- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

Western lesson
"In the hands of directors like John Ford, the western allowed us to go back to school again, to learn some lessons that could not be taught by value-free social science or progressive history. In 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) for example, Ford attempted to show on screen the necessary conditions for the emergence of a democratic way of life.
"He did so by showing those forces that permanently menace a regime of civil liberty and the rule of law… . Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) is an outlaw, who understands freedom as the indulgence of his desires in the absence of any restraint; he has neither home nor family. Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) is a kind of naturally superior individual who wants only a private existence and who, because of his superiority, can secure one for himself… . His only desire is to marry Hallie, an illiterate waitress who grew up in the West… .
"There is no effective law in Shinbone. The residents in town, some of whom are illiterate immigrants, know little of what the obligation of citizenship entails. Consequently, Ford literally takes us into the classroom. He provides a lesson on the principles of democratic government, showing how private individuals are transformed into a public, how passion is subordinated to reason, and how the rule of law replaces the deeds of those outside the law."
—John Marini, writing on "There Once Were Giants," in the spring issue of the Claremont Review

Rehearsing mistrust

"Many young people who have survived their parents divorces are longing for lifelong love, but have no idea how to make it work. Many of these young people see cohabitation as a way of avoiding a costly mistake that could lead to divorce.
"Unfortunately, research shows that couples who cohabit before marriage are more likely to report unhappiness in their marriages, and more likely to divorce. This result surprises some people, including the researchers who have uncovered it. But it is not a surprise when you consider that the marriage relationship is much more than a glorified roommate or business relationship.
"People imagine they are taking their potential spouse for a 'test drive. The problem is that you cannot simulate commitment. Members of a cohabiting couple are likely to have one foot out the door throughout the relationship.
"Besides commitment, the other crucial ingredient of marriage is the giving of the self to the other. You also cannot simulate self-giving. The members of a cohabiting couple practice holding back on one another. They rehearse not trusting."
—Jennifer Roback Morse, author of the new book, "Love and Economics," interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez, Tuesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

A new era

"Not insignificantly, the biggest changes in Washington have been cultural rather than political. The atmosphere has been more businesslike and dialogue across party lines is calmer. President Bush has already been able to change the tone dramatically, even after that … often toxic fight over the election. He has been friendly, flexible, open and very conservative — although no reporter seems to be capable of typing those four adjectives in one sentence… .
"The Bush team is still wrestling with the objective reality that this is not a Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan era of obvious change. FDR had the Great Depression and the Second World War as backdrops. Ronald Reagan inherited economic decay and the most intense Soviet effort to win the Cold War. These were great administrations, but they were in times of response to great events… .
"The Bush administration dislikes the regulatory, adversarial, litigious, government-dominated model of environmentalism that is the hallmark of liberal groups. That wing of the environmental movement … favors the affluent, transient rural residents who earn a living in places like Hollywood but tell Idahoans and Montanans how to live."
—Newt Gingrich, writing on "Presidents who aim high," in the May edition of On the Issues

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