Item: “In recounting Saturday’s deliberations, [administration officials] said Mr. Obama was acutely conscious of avoiding any perception that the United States was once again quietly engineering the ouster of a major Middle East leader. … ‘He said several times that the outcome has to be decided by the Egyptian people, and the U.S. cannot be in a position of dictating events.’”—David E.
The contours and consequences of the uprising in Egypt—which, after decades in which Hosni Mubarak destroyed the civil society of his country and stifled the most elementary aspirations of his people, was perfectly inevitable—are still unclear. About the justice of the protestors’ anger there can be no doubt. But the politics of the revolt are murky.
One expects to discover, as one’s experience of the years grows great, that life is too short, but it is disagreeable to discover that life is also—I do not want to say too long, because only a fool would want the light to go out, but long enough for one to suffer the marginalization, and even the disappearance, of values and causes and of course people that one loves. The world does not care about anything forever. Its forward movement will not be broken. The relentlessness of time is a condition of progress, but even when it does not bring progress it is relentless.
There are many ways to prop up a currency artificially. “We’re wrestling with the same stuff as Rilke,” Bono recently told The New York Times about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the hapless Broadway wonder for which he collaborated on the music. More specifically, “Rilke, Blake, ‘Wings of Desire,’ Roy Lichtenstein, the Ramones.” I was not previously aware of the Rilkean elements in “Rockaway Beach.” Those elements Bono characterized as “the cost of feeling feelings,” which throws the Blakean dimension into question, but never mind. Precision is really not the point.
Check out TNR's new online feature, “At the Movies,” for all of our latest reviews and old classics in one convenient spot (just below “Citizen Cohn” on our blog roll). The New Republic has been reviewing movies for almost as long as there have been movies. It made noise about them before they made sound. For the last 53 years, Stanley Kauffmann has presided over our coverage of film, with all the strengths of judgment and temperament, and all the erudition, for which he is justly celebrated. His devotion to his calling is itself one of The New Republic’s central teachings.
Richard Holbrooke was a piece of work. He was a paradoxical man: a remarkably subtle thinker capable of the most egregious lack of subtlety, a brilliant diplomat with one of the least diplomatic temperaments anybody ever encountered. He was always cunning but never malevolent. Mentally, he was sleepless, relentlessly pondering the meanings of even the most trivial events and experiences. (An example: Decades ago Holbrooke was strolling down Madison Avenue with a friend. A man passed them and said “Hi, Dick”.
Can one be for democracy in some states and against democracy in other states? As a matter of principle, of course not: democracy is universalism as a political order. It is premised on a certain conception of the individual and society, on an understanding of dignity and freedom that would be meaningless if it did not apply to all people. By bringing all people under a single philosophical description, it ignores, without regret, the social and economic and cultural distinctions among them. It equalizes.
The memory of Stephen Solarz, who died this week, should serve as a rude reminder of a time, not long ago but nonetheless ancient, when Capitol Hill was deeply immersed—when it led—in American foreign policy, and a congressman could become a significant figure on the world stage. The honorable gentleman from Brighton Beach had an impact upon the fate of nations.
Over a perfectly prepared bowl of cholent, the coarse stew to which all Galicianer souls are superstitiously attached, I sat in the kosher restaurant in Munich last week, on the gleaming modernist island of the city’s new Jewish institutions, and read the correspondence between Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt, which has just been published in Germany. The radio played American oldies of the 1960s, in a pernicious attempt to make me feel at home. The situation was emotionally impossible, of course.
“If you have ghosts, then you have everything.” Those are the words of a tender and demented rock legend of Austin, and they have stood me in good stead for years. Ghosts are a solution for loneliness. One needs someone to talk to. I mean about the old themes, if one believes that they are still the right themes. Ghosts are the natural companions of anybody in estrangement; the invisible officers of tradition, of all the valuable things that have been declared obsolete but, in some stubborn hearts, are not obsolete.