It’s been a busy week, with Labor Day, a GOP debate, 9/11 memories, tonight’s party for libertarian Democrat congressional candidate Dan O’Connor (see you at Lolita Bar, 266 Broome St. at 6:30), and later tonight Jason Mitchell’s comics art show (at Urban Folk Art Gallery, 101 Smith St. in Brooklyn). Tomorrow, too, there’s wee neocon comedy-indie-singer Hannah Elka Meyers at Sidewalk NYC at 11pm (Ave. A and 6th St.).
And if all goes according to plan, circa this weekend I’ll have a review up on Reason’s site of a (real) book by Grant Morrison, who is as of this week also the new writer of Superman’s adventures amidst DC Comics’ line-wide reboot. I’ll link to that when it happens [HERE IT IS NOW!].
Of the GOP debate, I’ll dare to be positive, risky as that is, and say they sounded good collectively. I'd probably vote for any of them, really – yes, even Santorum or Huntsman – over Obama (of whom I got to hear an evaluation from Richard Epstein after the AEI panel about which I tweeted last night).
It pains me that Newt Gingrich still sounds smart but has already shot himself in the foot (however mildly) a few times and is thus unlikely to rise. I was hoping we could avoid the Palin question, since she’s a scary mixed bag, but perhaps she will be encouraged to run by that positive NYTimes column about her linked atop Drudge today. Basically, Anand Giridharadas just discovered the paleoconservative anti-government, anti-corporatist combo – which can be a powerful ideological experience – thanks to Palin’s rather paleo speech last week, with Giridharadas making her sound like the long-sought third way. Better paleolibertarianism than “market socialism,” if something has to fill that slot.
My half-hearted assessment of the four actually-declared GOP frontrunners, in short:
--Perry: probably possessed of some libertarian instincts but perhaps too dumb to be trusted (he did all right in the debate itself, but how well would his I-don’t-care-about-some-scientist approach to dismissing issues hold up under pressure from an opponent or press who still remember and resent Bush’s dodging of questions?)
--Romney: hopelessly moderate but smart, comes across well, can probably win
--Bachmann: the most textbook-conservative (when you think about it) and most Tea Party-tied, as well as perfectly articulate, though now seemingly floundering
--Paul: awesome but probably too weird (and prone totalk implicitly only to those people who already understand what the hell he’s talking about) to rise about his fanatically loyal 10%, happy as I am to be among them until his doom arrives – and vote for him in the primary, come what may.
While I’m saying relatively nice things about troubling figures, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, about whom I’ve said harsh things in the past, did a nice job a couple weeks ago with this anti-Gaddafi column, worth noting before (any minute now?) Gaddafi becomes history. The Middle East will remain complex after the 9/11 anniversary, after all. And some consistency in our policies – even if I disagreed with them – would go a long way toward creating an atmosphere of predictability and therefore trust.
And that, like many things, reminds me of Superman again.
It strikes me that in periodical entertainment – whether it’s TV, comics, or successive musical releases – as in politics, one measure of trust is that small gestures or statements can be powerful, because we believe they will be adhered to in the future, while without trust even grand gestures, big speeches, and sometimes whole character (or candidate) relaunches seem empty.
A few years ago, DC Comics could still plausibly have a character join the Justice League and expect us to believe he would stay there until there was some logical reason for him to leave. Now they could blow up the whole universe and half the fans don’t trust it will stick or have any significance. They could yet turn this around simply by resolutely sticking to the new continuity they’ve just launched – continuity is almost synonymous with trust, much as the creators themselves like to laugh at and dismiss the issue. (I don’t even ask that they stick to the past – just stick to the new order of things consistently.)
Likewise, in politics, I think we’ve reached the point where, far from a given policy being expected to have the announced outcome, the citizenry do not entirely trust there will still be a government or a stock market in a year. And maybe that would be for the best.