- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2002

Autumn of an icon
"Clint Eastwood's longevity proves that sticking to your guns has its uses, but it also proves that getting yourself venerated can make you lose all traction in the public's imagination. A decade ago, the former Man With No Name nearly wore out his tux being saluted: dual Oscars for 'Unforgiven' lifetime-achievement awards from everyone except ex-girlfriend Sondra Locke. But once he stopped offending liberals and the genteel, the middle-American fans whose paladin he'd been from Nixon's day to Reagan's lost one of their main reasons for prizing him.
"He's 72 now, and he's kept on imperturbably turning out movies, confusing Dirty Harry loyalists with strange choices for a tough guy ('The Bridges of Madison County,' 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil') even as his more conventional projects tax reviewers' goodwill by seeming perplexingly ordinary. But even though the early word on his latest, 'Blood Work,' made that ho-hum feeling kick in again, one thing I've learned to appreciate about the later Clint is that he never tackles a movie without a reason. Sparely told but expansive his films of the last 10 years are unerring fusions of technique and temperament. They just haven't come labeled as big statements the way 'Unforgiven' did. Instead, every year or two, Clint blows through theaters like a durable autumn leaf, somehow not of the moment even when the pictures do well."
Tom Carson, writing on "Anatomy of an Icon," in the October issue of Esquire

White (liberal) flight
"In Washington, D.C., where I live, and in many other urban areas with troubled school systems, here is how it works for people with ambition and mobility: As they begin their careers, they live in the city for fun and convenience and dating. Then they marry and have kids. Then they look at the local public schools. Then they move to the suburbs.
"The strongest argument for school vouchers is moral. It is simply wrong for rich, predominantly white liberals to insist that poor, predominantly minority children attend dysfunctional and often dangerous schools that rich, predominantly white liberals would never allow their own children to set so much as one foot in. It is callous for rich, predominantly white liberals to continue to tell inner-city parents, year after year, 'Urban schools must be fixed! Meanwhile, we're outta here. Good luck.'"
Jonathan Rauch, writing on "Reversing White Flight," in the October issue of the Atlantic Monthly

Aborting a judge
"'We're jumping over a line here," said Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback [Thursday] morning, as Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats prepared to kill the nomination of Priscilla Owen, President Bush's choice for a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 'I do not think this is a wise line for us to cross over.'
"Other Republicans made similar appeals. 'We're passing some kind of threshold today,' said Kentucky's Mitch McConnell. 'It's a changing of the ground rules in a way that has immense ramifications,' said Alabama's Jeff Sessions. 'This is a day we will long remember and regret,' said Utah's Orrin Hatch, the committee's ranking Republican.
"California's Dianne Feinstein called her decision to reject Owen 'my most difficult vote' but said 'the issue of choice is extraordinarily important.'
"The Democrats' generally low-key behavior seemed to confirm Republican fears that the vote against Owen would amount to what some in the GOP called a 'stealth kill.' Democrats seemed to have no interest in calling attention to their decision, and Republicans feared that no one would pay much attention to their own statements of outrage. With the news of the vote likely to be overshadowed by reports on Iraq, homeland security, and the anniversary of September 11, that might be precisely what happens."
Byron York, writing on "Democrats Kill Again," Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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