Reviewing the Review: March 26 2006

Political bloggers Jerome Armstrong and Markon Soulitsas Zuniga (of MyDD and DailyKos, respectively) have written a book, Crashing the Gate, designed to badger ineffective and discouraged Democrats to find strength in unity before the next election. These two internet-savvy activist/entrepeneurs did a great job of rallying popular opinion during the last Presidential election, and they run tight, highly focused online political/journalistic organizations. But maybe Peter Beinart doesn’t think as highly of them as I do, because his review of their book in today’s New York Times Book Review adopts a condescending tone.

Beinart seems sympathetic to the politics expressed in this book, but he doesn’t like the authors’ uppity tone. He corrects their historical references like a dull schoolteacher, and stretches one particular thin metaphor way too far, insisting that in calling for a strong unity candidate Armstrong and Zuniga are leading us towards a liberal version of Barry Goldwater. It’s a weak objection, but Beinart milks it for all it’s worth. Beinart is an editor at large at the old-school liberal rag the New Republic, and perhaps he is not aware that DailyKos and MyDD are already more relevant to electoral politics than his tired magazine.

There’s some good writing in today’s Book Review. Joyce Carol Oates waxes purple — and quite engagingly — over Antonya Nelson’s book of short stories, Some Fun, and Brad Leithauser waxes purple over a new translation and career retrospective, the Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy.

As is often the case, other sections of the Sunday Times equal the Book Review for literary content. Arts and Leisure gives us good pieces on playwrights David Hare and Samuel Beckett, and the Magazine ends with a piece by novelist Catherine Texier, who has apparently been traipsing around Russia with a new boy-toy. It’s good to see she’s bounced back from her breakup.

2 Responses

  1. Roualt painted with a broad
    Roualt painted with a broad brush

    I’ve often thought LitKicks should have a political section, simply because of the high-powered intellects that contribute to this site. The call for a united Liberal front is non sequitur, is antithetical to itself. There’s a basic difference between conservative and liberal mindset. Conservative thought unites its members by the concept of agreement – everyone thinking alike. Liberal thought unites its membership with the concept of allowing everyone to think differently. If I’m being too hard on my conservative brethren – well they ain’t no kin a mine (actually they are.) The unifying theme of the revolting Reagan revolution was/is states rights. Head south, and you’ll find that states rights is a common codeword for racism. Talk to my kinfolk down there and they’ll tell you they support that idea. The greatest victory for the Reaganites was not dismantling the Soviet Empire (uh, actually Lek Welesa and Osama did most a that) it was making “union” a dirty word – remember them damned air traffic controllers who wanted to be paid more than prison guards? And them pinko commies like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie who dedicated their lives and machines to killing fascism? A standard litmus to distinguish between conservatives and liberals is abortion. Pro-life means that you can’t kill the unborn. Pro-choice doesn’t say you have to do that, merely that it’s up to the concerned parties to make their own choice. Historically liberals have delighted in attacking one another because they have different points of view. Conservatives rarely attack one another; heeding Reagan’s eleventh commandment. But Mr. Bush has made it possible for all sides to attack ineptitude. Personally I don’t see why most everyone wouldn’t belong to a “green” party or a “workers” party; unless you don’t work for a living or don’t care about the earth. By the way, that’s a hell of an article in the Times; but again, Bush has made it possible for a lot of people to shun the news like the plague. Who the hell wants to even think about it.

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