Monday, November 01, 2004

Must-reads, before you pull the curtain

As your blogstress frets about trauma, Osama and Jersey City, others have taken a broader view of the 2004 presidential contest.


In his National Journal column, Off Message, William Powers calls us back to a time when we could all be afraid together, rather than blaming each other for facilitating fear:


[B]y and large, atomic-age fear was a fear that united. We experienced it collectively, in effect as one big family. The most beloved kitsch images of the time are about domestic preparations for the big blast, and the families depicted always have a generic Norman Rockwell look.


Powers goes on to remind us that the outcome of this election will not cause civilization to end (though some of us wonder if it hasn't already). A welcome corrective to an overheated environment. (What global warming?) Plus, if more enticement is needed, there's a delightful William Shatner sighting in there. (We hear he's recording another music album. And for that, we're very afraid...)

Read Powers's column


From the New Yorker comes an endorsement of John Kerry signed, simply, "The Editors". But with its resplendent opening paragraph, your Webwench can't help but wonder whether it came from the pen of one of the best living essayists working in the English language:


This Presidential campaign has been as ugly and as bitter as any in American memory. The ugliness has flowed mostly in one direction, reaching its apotheosis in the effort, undertaken by a supposedly independent group financed by friends of the incumbent, to portray the challenger-—who in his mid-twenties was an exemplary combatant in both the Vietnam War and the movement to end that war—-as a coward and a traitor. The bitterness has been felt mostly by the challenger’s adherents; yet there has been more than enough to go around. This is one campaign in which no one thinks of having the band strike up "Happy Days Are Here Again."


Read the editors' complete endorsement


And speaking of fear, rage, and one of the best living essayists working in the English language, your cybertrix urges her readers to revisit Hendrik Hertzberg's masterful piece, "Under Fire," which ran just before the Republican National Convention took over New York:


The Republicans are here. We—-we New Yorkers—-hope they enjoy the amenities of our city. We hope they are treated politely by all of our fellow canyon dwellers, including those among us who are alarmed by the performance of the incumbent Administration during the past three and a half years—-alarmed by its mania for shovelling cash to the very rich at the expense of families of middling means, its servility to polluters and fossil-fuel extractors, its reckless embrace of fiscal insolvency, its hostility to science, its political alliances with fanatic religious fundamentalisms of every stripe except Islamic (and of that stripe, too, when the subject is family planning or capital punishment), its partisan exploitation of our city’s suffering after the attacks of September 11, 2001, its transubstantiation of the worldwide solidarity that followed those attacks into worldwide anti-Americanism, and its diversion of American blood, treasure, and expertise away from the pursuit of Al Qaeda to a bloody occupation of Iraq that appears to have done nothing to weaken Islamist terrorism and may have done more than a little to strengthen it. We sincerely hope that those who will inevitably take to the streets in order to register their objections to the above will conduct themselves courteously and will refrain from offensive or destructive behavior—not only because such behavior is ill-mannered but also because it would represent a huge gift to the political purpose that has brought our conventioneering guests to town. It’s nice to make nice, but that would be overdoing it.


Read Hertzberg's complete piece









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