- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

Arianna theory

“It comes as no surprise that [Arianna] Huffington refuses to draw conventional distinctions between the serious and the frivolous. If anyone was going to build a bridge for women between the rhetoric of career success and the discourse of the beauty industry, it would surely be she.

“Huffington is famously hard to pin down. For years, she was a Republican, a Newt Gingrich-backer, and a hostess on the conservative Washington circuit; now, she is a Democrat who hobnobs with Hollywood glitterati. … She is anti-SUV, yet she uses a private jet. … For those of us sympathetic, or wanting to be sympathetic, to Huffington, the question is: What does she believe? She’s on the side of liberals now, sure. But for how long? Is it possible to come up with a unified theory of Arianna? …

“At times, Huffington seems to hover somewhere in the ozone layer she seeks to protect — wanting to have it all ways, using her debate-union sophistry, her quick wit and her warmth to smooth over friction with her earlier positions. It’s an endearing stance, but a limiting one. … Can an intellectual butterfly settle down long enough to make a substantive difference?”

—Meghan O’Rourke, writing on “The Accidental Feminist,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

History’s last stand

“Although military history remains incredibly popular among students who fill lecture halls to learn about Saratoga and Iwo Jima and among readers who buy piles of books on Gettysburg and D-Day, on campus it’s making a last stand against the shock troops of political correctness.

“‘Pretty soon, it may become virtually impossible to find military-history professors who study war with the aim of understanding why one side won and the other side lost,’ says Frederick Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who taught at West Point for 10 years. …

“Anybody who has studied the history of war knows that it’s possible to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat — it happened at Shiloh, when a Confederate attack nearly routed the Union army, only to have General Grant drive them off the field of battle the next day. Perhaps military historians can stage a similar comeback. In their efforts to do so, they will be wise to remember something that Grant didn’t know back in 1862: An awful lot of brutal fighting lies ahead.

—John J. Miller, writing on “Sounding Taps,” in the Oct. 9 issue of National Review

Hollywood habit

“[W]hatever harm contraband intoxicants have inflicted on American at large, they have always been a commercial boon to Hollywood. …

“Without [Prohibition], we might never have enjoyed the thespian delights of the snarling Edward G. Robinson, the sneering James Cagney, and the growling Humphrey Bogart. …

“In ‘Public Enemy’ (1931), Cagney plays Irish bad boy Tom Powers with all the charm and etiquette of a prowling panther. He has a swell time dashing about in tailored suits, shooting up uncooperative speakeasies, and pitching woo to Jean Harlow in his careening roadster. … The better part of American’s citizenry packed the theaters to spend a couple of hours in the dark identifying with Cagney’s vibrant heedlessness. …

“Hollywood was quick to learn that gangsters paid at the box office.”

—George McCartney, writing on “Prohibition Addiction,” in the October issue of Chronicles

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