- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2008

Political drama

“I suggested a backstage film that had empathy for the Clintons. It wouldn’t involve whether you agreed with them or not, but would center on how these two people, in private, deal with one another and the campaign hell they live in.

“I imagined weary scenes set late at night in anonymous hotel rooms. The ways they dealt with one piece of bad news after another. The reasons and ways they had to persist in the face of discouragement. I mentioned Stephen Frears’ film ‘The Queen’ (2006) as a possible model.

“Why the Clintons and not the Obamas? Quite simply, because their story is more interesting. It has a longer history, and apparently a bleaker outcome. They seem to be losing the primary season, and have seemed so for several months, and they have both been running for something, win or lose, for most of their adult lives. To face this ultimate defeat, at the end of the most punishing primary campaign in American history, must be an ultimate test of their relationship, and what makes them persist in the face of discouragement.”

- Roger Ebert, writing on “It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it” on May 12 at the Chicago Sun-Times blog Roger Ebert’s Journal

Political ideas

“[Sociologist Pitirim] Sorokin says that ‘sensate thinkers’ of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries understood the risk to social stability and cohesion from the abandonment of God and binding transcendental values, and tried to shore up the system by preaching a rational God in whom it was necessary to believe for the sake of social order.

“Sorokin: ‘Unfortunately, they appear to have forgotten that if religion and ideational norms were a mere artificial mythology invented as a useful adjunct to the policeman and the gallows, such an illusion could not last long without being exposed. With this fraud exposed, sensate values themselves could not help losing their “saltiness,” and hence their prestige and controlling power.’

“There is a clear line of causation between William of Ockham and Friedrich Nietzsche, who saw far more clearly than most.

- Rod Dreher, writing on “Pitirim Sorokin and the Benedict Option,” on May 25 at the Beliefnet blog Crunchy Con

Political elites

“But the problem can’t be solved by symbols or rhetoric: for a forty-six-year-old black man in an expensive suit, with a Harvard law degree and a strange name, to walk into V.F.W. halls and retirement homes and say, ‘I’m one of you,’ seems both improbable and disingenuous. The other extreme - to muse aloud among wealthy contributors, like a political anthropologist, about the values and behavior of the economically squeezed small-town voter - is even more self-defeating.

“Perhaps [Barack] Obama’s best hope is to play to his strength, which is a cool and eloquent candor, and address the question of liberal elitism as frontally as he spoke about race in Philadelphia two months ago. He would need to say, in effect, ‘I know I’m not exactly one of you,’ and then explain why this shouldn’t matter - why he would be just as effective a leader for the working and middle class as his predecessors Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy, who were elites of a different kind.”

- George Packer, writing on “The Fall of Conservatism,” in the May 26 issue of the New Yorker

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