When Thanksgiving transitioned from a Puritan-influenced feast of civic gratitude into a four-day festival of consumption is not entirely clear. But that is where we are today: at a place in our proverbial and increasingly depressing “national story” where the events of the holiday itself are overshadowed by the rituals associated with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. That the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend has so far been officially untouched by the dark arts of marketing and branding can be attributed to a somewhat anachronistic respect for religion, or to a failure of creativity. Let me therefore suggest an appropriate nickname and activity. Starting this year, let’s all celebrate Binge Sunday.
The timing of a story by the campaign finance reporters of the New York Times, and its placement in the paper’s national edition, is fraught with meaning. Articles in which the totemic names “Koch” or “Adelson” appear have a habit of being published in the prime time of an election cycle, and share the uncanny ability to float, bubble-like, to the front-page. Stories that deal with the liberal moneymen who finance the Democratic Party and its affiliates, by contrast, tend to appear after the fact or when nobody is looking, and, like ballast, fall to the back of the A section, obscured by ads for Tiffany’s, Burberry, and Zegna. I wonder why.
Of all the analogies being drawn between the calamitous rollout of Obamacare and other government muck-ups throughout history, one deserves a closer look. What’s happening to Obamacare right now isn’t this president’s Iraq war, or his Hurricane Katrina, or his Lewinsky moment. It’s his Iran-contra scandal: a complicated and controversial policy dispute that involves deception, a hostile Congress, and the bludgeoning of presidential credibility. Iran-contra marked the end of the Reagan Revolution, and it’s not hard to see how the implementation of Obamacare might mark the end of the Obama Revolution as well. A boy can dream.
Sundays make me ashamed to be an American. What was once a day for worship, reading the Bible, and cataloging your neighbors’ sins has been utterly eroded by the National Football League (NFL). Or as I like to call it: the New Front for Leftism.
Something tells me the president is not a regular reader of the New Criterion. But perhaps, in between his regular servings of Jonathan Chait, Ezra Klein, and Josh Barro, he snuck a peek at the October issue of the conservative arts magazine. He might have scanned an essay by Harvey Mansfield, “Machiavelli’s Enterprise,” on the legacy of the first modern philosopher. It’s a legacy that very much includes the president.
Last night the Center for American Progress celebrated its tenth anniversary with a “Progressive Party” at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on the National Mall. Don’t feel left out: I wasn’t invited either.
Looking for a distraction from the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate? I urge you to read Vanity Fair’s latest advertisement for “The New Establishment,” a list of “50 Titans Disrupting Media, Technology, and Culture,” the century-old magazine’s annual mash-note to the rich and powerful and self-satisfied. These disrupters innovate technologies, set the trends, define the limits of acceptable conversation in culture and politics and society, and pour money into the network of liberal foundations and Democratic campaigns around which our world is increasingly organized. They are the winners in the cognitive lottery that is the New Economy, the men and women creating and shaping, by accident and by design, the “New Feudalism” described so well by Joel Kotkin in The Daily Beast. It’s good to know their names.
How fitting that Senator Ted Cruz’s 21-hour anti-Obamacare speech on the Senate floor in Washington, D.C., happened to coincide with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly and the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Rarely is the distance separating the caste that rules our world from its few, heavily despised critics so literal.