- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2007

‘Likeable’ monster

“[T]he 1970s Ugandan dictator with the surrealist name, Idi Amin Dada … was the most entertaining of all the monsters of the 20th century, a megalomaniacal cross between Josef Stalin and Muhammad Ali. Sure, Idi was a semiliterate cannibal, but he was a likeable one. …

“ ’The Last King of Scotland’ may be the best exploration yet of the Big Man syndrome, which, while most notorious for afflicting Africa, is hardly restricted to that continent. A Big Man’s grandiose sense of entitlement assures him that he deserves to run things.”

— Steve Sailer, writing on “A King Without a Kilt,” in the Feb. 26 issue of the American Conservative

Facing voters

“[N]ew scientific research suggests that the candidates’ faces might be as important as their policies when the next election rolls around.

“The qualities that voters think they can discern in a candidate’s face have a surprisingly strong influence on how they vote. …

“What matters to voters isn’t so much whether a candidate is attractive or not. Instead, voters look for facial cues for personality traits like aggressiveness, intelligence, honesty, friendliness, and competence. …

“These days candidates carefully manage their appearances — hairstyle, clothes, weight, even facial expressions — in an attempt to look good on TV. But this new research suggests that there’s something even more basic at work than the right tie or a good haircut. It seems to be the very features of the face that attract or repel voters. …

“Studies show that people think they can read all sorts of things about people based on their faces, including intelligence, basic character and personality traits. Unfortunately, the same studies show that we’re not as accurate as we think we are.

“Misjudging someone at a party based on his face is one thing. Misjudging the leader of a country for the same reason is another, much more serious thing. Faces and gut feelings are no way to choose a leader.”

— Kurt Kleiner, writing on “Taking our leaders at face value,” Sunday in the Toronto Star

Money vs. manners

Somehow Judith Regan — the most famous book publisher of her generation, and the would-be Nancy Drew ready to finally close the O.J. Simpson case — has always gotten away with her obscene, grotesque, often funny, Jewish-obsessed, not just politically incorrect but reprehensible, probably slanderous, not necessarily truthful monologues. … Neither corporate America nor upwardly mobile society objected, or, even, seemed to blanch. Her diatribes were part of her charm. … I do know that one of her former lovers, no shrinking violet himself, says he finally broke up with her because he couldn’t stand her Niagara of obscenities anymore, but the stuff about Jews, for instance — one of her perennial themes is that Jewish men run the media world and they need special handling — never bothered him (he’s Jewish).

“The Jewish thing just got crowded into all the other taboos Judith was verbally violating. And, anyway, Jews really aren’t the issue for her; authority is the issue. Judith hates authority (and, conversely, loves power). She’s got an 800-pound chip on her shoulder. And the chip is part of how she’s made money — she’s tapped into a vein of American resentment and victimhood, plus she’s been able to bully her way into the market — and making money gives a pass to even the worst manners.”

— Michael Wolff, writing on “The Trouble With Judith,” in the March issue of Vanity Fair

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