Monday, October 05, 2009


These three articles should probably be read together.
Paul Krugman: The Politics of Spite
Roger Cohen: The Public Imperative
Lisa Jones: We Don't Surrender Until We Have To

The connections may not be obvious, but since I've started unspinning them, the themes wind around each other and mesh in surprising ways. So I'll start unspinning them here so that you can also enjoy that multiplicity.

Krugman excoriates the juvenilia that the National Review has emitted in response to the Olympic Committee's rejection of Chicago's bid and President Obama's part in that bid. Helmut excerpted part of the op-ed that I keep going back to. How does one define oneself? And what does it mean for an entire political party to define itself solely by opposition, no matter how unthinking?

Cohen contemplates the differences in attitude toward health care between America and Europe and finds that the difference goes deep. He also identifies part of what was once the Republican response: rugged individualism. And he emphasizes that adjective, which has so unthinkingly become part of that noun in political usage. I started thinking of other sorts of individualism: pushing gender boundaries, removing oneself from the competition for material possessions, making oneself electronically unavailable so that one might spend time thinking. They don't fit so well with the rugged sort of individualism.

Lisa Jones pushed some boundaries and found an unusual person, an individual, who well might be described as rugged but who might not find a home in the Republican Party. She does a good job of describing some things that I can identify with, that most of us might be able to identify with, but we hardly ever talk about.

The boys at National Review just might take a few minutes away from their keyboards to think about Jones's article. Print it out, fellas, and go sit down under a tree and read it.

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