STATE OF THE NATION
Wrap” [On, August 30–September 5]. John Powers’ article about liberal political
writing curiously leaves out the two best left-liberal magazines, The New
Republic and 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 Dictator more 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
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.
—Robert Stacy McCain
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
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.
Public school custodian and member of SEIU Local 517M
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
A column about next spring’s L.A. city elections [“Autumn
Follies,” September 13–19] should have said that Tony Cardenas lives within
the boundaries of the newly drawn 6th Council District.