Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Wasteland

Unless I miss my guess, 2008 will go down as one of the worst presidential elections in history in terms of quality of candidates. Across the board, on both sides, all one can see is a vast wasteland, what writers during the first World War would have called no man's land -- barren, pock-marked, and with barbed wire twisting at either end.

It's depressing. The times cry out for greatness. We have real problems that will require real solutions. But all this field seems to promise is "Back to the Future" or symbolism over substance.

I watched "West Wing" last night and mused over the possibility of electing a president fluent in the classics who can think and talk in complete sentences and still seem like a regular person. Somebody who isn't a policy wonk or partisan viper.

Yeah, keep dreaming.

Whatever you might think of Ronald Reagan, what I loved about him was his eloquence. The Great Communicator's hero was FDR -- he ripped "Rendezvous with Destiny" straight from the patrician from Campobello -- and his most effective tool, like Roosevelt's, was his words. I remember watching his farewell address that January of 1989 and thinking America stood at the dawn of a second Renaissance.

Instead it's been more like a second Dark Age.

And so it goes. I think I'll bury myself in my history books until this election season (my god we've started early) concludes. And whenever one of these morons takes office, I'll start reading them all over again.

Where have all the good ones gone?

Drops dripped: Conquering 'War and Peace': OK, here goes. Today begins my Everest ascent into Russian Romanticism. My copy of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's new translation of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" arrived in the mail this weekend. I'll begin the first chapter in a few minutes.

I'll keep you abreast of my progress. I'm determined to climb to the top this time.

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