley Bows Out of National Review
October 2008: Christopher Buckley’s endorsement of Barack Obama — followed by his abrupt departure from the back page of the magazine his father founded, National Review — has caused a ripple of contempt from the conservative Right.
Nay, make that a tsunami of hostility. An avalanche of venom. A cataclysm of … well, you get the idea. People are mad. Good riddance, they say, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Let us proceed, gingerly.
I am not a passive bystander to these events. Buckley is a friend, as are other members of his family, especially Uncle Reid, with whom I have worked for several years. National Review is home to many friends, and its online editor, Kathryn Jean Lopez, kindly subscribes to my column. Like Buckley, I have enjoyed a decent fragging for suggesting that Sarah Palin excuse herself from the Republican ticket.
What gives here?
What does it mean that the right cannot politely entertain dissenting opinions within its ranks? What, if anything, does it portend that Buckley The Younger has bolted from the Right, even resigning from the family flagship?
Some have opined, ridiculously, that Buckley — son of the famous William F. Buckley (WFB) — was merely seeking attention. Christo, as family and friends call him, has written more than a dozen acclaimed books, one of which, Thank You for Smoking, became a movie. In 2004, he won the Thurber Prize for American Humor for No Way to Treat a First Lady. For 18 years he edited a magazine, Forbes Life, and otherwise seems to be doing all right.
Other critics have surmised that Buckley’s “betrayal” was a publicity stunt for his newest novel, Supreme Courtship (which I reviewed for National Review). When you’re as funny and write as well as Buckley, you don’t have to resort to stunts. You are the stunt.
So why did he do it?
Because he had to. It’s in his genes.
True believers of whatever stripe too often forget that the men and women who create movements are first and foremost radicals. Great movements are not the result of relaxing afternoons musing along the Seine but emerge from flames of passion ignited by injustice.
When WFB created the modern conservative movement, he didn’t call a neighborhood meeting and whisper, “Come along now.” He stood athwart history and yelled, “Stop!”
His son, though he customarily takes the more circuitous route to the revolution via satire, is now merely answering WFB’s original call to political activism. Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, the younger Buckley said: “I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.”
In 1955, when WFB announced his new magazine and explained the reasons for it, he described conservatives as “non-licensed nonconformists”: “Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by Liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity.”
Fast-forward half a century, and the old is the new.
Radical conservatives are still having an interesting time of it, though these days they are being mutilated by fellow “conservatives.” The well-fed Right now cultivates ignorance as a political strategy and humiliates itself when its brightest sons seek sanctuary in the solitude of personal honor.
The truth few wish to utter is that the GOP has abandoned many conservatives, who mostly nurse their angst in private. Those chickens we keep hearing about have indeed come home to roost. Years of pandering to the extreme wing — the “kooks” the senior Buckley tried to separate from the right — have created a party no longer attentive to its principles.
Instead, as Christopher Buckley pointed out in a blog post on thedailybeast.com explaining his departure from National Review, eight years of “conservatism” have brought us “a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance.”
Republicans are not short on brainpower — or pride — but they have strayed off course. They do not, in fact, deserve to win this time, and someone had to remind them why.
Christopher Buckley, ever the swashbuckling heir to his father’s defiant spirit, walked the plank so that the sinking mother ship might right itself.
No doubt his seafaring father is cheering from heaven: “Ahoy there, Christo! Well done, my son.”
--Kathleen Parker, The Buckley Son Rises
November 2008 : Bill Clinton brought jazz, Rhodes scholars, a slice of Arkansas and all-night pizza policy sessions. When George W. Bush arrived, Texans took over the town. Blue jeans were out; coats and ties and cowboy boots were in.
Now comes Barack Obama: young, hip and multicultural, with a Harvard law degree, a writer’s sensibility and a smooth left-handed jump shot — not to mention two little girls who, America learned on Tuesday night, will soon get a new puppy.
His historic election brings political and generational change to the nation, but it also brings something else: cultural change in Washington, and a sense that the city’s social fabric is about to be ripped up and restitched.
At weekend soccer games, parents wonder aloud which of the city’s exclusive private schools might win the presidential sweepstakes by enrolling Malia and Sasha. (The Obamas could, of course, go the Jimmy Carter route and enroll their daughters in public school; Michelle Obama has said privately that she did not intend to make a decision about school until after the election.)
At the Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, the Rev. Robert Maddox Jr., a onetime Carter adviser, has already sent a letter inviting the Obamas to join. “We’ve gotten word from the grapevine that they will not decide where they go to church until they get in and settled a bit,” he said. “But they will obviously be looking for a place where their girls can be involved.”
This city has had eight years of a president who goes to bed at 9 p.m.; Laura Bush, the first lady, once said that she and Mr. Bush did not come to Washington to make new friends. A big night out on the town for the Bushes is dinner at Karl Rove’s house. With the Obamas, the capital’s hostesses are hoping to get back into high gear.
Yet the Democratic establishment here is still oriented around former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Just four years ago, Obama was a senator from Illinois. After nearly two years on the campaign trail, he remains, here in Washington, an outsider, a virtual unknown.
“Is there anybody in Washington that really knows them? No,” Esther Coopersmith, who has raised millions for the Clintons and other Democrats, said of the Obamas.
“He went home every weekend, or he went campaigning and was never here, and she lived in Chicago,” she said.
So Washington is left to imagine what cultural tone the Obamas will set. Will Bruce Springsteen perform at the inaugural — or maybe Yo-Yo Ma? Will Obama make frequent use of the presidential box at the Kennedy Center? Or will the Obamas, whose idea of fun is playing board games with their daughters, be the type to stay in at night, helping the kids with their homework? Will Hollywood stars take up residence in the Lincoln Bedroom, the way they did during the Clinton years?
“He’s a cool cat,” said Christopher Buckley, the political humorist, “and I think he’s going to bring cool catness back, if it ever existed at the White House.”
March 2009: The strange thing is that one feels almost unpatriotic, entertaining negative thoughts about Mr. Obama’s grand plan, as if one were indulging in—call it—the audacity of nope. It is on the one hand clear that something must be done about our economic woes. But that is very different from saying that spending these vast, oceanic sums of money is the right corrective to a decade of fiscal incontinence. [...] He tells us that all this is going to work because the economy is going to be growing by 3.2 percent a year from now. Do you believe that? Would you take out a loan based on that? And in the three years following, he predicts that our economy will grow by 4 percent a year.
This is nothing if not audacious hope. If he’s right, then looking back, March 2009 will be the dawn of the Age of Stimulation, or whatever elegant phrase Niall Ferguson comes up with. If he turns out to be wrong, then it will look very different, the entrance ramp to the Road to Serfdom, perhaps, and he will reap the whirlwind that follows, along with the rest of us.
-- Christopher Buckley, The Audacity of Nope.
May 2012: In his recent speeches on the campaign trail and at official functions, President Obama typically touts the fact that over the past two years, the economy has created more than 4 million new jobs, with more than 1 million in the past six months alone.
At a fundraiser last month, he called this "extraordinary progress."
But the economic recovery that Obama has presided over has been far from extraordinary. It hasn't even been ordinary.
In fact, it's come in well below average on several key indicators compared with the previous 10 economic recoveries, dating back to 1949, according to an IBD analysis of various economic data.
And on several measures, the current recovery — which started five months after Obama took office and is now in its 35th month — is the worst on record since World War II.
-- Investor's Business Daily, Subpar Obama Recovery: 6.5 Million Jobs Below Average.
June 2012: Angela Rye, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus, argued that President Obama has struggled during his first term due to racially-motivated opposition from conservatives who dislike having a black president.
"This is probably the toughest presidential term in my lifetime," Rye said during CSPAN's Q&A yesterday. "I think that a lot of what the president has experienced is because he's black. You know, whether it's questioning his intellect or whether or not he's Ivy League. It's always either he's not educated enough or he's too educated; or he's too black or he's not black enough; he's too Christian or not Christian enough. There are all these things where he has to walk this very fine line to even be successful."
She said that "a lot" of conservative opposition is racially-charged, citing the use of the word "cool" in an attack ad launched by Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS superPAC.
"There's an ad, talking about [how] the president is too cool, [asking] is he too cool? And there's this music that reminds me of, you know, some of the blaxploitation films from the 70s playing in the background, him with his sunglasses," Rye said. "And to me it was just very racially-charged. They weren't asking if Bush was too cool, but, yet, people say that that's the number one person they'd love to have a beer with. So, if that's not cool I dont know what is.
She added that "even 'cool,' the term 'cool,' could in some ways be deemed racial [in this instance]."
Dear Pup once said to me, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.”
--Christopher Buckley, Sorry Dad, I'm Voting Obama
In death WFB is still separating the Right from the kooks. This time his kooky son. Thanks WFB.
Forget the ridiculous "Republican-War-On-Women" turn your eyes to the real war on one woman, our First Lady...
As you listen to the anhcorwoman's defense, recall Obama's "scripted speech" last week and, "transcripts aside" him not being blindedsided by "Polish death camps."
John Favreau (pictured w/Hillary's breast), Director of Speechwriting for President Barack Obama.
...First to fight for special rights,
And to tear down the Nation’s might,
And Obama's Army Goes Bawling Along
Proud of all we haven't done,
Sobbing till Obama has won,
And Obama's Army Goes Bawling Along...
Compare Obama's boys with the boys of Pont Du Hoc,
"...the men who took the cliffs...the best damn kids in thw world...the product of the freeest society the world has ever known..."
One of the greatest moments in the history of faith was also one of the greatest moments in modern political history. It happened in June 1979.
Just eight months before, after dusk on Oct. 16, 1978, a cardinal had stepped out onto the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica to say those towering, august words, "Habemus papem'—We have a pope." The cardinal pronounced the new pontiff’s name in Latin. Not everyone understood or could hear him, and the name sounded odd. For 456 years the church had been electing Italian popes. This didn’t sound Italian. The crowd was perplexed.
Then the new pope came out—burly, light-haired, broad cheekbones. He looked Slavic. He looked like a Pole! It was Karol Wojtylwa, the cardinal from Krakow. It was a breakthrough choice—so unexpected and unprecedented—and you knew as you watched that a whole new world was beginning. This was a former manual laborer who wore brown scruffy shoes, who was young (58) and vibrant (a hiker and kayaker). He was a writer, an intellectual who’d come up during the heroic era of the European priesthood, when to be a priest in a communist-controlled nation was to put not only your freedom at risk but your life.
Poland went wild with joy; Krakow took to the streets. The reaction was world-wide. They had vigils in the Polish neighborhoods of Chicago, and block parties in Boston.
And here is the great moment of faith that became a great moment of history. John Paul II, naturally, wanted to return as pope to visit his homeland. This put the communist government in Warsaw in a bind. If they didn’t invite him, they’d look defensive and weak. If they did, he might spark an uprising that would trigger a Soviet invasion.
They invited John Paul to come on a "religious pilgrimage." On June 2, 1979, he arrived at an airport outside Warsaw, walked down the steps of the plane, and kissed the tarmac. The government feared tens of thousands would line the streets for the motorcade into town.
More than a million came.
In a mass in the Old City, John Paul gave a great sermon. Why, he asked, had God lifted a Pole to the papacy? Why had Poland suffered for centuries under political oppression? Perhaps because Poland is "the land of a particularly responsible witness." The Poles had been chosen to give witness, with humility, to the cross and the Resurrection. He asked the crowd if they accepted such an obligation.
“We want God," they roared. "We want God!" This from a nation occupied by an atheist state.
John Paul said the great work of God is man, and the great redeemer of man is Christ. Therefore, "Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude. . . . The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man!"
It was brilliant. He wasn’t asking for a revolution or an uprising, he wasn’t directly challenging the government. He just pointed out that God himself sees one unity in Europe, not an East and a West divided but one continent. And so must we all.
But it was what happened a week later, at the Blonie field outside Krakow, that led directly to 1989, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was the event that made political history.
It was June 10, near the end of the trip. Everyone was tired. There was to be a last outdoor mass. The government had not allowed it to be publicized. But words spread, and two million people came, maybe three million. It was the biggest gathering in Polish history. Here John Paul took on communism more directly. He exhorted the crowd to receive the Holy Spirit. "I speak . . . for St. Paul: Do not quench the Spirit. . . . I speak again for St. Paul: Do not grieve the Spirit of God!"
“You must be strong, my brothers and sisters. You must be strong with the strength that faith gives. . . . You need this strength today more than any other period in our history. . . . You must be strong with love, which is stronger than death. . . . Never lose your spiritual freedom."
The mass was stirring, with crowds saying, again, "We want God!" But here is the thing. Everyone at that mass went home and put on state-controlled television to see the coverage of the great event. They knew millions had been there, they knew what was said, they knew everyone there was part of a spiritual uprising. But state-run TV had nothing. State-run TV had a few people in the mud and a picture of the pope.
Everyone looked at the propaganda of the state, at its lack of truthfulness and its disrespect for reality, and they thought: It’s all lies. Everything the government says is a lie. The government itself is a lie.
The Solidarity movement took on new power. The Communist Party lost authority; the Polish government in time tottered, and by 1989 the Soviet Union itself was tottering.
Twenty-three years later, in an interview, the Solidarity leader Lech Walessa told me of how John Paul galvanized the movement for freedom: "We knew . . . communism could not be reformed. But we knew the minute he touched the foundations of communism, it would collapse.”
-- Peggy Noonan, 2011
In a move as surprising as it is significant, Pope Benedict announced at today’s closing of the Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan that Philadelphia will host the next edition of the gathering in 2015.
"God willing," the pontiff added his intent to travel for the event, saying that he "look[s] forward to meeting... the Catholics of that great city" then, "along with numerous families from all around the world."
Today's announcement marks the first time the Meeting will be held in the US church. Since its debut in 1994, only once has a papal visit previously been part of a prior Family Meeting held outside of Europe -- at the 1997 event, held in Rio de Janiero.
The gathering's host city is personally selected by the Pope from a shortlist presented by the event's coordinating dicastery, the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Coming amid a scene of epic turbulence for the Northeastern fold, the choice solidifies a Vatican trend under Benedict of employing major church events as a boost for once-proud Catholic bastions which have fallen on challenging times. [...]
The Meeting would be the largest church event to be held in Philadelphia since the October 1979 visit of now-Blessed John Paul II, when a million people thronged the Ben Franklin Parkway for a Papal Mass on Logan Square -- a crowd that, at the time, was said to be the largest in the city's history. Three years earlier, the city hosted the 41st International Eucharistic Congress, given to the US to commemorate the bicentennial of the nation's independence, which climaxed in the Statio Orbis Mass for over 100,000 in the since-demolished JFK Stadium, with President Gerald Ford in attendance. [...]
Before today’s announcement, a World Meeting of Families had never been awarded to a country where Catholics don’t comprise a majority of the population. [...]
The Pope's selection of a US city to host the next Meeting comes just weeks after Benedict made the state of marriage and family life the focus of one of his five major speeches to the nation's bishops on their now-concluded ad limina visit to Rome.
-- Rocco DiPalma
Nothing guarantees that America’s experiment in religious freedom, as we traditionally know it, will survive here in the United States, let alone serve as a model for other countries in the future,
-- Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia.
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement:
May 9, 2012
President Obama’s comments today in support of the redefinition of marriage are deeply saddening. As I stated in my public letter to the President on September 20, 2011, the Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by the President and the Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. However, we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better. Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his Administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage. I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons.
..."the cradle of Catholicism in the cradle of Liberty"...
The two Saints of Philadelphia
Saint Katharine Drexel, patron saint of racial justice, founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Black and Native American peoples. Using her private fortune, she and her sisters opened schools and colleges for Native and African Americans. The new Archbishop of Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput, is a direct desendent of St. Louis IX on his father side is a member of the Potawatomi tribe though his mother. His Potawatomi name is "the wind that rustles the leaves of the tree" and his Sioux name is "good eagle" He is the second Native American Bishop and first Native American Archbishop.
Saint John Neumann was the founder of Catholic education in America. As Bishop of Philadelphia he organized the first diocesan school system.
Lech Walesa, 2 days ago:
The storm over US President Barack Obama’s label “Polish camp” for a Nazi German Holocaust site is an ideal moment to halt lies about the Holocaust, Poland’s ex-leader Lech Walesa said Wednesday.
“This is a golden occasion to end this once and for all. Let’s use this chance to stop this from happening again around the world,” the communist-era dissident leader who later served as Poland’s president told the rolling news channel TNV24.
President Obama, this morning:
WARSAW, Poland — President Barack Obama has written a letter to the Polish president expressing “regret” for an inadvertent verbal gaffe that caused a storm of controversy in Poland this week.
“In referring to ‘a Polish death camp’ rather than ‘a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland,’ I inadvertently used a phrase that has caused many Poles anguish over the years and that Poland has rightly campaigned to eliminate from public discourse around the world,” Obama wrote. “I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth.”
“The events of the past few days and the U.S. president’s reply may, in my opinion, mark a very important moment in the struggle for historical truth,” President Bronislaw Komorowski told reporters.
This is not how Obama wanted this to end. Not that it is ending. It's not ending because of Lech, or even Poland. It's not ending because of Obama and his freedom destroying policies. Watch and read on while mulling the already "crushed hopes" of Obama's presidency...
President Obama Shuns Lech Walesa
The Polish Solidarity leader is “too political” for the administration.
Lech Walesa was once a trade-union activist. He was often arrested for speaking his mind against Communist oppression behind the Iron Curtain in Poland and for defying the Soviet Union. He was an electrician who, with no higher education, led one of the most profound freedom movements of the 20th century — Solidarity. He became president of Poland and swept in reforms, pushing the Soviet Union out of his homeland and moving the country toward a free-market economy and individual liberty. And President Obama doesn’t want him to set foot in the White House.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Polish officials requested that Walesa accept the Medal of Freedom on behalf of Jan Karski, a member of the Polish Underground during World War II who was being honored posthumously this week. The request makes sense. Walesa and Karski shared a burning desire to rid Poland of tyrannical subjugation. But President Obama said no.
Administration officials told the Journal that Walesa is too “political.” A man who was arrested by Soviet officials for dissenting against the government for being “political” is being shunned by the United States of America for the same reason 30 years later.
Meanwhile, one of the recipients of the Medal was Dolores Huerta, the honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. So socialist politics are acceptable, but not the politics of a man who stood up and fought socialism.
This revelation follows an eruption of outrage in Poland after President Obama referred in his remarks at the Medal of Freedom ceremony to “Polish death camps,” a phrase that Poles have battled since the end of the Cold War. The phrase suggests that Poles were complicit in Nazi concentration camps, which of course is not the case. In fact, Poles were exterminated in the camps.
The White House’s flippant response to the uproar caused the Polish president and prime minister to demand more thoughtful and personal reactions. But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president has no plans to reach out to his Polish counterparts and has shrugged off the outrage in Poland.
Few observers are suggesting that President Obama’s written remarks noting “Polish death camps” were intentionally malicious. The comment was more likely a result of historical ignorance and careless inattention. This is the same ignorance and carelessness that would cause a president to turn away Lech Walesa and label him as “too political.”
Ironically, Lech Walesa shares a distinction with President Obama: They both won Nobel Peace Prizes. Walesa earned his in 1983 after years of fighting for peace and freedom, and being monitored, harassed, and jailed for it. President Obama received his award in 2009. Some may think that this would be enough of a bond for President Obama to set aside political differences for the greater good. But instead, President Obama treated Walesa the same way he treated the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who was ushered out the White House kitchen past piles of garbage in 2010.
The likelihood is that President Obama didn’t want Walesa in the White House because Walesa has made critical remarks toward the president’s policies and in 2010 warned that the United States was slipping toward socialism. But rather than taking the mature and diplomatic path and respecting Walesa’s right to have a differing perspective, Obama chose to shun his lifetime of achievements.
Congratulating Walesa on his Nobel Prize in 1983, President Ronald Reagan said: “For too long, the Polish government has tried to make Lech Walesa a non-person and destroy the free trade-union movement that he helped to create in Poland. But no government can destroy the hopes that burn in the hearts of a people. The people of Poland have shown in their support of Solidarity, just as they showed in their support of His Holiness Pope John Paul II during his visit to Poland, that the government of that nation cannot make Lech Walesa a non-person, and they can’t turn his ideas into non-ideas.”
The White House should not treat President Walesa as a non-person, and they cannot turn his ideas into non-ideas
Blessed John Paul II loved the Christmas season. Guests in the papal apartment during his pontificate found the seasonal decorations up early in Advent; and, following Polish custom, they stayed up until Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The Christmas meal was traditionally Polish. Every year, John Paul would call his lay friends in Cracow, all assembled in one apartment, and they would sing Polish carols together for hours, over the phone.
Thirty years ago, however, the season took on a more somber tone. For on the night of Dec. 12-13, 1981, the Polish state, through the Polish army, invaded Polish society and imposed martial law throughout the country. There was no provision for martial law in Poland’s communist legal code, so what the Jaruzelski regime declared was, technically, a “state of war.” It was a fitting phrase, if unintentionally ironic.
On Christmas Eve, John Paul II placed a lighted candle in the window of the papal apartment, a gesture of solidarity with an international initiative begun in Switzerland by two clergyman, to protest the communist attempt to crush the Solidarity movement. The papal World Day of Peace Message for Jan. 1, 1982, condemned “the false peace of totalitarian regimes” and at the Angelus that day, the Pope asked everyone to pray for Poland, for what was at stake there was of great importance, “not only for a single country, but for the history of man.”
With the benefit of 30 years of hindsight, it now seems clear that the imposition of martial law in Poland in December 1981 was not an act of strength but one of weakness, by a regime so incapable of commanding the allegiance of those in whose name it claimed to rule that it could only compel obedience by violence. It took some time for this to become clear in Poland, a country frequently burdened by crushed hopes; John Paul’s second pastoral pilgrimage to his homeland, in June 1983, did a lot to raise the spirits of his countrymen—who rallied their energies such that, by 1987, the Pope could spend his third pilgrimage home laying the cultural and moral foundations for a post-communist Poland, which was born two years later in the Revolution of 1989.
Two days after the imposition of the “state of war,” President Ronald Reagan hosted a lunch at the White House for the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. As I report in The End and the Beginning, it was Cardinal Casaroli who, over the course of a 90-minute discussion, took the Realpolitik view: however unfortunate martial law might be, there were likely reasons of state that compelled General Wojciech Jaruzelski, concerned about a possible Soviet invasion to crush Solidarity beneath Red Army tank treads, to behave as he did. And it was Ronald Reagan who, speaking in the tones of John Paul II, was the voice of moral outrage over this latest usurpation of Polish liberties. As the historical record now makes clear, John Paul and Reagan had it right, and the veteran Vatican diplomat had it wrong: there was no invasion threat in December 1981 (although there had been one in December 1980); the Jaruzelski regime was a hollow, if brutal, shell; the power of moral conviction, aroused, could be an effective antidote to communist tyranny, forging hitherto unimagined and effective tools of resistance; there was nothing permanent about the post-Yalta division of Europe.
The lessons, 30 years later? Solidarity’s triumph ought not be universalized as a one-size-fits-all model for coping with tyrants. Still, John Paul II’s instinct for reading history through cultural lenses has much to commend it. Politics and economics are important. What drives history over the long haul, however, is culture: what men and women cherish, honor, and worship; what men and women are willing to stake their lives, and their children’s lives, on.
The truest realism, therefore, is one shaped by truths and ideals, not only by calculations of power. If you doubt that, ask General Jaruzelski.
Let Poland Be Poland
From the depths of history, from murky lands,
From eternal forests, fields, and steppes.
Our people, our beginning,
From Piast, Krak, and Lech.
A long chain of human beings
United by a simple thought:
That Poland, that Poland,
That Poland be Poland.
When an unknown fate
Scattered us to the corners of the earth.
When foreign winds chased
Foreign eagles on banners.
At the hearth there would burst out
an overwhelming and familiar note:
That Poland, that Poland,
That Poland be Poland.
A pupil threw down a portrait of the czar,
Father Sciegienny offered his prayers
Drzymala fixed up his wagon,
Norwid wrote proud verses.
And whoever could hold a sword
would organize army legions
That Poland, that Poland
That Poland be Poland.
Mothers, wives, in dark huts
Would sew on banners
The slogan: `Honor and the Fatherland'
And faith would set forth into the field (of battle)
And faith would set forth into the field
From Chicago to Tobolsk
That Poland, that Poland
That Poland be Poland.
That America be America, honor Lech Walesa in the White House, let the free be free, let Catholics be Catholic....