- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Movie presidents

“Mike Judge’s sci-fi satire [‘Idiocracy’] unfolds in the 26th century in a United States whose degraded citizens habitually deaden themselves with video games and fast food. (The movie is a cult classic, rather than a popular favorite, because its absurdism hits too close to home.)

“Luke Wilson - playing the ‘most average’ soldier in the Army of 2005 - awakes from Rip Van Winkle hibernation to find that he’s the smartest guy in the country and soon joins the Cabinet of President Camacho, who entered the political arena via the wrestling arena.

“While Camacho’s skin color is much really less of an issue than, say, the fact that he commands respect at the State of the Union by firing an automatic rifle at the ceiling, his processed hair and street idiom do lend an extra outlandish to the apocalyptic portrait.”

Troy Patterson, writing on “Black Presidents: A Pop Culture Survey” on Oct. 24 at Slate

Anti-elite history

“Once again, history teaches. Andrew Jackson was an up-from-the-bootstraps frontiersman in a nation ever pushing west. He was a fighter, who not only won the Battle of New Orleans, but as a politician, fought the vested interests that he and voters believed were ruining the country.

“[Abraham] Lincoln - who doesn’t know how he was run into the ground as an unschooled backwoodsman? He was ridiculed for his informality and colloquialisms. Initially, his own Cabinet thought they were his betters.

“[Harry] Truman had a high school education and spent most his life in rural, small-town Missouri. His business ventures failed. There was no polish or elegance to the man, and he had a temper …

“The unassuming [Dwight] Eisenhower was renowned for his generalship, but as president, he was forever branded an inarticulate middlebrow. Ronald Reagan was the ‘amiable dunce.’ He chopped brush at this ranch and enjoyed a dinner of macaroni and cheese.

“But what each of these men had was the allegiance of the American people. The elites couldn’t figure it out then, and they’re missing the mark again about Sarah Palin.”

J. Robert Smith, writing on “Betting Against the Elites on Sarah Palin” on Oct. 24 at American Thinker

At the gates

“What I mean by the new barbarism is great ideas having bad effects. Great ideals turning out to be the stem cell of big crimes, big injustices, unfairnesses, brutality and so on.

“The barbarism 30 years ago when I wrote ‘Barbarism With a Human Face’ was Marxism, which pretended to be a fight in favor of justice, social equality, freedom, eradication of slavery, and which was exactly the contrary. And you have today a new barbarism in the case of these women and men who pretend to fight in favor of tolerance, in favor of anti-imperialism, in favor of anti-colonialism, and actually plead for slavery of the women, massive violation of human rights. Or when they don´t plead for that, they tolerate them, refuse to denounce them.

“You have a new mechanism today … for example, where in the name of anti-Americanism the crimes in Darfur are not denounced. The crimes in Bosnia were accepted. And so many wars in Africa or elsewhere are just forgotten.”

Bernard-Henri Levy, interviewed in the Salon article “Everything matters to everybody,” from Oct. 20

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