- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 1, 2004

Cold War calm

“His resolve to restore the morale and the might of the armed forces he loved, of which he was commander in chief, converted millions to conservatism and created a new constituency all his own: the Reagan Democrats. I do not know if Ronald Reagan would have cared that they named that big new building in Washington after him, but he sure would have loved that aircraft carrier. …

“While the liberation of Grenada is today disparaged, it was the first time in the Cold War the United States recaptured territory from the Soviet Empire. It swept a Soviet pawn off the chessboard and shocked Castro’s Cuba and Sandinista Nicaragua because it sent a message that, in the last analysis, you criminals continue to exist only at the sufferance of the United States. And should we come for you, your friends in Moscow will not save you.

“In the Cold War, Reagan always exhibited what Mark Twain called the ‘calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.’ ”

Pat Buchanan, writing “We Shall Not See His Like Again,” in the July 5 issue of the American Conservative

Education vs. school

“Education is not job training; it is not even schooling. Education is knowing what things are for, not simply how they work. …

“The difference between these two conditions of mind is the difference between wisdom and information, between knowledge and data, between knowing and knowing about. …

“[A] teacher can take no student any further than the teacher has gone, and the technicians and self-esteem peddlers of our day cannot and do not teach students the truth about themselves or about the human situation. Rather, they teach those students that to feel good is at least as important as to do good, and that to get a job and make money is the central purpose of an education and the chief means to happiness.”

Michael Bauman, writing on “The Second Death of Socrates,” June 24 in Boundless at www.boundless.com

Low-rent hero

“Probably many of us have trouble reconciling our jobs and our home lives, but masked superheroes have an especially rough time. … Is Bruce Wayne pretending to be Batman, or is Batman pretending to be Bruce Wayne? At least if you’re Wayne, you have a butler to run interference and a manor under which to build your bat-cave: Money does make it so much easier to leap among disparate roles in an over-compartmentalized life. At the other extreme, there is Peter Parker/Spider-Man — desperately impoverished, lovelorn, without confidants, persecuted by an unscrupulous tabloid editor when he dons his spider suit and racked with guilt when he doesn’t. …

“[‘Spider-Man 2’] is nothing less than a superhero’s lament — Spidey Agonistes, a comic-book spectacle in which the primary struggles are behind the mask. …

“The opening finds him at loose ends. His romance with M.J. has been choked off, with neither party sure just what to do now. … His college grades have nosedived. His finances have dwindled to the point where he’s begging to keep a pizza delivery-boy job. He lives in a noisy hovel with a landlord who seems to take sadistic pleasure in chasing him for rent. …

“After one excruciating feat of heroism, Peter lies unconscious on the floor of a subway, his face naked, and the passengers register the discontinuity, as we do. One of them murmurs, ‘He’s just a kid.’ ”

David Edelstein, writing on “Spidey Agonistes,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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