Skip to content

Sixty years is a long, long time in poetry: From Robert Frost’s “the land was ours before we were the land’s” to Amanda Gorman’s “what just is isn’t always just-ice”

Photo: John Minchillo, Associated Press

Sixty years of inaugural-poem history:

Robert Frost, “The Gift,” inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961:

The land was ours before we were the land’s

She was our land more than a hundred years

Before we were her people. She was ours

In Massachusetts, in Virginia,

But we were England’s, still colonials,

Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,

Possessed by what we now no more possessed.

Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” inauguration of President Joe Biden, January 20, 2021:

When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry, a sea we must wade

We’ve braved the belly of the beast

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace

And the norms and notions of what just is

Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it

Somehow we do it

Robert Frost, “The Gift,” inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961:

Something we were withholding made us weak

Until we found out that it was ourselves

We were withholding from our land of living

And forthwith found salvation in surrender.

Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” inauguration of President Joe Biden, January 20, 2021:

But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy

and change our children’s birthright

So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

Robert Frost, “The Gift,” inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961:

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright

(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)

To the land vaguely realizing westward,

But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,

Such as she was, such as she will become.

Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” inauguration of President Joe Biden, January 20, 1961:

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

Sixty years is a long, time in poetry.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

We have a new president!

PHOTO: Barbed wire is installed on the top of a security fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2021, ahead of the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden on Jan. 20.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty ImagesAndrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Guess the jelly beans: What will President Joe’s very, very firstest official action be? Keystone Pipeline kibosh? Boys in the girls’ bathroom? Paris climate? Making everyone wear a mask?

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 06: Democratic vice presidential candidate, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walks on stage during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC, which concludes today, nominated U.S. President Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Photo: Chip Smodevilla/Getty Images

Incoming Democratic President Joe Biden campaigned for months promising all kinds of stuff he plans to do on “Day One” of his brand-new administration. But what will he do first when he sits down at the Resolute Desk with that pen on Jan. 21?

Cancel the Keystone Pipeline?

Let biological males use the girls’ bathrooms in public schools?

Rejoin the Paris “climate accords”?

Freeze the border wall?

End the “Muslim travel ban” so “visitors” from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen can come and live here?

Issue that “national mask mandate” he’s been talking about?

Readers, it’s up to you to guess the very firstest thing Joe Biden will do. Day One is tomorrow!

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for Law & Liberty: “A Promised Land”–a presidential memoir written by and for those who can’t get enough of President Barack Obama

Barack Obama in a striped shirt and suit jacket, smiling.
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

From my latest for Law & Liberty:

The only topic on which Obama displays what he undoubtedly considers becoming modesty is his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009, nine months into his presidency. The prize seemed to be a reward to Obama for not being George W. Bush. And indeed, by October 2009 (and also on many pages of this book) the jet-hopping Obama has already fulsomely displayed his enthusiasm for the “United Nations and other international institutions” dear to the hearts of the Nobel Committee and globalists everywhere. So he summons the press to the Rose Garden and gives a little speech: “I didn’t feel I deserved to be in the company of those transformative figures who’d been honored in the past. Instead I saw the prize as a call to action…to give momentum to causes for which American leadership was vital: reducing the threats of nuclear weapons and climate change; shrinking economic inequality; upholding human rights; and bridging the racial, ethnic, and religious divides that so often fed conflict.” Ah.

In the service of such self-glorification no amount of hindsight-prompted truth-bending seems to strike Obama as too extreme. At the 2004 Democratic convention he had memorably declared, “There is not a black America, a white America, a Latino America, an Asian America. There’s the United States of America.” The speech fastened the spotlight on him as the man who could become the first African-American president, with a forthright promise of post-racial healing. But this is 2021, not 2004, and post-racial healing is out of style in this new era of Black Lives Matter and white-privilege hectoring. So Obama retcons the line as “more a statement of aspiration than a description of reality.” In a similar revisionist spirit he claims to have supported gay marriage (“marriage equality”) as early as 2010, even though it wasn’t until 2012, with his finger to the wind, that he jettisoned his 2008 campaign position that marriage was between a man and a woman. And it’s amusing to see Obama retroactively adding a “Q” to “LGBT” years before that fifth letter became commonplace in woke circles.

One of the surprises in reading A Promised Land is noticing that, aside from Dodd-Frank and Obamacare, the latter pushed through Congress by a parliamentary maneuver that left its 20,000 pages of legislation unread by nearly everyone who voted for it, very few of Obama’s touted progressive initiatives either became realities or worked out well if they did. The stimulus package did little to relieve the Great Recession, with billions of dollars frittered away on infrastructure projects that never came to pass and loans to financially rickety solar startups such as Solyndra. An ambitious carbon-capping bill died in the Senate, as did a DREAM bill designed to make citizens out of illegal-immigrant children. Obama might have thought that to be young in Tahrir Square was very heaven, but his obvious ignorance of Islamic-world politics led to his calamitous withdrawal of support for erstwhile American ally Hosni Mubarak, which alienated both Israel and other Arab governments and shoved Egypt under the thumb of the Muslim Brotherhood once Mubarak was gone.

There were other strategic and political disasters in the name of Obama’s airy notions about human rights in and for the Dar al-Islam: the Libyan debacle, massive new troop deployments in Afghanistan, and proposals to close Guantanamo, try 9/11 terrorists in civilian courts, and build the Ground Zero mosque. This is not even to mention his Cairo speech in June 2009, where he compared Palestinians to American blacks who had suffered slavery and segregation, and the Palestinian cause to the American civil rights movement. Israel comes in for quite the thrashing in A Promised Land: seven pages of denunciations of its “continued occupation of Palestinian territories…a violation of international law,” and its “hardened” attitude toward peace talks—coupled with some chin-pulling about the Holocaust to show how even-handed he is.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

What’s your favorite piece in Kamala Harris’s Vogue-cover wardrobe: the rolled pants? the Converse All-Stars? the Sandra Dee flip hairdo?

Image may contain Kamala Harris Clothing Apparel Human Person Footwear Shoe Coat and Jacket

Photo: Tyler Mitchell, Vogue

What’s not to love about Dem Veep-elect Kamala Harris’s very first puff-piece photo shoot–on the February 2021 cover of Vogue? So I’m asking you, dear readers, what’s your favoritest piece in her wardrobe, which as Vogue says, she picked out on her very own:

Shot by Tyler Mitchell, the [photo] reflects Harris at her casual best: Converse sneakers and Donald Deal blazer—styling choices that were her own—and a bright smile.

I myself can’t decide between the Converse Chuck Taylors and the rolled-up, wrinkles-at-the knee pants that do wonders for Kamala’s hips. But there’s also:

— That too-tight, won’t-button Donald Deal hipster jacket! After all, something like 95 percent of skinny Brooklyn hipsters voted for her–so she owes them.

–The pearl necklace that has somehow slipped under her blouse–usually when that happens to a gal, it’s a mistake, but with Kamala, it’s stylin’!

–The blouse itself–what’s with those stretchy lines right across Kamala’s bustline?

— The Sandra Dee flip hairdo: Total 1962!

— And get a load of that backdrop! No, that mass of rumpled pink satin Kamala is standing on isn’t a king bedsheet from one of the three homes around the country that she and hub Doug Emhoff own. According to Vogue, it’s photographer Mitchell’s homage to Kamala’s college sorority colors, one of which is salmon pink. The other is apple green, which apparently accounts for the splotchy, algae-colored curtains that seem to be pinned up behind the pink satin.

Apparently our vice president-to-be and her many fans are none too happy about that Vogue cover:

An apparently leaked copy of the publication’s February issue cover, shot in front of a pink and green background, began circulating online Sunday. The photo instantly attracted ire on social media for appearing poorly lit and styled, while others suggested it was “disrespectful” to the Vice President-elect….

[C]ritics said the pictures made her skin appear “washed out” and were out-of-keeping with Vogue’s glamorous aesthetic. Playwright and lawyer Wajahat Ali described it as a “mess up,” adding that Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour “must really not have Black friends and colleagues.”

According to the Associated Press, Harris had expected the Vogue cover to feature a more inspirational photo of her attired in a powder blue power pantsuit sort of like one of Hillary’s:-

[H]er] team says there’s a problem: the shot of the country’s soon-to-be No 2 leader isn’t what both sides had agreed upon, her team says….

Harris’ team was unaware that the cover photo had been switched until images leaked late Saturday, according to a person involved in the negotiations over how Harris would be featured on the cover. Harris’ office declined to comment and the person spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity.

Imagine such a thing! Imagine our proudly independent mainstream media actually functioning as the sycophantic public-relations arm of the Democratic Party! Believe me, I’m shocked.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me and Tupac celebrating Kwanzaa down by the Twitter schoolyard

Kamala Harris Kwanzaa (Screenshot / Twitter)
Image: Breitbart (from Twitter screenshot)

I believe everything, and everything includes this:

You know, my sister and I, we grew up celebrating Kwanzaa. Every year our family and our extended family, we would gather around across multiple generations and we’d tell stories. The kids would sit on the carpet and the elders would sit in chairs. And we would light the candles and, of course, afterwards have a beautiful meal. And, of course, there was always the discussion of the seven principles. And my favorite, I have to tell you, was always the one about self-determination: Kujichagulia. And, you know, essentially it’s about “be.” “Be” and “do.” Be the person you want to be, and do the things you want to do and do the things that need to be done. It’s about not letting anyone write our future for us, but instead going out and writing it for ourselves. And that principle motivates me today as we seek to confront the challenges facing our country and build a brighter future for all Americans….

Let’s see now: Yes, Kamala Harris was indeed alive when Kwanzaa was invented. Black-radical Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga (formerly known as Ron Karenga, formerly known as Ronald McKinley Everett) dreamed up the week-long late-December celebration, complete with a Swahili liturgical language, as a black-radical alternative to Christmas in Los Angeles in 1966. when Harris was two years old (she was born in 1964). As Karenga put it, “[Y]ou must have a cultural revolution before the violent revolution.”

OK, the news of a new radical holiday can travel fast in radical circles, and nothing says “radical” like the word “Berkeley,” where Harris’s parents, Jamaican immigrant Donald J. Harris and Indian immigrant Shyamala Gopalan, lived, met, married, and got their doctorates from the University of California. So, yeah, Kwanzaa sped the 375 miles up the Pacific coast with lightening speed, and soon enough, I’m sure, radicals all over Berkeley were dumping their Christmas trees in order to sit around the kinara, the seven-branch candlestick of Kwanzaa that Karenga had originally fashioned by chopping off the two end candle-holders on a Jewish nine-branch menorah.

The Harris/Gopalan household didn’t have much time to get up to speed on Kwanzaa rituals, however. Donald and Shyamala divorced in 1971, when Kamala was seven, and Donald moved to Palo Alto to take up a professorship at Stanford. Her mother did stay on in Berkeley for another five years before moving Kamala and her younger sister, Maya, to Montreal, where she had a breast-cancer research job.

But what I want to know is: Who were those “elders” in the Harris/Gopalan “extended family” of “multiple generations” who took up all the “chairs” so the kids had to sit on the floor? Donald Harris’s relatives were all back in Jamaica, and Gopalan’s in India, where her father, P.V. Gopalan, was a government bureaucrat. The “elder” Gopalans indeed visited the United States at least once during the Berkeley years, but there is no record that they were regular Kwanzaa-time tourists.

I do love, though, the “discussion of the seven principles” (why does it remind me of the “airing of the grievances”?) that was a solemn daily Kwanzaa feature for the Harris/Gopalans. Kujichagulia indeed! Kamala’s favorite living rapper, Tupac Shakur, must be smiling with approval.

Interestingly, enough, Kwanzaa, after peaking in popularity during the 1980s and 1990s (the Harris/Gopalans were real pioneers, weren’t they?), has suffered a popularity decline, even among black people, in recent years. Wikipedia reports that as of 2009 “between 500 thousand and two million Americans celebrated Kwanzaa, or between one and five percent of African Americans.”

Including, we all now know, vice president-elect Kamala Harris, who is at least sort of African-American.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy….For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

The Virgin of the Veil, Ambrogio Borgognone, 1500

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Let’s play Dictionary! A “one-horse pony” is: a) the offspring of a mare’s virgin birth? b) a widow who won’t remarry after hubby dies?…

Joe Biden Speech on 2020 Job Numbers Transcript December 4

I know you’re trying to figure out what this was all about:

[Fox News reporter Peter] Doocy, who has continuously lobbed questions at Biden over the investigation into his son Hunter, asked the incoming president if he still felt that reports revolving around his son’s laptop and emails were a Russian disinformation smear campaign.

“Yes, yes, yes! God love you, man! You are a one-horse pony,” Biden exclaimed as he walked off stage.

“One-horse pony”! Time to play Dictionary!

Is a “one-horse pony”:

a) The offspring of a mare’s virgin birth?

b. A widow who declines to remarry after her husband’s death?

c. A tiny glass for serving bourbon-and-ginger ale cocktails?

d. A book that helps you cheat on your French homework that you won’t let anyone else see?

e. An offer to pay part of the restaurant bill, but only for what you yourself ordered?

So–what do you think Biden thinks Doocy is?

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Lighten up, GOP! Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon isn’t a potty-mouth just when she’s talking about you–she’s a potty-mouth about everything all the time

Image: Mediaite

C’mon GOP, quit riding on Joe Biden campaign manager/deputy chief of staff-elect Jen O’Malley Dillon’s F-bombing you guys just when her boss says he’s trying his darnedest to connect with y’all.

F-bombs are the way the lady talks! All the time! About everything! Her husband, her kids, her pesky relatives at Christmas dinner….

Here’s the quote from O’Malley Dillon’s interview in Glamour with activist/career memoirist Glennon Doyle that O’Malley Dillon now says are “words I probably could have chosen better”:

In the primary, people would mock him, like, “You think you can work with Republicans?” I’m not saying they’re not a bunch of f[–]kers. Mitch McConnell is terrible.

You may think that was kind of uprofessional, talking that way about the Great Unifier-to-be. But you haven’t read the rest of O’Malley Dillon’s Glamour interview.

Here is O’Malley Doyle on spending quality time with your children even when you’re on the campaign trail:

When you have a meeting somebody wants to schedule, so many women are like, “Well, I don’t want to tell them I can’t make it because I have a school thing or my kid is sick, because that’s not professional.”

F[–]k that.

Here’s O’Malley Doyle on the necessity of impressing your political opinions on others at all times:

But politics breaks down to one-on-one conversations and not being afraid to talk. I get that you’re not supposed to talk politics at the holiday dinner. Well, f[–]k that.

Then there’s the S-word:

But I just had this sense—for both my husband and me, because you obviously can’t do any of this s[–]t if you don’t have a partner that believes in it as much as you do and is willing to help.


When it came to Vice President Biden, we had just around that time found out that my dad had cancer. We didn’t know how serious it was. And I asked myself, “Am I even up for this?” This is scary s[–]t, and everything is at stake.


And then the other thing I is, at least how I have experienced it—the s[–]t, the drama, and the turf wars,


One, again, I have my kids to anchor me. They could give a s[–]t about all this.

So, see? O’Malley Dillon isn’t just a potty-mouth when it comes to talking about Republicans. She’s a potty-mouth all the time.

Which is part of the reason why the coming four years of the Biden administration are going to be so much fun.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Dear Miss Manners: I sent a wedding gift to the wrong address and the occupant kept it. I’m too cheap to send another gift even though I’m worth $25M. What is the proper etiquette?

Photo: Getty

From the Twitter account of the most famous First Daughter ever:

Just found out one of my closest childhood friends didn’t receive the wedding present I sent because I foolishly sent it to her old address. And the new occupant just kept it?! What’s the etiquette here? Serious question.

Gentle Readers: What do you think is the subtext here?

Is Chelsea too cheap to buy her friend a replacement wedding gift? Or did she find out that the “new occupant” not only kept that gift copy of The Book of Gutsy Women that Chelsea sent her friend but read two pages, wrote “This is ghostwritten, cliché-ridden schlock” on the cover, and pitched the book into the sidewalk trashcan for all to see–so it’s time for a little payback?

h/t: Ann Althouse

Posted by Charlotte Allen