Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Republic of Letters
(fm the BC thread "Pentup-gram")
John McCain is still waiting for the Republican Senate Cloakroom to select him for Miss Congeniality.
The last American President who wrote actual books on serious subjects, as opposed to a politician writing about the least serious of topics, themselves, that he could then sell to the public was Richard Nixon. The last Senator who wrote seriously that comes to my mind was Daniel Patrick Moynihan. While the Democrats have one Senator now who has sold middlebrow novels, and bad poetry abounds, good fiction is not to be found. Is this because of the conditions of public life, as opposed to journalism or academia, or is it due to a general decline in the educational system that effects all presumptively educated members of society, politicians no more than everyone else?
The English, especially the Tories, have a literary tradition among their politicians. Both Disraeli and Churchill made their living by writing. A more recent but less happy example of talent gone astray was Jeffrey Archer. The Left tends to confuse the whole concept of fiction (which they confuse with budgeting) and nonfiction (which they confuse with dour bureaucratic regimentation.)