I doubt I agreed with a single one of her policy positions–if I did, I never encountered it–but I admired her madly anyway. She was an early political role model to me, at a time when American girls were presented with precious few roles for women in politics besides “wife” whose job was to dispense adoring looks–or oddballs who, wonderful as though they were, struck one more like maiden aunts than mothers. Thatcher established (for me) that one could run a country and still give out her own adoring looks for her beloved husband, Denis, and that he seemed to return in equal adoration.
Robert Caro came to give the Dennis and Brooks Holt Distinguished Lecture last night. That sponsored lecture allows USC to attract distinguished thinkers on politics and the media.
Caro was so charming in every way–an amazing story-teller, with a lovely New York boy accent–and I loved so much of what he said it’s hard to distill.
For one thing, I love how Caro manages to humanize Lyndon Johnson without romanticizing him. Caro has been able to demonstrate why LBJ is so important to the left–and how effective a political genius he was in accomplishing things for people–like rural Texans–that are normally not the beneficiaries of public policy. And just how ruthless he was in doing so.
The second thing I took away was his incredible patience. It doesn’t seem to bother him that, in his 80s now, he may or may not get to the end of his LBJ project before it’s time for him to exit. And he does seem to have another project in mind–but he refused to answer that question when asked because he’s superstitious. I love this–I really don’t like to discuss nascent work, either, which many people rather treat like a weakness. Well, if Robert Caro can do it, I can, too. I don’t like to talk away ideas before I write them.
In addition to his interest in new projects, he admitted last night that he reads Trollope, which made me squeal with delight. I love Trollope, but whenever I am reading these old, long meandering 19th century novels, there is a nagging person inside my head telling me that I am wasting my time, that nothing these novelists have to say matters to the world, and that, at middle-age, I only have so much reading time left. If a guy in his 80s can spend his free time reading Trollope, and his working time working for 8 years on a biography of roughly 3 months of a man’s life, then I can let time go lightly, too.
That’s usually what washed-up pseudo-celebs do when they become unhappy with their (usually entirely deserved) relegation to oblivion.
It’s really hard to even write this post because there really is nothing about Ann Coulter that doesn’t disgust me–I like my conservative commentary with actual content in it, which is why I am a regular reader of material from Cato and NR.
She’s just a fame monger, and I’m not sure why anybody pays attention to her except that she’s blonde and says mean things, routinely, like somehow being snotty equals being hard-hitting and being common equals being populist. It was boring and predictable 10 years ago when Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore patented it.
Here is a response from Tim Shriver to Coulter’s mean-ass, petty Twitter: I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard. (during the debate)
Here is the money quote from Shriver:
I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.
And here I was just wondering if Coulter meant “retard” as “person who actually uses reason in debate instead of playground invective.”
Amateur Hour: Stupid versus smart image politics, and is it really that hard to find dirty dishes to wash?
OOoooo yes it’s a new liberal media attack on poor dear TEA party hero Paul Ryan: this story in the WashPo notes that he put his family through a fake photo op at a soup kitchen for reasons that really make little sense to anybody. I see one of his kids writing a Bristol Palin type memoir soonish.
Image politics bites back: who would have thought that, apparently, pictures of you washing clean pans can make you look like a fool when people actually report on what you did. You mean pictures aren’t enough? I guess not.
The comments on the story are, as always, dumb: Ooooo doncha ya know, that Ohbummer does the same thing with hugging pizza guys.
Um, no, Obama does not do the same thing. His people are really competent at controlling images. That’s the difference. He doesn’t have to photoshop the hug. Or hire an actor to play a pizza guy to hug or a janitor to fist bump. If something cute or human or inspiring is staged, as they undoubtedly are, they take a picture and circulate it widely. It’s called image politics, and it’s as old as politicians kissing babies.
But they don’t kiss dolls and then try to tell people that it was a real baby with typhus and aren’t they brave for kissing it? Gah! HOW DO YOU MESS UP A PHOTO OP AT A SOUP KITCHEN? Amateur hour.
The millions and scads that Romney has in money should be getting him better staffer than this. Everybody who is a pro in politics knows you don’t ask a volunteer if a candidate can come in. You do actually ask somebody on payroll with a title that has “director” in it, for precisely the reasons outlined here in the WashPo follow up with the charity’s president: many public charities steer clear of endorsing candidates because they know they will lose donations if they appear to be throwing in behind a particular candidate.
We all know this. How can Ryan’s people not know this? How in God’s name could anybody have thought that nobody would talk about a candidate playing with clean dishes for the cameras?
They would have been FINE just talking with volunteers and getting their pictures taken shaking hands and thanking real volunteers. FINE. But no.