- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2000

Anti-American 'Beauty'

"Whether or not 'American Beauty' is anti-American, it's certainly anti-'burb, and therefore, given that more Americans live in the suburbs than live in either town or country, it's implicitly anti-audience. Incidentally, if the film industry is so anti-suburbs, why doesn't it stop putting multiplexes there? … [F]or the most part, you can only see 'American Beauty' in soulless boxes beached in the middle of strip malls on the edge of the ghastly non-communities the film professes to deplore… .

"But aside from that, 'American Beauty' is not just an assault on the emptiness of the American Dream, it's an assault on the emptiness of the American Dream by a foreigner. By a snotty Brit! …

"Who'd believe in 2000 they'd still be making movies about stultifying 1950s conformity and sexual liberation? That war's long over and Hollywood won.

"Have [British director Sam] Mendes and [screenwriter Alan] Ball ever been to a suburb in the last quarter-century? There's all the sexual liberation you could want… . Whether they're any happier for throwing off the shackles of Eisenhower's America for the [disreputable] pleasures of Clinton's America is a moot point, and given the mountain of human wreckage piled up in the last 30 years, worth exploring. But although this is Mendes and Ball's first film, they're happy to serve up the same old line Hollywood's been peddling for decades. If anyone's trapped in dull conformity, it's them."

Mark Steyn, writing on "Ars Suburbia," in the April issue of the American Spectator

'Common-sense' Hillary

"Well, my gosh, I've gone from a Barry Goldwater Republican to a New Democrat, but I think my underlying values have remained pretty constant. Individual responsibility and community I don't see those as mutually inconsistent. I think our politics of the last 30 years has been fraught with false choices that I don't think reflect the common-sense pragmatic progressive strain of American politics that I've always identified with… .

"[The 1994 health care plan] collapsed when Senator Dole decided that he was going to run for president. And he was advised by Republican strategists that they didn't want any kind of health-care bill… .

"We all learned a lot from the health-care experience."

Hillary Rodham Clinton, interviewed by Michael Tomasky, in the April 3 issue of New York

Mid-life babies

"Until Cheri Blair joined the exclusive pantheon of 40ish celebrity mothers, it was generally acknowledged that its members were unusually lucky or foolhardy, depending on how you felt about their achievement. Mrs. Blair is different. Unlike the usual elderly gravida, whose conception is generally admitted to be a triumph, even a miracle, achieved after years of longing and/or medical intervention, her pregnancy has been presented as a happy accident, the consequence of her sheer, irrepressible, middle-aged fertility… . [W]omen are now being given the news they have wanted for so long: biology can be vanquished, fertility can proceed unimpaired, well into middle age… .

"The truth, as older patients at infertility clinics instantly discover, is that the average success rate for [in-vitro fertilization] is still stuck at a miserable 17.4 percent, overall, much lower for women over 38… . [Doctors'] advice for young women who know they want babies is unchanged: have them in your early 30s or better still, your 20s. One infertility specialist said recently that his advice, when asked by a 39-year-old woman when to start trying for a baby, was 'yesterday.'

"If this sounds brutal, it is at least more responsible than the current vogue for fantasy fertility."

Catherine Bennett, writing on "Fantasy Fertility," in Thursday's (London) Guardian

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