- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Desperate voters

“Everything is wrong with ABC’s new show, ‘Commander in Chief.’

“It’s not just that the show about the first female president is a weekly hour-long campaign commercial for Hillary Clinton. It’s not just that conservatives are mean and evil on this propaganda hour.

“It’s that this is what a female president will be like as brought to you by Oprah and the women of ‘Desperate Housewives’ — and the legions of female fans who love them. Do you want them picking the leader of the free world?

“I don’t. Here’s why. Every presidential election year, Harvard’s Shorenstein Center conducts 26 polls. Each time, the school finds that women didn’t quite know what was going on. Men, on the other hand, were more likely, during the preceding day, to have thought about the elections, talked about it, and read or heard about it on the news. …

“Sorry, but I don’t want ‘Thelma and Louise,’ Star Jones, and the women of ‘Desperate Housewives’ picking my president.”

— Debbie Schlussel, writing on “Commanderatrix in Chief,” Thursday at www.debbieschlussel.com

Populist rivals

“Culture and ideology are secular sibling rivals, battling it out in the ruins of revealed religion in a struggle to define modernity. Each is a worldview and a political program. …

“The idea that the well educated have an obligation to set an example in manners and taste for the less educated, a notion inherited … from aristocrats, patricians and the Christian clergy, is rejected with equal vehemence by the egalitarian left and the populist right.

“Both sides of the culture wars are populist. The anti-elitism of the populist right is directed not at a self-conscious mandarin establishment, which does not exist any more, but rather at the counterculture, which now makes its home in university departments from which most mandarin humanists have been purged. The counterculture hates elitism as much as the populist right, its members pride themselves on the rejection not only of traditional norms but of the very idea of norms. For both sides, cultural authority bubbles up spontaneously from below. The multicultural left and populist right differ only in preferring different ‘authentic’ folk cultures — those of immigrants and minorities for the left, those of the native working class for the right.”

— Michael Lind, writing on “In defense of mandarins,” in the October issue of the British magazine, Prospect

Journey nowhere

“‘We’ve seen some kind of birth here,’ Eric Sevareid, the CBS commentator, declared right after Neil Armstrong took man’s first walk on the moon, in July, 1969. … Cosmically, we were off to the races.

“Or so it seemed. Over the next three and a half years, after Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s visit, another 10 men walked the moon’s surface, and that was it. …

“On the occasion of Discovery’s relaunching this past July, MSNBC assured its viewers that ‘the journey continues.’ But there was no birth and, notwithstanding the occasional grandiose announcement by NASA, there has been no journey. …

“Those Americans with living memories of the moon landing — fewer than half of us — have a hard time summoning any recollection of Armstrong’s face. In documentaries featuring the ‘summer of ‘69,’ the Manson murders and Woodstock typically get as much airtime as Apollo 11, and Manson remains a much greater visual presence in the pop-historical national consciousness.”

— Thomas Mallon, writing on “Moon Walker,” in the Oct. 3 issue of the New Yorker

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