Kerrey’s editorial made me wonder how often he is asked for an opinion, how often his point of view is solicited in the constant attempt by the mainstream media to balance out panels, to seek other views. Here is a Democrat – not one running for President, but then neither is Hagel. Perhaps he is asked but my sense is that a certain framing of debate, by both right and left, is less likely to seek out his voice than that of, say, Kos or Ann Coulter, those who repeat the Democrats’ talking points and those who repeat the Republicans’. Nuance isn’t entertaining. This partially explains the complaint of Steven Schwartz in his “The Myth of Muslim Silence” at TCS. And the absence (or twentieth paragraphing) of the turnover of Maysan Province to the Iraqis in Michael Yon’s “A Small Battle in the Media War.”
The news slants left, sometimes reaching the perpendicular, but there’s no getting around it slants simple and it slants blood & sex. What is most destructive is it slants cynical. Its long and often honorable tradition of skepticism and muck-raking leads to a reflexive cynicism. It isn’t new – Twain at his worst, Mencken more often at his – but bitterness can be obtuse. If only with blinders do we see a world without villains, the same is true of heroes. Or, perhaps, another truth is that while Jefferson kept slaves he also risked much and made choices that we can admire. We should be grateful when others transcend, even if we aren’t surprised that often they do not. Flannery O’Connor’s nihlistic Hulga, who has read far more philosophy than she has life, changes her name from the Joy her cheerful, cliche-ridden mother, Mrs. Hopewell, had given her.
Nothing is perfect. This was one of Mrs. Hopewell’s favorite sayings. Another was: that is life! And still another, the most important, was: well, other people have their opinions too. She would make these statements, usually at the table, in a tone of gentle insistence as if no one held them but her, and the large hulking Joy, whose constant outrage had obliterated every expression from her face, would stare just a little to the side of her, her eyes icy blue, with the look of someone who had achieved blindness by an act of will and means to keep it.