- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2007

Joyless symbol

” ‘There is,’ said Oscar Wilde, ‘only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about,’ and talk, talk, talk, about Paris Hilton we do. If nothing else, this article is evidence of that. … She has become an object of fascination, derision, obsession and, God help us, emulation. And that’s not going to change any time soon. …

“But if she’s become an icon — and she has — America’s sweetheart, she’s not. There’s something too joyless about her pursuit of pleasure. … Sure, her antics are sporadically entertaining, gossip’s equivalent of a five-alarm fire, a really good train wreck or a particularly bloody bullfight, but we also watch her as phenomenon as much as person. And as we do, we not only use her as a device to proclaim our own cleverness, moral superiority and apple pie niceness, but also, I suspect, as a symbol of, and a scapegoat for, the real excesses and imagined emptiness of this new gilded age.”

— Andrew Stuttaford, writing on “Mean Girl,” Friday at NationalReview.com

Assimilation reform

“As much as reasonably possible, coming to America should be linked with becoming an American. This means that as our immigration system is reformed, our assimilation efforts need to be similarly reformed. …

“Assimilation is not something that can be brought about by government programs or the tweaking of incentives alone. It requires a willing immigrant and a welcoming society that believes it has something to offer. For this reason, the entire immigration process must deliver a message about the importance of assimilation, and must actively do as much as possible to help it along. …

“The problem with immigration is not immigrants, but a badly broken system of selecting, directing, managing and assimilating them.”

— Yuval Levin, writing on “Fixing Immigration,” in the May issue of Commentary

Paul’s profile

“It was an embittered libertarian who told me to fear the Ron Paul 2008 campaign. Early in February, a few short weeks after Paul confirmed he’d be making the run, my source … waved the red flag of doom.

‘ ‘It’s going to get ugly,’ he said. …

“This was obviously what kept him up nights. ‘At the end of this, if you say you’re a libertarian, are people going to say “Oh, like Ron Paul?” And are you going to want them to say that?’ …

“The opinion leaders of the campaign — reporters, TV spinners, party officials — consider Paul an irritant and a kook. And the heat on Paul increases in tandem with his profile. …

“The Paul campaign has absorbed all the attention and tried to spin it back, its basic stance being that any attention is good attention. ‘It’s interesting, isn’t it?’ Rep. Paul told me on Thursday. ‘They’ve already said I have no chance in the world, I don’t show up in the polls, I don’t mean anything. Why would they make such an effort to go after me?’ …

“What will happen if Paul actually starts winning votes, or if Mitt Romney takes a poll and Paul is the margin of error between him and John McCain? Obviously, he’ll be hit with everything he’s ever said and every off-kilter idea he’s ever proposed. People who want him in the race because he’s forcing the antiwar or government-cutting gospel into the race will be, by extension, smeared.”

— David Weigel, writing on “The Paul Paradox,” Friday at Reason.com

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