Politics & Policy

Endless Gore; in Like Flynt; Not a Moment Too Soon; Get Your Popcorn

ENDLESS GORE

Recently, Vice President Gore announced his new campaign slogan, nay, his battle cry: “Practical Idealism.” He feels very strongly about PI because he is the smartest man in the whole wide world and the only man who can save it from itself. When he was a Senator he was more idealistic and less practical. In his book, Earth in the Balance, he called for the abolition of the internal combustion engine and other really important-sounding things. But now he is a two-term vice president and he is running for president, so “practical” has to dilute his idealism like water in the gin. I’m sure that Gore can eagerly explain Practical Idealism (!) in terms of Karl Popper, Herbert Croly, and William James, and how it represents the institutionalization of reform and all that crapulence.

#ad#Gore is a serious man and he means things seriously. But his PI(!) is also heartfelt. When Lamar of-the-permanent-campaign Alexander bravely pointed out the obvious last week and dubbed Practical Idealism (!) mere “weasel words,” Gore’s office said that such are the tactics of those who practice the politics of personal destruction.

(Imagine what Gore’s people will say when his prostituting of his dead sister’s memory is more widely criticized. For those who don’t remember, Gore declared at the Democratic National Convention in 1996 that he had dedicated his life to getting rid of tobacco because his sister died of cancer. The fact that nobody could find much evidence of this personal quest in his quite public record and that Gore continued to sell tobacco from his farm for years after his sister died, were irrelevant. After all, it was a good speech.)

But anyway, Practical Idealism (!) is serious and personal to Gore. It is the rallying cry for the next generation. The torch has been passed, ask not what your country can do for you, Ich Bin Ein Jelly Doughnut, all that stuff. So, I for one, have been waiting with intense interest to see what his first big campaign proposals would be. Yesterday we got one. Was it an ozone detector in every pot? No. Was it compulsory service in Greenpeace? Nope.

Al Gore announced that, under his Practically Idealistic stewardship, the federal government will buy $80 million dollars in diseased pigs. Soooooooowwweeeeeeee! That’s a real “where were you when” kind of thing ain’t it?

IN LIKE FLYNT

It’s been reported that White House spokesman and Hustler publisher, Larry Flynt will not actually report his outings in his magazine. Why? One would normally expect that an article which would undoubtedly boost circulation through the roof would be welcome. There seem to be only two possibilities. One, Flynt is ashamed. This seems unlikely because Flynt, who stands accused by his daughter of sexual abuse, is one of the few public men in America with a more impaired shame generator than our Commander in Chief.

Besides, any Lilliputian sense of dignity or honor that may be fighting a rearguard action in his desiccated soul is surely easily defeated by his gargantuan love of a buck. The second possibility is that he has been asked not to publish reports of Republican peccadilloes alongside pictorials of lesbian rape scenes and German Shepherd human bodice-rippers. Why? The Left has embraced Flynt as the Don Quixote of the First Amendment. Senator Frank Lautenberg is cheering the man on. Alan Dershowitz, defender of rapists and murderers, absolves Flynt, “even-though-I-don’t-condone-what-he-does.” The White House is very defensive about the charge that they are working with Flynt. They think the charge is outrageous innuendo, according to Joe Lockhart, Mr. Flynt’s ersatz colleague. This despite the fact that Flynt and Clinton share private detectives and James Carville and Flynt are buddies. This despite the fact that people in the White House claimed Lewinsky was a deranged stalker. How dare people suggest that the White House be connected to someone like Flynt.

And yet, could it be that there are parties who want to give Flynt’s work as much credibility as possible?

NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON

Elia Kazan, director of On the Waterfront, A Street Car Named Desire, Gentlemen’s Agreement, East of Eden, and many other classics, will finally receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Mr. Kazan had been snubbed by most critic groups because he cooperated with the House Un-American Activities Committee. The American Film Institute has made it a special priority to ostracize Kazan as a traitor. A co-founder of the Actor’s Studio, Kazan is 89 years old. Actor Karl Malden told the New York Times, “Twenty-one actors who worked in his films were nominated for Oscars, and nine won Oscars.”

For a town purportedly dedicated to the idea that blacklists are terrible, it’s nice to see them erase at least one name from their own substantial blacklist.

GET YOUR POPCORN

Tomorrow the trial begins. Expect to find incomplete and partial coverage here.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now. @jonahnro

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