I whole-heartedly agree with the New York Times’s new conservative op-ed columnist, David Brooks, who declares in his column today that “we’ve moved from the age of the culture wars to the age of the presidency wars.” (If that link requires registration, try this one instead.) In the presidency wars, bitter hatred and ignorant vitriol — based on a blend of “political disagreement, cultural resentment and personal antipathy” — have replaced actual debate about issues, he says.
Describing today’s quintessential “presidential warrior,” Brooks writes, “He avoids facts that might complicate his hatred. He doesn’t weigh the sins of his friends against the sins of his enemies. But about the president he will believe anything.” Yup. Excerpt:
The fundamental argument in the presidency wars is not that the president is wrong, or is driven by a misguided ideology. That’s so 1980’s. The fundamental argument now is that he is illegitimate. He is so ruthless, dishonest and corrupt, he undermines the very rules of civilized society. Many conservatives believed this about Clinton. Teddy Kennedy obviously believes it about Bush. Howard Dean declares, “What’s at stake in this election is democracy itself.” …
To the warrior, politics is no longer a clash of value systems, each of which is in some way valid. It’s not a competition between basically well-intentioned people who see the world differently. It’s not even a conflict of interests. Instead, it’s the Florida post-election fight over and over, a brutal struggle for office in which each side believes the other is behaving despicably. The culture wars produced some intellectually serious books because there were principles involved. The presidency wars produce mostly terrible ones because the hatreds have left the animating ideas far behind and now romp about on their own.
The warriors have one other feature: ignorance. They have as much firsthand knowledge of their enemies as members of the K.K.K. had of the N.A.A.C.P. In fact, most people in the last two administrations were well-intentioned patriots doing the best they could. The core threat to democracy is not in the White House, it’s the haters themselves.
I particularly respect Brooks for applying this argument to both Bush-haters and Clinton-haters, as is right and proper. The National Review says his column is a direct attack on fellow Times columnist Paul Krugman, and maybe that’s so, but nevertheless his argument is — dare I say it — fair and balanced, and that’s worth something.
Moreover, Brooks even acknowledges that he wishes he had been more vocal in criticizing 1990’s conservatives for the behavior he now takes liberals to task for. Why is this important? Well, I have always believed that a person who has the intellectual honesty to criticize his friends as well as his enemies — and, better still, to criticize himself — needs to be taken seriously when he is criticizing others. And Brooks should definitely be taken seriously here.
If you don’t believe him about the hateful vitriol that the Left is spewing against Bush these days, pick up the Village Voice sometime. I do periodically (because it’s free), and I literally find the political commentary difficult to get through. Even when I agree with the substantive points being made, the level of absolute hatred that the writers obviously feel toward Bush & co. is just downright disturbing. Rather than thinking, “that’s a good point,” I tend to think, “you need help.”
If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.
At least that’s what Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood must be thinking right about now.
Through five innings in tonight’s playoff game against the Braves, Wood had pitched brilliantly, allowing just one hit. But unfortunately, that hit was a home run, and the Chicago offense was providing no support whatsoever — they had stranded a ton of runners, including loading the bases with nobody out and then failing to score — so the Cubs trailed, 1-0. Wood had to be frustrated.
In the top of the sixth, the Cubs loaded ‘em up again, and managed to tie the game at 1-1. But it looked like they were only going to manage that one run, which would have been rather disappointing.
Kerry Wood, however, would have none of that.
The pitcher, the ninth hitter in the Cubs’ lineup, came to the plate with runners on second and third and two outs in the sixth — and promptly hit a two-run double to center field, scoring both runs. Cubs 3, Braves 1.
He then proceeded to score on the next batter’s single: Cubs 4, Braves 1.
Who needs run support from your offense when you are your own offense? :)
Way to go, Kerry! Go, Cubbies, go!
In other news, the Yankees lost today. Woohoo! (Actually, I must say, I sort of want the Yanks to win their series with the Twins, because I want the Red Sox to beat the Yankees — not the Twins — in the ALCS. But I definitely hope to see the Yanks-Twins series go to five games, and this is a good step in that direction. So, hurrah!)
UPDATE: Cubs win!
My favorite moments in the trailer — which I’ve watched, oh, 500 times so far :) — are the shot of Gandalf the White charging toward battle with Nazgul, his staff aglow…
…and the concluding shot of Sam Gamgee inside Mount Doom, his face illuminated by the Fire, screaming, “Nooo!”
In addition, there is a particularly wonderful Slinker/Stinker moment wherein, after Frodo defends Gollum against Sam’s accusations of murderous intent, Gollum looks back at Sam, and his sheepish, pitiful Smeagol facial expression turns ever so briefly into a wickedly evil Gollum grin. (Sorry, I don’t have any pictures of the transition. But trust me, it’s cool.)
I also like the fact that, during the Last Debate inside Minas Tirith (third frame down on this page), Gimli the Dwarf appears to be sitting on the seat of the late Steward of Gondor, smoking a pipe. Heh.
Oh, and let’s not forget Shelob’s big-screen debut:
How many days until December 17?!? :)
I think the pope may be dying. The latest word from the Vatican makes the situation sound grave, at any rate.
The Return of the King trailer is now available for download! Woohoo!
Here’s a photo of me and the lovely Kate Morran at Sunday’s “Pirate Party” in West Hartford.
Arrrr, indeed. :)
A few more pictures:
Hurricane Juan was “the worst storm to hit [Nova Scotia] in decades,” the CBC declares.
It killed two people. And check out these idiots at Peggy’s Cove, who are lucky they didn’t join the casualty list:
A 300-pound gorrilla escaped from a Boston zoo on Sunday, his second flight to freedom in two months. The poor beast — he obviously just wants to be the Red Sox’ rally monkey!
I’m commuting to NYC directly from Hartford this morning, having missed the bus I was planning to take last night. Rather than arrive in the wee hours, it made more sense to take the morning’s first train. We just left the station. Adios, Connecticut!
Juan made landfall at 11:00 PM about 30 miles southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia — which I think puts it near Peggy’s Cove, the most photographed spot in North America and my favorite place on earth — as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds.
With apologies for the all caps, here are a few wind reports from the National Hurricane Center’s 2:00 AM advisory:
AT HALIFAX INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT…A SUSTAINED WIND OF 62 MPH AT
1204 AM AST…WITH A GUST TO 89 MPH AT 1214 AM AST.
AT HALIFAX HARBOR…A SUSTAINED WIND OF 58 MPH WITH A GUST TO 75 MPH
AT 11 PM AST…SUNDAY.
CARIBOU POINT NOVA SCOTIA…A SUSTAINED WIND OF 53 MPH WITH A GUST
TO 74 MPH AT 146 AM AST.
TRURO NOVA SCOTIA…A GUST TO 56 MPH AT 1200 AM AST.
CHARLOTTESTOWN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND…A SUSTAINED WIND OF 40 MPH
WITH A GUST TO 56 MPH AT 126 AM AST.
Those gusts must look even more impressive in kilometers per hour, because the numbers would be bigger. :)
Anyway, our National Hurricane Center has issued its final advisory on Juan, which is now rapidly becoming extratropical; more info is available from the Canadian Hurricane Centre, eh?
“Once again, Pac-10 matters little in national title picture,” CBS Sportsline declares in a headline. The article elaborates:
The conference is effectively out of the national championship race and back to its old ways. Shootouts, fluid standings from one year to the next. The league that sent two teams to BCS bowls for the first time in 2002 looks in dire straits, thanks to some wonderful upsets.
And you know what? They may be right. The conference may indeed have shot itself in the foot once again, by being so damn interesting. But if so, it isn’t an indictment of the Pac-10 — it’s an indictment of the “camera” that takes the “national title picture,” namely the BCS.
Look, the Pac-10 is a conference that’s competitive and balanced enough that its teams actually compete, and beat each other up on a week-by-week basis. Instead of predictable weekly blowouts by highly ranked teams over lower-tier squads, we get frequent thrillers and upsets. And that’s supposed to be a bad thing?!?
Going undefeated in the regular season should not be a prerequisite for winning a national title. Having a strong regular season, and then going undefeated in the postseason — in a national championship tournament — should be.
But alas, going undefeated in a weak, lopsided conference like the Big East or ACC is enough to land a team in the title game, while going 7-1 in a tough, topsy-turvy conference — as USC did last year, and could well do again this year — gets you nothing but a consolation prize.
As Chris Rock said in Head of State, “that ain’t right.”
Alas, Detroit fell just short of the record. Better luck next year, boys. :)