“If he’s so smart, and so sane, why has he fallen short of his spectacular potential so far?” No need to wonder who Frank Rich is writing about in this sentence, which gives the headline to this recent New York Review of Books essay: “Why Has He Fallen Short?” Only President Obama could inspire that particular blend of admiration and disillusionment among liberals.
The final scene of the 1975 movie Three Days of the Condor is enough to make any journalist nostalgic. After two hours of dodging assassins and exposing corruption at the heart of the American government, Robert Redford finds sanctuary by making his way to 229 West 43rd Street—the iconic old address of The New York Times. There he confronts his CIA tormentor (played by Cliff Robertson), announcing that he has told a Times reporter everything he knows.
Pity is not one of the qualities one associates with Slavoj Zizek, whose radicalism runs more towards fantasies of purgative violence. But in a recent interview with The Times of India, he indulged in at least a little pity for himself, complaining that “now they say I am the most dangerous philosopher in the West.
A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster By Wendy Moffat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 404 pp., $32.50) Concerning E.M. Forster By Frank Kermode (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 180 pp., $24) Whenever E.M. Forster is discussed, the phrase “only connect” is sure to come up sooner or later. The epigraph to Howards End, the book he described with typical modesty as “my best novel and approaching a good novel,” seems to capture the leading idea of all his work—the moral importance of connection between individuals, across the barriers of race, class, and nation.