?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Random: Four Articles That Caught My Eye 
7th-Jul-2008 01:09 pm
Indy/Figuring It Out
Three Four [thanks to weaklingrecords for the last recommendation] articles that caught my eye, the first thanks to friede, who's quite right in finding Dowd dodgy in general (I tend to find the made-up writing of Lois Lane more useful), but who does well in simply, well, reporting in this column.

An Ideal Husband By MAUREEN DOWD
36 Hours in Pittsburgh By JEFF SCHLEGEL
On sale now in Jerusalem: Priestly garments By MATTI FRIEDMAN
Wall-E for President By FRANK RICH

Op-Ed Columnist
An Ideal Husband

By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: July 6, 2008

This weekend, we celebrate our great American pastime: messy celebrity divorces.

There’s the Christie Brinkley/Peter Cook fireworks on Long Island and the Madonna/Guy Ritchie/A-Rod Roman candle in New York.

So how do you avoid a relationship where you end up saying, “The man who I was living with, I just didn’t know who he was” — as Brinkley did in court when talking about her husband’s $3,000-a-month Internet porn and swinger site habit? (Not to mention the 18-year-old mistress/assistant.)

Father Pat Connor, a 79-year-old Catholic priest born in Australia and based in Bordentown, N.J., has spent his celibate life — including nine years as a missionary in India — mulling connubial bliss. His decades of marriage counseling led him to distill some “mostly common sense” advice about how to dodge mates who would maul your happiness.

“Hollywood says you can be deeply in love with someone and then your marriage will work,” the twinkly eyed, white-haired priest says. “But you can be deeply in love with someone to whom you cannot be successfully married.”

For 40 years, he has been giving a lecture — “Whom Not to Marry” — to high school seniors, mostly girls because they’re more interested.

“It’s important to do it before they fall seriously in love, because then it will be too late,” he explains. “Infatuation trumps judgment.”

I asked him to summarize his talk:

“Never marry a man who has no friends,” he starts. “This usually means that he will be incapable of the intimacy that marriage demands. I am always amazed at the number of men I have counseled who have no friends. Since, as the Hebrew Scriptures say, ‘Iron shapes iron and friend shapes friend,’ what are his friends like? What do your friends and family members think of him? Sometimes, your friends can’t render an impartial judgment because they are envious that you are beating them in the race to the altar. Envy beclouds judgment.

“Does he use money responsibly? Is he stingy? Most marriages that founder do so because of money — she’s thrifty, he’s on his 10th credit card.

“Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to yours. It’s good to have a doormat in the home, but not if it’s your husband.

“Is he overly attached to his mother and her mythical apron strings? When he wants to make a decision, say, about where you should go on your honeymoon, he doesn’t consult you, he consults his mother. (I’ve known cases where the mother accompanies the couple on their honeymoon!)

“Does he have a sense of humor? That covers a multitude of sins. My mother was once asked how she managed to live harmoniously with three men — my father, brother and me. Her answer, delivered with awesome arrogance, was: ‘You simply operate on the assumption that no man matures after the age of 11.’ My father fell about laughing.

“A therapist friend insists that ‘more marriages are killed by silence than by violence.’ The strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive. That world-class misogynist, Paul of Tarsus, got it right when he said, ‘In all your dealings with one another, speak the truth to one another in love that you may grow up.’

“Don’t marry a problem character thinking you will change him. He’s a heavy drinker, or some other kind of addict, but if he marries a good woman, he’ll settle down. People are the same after marriage as before, only more so.

“Take a good, unsentimental look at his family — you’ll learn a lot about him and his attitude towards women. Kay made a monstrous mistake marrying Michael Corleone! Is there a history of divorce in the family? An atmosphere of racism, sexism or prejudice in his home? Are his goals and deepest beliefs worthy and similar to yours? I remember counseling a pious Catholic woman that it might not be prudent to marry a pious Muslim, whose attitude about women was very different. Love trumped prudence; the annulment process was instigated by her six months later.

“Imagine a religious fundamentalist married to an agnostic. One would have to pray that the fundamentalist doesn’t open the Bible and hit the page in which Abraham is willing to obey God and slit his son’s throat.

“Finally: Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being — the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous? Or is he inclined to be a fibber, to fits of rage, to be a control freak, to be envious of you, to be secretive?

“After I regale a group with this talk, the despairing cry goes up: ‘But you’ve eliminated everyone!’ Life is unfair.”



36 Hours in Pittsburgh
By JEFF SCHLEGEL
Published: July 6, 2008

PITTSBURGH has undergone a striking renaissance from a down-and-out smokestack to a gleaming cultural oasis. But old stereotypes die hard, and Pittsburgh probably doesn’t make many people’s short list for a cosmopolitan getaway. Too bad, because this city of 89 distinct neighborhoods is a cool and — dare I say, hip—city. There are great restaurants, excellent shopping, breakthrough galleries and prestigious museums. The convergence of three rivers and surrounding green hills also make it a surprisingly pretty urban setting. And if the Pirates are in town, head over to PNC Park. Besides the game, the ballpark offers a great excuse to explore downtown Pittsburgh and the river views.

Friday

4 p.m.
1) GRIDIRON AND STEEL

Get to know what makes the city tick at the Senator John Heinz History Center (1212 Smallman Street; 412-454-6000; www.pghhistory.org), which chronicles the city’s past and present glories from United States Steel to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is actually a two-fer: the main museum is devoted to everything from the Heinz food empire to the polyglot population. The upper two floors are occupied by the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, which pays homage to the region’s rich sports heritage. It’s hard to miss the seven-story brick warehouse building; look for the giant photograph of the Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris.

7 p.m.
2) WATERFALL DINING

The martini menu almost changes as often at the seasonal specials at Soba (5847 Ellsworth Avenue; 412-362-5656; www.bigburrito.com/soba), a pan-Asian restaurant with a Victorian exterior and a Zen-like interior that features a two-story wall of cascading water. The menu includes a rock-shrimp tempura lettuce wrap ($11) and pan-roasted Alaskan halibut ($30). The wine list is extensive, as is the variety of over 20 sakes. The vibe is upscale and trendy, but not in an overbearing way. If you arrive early, grab a special martini, perhaps made with ginger-infused vodka, on the rooftop deck.

10 p.m.
3) BRILLO PAD

Brillobox (4104 Penn Avenue; 412-621-4900; www.brillobox.net) feels like an arty East Village bar — little wonder, considering the 30-something artist couple who own it are former New Yorkers. They came back home to Pittsburgh, they said, to contribute to the city’s growing arts scene. Art film screenings, spoken-word performances and live music are held upstairs in a room decked out in velvet wallpaper and murals. Or just hang loose in the downstairs bar with its atmospheric red lights and an eclectic jukebox that has Goldfrapp, Patsy Cline and Snoop Dogg.

Saturday

10:30 a.m.
4) NOSH ’N STROLL

By night, the formerly industrial Strip District is filled with partygoers bouncing between bars and clubs. But on Saturday mornings, the parallel thoroughfares of Penn Avenue and Smallman Street (roughly between 16th and 26th Streets) are turned into a sprawling outdoor market with international food kiosks that serve Middle Eastern kebabs, Italian sausages and Greek baklava. Shop for produce, clothing and vintage knickknacks as accordionists and mariachi bands provide a festive soundtrack. Take a breather with a cup of coffee and a mele, a fruit-filled pastry, at La Prima Espresso Company (205 21st Street; 412-565-7070), where the old men sitting at the outdoor tables look like they’ve been sipping espresso and playing cards for eternity.

1 p.m.
5) NO BEDS HERE

You can probably find the Andy Warhol Museum (117 Sandusky Street; 412-237-8300; www.warhol.org) on your own. For more radical contemporary art, beat a new path in the Mexican War Streets neighborhood to the Mattress Factory (500 Sampsonia Way; 412-231-3169; www.mattress.org; admission $10). Housed in a former mattress factory, the museum is dedicated to room-size art installations. Current exhibitions include “Instant Before Incident,” a riveting sculpture by the Italian artist Luca Buvoli that depicts a vintage Fiat in stop-action motion, as it seems to hurl out the window.

3 p.m.
6) HARD TO FIND ITEMS

Some of the city’s funkiest shopping can be found in the 16:62 Design Zone, which spans the Strip District and Lawrenceville. It has more than 100 locally owned shops that focus on design, home décor, contemporary art, clothing and architecture. Among the more interesting is the nonprofit Society for Contemporary Craft (2100 Smallman Street; 412-261-7003; www.contemporarycraft.org), a gallery and store that showcases handmade crafts like shiny metal handbags ($300 to $500) and recycled steel cabinets (from $3,500).

6 p.m.
7) GRAB THE CAMERA

The best views of Pittsburgh are from Mount Washington, and the best way to get there — or at least the most fun — is up the Duquesne Incline (1220 Grandview Avenue; 412-381-1665; www.incline.cc; $4 round trip). One of two surviving hillside cable cars from the 1870s, it takes three minutes to climb 800 feet to Grandview Avenue. There’s a neat little history museum that has old newspaper clippings, but the real spectacle is the view of downtown Pittsburgh, where the Allegheny and Monongahela meet to form the Ohio River.

7:30 p.m.
8) CITY UNDER GLASS

While you’re up there, Grandview Avenue is also home to a cliff-hugging restaurant row. For amazing seafood to go with the river views, make reservations for the Monterey Bay Fish Grotto (1411 Grandview Avenue; 412-481-4414; www.montereybayfishgrotto.com). This tri-level restaurant sits atop a 10-story apartment building. Jackets aren’t required, but nice clothes are apropos. Fresh fish is flown in daily, and the menu reflects whatever is fresh. On a recent visit, the specials included a charcoal-grilled Atlantic salmon with fresh peppered strawberries in a red-wine sauce ($26).

9 p.m.
9) OFF DOWNTOWN THEATER

Generally regarded as Pittsburgh’s most innovative theater company, the City Theatre (1300 Bingham Street; 412-431-2489; www.citytheatrecompany.org) does challenging plays that aren’t likely to be staged in the downtown cultural district. The theater, in a pair of former churches, has both a 272-seat mainstage and a 110-seat house. A production of “The Wonder Bread Years,” a comedy written by the former “Seinfeld” writer Pat Hazell, starts on July 10 ($35 and $40). Recent productions have included works by Adam Rapp, Christopher Durang and Jeffrey Hatcher.

11 p.m.
10) PUB MARATHON

Venture over to East Carson Street, by some counts the country’s longest continuous stretch of bars. It’s all there, from shot-and-beer joints to trendy night spots. Dee’s Cafe (1314 East Carson Street; 412-431-1314; www.deescafe.com) is a comfortable dive jammed on weekends with a mix of grizzled locals, bohemians and college students. Grab an Iron City beer and perhaps a game of pool ($6 an hour).

Sunday

11 a.m.
11) BRUNCH AND BRIC-A-BRAC

One of city’s more unusual brunch spots is the Zenith (86 South 26th Street; 412-481-4833; www.zenithpgh.com), a combination art gallery, vintage clothing store, antiques shop and vegetarian restaurant. For those who can’t stomach tofu, brunch ($10) includes traditional staples like eggs, pancakes and French toast. It gets busy, so get there before it opens at 11 a.m. to avoid the line.

12:30 p.m.
12) THE OTHER OAKLAND

The Oakland district teems with intellectual energy from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and a bunch of museums. Start out at the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning (4200 Fifth Avenue; 412-624-6000; www.pitt.edu/~natrooms), a 42-story Gothic-style tower on the Pittsburgh campus with 27 classrooms, each devoted to a different nationality. Then head over to the renowned Carnegie Museum of Art (412-622-3131; www.cmoa.org) and Carnegie Natural History Museum (www.carnegiemnh.org), both at 4400 Forbes Avenue, for Degas and dinosaurs. Before leaving, pick up a handy walking tour of Oakland and its public art. Not mentioned in the booklet but worth seeking out: the brick wall on Roberto Clemente Drive that was part of the outfield wall of the Pirates’ long-ago home, Forbes Field.

THE BASICS

Delta and JetBlue have nonstop flights from Kennedy Airport in New York to Pittsburgh for about $238, according to a recent online search; American Airlines and US Airways fly nonstop from La Guardia.

The Parador Inn of Pittsburgh (939 Western Avenue; 412-231-4800; www.theparadorinn.com) is a Caribbean-themed bed-and-breakfast in an 1870s mansion on the city’s North Side. All rooms are $150 a night.

Also on the North Side is the Priory Hotel (614 Pressley Street; 412-231-3338; www.thepriory.com), a European-style boutique hotel in a restored 19th-century Benedictine rectory. Doubles start at $145.

For more upscale lodging, try the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel (107 6th Street, 412-562-1200; www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pitbr-renaissance-pittsburgh-hotel), a 300-room downtown hotel in a historic landmark. Rooms start at about $180 a night.



On sale now in Jerusalem: Priestly garments
Jul 7, 4:17 AM (ET)
By MATTI FRIEDMAN

JERUSALEM (AP) - In a stuffy basement off an Old City alleyway in Jerusalem, tailors using ancient texts as a blueprint have begun making a curious line of clothing they hope will be worn by priests in a reconstructed Jewish Temple.

The project, run by a Jerusalem group called the Temple Institute, is part of an ideology that advocates making practical preparations for the rebuilding of the ancient temple on a disputed rectangle in Jerusalem sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Jews call the site the Temple Mount and venerate it as their holiest place. The temple itself was destroyed by Roman legions two millennia ago. For the past 1,300 years, the site has been home to Islam's third-holiest shrine, the Noble Sanctuary, including the golden Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

These conflicting claims lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and past efforts to upset the status quo have erupted into violence.

The Temple Institute has made priestly garments in the past for display in the small museum it runs in the Jewish Quarter, but those were hand-sewn and cost upward of $10,000 each. The institute recently received rabbinic permission to begin using sewing machines for the first time, bringing the cost down and allowing them to produce dozens or hundreds of garments, depending on how many orders come in.

If you are a descendant of the Jewish priestly class, a full outfit, including an embroidered belt 32 cubits (48 feet) long, can be yours for about $800.

"Before, the clothes we made were to go on display. Now we're engaged in the practical fulfillment of the divine commandment," said Yehuda Glick, the Temple Institute's director, at a ceremony marking the workshop's opening last week.

The thread, six-ply flax, was purchased in India, and the diamond-patterned fabric was woven in Israel. The blue dye, which the Bible calls "tchelet," is made from the secretions of a snail found in the Mediterranean Sea, and the red color comes from an aphid found on local trees.

The priests, made up of descendants of the Biblical figure Aaron, were an elite group entrusted with the temple and its rituals, such as sacrificing animals and making other offerings to God. The memory of belonging to that class has been preserved by Jews through the centuries. Their most common family name is "Cohen," meaning priest.

The Temple Institute and similarly minded believers think those modern priests will soon have to resume the rituals of their ancestors in a rebuilt temple, and that by preparing their garments they are bringing that day closer.

"The light of God is coming back, and it's happening before our eyes," Glick said. By sewing garments for the temple priests, his institute is "continuing a process that was neglected for 2,000 years," he said.

The Temple Institute does not advocate violent action and says its activities are purely educational. But groups like the institute, however marginal, have played on Muslim fears that Jews plan to destroy their holy sites to pave the way for rebuilding the temple.

Adnan Husseini, formerly the top Muslim official at the site and now an adviser on Jerusalem affairs to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called the work of such groups a "provocation."

"If they talk about building the third temple, what does it mean? It means they will destroy the Islamic mosques," Husseini said. "And if they do, they will make 1.5 billion enemies. It is God's will that this is a place for Muslims to pray, and they must respect that."

The first Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians 2,500 years ago, and the second was leveled by the Romans in the year 70. Since then, the focus of the religion has changed drastically, from a temple-centered ritual of animal sacrifice led by priests to a faith revolving around individual study and piety taught by rabbis.

Most Orthodox Jews see the rebuilding of the temple as a theoretical event to be undertaken by God when the Jewish people are deemed to deserve it and Judaism has traditionally forbidden making practical preparations of this kind.

But the small group in this basement, members of a hardline fringe among Israel's religious nationalists, see that thinking as an excuse for inaction.

"From the moment we see we're ready here, the clothes will be ready and the priests can get to work when the time comes," said Hagai Barashi, an assistant tailor. He wore a Biblical-looking robe, long sidelocks, and a pair of Nike flip-flops.

The first member of the priestly class who came to be measured was Nachman Kahana, a local rabbi. He removed his black jacket, and tailor Aviad Jarufi, a small man in a white robe and horn-rimmed glasses, took out his green measuring tape. The priestly garments can't be sold off the rack - Jewish law specifies that they must be made to measure.

Yisrael Ariel, the rabbi who founded the Temple Institute, recited a traditional blessing, thanking God for "keeping us alive, and sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this time."

Ariel, an expert on temple ritual who was present as a soldier when Israel captured the Old City from Jordan in 1967, is associated with the extreme flank of Israel's religious settlement movement. In the 1980s, he was the No. 2 man on a virulently anti-Arab parliamentary list that was eventually outlawed for racism.

His institute is dedicated to recreating the implements used in the temple not only as a historical exercise but as a way to prepare for its reconstruction and, if possible, to speed up the process. In its 20 years of existence, the institute has recreated a golden seven-branched candelabra that cost $3 million, as well as harps, altars and containers for incense.

Many of the objects are on display in the institute's museum, which also has a gift shop selling temple-themed souvenirs like puzzles, balsa-wood models and board games. There are also posters depicting the temple in Jerusalem, standing where the Dome of the Rock does now.

Many see the agenda as explosive.

"The more awareness you raise, and the more you stress that Judaism isn't real without the temple, the more you're encouraging conflict over holy space in Jerusalem," said Gershom Gorenberg, an Israeli historian and journalist who wrote, "The End of Days," a book about the struggle over the Temple Mount.



Op-Ed Columnist
Wall-E for President

By FRANK RICH
Published: July 6, 2008

SO much for a July Fourth week spent in idyllic celebration of our country’s birthday. This year’s festivities were marked instead by a debate — childish, not constitutional — over who is and isn’t patriotic. The fireworks were sparked by a verbally maladroit retired general, fueled by two increasingly fatuous presidential campaigns, and heated to a boil by a 24/7 news culture that inflates any passing tit for tat into a war of the worlds.

Let oil soar above $140 a barrel. Let layoffs and foreclosures proliferate like California’s fires. Let someone else worry about the stock market’s steepest June drop since the Great Depression. In our political culture, only one question mattered: What was Wesley Clark saying about John McCain and how loudly would every politician and bloviator in the land react?

Unable to take another minute of this din, I did what any sensible person might do and fled to the movies. More specifically, to an animated movie in the middle of a weekday afternoon. What escape could be more complete?

Among its other attributes, this particular G-rated film, “Wall-E,” is a rare economic bright spot. Its enormous box-office gross last weekend swelled a total Hollywood take that was up 20 percent from a year ago. (You know America’s economy is cooked when everyone flocks to the movies.) The “Wall-E” crowds were primed by the track record of its creator, Pixar Animation Studios, and the ecstatic reviews. But if anything, this movie may exceed its audience’s expectations. It did mine.

As it happened, “Wall-E” opened the same summer weekend as the hot-button movie of the 2004 campaign year, Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Ah, the good old days. Oil was $38 a barrel, our fatalities in Iraq had not hit 900, and only 57 percent of Americans thought their country was on the wrong track. (Now more than 80 percent do.) “Wall-E,” a fictional film playing to a far larger audience, may touch a more universal chord in this far gloomier time.

Indeed, sitting among rapt children mostly under 12, I felt as if I’d stepped through a looking glass. This movie seemed more realistically in touch with what troubles America this year than either the substance or the players of the political food fight beyond the multiplex’s walls.

While the real-life grown-ups on TV were again rebooting Vietnam, the kids at “Wall-E” were in deep contemplation of a world in peril — and of the future that is theirs to make what they will of it. Compare any 10 minutes of the movie with 10 minutes of any cable-news channel, and you’ll soon be asking: Exactly who are the adults in our country and who are the cartoon characters?

Almost any description of this beautiful film makes it sound juvenile or didactic, and it is neither. So I’ll keep to the minimum. “Wall-E” is a robot-meets-robot love story, as simple (and often as silent) as a Keaton or Chaplin fable, set largely in a smoldering and abandoned Earth, circa 2700, where the only remaining signs of life are a cockroach and a single green sprout.

The robot of the title is a battered mobile trash compactor whose sole knowledge of human civilization and intimacy comes from the avalanche of detritus the former inhabitants left behind — a Rubik’s Cube, an engagement ring and, most strangely, a single stuttering VCR tape of “Hello, Dolly!,” a candied Hollywood musical from 1969. Wall-E keeps rewinding to the song that finds the young lovers pledging their devotion until “time runs out.”

Pixar is not Stanley Kubrick. Though “Wall-E” is laced with visual and musical allusions to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” its vision of apocalypse now is not as dark as Kubrick’s then. The new film speaks to the anxieties of 2008 as specifically as “2001” did to the more explosive tumult of its (election) year, 1968. That’s more than upsetting enough.

Humanity is not dead in “Wall-E,” but it is in peril. The world’s population cruises the heavens ceaselessly on a mammoth luxury spaceship that it boarded in the early 22nd century after the planet became uninhabitable. For government, there is a global corporation called Buy N Large, which keeps the public wired to umpteenth-generation iPods and addicted to a diet of supersized liquefied fast food and instantly obsolete products. The people are too bloated to walk — they float around on motorized Barcaloungers — but they are happy shoppers. A billboard on the moon heralds a Buy N Large outlet mall “coming soon,” not far from that spot where back in the day of “Hello, Dolly!” idealistic Americans once placed a flag.

And yet these rabid consumers, like us, are haunted by what paradise might have been lost. How can they reclaim what matters? How can Earth be recolonized? These questions are rarely spoken in “Wall-E,” but are omnipresent, like half-forgotten dreams. In this movie, a fleeting green memory of the extinct miracle of photosynthesis is as dazzling and elusive as the emerald city of Oz.

One of the great things about art, including popular art, is that it can hit audiences at a profound level beyond words. That includes children. The kids at “Wall-E” were never restless, despite the movie’s often melancholy mood and few belly laughs. They seemed to instinctually understand what “Wall-E” was saying; they didn’t pepper their chaperones with questions along the way. At the end they clapped their small hands. What they applauded was not some banal cartoonish triumph of good over evil but a gentle, if unmistakable, summons to remake the world before time runs out.

You have to wonder what these same kids make of the political show their parents watch on TV at home. The fierce urgency of now that drives “Wall-E” and its yearning for change is absent in both the Barack Obama and McCain campaigns these days.

For me, Mr. Obama showed signs of jumping the shark two weeks back, when he appeared at a podium affixed with his own pompous faux-presidential seal. It could have been a Pixar sight gag. In fact, it is a gag in “Wall-E,” where, in a flashback, we see that the original do-nothing chief executive of Buy N Large (prone to pronouncements like “stay the course”) boasted his own ersatz presidential podium.

For all the hyperventilation on the left about Mr. Obama’s rush to the center — some warranted, some not — what’s more alarming is how small-bore and defensive his campaign has become. Whether he’s reaffirming his long-held belief in faith-based programs or fudging his core convictions about government snooping, he is drifting away from the leadership he promised and into the focus-group-tested calculation patented by Mark Penn in his disastrous campaign for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Obama’s Wednesday address calling for renewed public service is unassailable in principle but inadequate to the daunting size of the serious American crisis at hand. The speech could have been — and has been — delivered by any candidate of either party in any election year since 1960.

What Mr. Obama has going for him during this tailspin is that his opponent seems mortifyingly out-to-lunch. Mr. McCain is a man who aspires to lead the largest economy in the world and yet recently admitted that he doesn’t know how to use a computer, the one modern tool shared by everyone from the post-industrial American work force to Middle Eastern terrorists to Pixar animators. Getting shot down over Vietnam may not be a qualification for president in 2008, but surely a rudimentary facility with a laptop is. What Mr. McCain has going for him is a press corps that often ignores or covers up such embarrassments.

The Republican’s digital ignorance is not a function of his age but of his intellectual inflexibility and his isolation from his country’s reality. To prove the point last week, he took a superfluous, if picturesque, tour of Colombia and Mexico, with occasional timeouts for him and his surrogates to respond like crybabies to General Clark’s supposed slur on his patriotism.

For connoisseurs of McCainian cluelessness, the high point was his Wednesday morning appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The anchor, Robin Roberts, asked the only important question: Why in heaven’s name was Mr. McCain in Latin America when “the U.S. economy is really at the forefront of voters’ minds”?

“I know Americans are hurting very badly right now,” he explained, channeling the first George Bush’s “Message: I care.” As he spoke, those hurting Americans could feast on the gorgeous flora and fauna of the Cartagena, Colombia, tourist vista serving as his backdrop. “It’s really lovely here,” Mr. McCain said. Since he can’t drop us an e-mail, a video postcard will have to do.

Mr. McCain should be required to see “Wall-E” to learn just how far adrift he is from an America whose economic fears cannot be remedied by his flip-flop embrace of the Bush tax cuts (for the wealthy) and his sham gas-tax holiday (for everyone else). Mr. Obama should see it to be reminded of just how bold his vision of change had been before he settled into a front-runner’s complacency. Americans should see it to appreciate just how much things are out of joint on an Independence Day when a cartoon robot evokes America’s patriotic ideals with more conviction than either of the men who would be president.
Comments 
7th-Jul-2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
I saw the Dowd article and recognized much of the advice presented there from various sources, including my Grandma and several Franciscans.

The Frank Rich article on WALL-E for President was quite good.
7th-Jul-2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
As a matter of personal history interest – and just trying to decide between interesting images – is this your "throw rocks at your parents' window, 'oh, you're up at 3am,' let's play videogames!" Jawas-Franciscans, or your "college, service project, Appalachian housing providers" Franciscans?

And thanks, I'll check out the other article.

Oh, and P.S.: the other night I realized I had a gap in my music collection – I really need you to record an mp3 of "Carrot Lover" and send it to me.
7th-Jul-2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
They are the same Franciscans, which is what makes them so awesome.

I believe that Carrot Lover might be lost to the ravages of history.
7th-Jul-2008 08:06 pm (UTC)
You're so old.
8th-Jul-2008 01:16 am (UTC)
Just took in the Frank Rich article: you called it – he certainly took an interesting angle of approach, but he was refreshingly specific in critiques on both major party candidates, and the terrifying challenge of what presidential leadership means today in being neither the old Democratic, focus-group, let's-try-to-pacify-all-of-our-special-interests "breadth," nor the old/current Republican, photo-op, let's-hide-behind-patriotic-good-ol'-days sloganeering. Getting a leader who is going to be willing to piss off their constituency and actually make changes, some of which will cost, require economic sacrifices, and will be unpopular to one group or another... that's going to take guts in our please-everyone permanent election. I'd like one of them to get the guts to consider themselves a one-term President and damn the consequences – right or wrong, to give it a decent try....
This page was loaded Aug 14th 2018, 11:14 am GMT.