- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

‘Highest level’

“Ten years ago, if you would have told me that [Hillary Rodham] Clinton would be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, I’d have never believed you. Her only qualifications for office are that she’s Mr. Clinton’s partner. And what does that mean? The two of them stand for dishonesty and corruption. …

“The Clintons represent the highest level of corruption, but no one has the courage to mention it. Instead they talk about [Rudolph W.] Giuliani. Over a lifetime of excellent service, there’s never been a hint of corruption in his behavior but everybody investigates him. Hillary Clinton’s life has been filled with corruption but nobody cares. The last thing we need is another Clinton to be our president. Believe me, one lowlife was enough. We don’t need the lowlife’s partner.

“When John Dillinger got put out of business did we go try to find his partner? I could have imagined the mafia imitating something like that, but never the American people. Yet, again, I was wrong. Respectable and decent people are putting her up for the nomination.”

— Comedian Jackie Mason, interviewed by Bernard Chapin, Wednesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

The ‘in’ crowd

“Had Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or some other wild-mouthed conservative committed [Don] Imus’ sin, the celebrity journalists and pundits who regularly talked shop with Imus — and made his program worth listening to in the first place — would have jumped on them like the Inquisition. Yet none of the voices from the journalistic and political establishments dared criticize Imus because he sells their books big time. Indeed, the sound of mutual massaging heard on his program was often louder than his incessant country music.

“Imus’ problem is that he is no Don Rickles, the old ‘equal-opportunity offender’ who made the targets of his ethnic humor laugh at themselves. Had Imus survived, I doubt whether a two-week suspension would have been long enough for him to hone a new on-air persona. But it was worth a try. Now that he is out for good, his favored scribes and politicians are spared a searching of their own souls. Would they have rejoined Imus after his penitential retreat, or would they have shunned him? … Now we’ll never know which of them would have cast the first stone.”

— Kenneth L. Woodward, writing on “Imus and Me,” Tuesday, at the “On the Square” column at First Things

One-hit wonder

“Ralph Ellison became famous in 1952 with the publication of ‘Invisible Man,’ which remained for some 30 years the most widely read and respected novel by an African-American writer. Ellison died in 1994 having never produced the second novel he spent so much of his life working on. … But [biographer Arnold Rampersad’s] book suggests, more interestingly, that it may be the wrong question to ask. The right one would be ‘How did he manage to write “Invisible Man”?’ For, as Rampersad shows, Ellison’s instincts and core talents were not those of a novelist.

“He was cerebral, judgmental, meaning-oriented rather than experience-oriented in his approach to fiction. He had no impulse merely to represent life in its variety, an impulse that, like the urge to chronology, can sustain a fiction writer when all else fails. Crucially influenced in the late 1940s by Kenneth Burke and Stanley Edgar Hyman, Ellison embraced the myth and symbol school of criticism as a program for generating fiction.”

— Phyllis Rose, writing on “The Impulse to Exclude” in the spring 2007 issue of the American Scholar

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