Assimilation and its meaning.
For the better part of two decades, I have spent much of every summer in the small resort of Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod. It has long attracted artists, writers, the offbeat, and the bohemian; and, for many years now, it has been to gay America what Oak Bluffs in Martha's Vineyard is to black America: a place where a separate identity essentially defines a separate place.
The events of the past months have awakened the press to the true nature of the Bush administration. It is overrun with hacks--that is, government officials with waifish resumes padded like the Michelin man, whose political connections have won them important national responsibilities. But, in the face of this rush to flay the Bush hacks, we should consider their achievements.To fully appreciate the virtues of this administration, we must first recall the administration that came before. Back in the 1990s, Bill Clinton recruited a small army of Arkansans and Rhodes scholars to the West Wing.
Were Norman Mailer to pen a sequel to The Armies of the Night, his chronicle of a 1967 antiwar march on the Pentagon, his notes might read something like this: Good news and bad news to report from this weekend’s protest in Washington against the Iraq war—good news because over 100,000 demonstrators turned out to voice their opposition to war, racism, and inequality; bad news because the loudest voices belonged to pre-adolescents. Yes, as I traverse the Mall on Saturday, I cannot escape 13- and 14-year-old girls with peace signs (and the occasional Mercedes logo) painted on their cheeks.
BULL CONNOR BULL Last Thursday, at a New York town-hall meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Charles Rangel took the stage vacated minutes earlier by Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and declared, “George Bush is our Bull Connor.” This comment is preposterous enough on its own—Bull Connor, the Birmingham police chief who turned hoses and dogs on civil rights marchers in 1963 and became a symbol of Southern racism, would never have had a black secretary of state.
“I am innocent,” Tom DeLay declared in the frantic hours after his indictment by Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle. “I have done nothing wrong. “ It remains to be seen whether the now-former House Republican majority leader is guilty, as Earle’s indictment charges, of conspiring to direct corporate political contributions illegally to Texas state candidates. The indictment, after all, offers scant details establishing DeLay’s culpability.
In January 2006, a court in Northern Virginia will hear a case in which, for the first time, the federal government has charged two private citizens with leaking state secrets. CBS News first reported the highly classified investigation that led to this prosecution on the eve of the Republican National Convention. On August 27, 2004, Lesley Stahl told her viewers that, in a "full-fledged espionage investigation," the FBI would soon "roll up" a "suspected mole" who had funneled Pentagon policy deliberations concerning Iran to Israel.
Gorgeous he was not. He stood a few inches over five feet tall. In place of his usual Savile Row suit, he wore a light blazer and dark slacks, and his shirt flared open at the collar. His hair was thinning, his tan fading. But, when he ascended the podium, the audience cheered. It was Saturday night at the First Congregational Church in downtown Washington, and George Galloway—the most celebrated visiting orator in the United States—was about to address the antiwar crowd. Galloway’s day job is representing an East London neighborhood in British Parliament for the respect Party.
Americans do not capitulate easily to adversity, which is why President Bush's elegy last week--and his stirring promise to rebuild--comforted us. "Americans want the Gulf Coast not just to survive, but to thrive; not just to cope, but to overcome," he said, standing in front of the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, my hometown. "We want evacuees to come home for the best of reasons--because they have a real chance at a better life in a place they love." It sounds uplifting. But, sadly, it is wrong. New Orleans should not be remade.
Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman's Crusade By Donald T. Critchlow (Princeton University Press, 422 pp., $29.95) I. Few living Americans are more deserving of the kind of exhaustive political biography that Donald T. Critchlow has written than Phyllis Schlafly. If political influence consists in transforming this huge and cantankerous country in one's preferred direction, Schlafly has to be regarded as one of the two or three most important Americans of the last half of the twentieth century.
Everyone who watched this summer's race for College Republican National Committee (CRNC) chair with any detachment has a favorite moment of chutzpah they admire in spite of themselves. Leading the count are the following: speaking sotto voce of your opponent's "homosexuality"; rigging the delegate count so that states that support your candidate have twice as many votes as those that don't; and using a sitting congressman to threaten the careers of undecided voters. I can understand the perverse appeal of each of these incidents.