- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fun to hate

“Who could top [heiress Paris Hilton] in the fame department? Liberal commentators have dubbed estate-tax repeal ‘the Paris Hilton tax cut,’ and the term has stuck. Madonna never had a piece of federal legislation named after her.

“Now despite her fame and good fortune, for most sentient adults Hilton personifies the decadence of our cultural moment. … She reeks of every vice ever ascribed to our poor country. …

“But something still doesn’t compute: Why, if Paris says so much about us, do Americans … hate her so much? And why, if she is so offensive, is she so ubiquitous?

“Well, hating Paris Hilton is fun: Americans always enjoy a good sneer at the undeserving and decadent rich. Paris Hilton is our communal dartboard. …

“Paris Hilton may be a composite of contemporary American sins, but hating Paris Hilton is another thing entirely. It’s a sign of lingering cultural sanity.”

— Kay S. Hymowitz, writing on “The Trash Princess,” in the autumn issue of City Journal

Trail to power

“What conservative activists need to understand — because they are good people who need to be involved in the constructive process of moving the country forward — is that politicians follow; they do not lead.

“It’s up to the conservative activists to reorient themselves … in light of the political and social and cultural realities of the 21st century. …

“Even if another Reagan did come along, we must recognize that there are no political Messiahs who can revive freedom, morality and justice in America. At best, they can only help us. …

“It’s great that we learned from Ronald Reagan and were inspired by him; now it’s time to learn from our adversaries who are inexorably advancing their causes daily — in election years and nonelection years.

“How do they do it?

“They’ve won the culture. That’s the ultimate battleground. It’s the Ho Chi Minh Trail to political power.”

— Joseph Farah, writing on “Taking America Back, for real,” Tuesday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Romantic defeat

“In his book ‘The Culture of Defeat,’ the German scholar Wolfgang Schivelbusch described the stages of defeat through which nations pass upon losing a large war. He examined the South’s loss of the Confederacy, the French loss in the Franco-Prussian War, and the German loss in World War I. He saw similar patterns in how their national cultures dealt with defeat: a ‘dreamland’-like state; then an awakening to the magnitude of the loss; then a call that the winning side used ‘unsoldierly’ techniques or equipment; and next the stage of seeing the nation as being a loser in battle, but a winner in spirit. Schivelbusch expanded upon this last as such:

” ‘To see victory as a curse and defeat as moral purification and salvation is to combine the ancient idea of hubris with the Christian virtue of humility, catharsis with apocalypse. That such a concept should have its greatest resonance among the intelligentsia can be explained in part by the intellectual’s classical training but also by his inherently ambivalent stance toward power.’ …

“Like it or not, this mentality of permanent defeat plays a large part in the Democratic Party. It is now up to President Bush and the new Democratic congressional leadership to see that it does not become dominant.”

— Josh Manchester, writing on “Moral Purification,” Tuesday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

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