- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2001

'Psychologically sick'

"In Bill Clinton we had for eight years a truly irrational person in the White House, someone who, I think, lived on the edge of serious mental illness. He was and is a psychologically sick man. This is not to absolve him of responsibility for ceaseless lying, perjury, administrative chaos, human bullying, cruelty, lawlessness, self-destruction, and on and on. But it is to say that many of Clinton's actions can be fully understood only if one understands him to be a deeply disturbed person not fully in control of himself or his actions.

"The pardons are a classic example. Issuing pardons is a reasonably simple executive function. But Clinton made them as he makes anything he touches more complex… .

"Psychologists can quibble over what exactly was awry with our ex-president's mind and soul. But no one can explain the sheer irrationality, the reckless, oblivious, careening narcissism of the last eight years without concluding that, at some level, Clinton was not psychologically healthy enough to have been president of the United States."

Andrew Sullivan, writing on "Psycho," in the March 12 issue of the New Republic

Baby boom Buddhists

"Recently critics have suggested that the new Buddhism is subverting Buddhism itself. In Time magazine's 1997 cover story on "America's Fascination With Buddhism," Robert Thurman … Buddhist studies professor at Columbia … derided [popular American Buddhist teachers] as non-Buddhists preaching humanism but marketing it as Buddhism… .

"I am not a Buddhist myself, but I have taught American Buddhism for about a decade, and I must admit I share a certain disquiet about the direction boomer Buddhism is going. I teach religious studies because I believe that studying religion is a truly liberal art. All of the world's great religions provide profound challenges to the unexamined life. At their best, they offer devastating diagnoses of human sickness and radical remedies for it… .

"Boomer Buddhism, by contrast, is all too often shallow and small. It soothes rather than upsets, smoothing out the palpable friction between Buddhist practice and the banalities of contemporary American life, cajoling even the Dalai Lama to direct his great mind to small American preoccupations… .

"Philosopher George Santayana once observed that American life is a powerful solvent… . Instead of preserving Buddhism, Americans seem intent on co-opting and commercializing it, dissolving a religion deeply suspicious of the self into an engine of self-absorption."

Stephen Prothero, writing on "Boomer Buddhism," Monday in Salon at www.salon.com

'Hurt and jaded'

"How real is all this syrupy commercial love served up on television shows like 'Dawson's Creek' and in caffeinated ditties by Britney Spears?

"Back in high school, us girls wanted to fall in love, but we never really bothered to think about what love was. What we really craved were deep friendships, respect from boys, and their assurances that we were both cool and pretty. Our Prince Charming would ride into town later, we figured, after we graduated college.

"High-school girls will tell you that they feel the same way… . [They] are desperately looking for guidance about how to master this relationship thing. Trouble is, we've sort of left them to figure it out on their own… .

"Because there are no rules, kids are getting hurt and jaded, fast. Courtship in America has changed dramatically in the last 40 years. Stripped from our culture is any semblance of tradition, much less the notion of 'saving yourself for marriage.' "

Catherine Edwards, writing on "The Dating Shame," Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com


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