Saturday, September 17, 2016

Boomer Pharisaism

I get out of the habit of going over to First Things, because I am only interested in about half the articles, and they aren't the high-turnover, buffet-style site that I more usually spend my time on. But when I remember to go over every month or so, I always find interesting things.  I really should find a way to cut the times between down to two weeks.

Tangent:  I have my daily or almost-daily sites and my 3x/week sites.  I have some of you in my sidebar, so I can keep up with those effortlessly. I have also a few sites that I hit once a week, and seem to manage that without any exterior reminders.  But there are about a dozen sites that I really should check every 2-3 weeks and I just don't.  I will have to devise some Method, such as will assist a Bear of Uncertain Memory.

Boomer Pharisaism, by Barton Swaim first identifies Hillary Clinton's style of explanation as similar in style to that of a Public Information officer (Re: Travelgate, according to her memoirs):
Banal, grammatically weird, not quite falsifiable. The controversy did happen “in a partisan political climate,” true enough. When are politics not partisan? But it’s unclear to me what Clinton intends by calling the episode “the first manifestation of an obsession for investigation that persisted into the next millennium.” She seems to mean the press is still trying to dig up stuff on her, as if that observation has any relevance to the controversy she’s purporting to relate. But anyway, digging up stuff is what the press does, so again: true enough.
Swaim, a fascinating political character out of South Carolina, seems to be tentatively aligned with conservatives, but with an eyebrow raise and a hint of a smirk.
The comparison of her style with that of Donald Trump is almost too obvious to remark. Whereas Clinton’s style is careful and boring, his is heedless and bonkers. More illuminating, I think, is a comparison between Clinton’s style and that of another ferociously ambitious and calculating politician: Richard Nixon.

Let us note that Clinton, in Swaim's comparison to Nixon, comes off far the worse. Barton has done his homework, and in the confessional parts of Nixon's autobiography RN, he writes lines - not of saintly contrition but very decent stand-up quality - that one cannot imagine being said or written by Hillary Clinton.

Also at First Things at present:  Peter Leithart's three-part series about Macbeth,including an analysis that the less-mentioned second and third murders he causes represent a deterioration through ever-more-basic levels of human loyalty.  From regicide and authority he descends to killing old friendship and finally, mother and children.  Good stuff.  R R Reno has a nice differentiation between nationalism and xenophobia; Peter Hitchens has a commentary on the aspirations of contemporary Russia from one who was a reporter in Moscow at the fall of the Iron Curtain; an essay on Pius XII vs Hitler, a continuation of the correction of the Hitler's Pope record of the last generation; a comparison of Donald Trump to Benjamin Disraeli - I mean, where else are you going to find such a thing?

And finally, an interesting biography of Frederick Law Olmstead, The Genius Of Winding Paths, which not only provides background on the designing of Central Park, but his earlier career, walking across the antebellum South and six months in England, reporting back to publishers and newspaper as he went. Objective and sometimes prescient observations.


RichardJohnson said...

And finally, an interesting biography of Frederick Law Olmstead which not only provides background on the designing of Central Park, but his earlier career, walking across the antebellum South and six months in England

Judging by his works- his books and designs of urban parks and college campuses- Olmsted was a remarkable man. He was from Hartford. I wonder if Olmsted ever met Mark Twain, who lived for decades in Hartford, but after Olmsted left it. Like fellow New Englander Richard Henry Dana [Two Years Before the Mast & career as attorney], physical ailments caused Olmsted to leave college early, and like Dana, that detour did not deter Olmsted from a life of accomplishments.

Olmsted's books on the antebellum South are worth perusing. One point Olmsted made is that while the South had "free" slave labor, its rural areas were poorer than rural areas in the North. Google Books search:Frederick Law Olmsted provides access to e-books of his work. I didn't expect Google Books to have more free e-books of Olmsted's works than Project Gutenberg, but it does. To narrow in on Olmsted's books on the antebellum South, here are titles of those books.

Journeys and Explorations in the Cotton Kingdom. Vol 1
Journeys and Explorations in the Cotton Kingdom. Vol 2
A Journey Through Texas; Or, A Saddle-trip on the Southwestern Frontier. With a Statistical Appendix
A Journey in the Back Country in the Winter of 1853-4
A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States, with Remarks on Their Economy

Sam L. said...

"But anyway, digging up stuff is what the press does, so again: true enough." Theoretically. I've read that sometimes they do, but it's always about Republicans.

james said...

From Vol 1:
"I have faith that there is a tight roof above the much-cracked ceiling...
I don't like these cracked and variegated walls; and though the roof may be tight, I don't like this threatening aspect of the ceiling. It should be kept for boarders of Damoclesian ambition: I am humble."

Texan99 said...

I'm reading his "Journey Through Texas" on Google now. It's a pleasure to encounter the travel journal of an author whose travels weren't wasted on him.

Unknown said...

I keep going back every quarter or so, but where I would read everything when it was under Neihaus' editorship, it just doesn't hold my attention now. Some of the R.R. Reno is a bit too much "Us vs Them" with "them" playing the role of the baddie for my taste.