By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
STATE OF THE NATION
Re: “Bubble Wrap” [On, August 30–September 5]. John Powers’ article about liberal political writing curiously leaves out the two best left-liberal magazines, The New Republicand The American Prospect. Both are reasonable, well-written, highly regarded, and consistently able to demolish conservative arguments and politicians. Perhaps he ignored them because they undercut his entire thesis on the superiority of right-wing political writing?
It’s never much fun being the sober one — the guy at the party who doesn’t feel like doing what everyone else is doing. He has opinions, principles. He’s old-school, and although everyone seems to respect him, he’s a bore, a party pooper, and chances are he’ll leave alone. I agree with you, Mr. Powers, The Nation needs a tune-up. But to promote The Weekly Standard by pointing to the rag’s “having more fun” is a waste of your paper’s paper. Of course they’re having more “big fun on the right” — people always have more fun when the party favors are limitless, when you’re kicking ass and taking names. It’s sexy, it’s powerful, it’s a party. I just hope there are enough back issues of The Weekly Standard to soak up the inevitable mess when the party’s over.
I don’t read The Weekly Standard (nor do I drown kittens), but surely there’s no mystery about why right-wingers are happy. If I owned the government, ruled the courts and controlled the major media outlets, I’d be the life of the party too.
New York City
What Powers seems to be saying is that the right has mastered the triumph of style over substance and the left has failed to keep pace. It’s not a pace that I, or many other readers of The Nation, wish to keep in step with. I like gray, print-filled pages, jam-packed with substance. I like muesli. I like dreary and exhaustive, at least when it comes up against “snappy and pointed.” I don’t need to be entertained by political information, or seduced by humor into a fascist sensibility — or a leftist sensibility, for that matter. It is not the job of a political weekly to go after a larger market share, only to make enough money to stay alive and to continue to print the truth, or their opinionated version of the truth. I’ll take the comprehensive over the shrill any day, and I don’t need my news of the world encapsulated into a headline, or a glossy condensation.
Why is The Weekly Standard more fun than The Nation? Why is Chaplin’s The Great Dictatormore fun than Triumph of the Will? There are funny left-wingers, like Al Franken. But that’s just it: If you’re a funny left-winger, you can get a job writing for TV or movies and fit right in. Imagine how uncomfortable life in Hollywood would be for a Weekly Standard writer. These are people who go home for supper and prefer to sleep with their own wives.
So John Powers can relax: The left’s political journals are unreadable, but they own the major institutions of culture — academia, TV, film. And culture is ultimately more important than politics, as Pat Buchanan told us in 1992.
Folks on the right — and that includes former liberals who just got tired of being preached to, messed with and scolded by leftist anal-retentives — richly enjoy the behavior of leftists to promulgate what has become a narrow-minded agenda driven by junk science, attempts to convert desires to “rights,” hatred for conservatives, and massive loads of personal guilt about the trivial and inconsequential. Such bloated targets are simple to puncture and it is easy to do so. And tremendous fun.
PAYDAY FOR ST. PAUL
In “Davis to the Uninsured: Let Them Eat Dodger Dogs” [August 30–September 5], Marc Cooper says, “When sacrifice is forced upon all of us, are we being asked to save every single Service Employees International Union â (SEIU) job at the possible cost of imploding the entire county health safety net? Let’s hope not.”
I’d say, “Let’s hope so.” Let’s not cut any SEIU jobs. These union workers presumably have benefits arising from their jobs. They have families they provide for with their wages and benefits. Thus, when you look deeply into this, they and their families are actually contributing to keeping government costs down. If anyone needs job security, it’s service workers. If they have their jobs eliminated, they will not be temporarily inconvenienced. They will be financially devastated. They will be forced to line up alongside all the other indigents at the free hospitals and health-care facilities because they no longer have insurance or incomes. What then? More patients coming to places that employ fewer service employees. Who is going to take care of them? Who is going to clean up after everyone who’s still employed goes home?
In Merry Olde England, the government despised Robin Hood. In 21st-century America, the government is Robin Hood. The liberal social modus operandi is “Take from the ‘haves’” (you can’t even call them “rich” anymore, because “rich” is quickly coming to mean “anyone with a job”) “and give to the ‘have-nots.’” Marc Cooper would take away the very jobs of the “haves” — making them “have-nots” — to give a little more to the existing “have-nots.” Which is utterly senseless.
Marc Cooper, channeling charity hucksters like Sally Struthers, is trying to shame us with the old socialist lie that “Just pennies a day could save these wretched folks.” So it’s just the price of a Dodger dog this month, is it? And what is it next month, Marc? Just another 50 cents a gallon at the pump and, what the heck, a few more one-time-only $3,500 fees for the privilege of buying certain cars? Or daring to own a starter home, or build a small business, or have any other modest success? How much will be enough, Marc?
Many thanks to David Ehrenstein for getting, saving and now revealing the goods on Joseph Epstein [“Sexual Snobbery,” August 30–September 5]. When a hit-and-run author such as Epstein and his claque have so consistently published homophobic sneers and then tried to cover them up, there’s nothing wrong with turning a book review into an exposé in order to correct the historical record. On the contrary, there’s everything right about such a departure from journalistic conventions. Bravo to Ehrenstein for not forgetting, and not letting us forget.
—William B. Kelley