- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2008

“I sent an e-mail to a long list of friends, family, and e-mail acquaintances, inquiring about book-to-movie transitions. From a flood of nominations for books that fare better as movies, these 10 made it to the top:

“1. Gone With the Wind. It’s my guess that nearly everybody now sees the movie before they read the book. And if you give your heart to a work in a certain form, that’s the way it will forever seem right. Gone With the Wind is a movie that’s easy to love, and it seems that viewers who went next to the book found it a let-down, full of unnecessary events and characters.

“The book also presents a more complicated Scarlett, one who is narcissistic and cold-hearted. (I thought this was better, actually, but I’m a lone voice.) The movie Scarlett is one of the most winning characters of the 20th century, and many people claim she outshines Margaret Mitchell’s original.”

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“Conservatives also tend to enjoy a more active and enabling sense of humor. The English essayist Walter Bagehot once observed that ‘the essence of Toryism is enjoyment.’ What he meant, I think, was summed up by the author of Genesis when that sage observed that ‘God made the world and saw that it was good.’

“Conservatives differ from progressives in many ways, but one important way is in the quota of cheerfulness and humor they deploy. Not that their assessment of their fellows is more sanguine. On the contrary. Conservatives tend to be cheerful because they do not regard imperfection as a personal moral affront.

“Being realistic about mankind’s susceptibility to improvement, they are as suspicious of utopian schemes as they are appreciative of present blessings. This is why the miasmic gloominess emanating from many conservative circles today is so dispiriting. It goes against the grain of what it means to be conservative.

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“But the [California Supreme] Court went further still, holding that the California legislature’s remarkably progressive decision, in 2003, to expand its Domestic Partnership law to give gays and lesbians all the legal benefits of marriage itself represented an unconstitutional effort to demean gays and lesbians, rather than treat them equally.

“That’s a possible reading of California’s effort to create a separate but equal category of civil unions, but it’s certainly not the only interpretation. In passing the Domestic Partnership Law, the California legislature said its goal was to provide essential rights to ‘all caring and committed couples, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation’ and to ‘reduce discrimination on the bases of sex and sexual orientation.’ And all three major presidential candidates - Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain - support civil unions but oppose gay marriage.

“Judicial decisions that blithely pronounce the basic positions of major political parties to be unconstitutional haven’t fared well in American history, as the Dred Scott decision shows.”

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