Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

There was an op-ed by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal today entitled "A God of the Copybook Headings" in which the Author discussed Wall Street Journal editor George Melloan:
[A]s George Melloan reminds us in "The Great Money Binge: Spending Our Way to Socialism," just as bad ideas never quite go out of fashion, neither do good ones. Readers looking for an antidote to this season's political gloom will find more than the full dose in this splendid book.
Mr. Melloan was, of course, the writer of this column for many years, one of the labors in a career at the Journal that spanned 54 years as a reporter, editor and commentator. Among the benefits of a long career is a long memory and an imperviousness to intellectual fads. In Kipling's terms, he is one of the Gods of the Copybook Headings—the unfashionable keepers of hard truths about which we must occasionally be reminded.
In Kipling's day, a copybook was a book which students used to practice penmanship.  The book comprised a series of blank, usually lined pages each of which was headed by a maxim or proverb that the student was expected to copy.  The maxims and proverbs preached common sense and reality.

The current unreal behavior of the politicians in Washington has sparked a number of commentaries referring to and quoting the poem.

This from Lisa Shifferin, writing for the National Review Online:
Alas, I seem to have dour temperament of a liberal to go with conservative convictions. So from me you get Rudyard Kipling, explaining here why, even if we lose today, even if our worst fears of impending socialism and apocalyptic doom descend upon the land of the free, the eternal realities of life will bring us back to basics.
 And from NRO's John Derbyshire, "Reality doesn't go away just because you stop believing in it."

Please enjoy the poem, linked here, and take comfort in the inevitable truth that if you ignore reality, the truth will come back to bite you.

No comments: