Rosenblatt's Liberal Nation; Thomas on the '60s; George Will Promotes Dellums?
1. Time filled slow-news space with gasbaggery from liberal essayist (and former
U.S. News editor) Roger Rosenblatt, who argued that at the end of the twentieth century, America "remains a liberal nation."
2. Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas reviewed a left-wing book in
The Washington Post and argued the right trounced the left in the 1960s, and "the so-called War on Poverty was meagerly funded and left to wither."
3. In his Newsweek column, George Will enjoyed a walk on the wild side with radical ex-Congressman Ron
Dellums. The subject: the appalling toll of AIDS in Africa.
Time mangled the magazines' next-Monday dating tradition again this week, dating its issue January 1, 2000 (or a day after their last issue). Newsweek's January 10 issue shares Time's cover-page interest in the New Year celebration: Time featured Times Square, while Newsweek captured the eye-popping Eiffel Tower light show. U.S. News seems to have hunkered down for Apocalypse Not.
Time filled slow-news space with pages of gasbaggery from liberal essayist (and former U.S. News editor) Roger Rosenblatt, who argued that at the end of the twentieth century, America "remains a liberal nation." He contended: "For all our Big Business expansions, government too remains big, and most people engage in the harmless hypocrisy of condemning its interferences and relying on its services. Fundamentally, we remain a liberal nation in spite of the gloatings or laments that liberalism is dead. If this year's Democratic platform resembles that of the Republicans, it will not be because the Democrats have capitulated but because the G.O.P. has absorbed the liberal agenda."
Rosenblatt continued by taking a swipe at conservative William Bennett: "Nonetheless, as one of our few genuine statesmen, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has said, 'Liberalism has to learn to deal with the aftermath of its successes.' In recent years, liberals have cornered themselves into appearing to approve of everything opposed to God and family. The country has been polluted with an idea called political correctness, which is simply a fundamentalism of the left. We are beginning to reach a point of equilibrium between laissez-faire capitalism and the welfare state, and to learn to discriminate between useful sympathy for the needy and wasteful excuses for careless behavior. But we still have plenty of braying pietists. Has the name William Bennett floated up to you?"
Rosenblatt's definition of the middle class was news to these readers: "The so-called middle class consists of a dozen subclasses earning anywhere from $20,000 a year to $200,000." Tell it to ex-Congressman Fred Heineman, who claimed $200,000 was middle class, and got the voters' boot.
While there was little political content of note in the magazines, Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas reviewed a left-wing book in The Washington Post arguing the right trounced the left in the 1960s, and "the so-called War on Poverty was meagerly funded and left to wither." In favorably reviewing the book America Divided: The Civil War of the '60s by the radical scholars Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin, Thomas declared: "The '60s are generally recalled (and demonized) as an era when the country lurched to the left. Civil rights, women's lib, the massive peace protests, a general loosening of morals and widespread assaults on established authority -- all shook up the country after the sleepy '50s. But many of these movements were quickly undercut by internal contradictions and class and cultural strains, and in any case met with a fierce conservative reaction. If anything, Isserman and Kazin argue, the '60s saw the rise of the Right -- attacks on the welfare state, a boom in fundamentalist religion, and a sharp political backlash."
Thomas continued: "The first liberal icon of the '60s -- President John F. Kennedy -- was in fact a cautious pragmatist who regarded most liberals as fools or saps. Lyndon Johnson used utopian rhetoric to call for an end to poverty and discrimination. But, distracted by Vietnam ('that bitch of a war'), Johnson never came through on his promises. The so-called War on Poverty was meagerly funded and left to wither. Liberalism remained an essentially middle-class movement. Conservatives did a better job connecting with the lower middle classes and the resentful 'outs' of society. Right-wingers became the 'populists' while the liberals were mocked as 'limousine liberals.'"
How Thomas could argue that programs like AFDC or Medicaid "withered" in the last 30 years must be a troubled yearning for the additional trillions that might have been spent, not the trillions that were.
In his Newsweek column, George Will enjoyed a walk on the wild side with radical ex-Congressman Ron Dellums. The subject: the appalling toll of AIDS in Africa. Will also brought up Rev. Eugene Rivers: "the black minister whose work with Boston's inner-city youth landed him on Newsweek's cover (June 1, 1998), believes America's black leaders have a duty to sound the alarm about this. After a searing trip to Africa, he lobbied The Boston Globe, which produced, last October, the four-part series, 'AIDS and the African.' It merits a Pulitzer Prize. Some facts from it:
"More than 12 million sub-Saharan Africans have died of AIDS. Last year 2 million died, more than five times the number of AIDS-related deaths in America in the nearly two decades since the disease arrived here. Annually, the world's wars kill only one tenth as many people as AIDS kills in Africa. Almost 23 million sub-Saharan people carry HIV, the AIDS-causing virus. Every minute 11 people worldwide are infected with HIV, 10 of them in sub-Saharan Africa."
Will found agreement that the cause is careless sexual behavior: "Rivers believes, plausibly, that religion will be central to any successful response to the pandemic. Dellums does not disagree. Julian Bond of the NAACP invokes W.E.B. DuBois on 'a loss of ancient African chastity.' But Rivers knows that 'the behavior dimension' is 'the third rail' that 'no one wants to touch.' The Globe reports that 'his inflammatory charge that many African men are promiscuous, and his call for abstinence, may win him unlikely allies among some white conservatives, moralists, and other so-called Eurocentrics--thereby alienating his liberal, civil rights base.'"
Will concluded: "So, Africa's calamity may be compounded by absurdities in American political culture, one manifestation of which is that reference to a stark fact as an 'inflammatory charge.' Are there really liberals who would remain passive about that calamity rather than make common cause with 'moralists'?"
Don't the liberals wear the shirts that read "Silence = Death"?
-- Mark H. Drake and Tim Graham
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