Yarb: Around late August/early September, around the news of Wallace's demise, I requested Infinite Jest from the library. Well, it just came in, so I will try to tackle that while you're waiting for your delivery. The reading population of Indianapolis is waiting with baited breath for me to finish, so I plan on starting tonight.
Considering it is such a long book, I may be a little longer than your delivery, but I'll keep you posted.
You hit upon part of the problem John, the Republican base has been disillusioned for sometime. The wheels nearly fell off when McCain won the nomination and I think he would have faired worse without Palin.
There will be a civil war in the Republican party between the centrist and right-wing, and who will win I can't say.
But I do take solace (shocking admission coming), that the Senate race in Georgia, if memory serves, would be done and over with if the Libertarian candidate hadn't done so well. The Libertarian platform may be just the right mix of solid conservative economics and liberal social policy to revive the Republicans.
Also, I'd argue that America is probably the most conservative developed nation in the world, so I really don't see a long exodus for Republicans. Brits are just more liberal than Yanks.
For instance, look at the hubbub about Prop. 8 in California. Obama trounced McCain in California, but they gay marriage ban passed, due in no small part to the votes of Obama supporters. It seems even many hard core Democrats are not as socially liberal as they Henry Cabot Lodge, "cross of gold" type progressives.
Truthfully, I can't say how I come down on the book. Part of me was really impressed, but it seems to lack a certain sincerity - which the author alludes to - so I'm not really sure of my verdict just yet.
But, it has set me to thinking about the mechanics of writing, the fiction/nonfiction dichotomy in literature, the role we have with our parents and siblings and friends, etc, etc... so Eggers certainly had something on the ball.
True, women do out live men, but I doubt seriously that the American electorate is going to choose its first female president when she will be nearly 70 by the time she's takes the oath.
As far as Bush succeeding Reagan, I think there were a lot of peculiarities to that. Reagan was, and remains to be, hugely popular with the right. I'd venture to say he was the most ensconced president since FDR in that regard. That helped Bush. Plus, Bush 41 was a different animal all together than Reagan, and that helped him garner more votes than someone who was a carbon copy of Reagan. Prior to that you'd have to go back to the FDR/Truman era to find one party in office for so long.
I also feel that if the Republicans can come back from Watergate, and in less that eight years hold the presidency again, then things don't look so bleak. It sucks to be a Republican now, but there is an ebb and flow to politics. Two years ago Republicans controlled Congress and the White House.
And I don't mean to sound so cynical about Hilary. While I don't doubt ego and legacy have something to do with her taking the office - assuming it is offered - I also think she has selfless motivations for the job. I just don't see a person being as dedicated to the political game as she has been for as long as she has been unless that person has real convictions about matters of politics and policy.
The whole Secretary of State to POTUS career path has long since been closed. Personally, I think Hilary sees this office as being as high as she can go, her best chance to solidify her legacy, and that is why she'll take it.
Obama is a lock for the Democratic nomination in 2012, and by 2016 she will be nearly the age of McCain in 2008. Add to that the fact that the American public seems hesitant to give any one party the presidency for more than eight years in recent history, and it doesn't look very good for her.
This may seem like a tangent, but stick with me. We need a way to bifurcate "gay" and "effete/undesirable." The whole constellation of words surrounding gay people seems to have taken on both connotations, and we need to separate them somehow. Yes, we can rewrite the language, Wordie is that powerful.
So, I thought that for 2009 I'd tackle Remembrance of Things Past, also known as In Search of Lost Time. It is, by all accounts, an amazing book that is also incredibly long. Anybody feel like joining me in this resolution?
Chained Bear: Goldberg takes pains to try not to make his case too damning, and he ends the book with an analysis on fascistic trends on the Right. But, he made two points (each of which I agree with) that made it more than just a "do as I say, not as I do" type of thing. First, he argued that the idea that communism is the far Left, and on the opposite end is fascism on the far Right does not hold water. The heavy amount of government regulation of life and business that is part of fascism makes it much closer to communism than the minimalist state of classical liberals, a.k.a. Libertarians, that the Right (at least as viewed by Goldberg) espouses. Secondly, in the past eight years we've had no end of the "Bush = Hitler" business, but not much in the opposite direction. That's not to say it can't come from the Right, (he cites Falwell and Robinson as rightwingers who are knocking on the door of fascism) but that people on the Right tend to get pegged with the name more often.
And yes, it's a very detailed, meticulously footnoted book. For a work directed at the general populace, it's rather discursive.
P.S. You should get some of the old footage of Buckley and Chomsky debating. I'm nerdy enough (I know you're shocked) that I actually find it kind of fun to see two very intellectual people on the far ends of the spectrum debate like civilized humans.
Whichbe: Agreed. I hesitate saying this because I know I'm biased, but I recently read American Fascist, about the threat of the Christian Right, and it was not nearly as academic. We need more books, from all points of view, that rely less on preaching to the choir and more towards reasoned debate.
He actually takes the title Liberal Fascist from a speech H.G. Wells gave where he said Hitler and Mussilini (sp) had the wrong ideology but the right methods.
I think it delivered on what it promised. Goldberg goes to great lengths to say that liberals are nowhere near Nazis or Brown Shirts, but he shows how they have the same philosophical parentage and how they espouse some of the same ideas.
Essentially, he wanted to counter the "get out of rational debate free" card that certain liberals use by calling any one right of center a Nazi or fascist. His contention was the Left has at least, if not more, in common with fascism than the Right, and I think he proved his point.
John, I don't recall off hand what he used "yeasty" to describe, but I think it had something to do with the philippic he had against Buchanan.