Something has been nagging at me for days, and it took a column by E.J. Dionne in today’s Washington Post to crystalize my thinking.
Dionne asks, is the progressive Left disappointed in Barack Obama, a month before his inauguration, for not being Left enough?
At the same time, I’ve noticed the belief on the Right that Obama will usher in an era of Socialism, forever destroying the fabric of American liberties and society.
I’m mystified by both positions, honestly.
Obama’s Cabinet picks strike me as being generally centrist. Despite the frequent Republican meme in the general election that Obama was “the most liberal member of the Senate,” it was never true; Hillary Clinton ran to his left in the primaries, Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders have more liberal voting records, and Dionne himself writes “that Obama is no left-winger” and cites both John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich as primary challengers who were well to Obama’s left. If the progressive left is disillusioned, it’s not Obama who has disillusioned them; he’s simply being now the candidate that he ran as.
As for the right, I have to ask — what, exactly, is wrong with socialism? The great democracies of Europe are all socialist to one extent or another, and their democracies are thriving. If anything, I think the United States could learn a lesson from our European cousins. We could learn from their health care systems and from their multi-party democracies.
To sum it up, to both sides — chill. 🙂
Some Google-ing this afternoon turned up Christopher Hitchens’ review of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
I love the film. I just watched it last week. As much as I love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, Master and Commander was robbed of the Best Picture Oscar. It’s an amazing, thrilling, exciting, and surprisingly funny film.
I’ve also been known to call it the best Star Trek film, because it hits my “Star Trek buttons” like nothing else. 😉
Hitchens, however, despised the film, for dumbing down the subtleties of Patrick O’Brian’s characterizations and for missing the complexities of the political and social situation of the time. The sordidness of life at sea during the Age of Fighting Sail is missed, Hitchens writes; where’s the buggery and the brutality and the sheer carnality?
I think Hitchens misses the point; it’s a movie. It’s not history, it’s not a documentary. It’s supposed to be a rousing entertainment, and it does that. If it excited others, and got them reading O’Brian’s magnificent series of novels, that’s just bonus. 🙂