Happiness is a German pope succeeding the greatest pope ever, a Pole. Not everyone agrees with me. Blogger Andrew Sullivan, a Brit expatriate and gay-rights advocate, called it a ‘full-scale assault’ on liberal Catholics. If he is a typical liberal Catholic, he has just doubled my joy at Benedict XVI’s election. Fifty years ago, secular liberals predicted that education and science would do away with the opium of the people. They were as wrong about the power of faith as they’ve been wrong about everything else. An hysterical Irish–American, Maureen Dowd, writing in the Big Bagel Times, described the new pope as a hatchet-faced bully, a Cardinal No, a Vatican Darth Vader. Dowd should be excused. She was traumatised early on when Gabby Hayes (the dirty old mumbling drunk of old cowboy films) turned her advances down, as did, later on, the smooth Adolph Menjou, not to mention Boris Karloff. Good old Tina Brown, another Brit trying to pass herself off as a woman of importance over here, never disappoints. The new pope reminded her of Ratso Rizzo, the character played by Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy. How trendy and superficial. How vulgar and typical of the celebrity-obsessed Brown. Whom would she have preferred? Harvey Weinstein? I wouldn’t bet against it.
It took the wonderful Anne Applebaum, a serious writer, unlike the shallow and jumped-up buffoons mentioned above, to pinpoint why the election of Cardinal Ratzinger is a very good thing. The cardinals showed that, despite Europe’s terminal secular disease, they have not given up on the continent in which the papacy was born. I, for one, am delighted. A conservative pope is what the sick continent needs, not some trendy cardinal from America or the Far East. We are in a spiritual decline and Rome has decided to make a stand. Gay marriage, drugs, free-speech rights for Man–Boy Love Association, late abortion on demand, light sentences for violent criminals, compassion for brutal murderers, punishment for any official allowing the Ten Commandments in a court room, no public displays of the baby Jesus at Christmas, free pornography on the internet — it has got to stop somewhere, and the stopping begins in Rome. Hooray for Benedict XVI. Down with the secular scum of Brussels for their decision to eject God from their proposed constitution.
Incidentally, my young son, who is painting in Rome from the Palazzo Corsini and in hot pursuit of Roman sweetie-pies, attended both the funeral and inauguration and came away inspired and invigorated. If only the low-lifes who rule us had his faith. (And his looks.)
And speaking of faith, it’s surely shaken when an innocent woman like Abigail Witchalls is attacked and butchered with a knife in the safest corner of the safest county in England. Blair and his butler John Prescott — the world’s dumbest and most inarticulate servant — tell us crime is falling as a young mother lies near death. Every day, new horrors are unleashed on innocent English people, and still Labour will win big time. The Liberal Democrats couldn’t govern Monte Carlo, and the Tories are divided, petty and selfish. But it takes a truly cynical and degenerate people to vote for a man and a party whom even the Albanians would have thrown out for dishonesty after one term.
Never mind. With a crass, malicious and stunningly shallow press, what is an Englishman or Englishwoman supposed to do? Like Diogenes go looking for an honest man who is running for office? Fuggeraboutit, as they say in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, as well as in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Which brings me to the bad news. Thirty years ago this weekend, Saigon fell to the invading North Vietnamese troops. It was Uncle Sam’s first and only defeat. When Henry Kissinger and President Nixon signed the peace treaty with the North in 1973, American advisers and troops pulled out to the last man from that unhappy land, but not Ho’s boys. The South had enclaves of North Vietnamese troops, as well as Viet Cong strongholds. Ambassador Graham Martin kept assuring President Thieu that American air power would return the moment the North broke the treaty, which the North did almost immediately. But President Nixon had by then resigned over Watergate — a truly third-rate break-in, which was used by the Democrats in Congress for political purposes — and his successor was impotent to help. It was not America’s finest hour. Uncle Sam lost close to 60,000 dead and 300,000 wounded in ten years of war, while the Vietnamese losses in total were close to 3 million dead. Still, no amount of blood can ever wash away the shame of America’s refusal to help a loyal ally. The Frank Churches, Lowell Weickers and Jane Fondas of that terrible time cheered while millions of our allies were sent to concentration camps. I remember it as if it were yesterday and have never trusted Uncle Sam since.