- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008

Seinfeld rule

“There is a great deal more political water that needs to go under the bridges in California and Texas. There will be a referendum on gay marriage in California in November. The Texas officials doubtless have other legal tools for harassing the unfortunate folks at Yearning for Zion Ranch. And I’m sure controversy over marriage will join other cultural issues as an important factor in the presidential election this fall.

“But we needn’t speculate about electoral politics in order to read the signs of the times. We’re rapidly reaching the point where the spirit of postmodern, nonjudgmental moral minimalism now permits a man to have many wives - or a husband - if that’s what he prefers. Polling shows that among younger Americans the Yuck Factor has succumbed to the Seinfeld Sentiment: ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that!’”

-R.R. Reno, writing on “Personal Freedom Without Political Liberty” on June 5 at the First Things blog On the Square

Avoiding divorce

“Bachelors were the subject of a survey and its findings the topic of a new book on why guys, even those who want to, aren’t marrying. Heading the list of obstacles is a fear of marrying the wrong person: ‘This is the first generation of people who have grown up with bad divorces,’ says author, Carl Weisman, who conducted the research for his book, ‘So Why Have You Never Been Married? - Ten Insights into Why He Hasn’t Wed.’

“‘Weisman said his online survey found there are three groups of bachelors - about 8 percent who never want to marry, 62 percent want to marry but of which half won’t settle for anything less than perfection, and about 30 percent who are on the fence.’

“I do wonder if Weisman addresses one other little factor I’d want to know about, and that is how of many of these unmarried are ‘having sex’ anyway? Does sex figure into the marital equation for many? I doubt it. ‘For [the author], researching the book made him also look at himself - and he ended up living with a girlfriend for the first time.’ Wow, now that’s commitment! A great way to increase his chances of avoiding divorce.”

-James M. Kushiner, writing on “The Cold Feet of Bachelors,” on June 3 at the Touchstone blog Mere Comments

Past conserved

“Even those Americans who tell pollsters they are conservatives - a plurality for decades now - take for granted the limited welfare state constructed from the era of World War I to the 1960s, which has been protected, on the whole, by every administration since, even by ostensibly ‘conservative’ ones like those of Reagan and both Bushes.

“Few Americans praise ‘big government,’ but most expect, or at least hope, that public officials will keep the economy prosperous, deliver good education to their children, a decent income and cheap medical care when they retire, and provide swift and efficient aid whenever disaster strikes.

“Rhetorical fashions come and go in politics, but FDR’s vow to deliver ‘security’ and ‘freedom from fear’ still conveys what most Americans want from their politicians.

“Conservatives, of course, can still gain a hearing and votes by talking about traditional resentments and fears but those who worship at Reagan’s altar no longer hope to ‘make the world over again,’ the line their icon used to borrow from Tom Paine.”

-Michael Kazin, writing on “Strange Alchemy,” on June 3 at the Nation’s Web site

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