Once a year we salute the Madwoman of Brockton Manor for planting grapes everywhere. The rest of the year we curse her.
• So at 82 Alan Greenspan thinks he may have spotted a tiny flaw in Objectivism? What's up next, getting his Learner's Permit? Can we just put Mr. and Mrs. Greenspan on an ice floe somewhere and call the whole thing even?
• Oh, sorry, I didn't realize you were trying to nap: I think I'm the last person who could be accused of Obama worship or overreacting to the whole "Indiana is in Play!" routine, but like Oscar Levant, who knew Doris Day before she became a virgin, I've been enduring Indiana politics since before Dick Lugar was a moderate, and it's hard to deny there's something going on here. That something included 35,000 people turning out to see him on short notice yesterday. Asked to explain what that meant, veteran Channel 8 political reporter Jim Shella replied that it didn't mean anything unless they came out to vote.
• Is it just incipient Slate syndrome, or are the smart shoppers at The XX Factor trying to set Women's issues back fifty years?
"Whoever gets that shantung silk Valentino jacket secondhand, will not do it justice the way Sarah did in her convention speech." --Bonnie Goldstein
"Maybe Sarah Palin is the first one to own the sex appeal and use it as her weapon. Everytime you read about the crowds of men around her, they seem much less predator than prey, just awed, awed by her..." --Hanna Rosin
"I'm supposed to be doing real work, but can I get a show of hands from everybody who thinks looking good is a problem? Me neither; this jacket in particular I could really go for." --Melinda Henneberger
So then WaPo decides to treat readers to a live chat with Henneberger and
Nina Shen Rastogi, which Henneberger kicks off by saying, "My first reaction, too, was hey, I'm enjoying the fashion show—and if someone handed me a credit card and pointed me towards Neiman's, there's a zero percent chance I'd come back with a few durable things from Target."
Now, this is not just a reporter, a political reporter, but one who has in the past written about John Edward's real haircuts and Bill Clinton's fictional ones (as though they were real, natch). But she doesn't get the Palin story initially because she's groovin' on the looks. Later the reality kicks in:
"So I don't blame her for the clothes, but I do blame her for dividing us into elites and non-elites, real America and fake America. And yes, it is hypocritical to talk about "Wasilla Main Street values''—and then favor Escada and Valentino."
By the way, Questioner, your spokesperson for eliminating this horrid divisiveness is the woman who, the day before, had recounted the Parisian salesclerk's shock at her frivolous, euro-backed clothing purchase of a couple weeks back, the one she made to drown her sorrows over her stock portfolio.
I've got nothing against an interest in fashion, or NASCAR, or live-chats at WaPo; but, at minimum, I think we can expect any adult who decides to drink deep thereabouts to acknowledge that he or she has at least heard about the dangers of chronic over-bibbing. And fashion, rather famously, has to carry with it some realization that the whole thing is ultimately dependent upon bright shininess catching the eye of the dedicated serial consumer, if not the terminally superficial. Okay, so it's easy to denounce this when you're old and nobody wants to look at you anyway, but that doesn't explain how someone who thought John Edwards' haircuts were important enough to write about in 2007--and now insists that his sin was charging them to his campaign, which she didn't bother mentioning at the time--initially passes on Sarah Palin's considerably more egregious acts because that jacket induces keyboard drooling.
And look; it may well be that one's fashion sense ossifies along with the rest of him, but in absolute terms, well, you've gotta be fucking kiddin' me. I can't look at Sarah Palin without seeing Edith Prickley, except Edith dressed with élan and Palin looks like she's trying to one-up everybody else at church, or remind the fill-in weather reporter who the real star is.
• The best political columnist in America (caution, it's really Peggy Noonan):
Not a single poll has Mr. McCain ahead. The RealClearPolitics average of national polls as I write, rounded off, is Obama 50%, McCain 43%. Actually Mr. Obama has 50.1%, and if that is true and holds, it would make him the first Democratic presidential nominee since Jimmy Carter to break 50%. But I find myself thinking of what that 43% means. It's a big number, considering that this is the worst Republican year in generations. Amid two wars, a deep economic crisis, a fractured base, too much cynicism, and a campaign with the wind not at its back but head on in its face—with all of that working against Mr. McCain, 43% of the American people say, right now, in these polls, they are for him. And there are a significant number of undecideds. Four years ago about 122 million people voted. Forty-three percent of 122 million is 52 million people, more or less. A huge group, one too varied to generalize about because it includes flinty elderly Republicans from New England, home-schooling mothers in Ohio, libertarianish Republicans in Colorado, suburban patriots outside the big cities, and many others.
Fer cryin' fuckin' out loud, it's one thing to expect that even flat on their faces, in a ditch, inhaling 35º water which has run off from some chemically-overdosed suburban patriot lawn, Republicans would insist they're still a secret majority and offer to compromise with the rest of the country provided it's on their terms. But, y'know, when Jimmy Carter polled 41% in 1980--as a veritable Carter clone named John Anderson was pulling nearly 8%--the Noonans of the world announced the next day they'd Won a fucking Revolution. McCain has all but agreed to die in office and let his gun-totin' religious crackpot of a running mate take over, all for the sake of rallying his base. If he polls less than 50% it's a sea-change. If he polled 43 it would be a renunciation at least the equal of Carter's, if with less ideological fervor behind it. Either play by the same rules or get th' fuck out of the sandbox. Preferably the latter.