- - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No more speeches

“Let’s NOT have a conversation about race. The calls for Obama to now make the Shirley Sherrod debacle a teachable moment fills me with panic that the president will retreat to the Oval Office and craft a soaring piece of oratory, instead of getting on with the humdrum business of firing the stumbling, bumbling members of his own team. …

“It’s as if inside the White House the belief in Obama’s inspirational charisma is still such that every time the ugliness of brute politics intrudes, it’s a startling revelation. The president’s cerebral goals aren’t supposed to be jostled by the coarse irrelevance of media bandits and ideological saboteurs. Except they are. …

“That’s why this teachable moment is for the teacher himself. The professor-in-chief is in danger of being remembered for being not only the first black president but also the second Woodrow Wilson. When Obama heralds another ‘teachable moment,’ it means he has already made an egregious rookie mistake — like when we held a silly Beer Summit right in the middle of a serious health-care debate.”

Tina Brown, writing on “The Obama Gang Can’t Shoot Straight” on July 26 at the Daily Beast

Shrug at film

“I’m a great fan of ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ but I’d be surprised if anyone could turn it into a decent movie. So we can hope for the best, but our enthusiasm must be cautious. …

“Variety says it’s actually filming. That makes it real, and not just another Hollywood rumor. Lots of projects never get off the ground. The long-brewing feature version of author Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ has begun shooting in Los Angeles as a $5 million indie produced by John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow. Cameras began rolling over the weekend on a five-week shoot for ‘Atlas Shrugged Part One’ with Paul Johansson directing from Brian Patrick O’Toole’s script.’ …

“Hmmmm. $5 million is nothing. This is a tight budget. No big names. So there won’t be a lot of resources. I figure it will either have a limited art house release or it will go direct to video. But the real question is, do they have the talent? … The director, Paul Johansson, also plays the role of John Galt. This guy must really live and breathe the scenario. (Of course, that can now be said of anyone living in Obama’s America.)”

Maynard, writing on “Atlas Shrugged, the Movie?” on July 27 at the website of radio host Tammy Bruce

Reading room

“This essay by hyper-connected, oversharing New York novelist Gary Shteyngart … complains that he can’t just sit down and read a novel unless he cuts himself off from cell-phone signals and goes on a twee, fancy-pants vision quest in the Upper Apparatchik mountains or wherever. …

“Ross [Douthat] is right to warn us that reading could become the next fly fishing: something certain rich people do to assure themselves and their peers of their own refinement while other people — no less rich, perhaps — express their calculated disdain so as not to be mistaken for that kind of snooty bastard. The class atmospherics alone could drag novels into irrelevance. One can, after all, have a great time fly fishing with gear purchased entirely at Walmart, but that’s not the mythology.

“Reading fiction rather than updating one’s attention drip will probably come to be seen as a precious, conspicuous indulgence, like playing chess instead of XBox Live or eschewing day-glo PowerBait in favor of a Quill Gordon.”

Matt Frost, writing on “Of Books and Pants, Fancy and Otherwise,” on July 26 at Ricochet