In the brief national soul-searching that followed the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, many observers, including President Obama, reflected on the troubling excess of anger and moral indignation in our political discourse—the kind of indignation that turns opponents into enemies, and campaigns into crusades. Yet, even as responsible figures on the right and the left in America are urging their fellow-citizens (in Roger Ailes’s surprising words) to “tone it down,” the best-selling book in France is a pamphlet titled Indignez-vous!—roughly, Get Angry!
All the attention paid to the season finale of "Mad Men," last Sunday night more or less eclipsed the finale of AMC’s other Sunday-night drama, "Rubicon." It’s not clear yet whether Rubicon will be back for another season—it hasn’t exactly gotten rave reviews (New York Magazine’s verdict: “A promising show that started with a train crash ends up kind of a train wreck.” But complaints about the series’ slow narrative pace and uneven performances shouldn’t be allowed to obscure what made "Rubicon" so fascinating: its subversion, even deconstruction, of the very spy-thriller clichés it was built
I haven’t yet read all the way through Freedom, the new novel by Jonathan Franzen. But like every sentient person in the United States, I’ve read a good deal about it, and I’ve been especially intrigued by the way reviewers have characterized Franzen’s attempt to write the political history of the George W. Bush years.