Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The conservative mind at work

Please read John Podhoretz's review of "A Solitary Man" through to its very last word. The last word. Please. Trust me.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 10:07 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Why aren't there more Mexican Americans on America's World Cup team?
Next: Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

Comments

Hehe, you should have named this post something else. Kind of ruins the surprise.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 10, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I think that one got telegraphed pretty early in the article. Although when he mentioned "sad old Jewish man" for a minute I thought the punchline was going to be that it was the story of his father!

Posted by: OSheaman | June 10, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Ding, ding ding: Non Sequitur warning:

"Non sequitur (Latin for "it does not follow"), in formal logic, is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises.[1] In a non sequitur, the conclusion can be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion." [wikipedia]

Podhoretz: "His later-in-life crisis is the crisis of the Baby Boomer generation writ small. In its own way, and perhaps without even knowing it, Solitary Man is the best portrait we’ve yet had of the psychology and motivation of Bill Clinton."

This from John Podhoretz, EDITOR of Commentary, is The Weekly Standard’s MOVIE CRITIC.

His final drive-by "analysis" in one sentence is the equivalent of the one second snip in a movie review.

We should be deeply embarrassed that this was written by any US public media person.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | June 10, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Good point, changed the hed.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | June 10, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Kind of idiotic too. Clinton was in the prime of his life during his transgressions. Young Arkansas governor and young President. Can't really call him a dim star. It would be one thing if Clinton had cheated after he left office, but during?

Posted by: DDAWD | June 10, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

This whole essay is really Moby Dick, with Podhoretz playing another variation of Captain Ahab and Clinton playing the great white whale for the millionth time. Conservatives need to find another obsession, or hobby.

Posted by: ciocia1 | June 10, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Whenever I hear the name "Podhoretz" I reach for a cliche - "first time tragedy, second time farce." One thing we can be thankful for regarding P2 is that he can't burden us with memoirs of all the interesting and culturally important people he has known.

Posted by: brucds | June 10, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Aw, Jeez. I was already torqued off by yet another blow-by-blow plot summary passing itself off as a review (the current plague of both books and movies), then he makes that reach?

Seeing this kind of thing brings to mind my all-time favorite bumper sticker: On the left, a Confederate flag, with the universal symbol for NO superimposed. To the left was written: You lost. Get over it.

Bill Clinton hasn't been president for ten years now, folks. Let it go.

Posted by: dlk117561 | June 10, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

i'm guessing the liberal version of this story would be to put Rush Limbaugh where Clinton is listed.

yes a nice chuckle had by all.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 10, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

dlk117561,

yes and I'm sure by 2018 we won't ever hear Democrats and liberals bring up GWB.

Can I quote you on that?

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 10, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

But Bill Clinton isn't Jewish.

Posted by: Mimikatz | June 10, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

As if ardent Obama supporters somehow obsess-hate Bill Clinton less than conservative-crazies. This review could easily have been in the Village Voice.

Posted by: kleefest | June 10, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

@kleefest

I'm a pretty ardent Obama supporter and I LOVE Bill Clinton. I don't now anyone who obsess-hates him.

Posted by: sheredlk | June 10, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Astonishing -- except for the miracle of wingnut welfare -- that this pissant can hold on to a job. Third-, fourth- and fifth-hand thoughts throughout, and cheesy stereotypes, e.g., "little old Jewish man" to describe Douglas, who is not short.

Posted by: misterjrthed | June 10, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Good grief. So after reading through the carefully laid groundwork for how Ben Kalmen is everyman because growing old happens to us all, we get to the end and find out it's not really everyman -- it's Bill Clinton.

Or maybe Bill Clinton is everyman. Is that the message?

Posted by: LynnDee227 | June 10, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Now you know how conservatives feel when, having paid $75 for a ticket to a Broadway show or $12 for a movie ticket (the going rate in Manhattan), they get blindsideed by a completely gratuitous swipe at President Bush and/or conservatives in the dialogue. After a while you decide it's masochistic to lay out that kind of money to get abused and instead buy really good Yankees tickets and have a great time. You'd think that with the economy limiting people's disposable income, producers wouldn't alienate paying customers so as to maximize revenue. But, that's the liberal mind at work.

Posted by: theothercheek | June 10, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I think you mean "the partisan mind at work". Given the references to G.W. Bush, H.W. Bush and Reagan. And Gingrich. Or Palin, who has never even been president, and isn't much more in the public eye than Clinton has been, and remained, since his presidency.

I chalk such things up to variations of Clinton/Bush derangement syndrome, and leave it at that. More important:

@dlk: "I was already torqued off by yet another blow-by-blow plot summary passing itself off as a review"

Seriously. What happened to the art of the movie review? So many people now believe a script summary to be a review.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 10, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I am so glad I followed Ezra's recommendation. My fist pounded the desk when I got to the last word.

Posted by: fbacon2 | June 10, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone actually read political magazines for mainstream film reviews? This review was really badly written but most film reviews I've read in magazines like the Nation are really no better. (Well, except for the part where they can actually stay on topic.)

Posted by: HerooftheBeach | June 10, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I get the connection between this movie, the review and "The conservative mind at work." I do agree with kevin_willis and @dlk, reviews of movies and books that summarize the plot are used too much and ruin it for those who have not yet seen/read the work reviewed.
And, I am also sure, that if the movie, itself, would have taken a shot at Clinton, then the whole liberal press would have been up in arms.

Posted by: OveyFan | June 10, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

@theothercheek: You wrote: "Now you know how conservatives feel when, having paid $75 for a ticket to a Broadway show or $12 for a movie ticket (the going rate in Manhattan), they get blindsideed by a completely gratuitous swipe at President Bush and/or conservatives in the dialogue."

This makes no sense. Swipes at either left or right, in dialogue, is fine if it works with the character and the dialogue, and isn't fine if the author has suddenly made a sock puppet out of one of the characters.

Here, we have a review of a movie in which the reviewer suddenly goes off the rails in the last sentence. Weird.

Posted by: LynnDee227 | June 10, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

As god is my witness, I will get you for making me read that drivel. (I keed, I keed).

But seriously, WTF? Bill Clinton is about to be a little old jewish man? Conservatives are freaking insane.

Posted by: lcrider1 | June 10, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Man, I'm so sick of the "If the situation were different, I'm sure X would be the result" sort. We've got tons of history to draw from, people! Don't presume that people with whom you disagree would react in exactly the same petty way that someone else has. Jpod's review is both crappy writing and a pathetically sad, juvenile, and pointless swipe at Bill Clinton.

Criticisms of GWB tend to take a lot of forms. If you're going to say, "This is just like GWB!" or "Liberals will still be 'bringing up' GWB in 2018!" then you need to specify what types of statements liberals are making now which are similar to what Jpod is doing here and that they should be mocked for making in 2018. Saying, "Bill Clinton passed NAFTA, which has had numerous negative impacts on American workers." is a valid criticism, even if it's made 10 years later and even if you make it in a less nice way. Similarly, saying "The war in Iraq drained billions of dollars from our coffers and caused tens (hundreds?) of thousands of unnecessary deaths, and it's GWB's fault!" will be no less valid a criticism in 2018 than it is now. It may be more debatable then depending on what Iraq looks like, but it's a perfectly valid argument.

A cheap shot at Bill Clinton in one line of a turr-ah-bull (/Barkley) movie review is not the same as any other criticism.

Posted by: MosBen | June 10, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

The last sentence.

"John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, is The Weekly Standard’s movie critic."

Great, the guy's been demoted to "movie critic" by the guy who was so enthralled with Sarah Palin that he somehow convinced the McCain campaign to taker her on as a running mate.

That is indeed delicious.

Posted by: ChrisBrown11 | June 10, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm beginning to think that conservatives are incapable of being cultural critics, because they just can't resist projecting their own bias into their judgments. If I'm not mistaken, Podhoretz is also a baby boomer and his audience would have been better served if he managed to see himself in the character, not Bill Clinton. Of course, that would have required him to do a little bit of soul searching, which is clearly not in his DNA.

Posted by: Koko3 | June 10, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

How really, really, really sad, that such an intelligent, interesting movie review should so completely self-immolate in an idiotic blast at the very end. Podhoretz almost crossed the finish line, but last time I checked, he was still running backwards..

Posted by: NorwalkCT | June 10, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

@LynnDee227 If it were germaine to the character or plot I wouldn't mind. It's the utterly gratuitous, throwaway line or lyric to give the libs a laugh that I am sick and tired of. Maybe you don't notice it, but I do, and I make sure to warn my friends so they don't waste their money on an otherwise pleasant, if expensive, evening that will be ruined with a gratuitous insult at their expense. And we're not the only ones. So next time a Broadway show closes after a relatively short run, the producers should consider how many audience members they may have alienated with a gratuitous slap at conservatives and/or President Bush, and how many other people stayed away from the show as a result.

Posted by: theothercheek | June 10, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

theothercheek, granted, I don't see a lot of Broadway, but can you maybe give us a better idea of how widespread this phenomenon is? If I go see Lion King, is Mufasa going to make some crack about Bush choking on a pretzel before talking about the Circle of Life with Simba? You make it sound like every Broadway show ever involves some crack at conservatives or their politics, but that can't be true.

Posted by: MosBen | June 10, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

@MosBen To cite a couple of examples off the top of my head, "An Evening at the Carlyle" (Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh "impersonations" - for reference, a couple of the other characters were Liza M. and Barbra S.) and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," which included Bush-is-stupid jokes that came out of left field. Then on the "silver screen" the Sarah Jessica Parker-Hugh Grant movie "Did You Hear About the Morgans" included a gratuitous dig at Sarah Palin. You don't notice the relentless anti-conservative barrage since you are too busy laughing. But I used to shrug it off when Broadway tickets were $40 and movie tickets were $6. But with dinner, a show and a taxi ride home costing a couple of days pay I refuse to put up with it any longer, and am being more discretionary with my discretionary dollars - and so are my friends. And that's how we get to have the last laugh.

Posted by: theothercheek | June 11, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

You should have put "mind" in quotation marks, as in "the conservative 'mind' at work." Podhoretz, like most of his ilk on the right, doesn't think so much as he feels. The most common feelings seem to be resentment, entitlement, anger, and self-pity. Too bad. There used to be quite a few thinking Republicans, but they've gone the way of the Dodo (pushed out by the new dodo, ex-gov & beauty queen Palin).

Posted by: adreed | June 11, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

You should have put "mind" in quotation marks, as in "the conservative 'mind' at work." Podhoretz, like most of his ilk on the right, doesn't think so much as he feels. The most common feelings seem to be resentment, entitlement, anger, and self-pity, coupled with an attitude of moral superiority. Too bad. There used to be quite a few thinking Republicans, but they've gone the way of the Dodo (pushed out by the new dodo, ex-gov & beauty queen Palin).

Posted by: adreed | June 11, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company