Many have commented on Tuesday's front page New York Times headline: "Growing Number in U.S. Back War, Survey Finds." The accompanying article reports what anyone would expect who had been following the clown show du jour of the Cirque de Chirac: "Americans are growing impatient with the United Nations and say they would support military action against Iraq even if the Security Council refuses to support an invasion, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll." The only worry is whether the American people will be too ashamed to participate in any war that is sanctioned by the United Nations and joined by the French.
But no one has commented on the related headline: "Drug Can Limit Peanut Allergy, Easing Big Fear." The Big Fear that palpably eased at this news was the fear that the world's most loquacious unemployed peanut farmer would continue his incessant global sermonizing. Now that millions more Americans will be able to load up their morning toast with super chunky goodness, hope is dawning that former president James Earl "Jimmy" Carter will return to his peanut farm, where profits will be shooting through the roof, if they are not restricted by a U.N. arms control resolution.
"Jimmy," as he insists on being called, has apparently been inebriated with sanctimony at least since 1976, when he articulated for Playboy magazine the vision that has animated him ever since: "I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will doand I have done itand God forgives me for it."
I remember thinking at the time that a man who talks like that will cause a lot of trouble in the world as president. But in that analysis I missed something essential; I overlooked a factor in political affairs on which destiny often pivots. I failed to realize that it is not merely what presidents say or do that greases the hinge of fateit is what they wear. As my good friend Nicholas Antongiavanni makes stunningly clear in the recent Claremont Review of Books, you knew "Jimmy" and all in his vicinity would come to ruin when he "addressed the American people from the Oval Office in a sweater."
Click to read Antongiavanni's essay, "Of the Difference Between Formality and Dandification."
The Spring 2003 issue of the Claremont Review of Books is available now at newsstands and bookstores around the country. If your local bookseller doesn't carry the Claremont Review of Books, please ask for it.