Monday, April 21, 2014

Theme: American Politics

  • Helprin’s latest novel, In Sunlight and in Shadow, can be read as an elegy for the American Century. Helprin’s emphasis on invidividual responsibility, as well as his backwards-lookingness, over-the-topness, and magical thinking, give us a window into the Republican Party he supports.Read more
  • American political narratives failed this election. It seems the political media was befuddled as sayers and intelligentsia failed to provide wise counsel (save Nate Silver’s 538). Yet not just ‘they’ it’s ‘we’ machine users, participating in this representation process and sharing in derision. How to read what was immediately identified as republican “alternate universes,” is this not a bipartisan problem? A fate identified for the moment by a peculiar media “dominance” that far right ideology over party machinery followed by post-election threats of ceding from the Union.Read more
  • She has no heirs. She has several epigones but their detail-laden lacquered ships for me don’t float. She flares singular, exemplary, a diamond absolute the American East forged in a pressure chamber we have yet fully to excavate.Read more
  • What the republican candidatura conceals in its paradoxical movement is the questionable duration of the American State. This question is concealed by the incessant focus on the figure of the executive. Political cult is powered by the increasing exhibition of language. In language, the gestation of political figures takes form.Read more
  • “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, then chief of staff to President-elect Obama, said in November 2008, describing the opportunities for reform presented by the financial meltdown.Read more
  • There have been other comic strips that dealt with politics, but they did so sporadically, and as one-trick diversions—Al Capp satirizing the welfare state with his schmoos, Walt Kelly turning Senator Joseph McCarthy into Simple J. Malarkey—but Trudeau has reflected on politics at a depth and with a breadth no one else has achieved. No wonder he won the first Pulitzer Prize given to a comic strip (in 1975). When Nixon bombed Cambodia without telling Congress that he was invading another country, Trudeau sent his terrorist character Phred to the bomb site. When he sees a couple standing American Gothic–style before a leveled museum, he asks if this happened during the secret bombing of Cambodia. The man says it was no secret. “I said ‘Look Martha, here come the bombs.’” Nothing could say more succinctly that many of our national security secrets are not meant to deceive the enemy, but to keep Congress and the American people in the dark about what our government is doing in our name. (I liked this strip so well that I asked Trudeau for the original, and it now hangs on my wall.)Read more
  • In a conversation with the AV club, Bob Woodward discusses his latest book examing Obama’s role as Commander in Chief.Read more
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