Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 18, 2005
BLOG: Quick Links 5/18/05
*Josh Marshall writes a surprisingly spin-free review of David McCullough's new book on George Washington, but in the course of it, he touches on the clash between the modern cult of authenticity and the way Washington forced himself to play a continuous role, that of the larger-than-life heroic figure, and the benefits that role had for his leadership of the nation in times of crisis. Nobody measures up to Washington, of course, but it's hard to read this and not think of more modern presidents - Reagan, Bush, FDR - who knew the importance of maintaining a consistent public persona (Clinton too had the ability to "put on" who he wanted to be in public, but what Clinton lacked was the constancy to make that public persona convincing - while the others succeeded by forcing themselves to be the same under every circumstance, Clinton's gift was to be different in every circumstance).
*On a related note, I can't stand articles like this one, on Bruce Springsteen, that trash a performer for inauthenticity for making that kind of effort to have a consistent public persona. Typical critic to love all Bruce's acoustic albums and not the really good stuff. This is implausible:
From the post-Landau period, the harrowing masterpiece Nebraska is the only record you can push on the nonbelievers, followed by the grossly underrated Tunnel of Love.
Um, no - he seems to have forgotten in this passage that Born in the USA had 7 top-10 hits on Top 40 Radio. (My wife doesn't love Bruce but she loved The Rising). I regard Nebraska more as fodder for the hardest-core Bruce fans; I've never met anyone who said it was their favorite Bruce record. On the other hand, he's right that Darkness on the Edge of Town is the album that separates true Bruce fans from the rest of the world. The new album doesn't have any really good songs, but has a few that are OK - Maria's Bed, Leah, and Long Time Comin' are all pretty good tunes. As for "All the Way Home," I preferred the original Southside Johnny version.
*John Fund wants to know why we don't use more commissions like the military base-closing commission. He has a point, although such commissions can only work in similar circumstances: when Congress agrees to overall spending cuts but can't agree on where to find them.