Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the November 2010 issue

The Great Books Series

Jimmy Carter, who confided to NBC's Brian Williams that "I feel my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents," demonstrates what he means in a few brief passages from his White House diaries:

October 1 [1980] Fifty-six years old. If I'm reelected, I'll be sixty when I go out of office-a good retirement age. [...]

October 25 I went to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I found out later I called it "Cedar Rapids." [...]

October 26 I talked to Amy on the phone about the upcoming debate. I won't see her again for about a week. She said that the atomic bomb was the most important issue, and we had a discussion about what a kiloton was, what a megaton was. She discusses international issues, including the hostage crisis, almost like an adult. [...]

Monday, November 3 ...Almost all the undecideds moved to Reagan. Strangely enough, my favorable [ratings] went up-both the way I handled the Iran situation and the percentage that thought it was used for political purposes. There was a general sense of rejection of incumbents. [...]

November 4 ...Chip and Jeffrey came up to Camp David, also Jody and Frank Moore and their families later on. We just relaxed with our children, extremely surprised at how well we all took the defeat. [...]

November 6 I spent all day at Camp David making four very complicated little fly line drying reels. [...]

December 10 ...Rickover advised me to stay quiet for a good while-maybe a couple of years-and then run for president again. He thinks I would have no trouble in being reelected because Reagan is both dumb and incompetent... [...]

Monday January 19 [1981] Fritz and Joan [Mondale] joined us in the limousine to drive to Andrews Air Force Base....The mood during the drive was one of excitement and levity. We made some disparaging remarks about the quality of Reagan's inaugural address, but in general it was a pleasant drive.

(From: White House Diary, by Jimmy Carter. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 570 pages, $30)

The Progressive

Matthew Rothschild, editor of the Progressive, apparently after an afternoon spent at the ballpark:

What is happening to our country? I look around, and I do not recognize it. Bigotry and irrationality are holding sway, and the most precious American values are under attack. The very character of our country is at stake.

With economic pain at the highest level ever seen by most Americans, and with minorities especially hard hit, we're seeing a revolt not by people of color, nor the unemployed, nor the foreclosed upon. Instead, we're seeing a revolt by the white middle class. It's a revolt against the very notion of a positive role for government in helping people. It's a revolt against Latin American immigrants. It's a revolt against Muslim Americans. And it's a revolt against our black President.

(October 2010)

Washington Post

Daft musings of a hopeless romantic, columnist E. J. Dionne, on the eve of  Thermidor:

Is the Tea Party one of the most successful scams in American history? Before you dismiss the question, note the word "successful." Judge the Tea Party purely on the grounds of effectiveness and you have to admire how a very small group has shaken American political life and seized the microphone offered by the media.

But it's equally important to recognize that the Tea Party constitutes a sliver of opinion on the extreme end of politics receiving attention out of all proportion with its numbers.

(September 23, 2010)

New Republic

A mere 18 months after Sam Tanenhaus wrote in the New Republic "The Conservative Movement Is Dead," look at this from young Jonathan Chait in the very same liberal organ of popular moonshine:

This is a season of liberal disappointment. Or, rather, another season of liberal disappointment. Liberal disappointment follows liberal triumph as night follows day. It is a multitudinous thing, it varies including, but not limited to, despair, recrimination, impotent rage, potent rage, and existential angst.

(September 23, 2010)

The Nation

An explanation for your anger at Glenn Beck, if you happen to be a Black Nationalist contemplating reparations, provided by columnist and resident race hustler, Ms. Melissa Harris-Lacewell:

Many Americans were enraged by Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, presumably because Beck trespasses on a sacred day on a holy ground by scheduling his event to coincide with the anniversary and location of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Media framed the anti-Beck dissent as a racial and political turf war. Beck stood before a vastly white, sharply political crowd and waxed nostalgic about America's past, a past he called honorable and righteous, but that was, in reality, marked by the legal subjugation of black people. This seems an obvious denigration of the civil rights history.

(September 20, 2010)

Washington Post

Inscrutable reflections from Reformed Conservative Kathleen Parker, who ends this dithyramb by actually bringing in "the shrinks" from her sexual hygiene show on CNN, "Parker Spitzer," and soliciting their explanation as to why the Prophet Obama "can't seem to connect with the American people":

Of course I knew it all along. President Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist and that's why he doesn't get us. He's a ticked off African.

So goes the latest in Obama-theory, originated by the usually rational conservative thinker Dinesh D'Souza and endorsed by none other than Newt Gingrich, Republican anarchist and onetime speaker of the House of Representatives.

Cue soundtrack to "Twilight Zone." Or "Psycho." Or, I dunno, Tarzan summoning an elephant stampede to quash yet another pestilential imperial invasion.

Actually, scratch that. Call in the shrinks and bring out the couch....

(September 15, 2010)

New York Daily News

Once again, the celebrated liberal columnist Errol Louis confuses the now defunct USSR and Nazi Germany with the USA:

Until recently, I shared Mayor Bloomberg's prediction that the current wave of anti-Muslim demagoguery being fanned by pols like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Rick Lazio would die down after the midterm elections. Now I'm not so sure.

The tide of anti-Islamic rhetoric-from subtle religious putdowns to open bigotry and even physical attacks-echoes America's history of organizing social movements and political parties around the idea of doing combat with one national enemy or another.

In the name of battling The Enemy, political leaders can ignore or preempt seemingly less-important national priorities and instead mobilize billions of dollars and millions of lives in service to the great cause.

(September 9, 2010)

From the Archives

Timeless Tosh from Current Wisdoms Past

(November 1990)

New York Times Book Review

Whilst reviewing Ms. Susan Rubin Suleiman's latest tome, Professor Perry Meisel deposits still more evidence that as long as the American system of higher education is in place there is no reason for maintaining a system of state insane asylums:

It is something of a commonplace to observe that the conjunction of three trends of thought over the last two decades-feminism, psychoanalysis, and deconstruction-has produced a powerful style of American academic criticism that cannot be ignored....

What Ms. Suleiman is saying at any given time, however, is hard to summarize; her prose reflects the kind of fluid feminist poetics for which she argues thematically. Feminist criticism, it appears, like feminist fiction, must be a kind of writing that refuses the straightforwardness of male writing, including its armory of values such as clarity, concision, and pointedness, all of which can be interpreted as masquerades for the male lust for power, replicating the structure of male sexual pleasure.

(August 5, 1990)

Mother Jones

The scientific mind as it exists among readers of an illustrious journal of the New Age:

Gifts: Penis poster (23" x 35") depicts 12 animal penises (man to whale). Scientific novelty. Send $10 postpaid to: Poster G. PO Box 673, Bloomington, IN 47402.

(August 1990)

Deer Park(100% Natural Spring Water)

Schizophrenic cheers and admonitions found on the label of Deer Park bottled water:

Smaller Cap = Less Plastic

Did you notice this bottle has an Eco-Slim cap? This is part of our ongoing effort to reduce our impact on the environment. This bottle and cap contain an average of 20% less plastic than our original 500 mL Eco-Shape bottle and cap. Be Green.

WARNING: Cap is a small part and poses a CHOKING HAZARD, particularly for children.

(Summer 2010)

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