Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Smiley Face

Was hesitant to leaf through the latest New Republic. I had taken a few days off, during which I resisted, pretty successfully, the temptation to revel in the other side’s sobbing and tantrums.

What did reach me during this quiet time—Jane Smiley’s fanatical anti-Americanism for instance—only encouraged me to return to my housework and catch up on my fiction reading (which did not include A Thousand Acres).

The not-so-militant truth about this opinion journalist is that I find real partisan hatred, when I’m aware of it, stultifying.

But I had to laugh when I saw the New Republic cover of this woman with raccoon eyes, weeping over the Kerry defeat. I assumed it was unintentional self-parody--until today, when I gave the new issue a good going-over (quite different from an actual read-through).

Jeff Rosen has an ultra-civilized piece (sorry, offline only) on what it’s like being married to a Republican (the talented writer Christine Rosen). Mr. Rosen bemoans our culture’s "addiction to emotions and images." He says it makes our political differences "worse by encouraging voters to evaluate politicians in personal terms." And: "This leads people to exaggerate their hatred for any candidate to whom they don’t feel personally connected." It’s not hard to imagine the Kerry supporter on the cover felt some of this.

I also enjoyed Ryan Lizza’s election night piece and Jason Zengerle’s article on the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort in Ohio. Lizza is to be congratulated on his embarrassing disclosure of Election Day euphoria as Kerry appeared to be sweeping Bush, though he’s got be kidding when he writes: "Like Al Gore in 2000, Kerry was at his best and most gracious in defeat."

That’s not the Al Gore I remember in 2000. And it’s not the Al Gore we read about in The New Yorker recently.

As for Brian Kennedy’s piece on hackers (to answer JVL’s query), it seems like a solid article. It informs me on some issues I wanted to know more about, though I found the lede graph very confusing. Truth is, I’d rather see the New Republic publish interesting work like this and demonstrate their Stephen Glass shame by, say, not painting themselves as innocent victims of a very bad kid by promoting films that acquit them of any wrongdoing.


Anonymous said...

TNR's sour grapes is nothing compared the sputtering rage found elsewhere in the world of left-wing mags.

To wit:

Matthew Ygelsias: http://www.prospect.org/web/printfriendly-view.ww?id=8844

Key Quote: "But the next election's a long way off, and one doubts that these paragons of humble American virtue [i.e., the Religious Right] spend a lot of time reading liberal Web magazines. So perhaps for a moment I can say what I mean rather than what would be tactically expedient: If ever there were a group of people deserving of scorn and condescension, we have been meeting them at the polls these past few elections."

Matthew Rothschild: http://www.progressive.org/webex04/wx1103c04.html

Key quote: "Deep in the psyche of the American mind is the myth of exceptionalism: that we, somehow, are the greatest country on Earth, a shining beacon on a hill, placed here by God himself. This is the American superiority complex, a profound affliction that distorts our perceptions and enables manipulative Presidents to give the marching orders."

And they wonder why they cannot reach some voters!

Anonymous said...

The Rosen piece is online here.