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Culture Briefs

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dubious indignity

"This baseball season, it fell to the sporting press to drag a reluctant Hank Aaron once more into public view, the occasion being Barry Bonds' slow-motion pursuit of a stationary number. Now, anytime an old baseball personage hobbles back into frame, he is invariably described in awed, petrifying language better suited to, say, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"The treatment of Aaron hasn't been any different. A spin through the sports pages over the past few months reveals that he is a man of 'cool dignity,' 'quiet dignity,' 'innate dignity,' 'immense dignity,' 'eternal dignity,' 'unfettered dignity,' 'unimpeachable dignity,' the very 'picture of dignity' who 'brought so much dignity to baseball'and who, 'having exuded dignity his entire life,' continues to this day 'exud[ing] class and dignity.'...

"No one would quibble with the sentiment, unctuous and condescending though it may be. Aaron's forbearance was indeed remarkable; in many ways, he holds up better in history's eyes than the peer to whom he is often compared, Jackie Robinson. ...

"No, what's unfortunate about Aaron's latest turn in the public eye is that he has been reduced to a sportswriter's cheap trope. The great slugger's dignity is of interest only insofar as it can be picked up ... and swung in the general direction of Barry Bonds."

Tommy Craggs, writing on "Hammering on Hank," Friday at Slate.com

Credible reality

"Republicans have a credibility problem with the persuadable portion of the electorate, a problem conservatives will find to be contagious if they embrace the party too tightly before righting its course. ...

"Republicans have become associated with such un-conservative traits as pork-barrel spending, immigration-policy ineptitude, democratic utopianism, and bureaucratic bungling at home and abroad. Genuine conservative proposals for dealing with healthcare and the looming entitlements crisis are generally less familiar to the public than the big-government liberal alternatives.

"Conservatives cannot get their credibility back by talking to themselves. ... The debate over Iraq has stalemated, with hawks unable to persuade most Americans that there is a viable resolution to the conflict and doves unable to explain what would happen if we withdrew. That impasse can't be ended by appealing to the third of voters who already approve of the president's policy. ...

"William F. Buckley Jr. described conservatism as 'the politics of reality,'not the politics of wishful thinking."

W. James Antle III, writing on "Credibility Gap," Friday in the American Spectator online at spectator.org

Hitsville, U.S.A.

"The burning and looting [during the July 1967 Detroit riot] would wipe out most of the commercial streets in black neighborhoods and badly damage many of the residential areas. ...

"The riots ... propelled one of the greatest black economic engines the country had ever known — Motown Records, founded in 1959 — to eventually depart for Los Angeles. ...

"With more than 100 performing groups ... Motown had plowed an entirely new road to entrepreneurial success. ...

"Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Mary Wells, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and of course Diana Ross and the Supremes were local kids who turned Motown into 'Hitsville U.S.A.,' as the sign above Motown's headquarters read."

— Julia Vitullo-Martin, writing on "The Day the Music Died," Friday in the Wall Street Journal