The Agenda

Surprises, Good and Bad

Though I disagree with George Packer most of the time, not just in the conclusions he reaches but in the assumptions and frameworks he relies on, he’s made a perceptive observation

Something about the turbulence of this age, the deep sense of dissatisfaction with things as they are, prompts people to discard the stale verities and invent new ones. Which, after all, is a very old way to respond to distress in this country. Whatever you think of their ideas and causes, both Thiel and Kachel represent something of the restlessness, the openness to the future, that has gotten America through other troubled times.

I’m always pleased when people surprise me. Actually, that’s not right. Surprises can be terrible, per Tim Hrenchir’s recent story in the Topeka Capital-Journal

The Rowleys said Dimmick entered their home and confronted them at knifepoint. A neighbor told The Topeka Capital-Journal in September 2009 that the couple gained his trust by eating Cheetos and drinking Dr Pepper with him while watching the movie “Patch Adams.”

The couple fled the house after Dimmick fell asleep. Police said they entered and ordered Dimmick onto his stomach before a Topeka police officer’s rifle accidentally discharged, striking Dimmick in the back.

When you eat Cheetos and drink Dr Pepper with someone, you don’t expect them to turn you in to the cops. That would be a rude surprise indeed. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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