- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In the canon?

“To the extent that debates about popcorn movies can be said to matter, I think that this one does. Based on its critical reception (and its staggering box office), The Dark Knight looks like it has a chance to do something that none of the recent spate of comic-book blockbusters have managed - namely, enter the middlebrow pantheon and be remembered as one of modern Hollywood’s classic blockbusters.

“I’m thinking here of films like, yes, Aliens and Terminator 2; I’m also thinking of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Lord of the Rings, E.T. and Back to the Future, Stars Wars and Jaws and quite a few others as well. These aren’t all the sort of classics that you’d teach in film school (though some are), but they’re classics all the same, and the debate over The Dark Knight will have a real impact on whether Nolan’s film enters that charmed circle.”

- Ross Douthat, writing on “Debating The Dark Knight” on July 30 at his Atlantic blog

Legislating morals

“The Bush Administration is reviewing the draft of a regulation that would require hospitals receiving federal funds to respect the religious freedom of health care workers by ensuring that workers do not have to participate in medical procedures that they consider morally objectionable. The regulation is especially concerned with the performance of abortion and the administration of ‘Plan B’ morning after pills …

“Critics of the proposal were quick to argue that the new regulation would make it more difficult for women to procure these entirely legal services. Many public hospitals have several hundred employees (the Washington Hospital Center, the closest hospital to me, has 1,600 employees) so it is hard to believe that there would not be someone on staff to administer Plan B when it was needed. A Catholic hospital might have a harder time finding someone who would not mind administering the test, but how many people seeking an abortifacient would head to a Catholic hospital in the first place?

“It is odd the way pro-choice groups suddenly are not so concerned about government coercion as they were when they were arguing for Roe. … Evidently, you can legislate morality after all, so long as it is the morality of NOW and NARAL.”

- Michael Sean Winters, writing on “Plan B and Catholic Hospitals” on July 31 at the America magazine blog

Front and center

“On her leftward journey over the last decade, [Arianna] Huffington might have passed Christopher Hitchens travelling in the other direction. Hitchens has argued in these pages that public intellectuals tend to be ‘self-starting independents’ or editors of ‘minority-of-one type magazines.’ The ideal is a figure like George Orwell - a stoic ‘who does not attempt to soar on the thermals of public opinion.’

“But Huffington has never been off those hotspots, instead hopping from one thermal to the next. What has remained constant is an uncanny mastery of modern media, a Zelig-like ability to remain at the centre of attention.

“Indeed, rather than running against the current, Huffington’s great achievement … has been to remain in the spotlight. Attention is her natural currency. Getting the attention of others is her genius. And what her success shows is that these days, when it comes to intellectual reputation, the ability to acquire attention and to maintain a strong personal network may be more important than a substantial body of ideas.”

- Andrew Keen, writing on “Arianna Huffington” in the August issue of Prospect magazine

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