September 27, 2006, 2:40 a.m.
An incredible performance, &c.

By Jay Nordlinger

I know I’m late to the Clinton party, but let me just say a few words about that remarkable interview on Fox News.

First of all, you know that the interviewer, Chris Wallace, touched a very, very sore spot. Second, I was amazed at how frequently the ex-president used the words “right-wing” and “conservative” and “Republican”: “right-wing conservative Republican” and so on. He wasn’t talking like the New Democrat he is; he sounded more like a college Marxist.

And did you hear him go on about how right-wingers and conservatives and “neocons” accused him of doing “too much” to combat terror? I don’t remember that, in the least — do you?

I mean, I criticized President Clinton for many things, over lots of articles. I’m fairly sure I never faulted him for being too keen on stopping terrorists. Indeed, all of my colleagues and I complained that he was lazy on the subject: After our men were killed at Khobar Towers — what happened?

Then there was Clinton’s conspiracy-mindedness. The New Democrat sounded like Michael Moore, talking about how Wallace was trying to distract viewers from the fact that Rupert Murdoch is hot on global warming.

Did you hear that? I thought that this legendarily brainy man had gone cuckoo. But the Democratic party has been like that, since about the election of George W. Bush. Recall how many of their leading figures — Daschle, McAuliffe, et al. — attended the Washington premiere of Moore’s movie.

Finally, Clinton didn’t really comport himself much like a democratic politician. I have noticed that at Davos, too. Clinton goes around like a king, more than like a democrat, shielded from anything unpleasant, not facing any disagreement. I imagine he hadn’t been put in an uncomfortable position in a long, long time.

And democratic politicians are supposed to be masters of this — piece o’ cake, no big deal, goes with the territory. I mean, does a conservative throw a fit every time George Stephanopoulos asks something challenging?

Oh, one last thing: Sandy Berger might try to slide the Clinton terror record down his pants. But the rest of the world, while focused steadily on the present and future, should not forget. Otherwise, learning, for one thing, is more difficult.

I see that Mel Gibson has gone hard against the Iraq War. Well, that’s one way to atone! Maybe Hollywood will embrace him again. I can only wish him well.

Actually, I can’t — not with that tack.

Speaking of Jewish affairs (or something): Given how foolish and clueless Senator Allen has been in his campaign — are we sure he’s Jewish? And if so — will they try to give him back?

A lot of people aren’t happy with Condoleezza Rice, in part because she draws on civil rights to discuss the Middle East. The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson devoted a column to venting his spleen on the matter. You may wish to read it, here.

Among many other astounding things, Robinson wrote, “[D]uring the civil rights era, the terrorism was of the kind we would now call ‘state-sponsored.’ It was of the powerful over the powerless, not the other way around.”

Excuse me? What power do today’s terror victims have over the terrorists who terrorize them? Besides which, there is plenty of state-sponsored terrorism about: from Tehran, for example, and Damascus.

Further, Robinson wrote, “[Rice] makes it sound as if those who disagree with the administration are standing in the schoolhouse door. But no one wants to deny Iraqis or anyone else the chance to practice democracy. The question is whether democracy should, or can, be imposed at the point of a gun.”

And who has used the gun against the Iraqi people? The terrorists. The people go to the polls, to dip their fingers purple, and the terrorists do their best to kill them. It is the terrorists, not we or our allies, who seek to impose rule by the gun — and the rule they would impose is far from democratic.

Am I wrong to think it amazing that any of this should have to be stated?

Last week, “the House voted to require Americans to show proof of citizenship in order to vote.” I’m quoting from an AP story, found here.

“Republican sponsors of the voter identification bill said it was a commonsense way to stop fraud at the polls. People need photo IDs to board planes, buy alcohol or cash checks, said Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Administration Committee. ‘This is not a new concept.’”

But here we go: “Democrats assailed the legislation, saying it could hurt minorities, the poor and the elderly — groups that tend to vote Democratic — who might have trouble producing a photo identification.”

Steny Hoyer, a Democratic House leader, said, “This bill is tantamount to a 21st-century poll tax. It will disenfranchise large numbers of legal voters.”

I will ask an old, old question, repeated many times in this column: Why do blacks, Hispanics, and others never take offense at this talk — at these accusations? Or do they?

They are repeatedly told that, for example, they are unable to produce an ID — or that they are less able to do so than their white neighbors. I long to hear someone — lots of someones — say, “Hey, wait a minute! How dare you say that about me! Like I can’t show an ID just as well as somebody else?”

You would think that politicians such as Steny Hoyer would be rebuked and condemned. Instead, they are the darlings of every liberal group. Amazing.

And ponder this, for a moment: A man who thinks that requiring a voter to show ID is equivalent to the poll tax is a leader of the U.S. Congress.

Just think of that.

Here’s a headline that’s somewhat eye-rubbing to see: “U.S., Libyan Diplomats Celebrate Ties.” (It was in the news about four days ago.) For anyone who came of age during the Reagan ’80s, when Qaddafi was almost Public Enemy #1 — changed times, indeed.

You may have seen the story concerning the Deutsche Oper of Berlin. They canceled a production of Idomeneo because it featured the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad.

It seems that the company feared violence from offended Christians and Buddhists. Oh, no, wait . . .

On the subject of opera: For my review of Opening Night at the Met, published in the New York Sun, go here. The opera was Madama Butterfly, in a production by Anthony Minghella, the film guy.

For a review of Opening Night at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, go here. For a piece on a memorial tribute to Anna Moffo, the Italian-American diva, go here.

And for records in review, go here. Under consideration are a new recording of Porgy and Bess; an album of Glazunov; and oldies-but-goodies from Mstislav Rostropovich, Heinrich Schiff, Bernard Haitink, etc.

Would you like a society — a celebrity — note on Opening Night at the Met? Okay. Saw Jude Law and Sienna Miller. Sienna is . . . a starlet. Jude is . . . damn, is he skinny. I mean, really, really skinny. Makes Paris Hilton look like a sumo wrestler. Tiny, tiny guy. Not ugly, though, by any means.

Also, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Susan Sarandon is a classically beautiful woman, if you can forget the Chomskyite politics — and even if you can’t.

I’m told that Sean Connery was there, and that I looked right past him. Saw Salman Rushdie, though.

And I saw several of my friends, who may not be bold-faced names to the world, but who are bold-faced to those who know them. (Aw . . .)

Did you see the interview piece with Secretary Rumsfeld on Monday’s NRO? It is here. We talked about a great many things, from Iraq to Iran to American politics to “Star Wars.” Check it out.

Finally, thanks to all who attended the NR fundraiser in San Francisco — it was last Friday — and, especially, to our hosts, the Davises. A fine time was had by all, and Jonah Goldberg was never cuter, gigglier, or smarter. All the other NR-niks were great as well.

While having dinner, I met a woman who told a most interesting story. It had to do with her Republicanness.

When she was in sixth grade, Wendell Willkie came to town, campaigning. And someone threw a rotten tomato — which hit Mrs. Willkie.

Then and there, the NR guest decided that she would never vote for a Democrat. And she kept that pledge (with two exceptions).

Her daughter-in-law had interesting stories, too. This woman was so bold — so brave, so independent-minded — that, in the bolshie Bay Area, she supported Richard Nixon. Yup, she drove to school with a Nixon Now sticker on her Cougar.