Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review August 14, 2001 / 25 Menachem-Av, 5761

James Lileks

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation -- BUSH has left DC, and why not? It's a hellish, malarial, torporific place in August, and any sensible person flees for cooler climes. Like Texas. But a month away from the saddle? An entire month? And at someplace so cliched as one's ranch? No doubt all the smart folks rolled their eyes - you can just imagine Ted Turner barking derision at Bush's elitist choice - just as Ted headed off to his ranch. (The State formerly Known as Montana.)

Of course, Europeans are famous for taking the month of August off, and aren't we supposed to be like the enlightened souls across the pond? True - but the smart set doesn't think Bush will be like the Europeans, who they presume take public transport to small seaside cafes and discuss social policy while drinking insouncient-yet-honest red wine. Bush, the smart set fears, will do all those embarassingly ranch-ish things --- roping animals (disrespectful to the Bovine American community) mending fences (very symbolic of American's regrettable attachment to private property) and plinking tin cans with a handgun while spitting tobacco by-products onto the sullied bosom of bondaged Gaia.

Gore wouldn't have gone to his ranch. Gore would have gone to Tibet, maybe, or perhaps headed to Peru to personally slather sunblock on penguins burned by the hole in the ozone layer. Nader would have holed himself up in his office and memorized dioxin particulate ratios. If either had been forced into a vacation, you can be sure they would have taken along tottering stacks of books, the heft and density of which would require a longer runway for Air Force One.

The reading list is a staple of the Presidental vacation, wherein we glimpse the soul of our leader. This makes him an Oprah for the DC set, who know what sort of book they're supposed to pretend to have read. Clinton had good taste, now and then; he touted the novels of Walter Mosley, a black mystery writer. (Even in those last few moments before he drifted off to sleep and put the book on the stand, Clinton was mindful to shore up the base.) But a modern pol's PR team puts out a reading list that looks like a graduate school syllabus. This demonstrates Seriousness. Dare one say - Gravitas. "Empty Claws: Monetarism, Species Extinction, and the Life of the Carrier Pigeon." Or "Raging Piles: Gender Paradigms in the 19th Century Bureaucracy."

No one reads these books, of course; they read reviews, which are sufficient for dinnertime conversation. And perhaps if a night into town ends with a stroll through Dupont Circle, and one finds oneself in Kramerbooks, glowing with two glasses of chablis, delighting in the sheer urban . . .unranchyness of it all, one buys "Raging Piles" with the intense satisfaction of knowing that Dubya would never buy this book. He's probably moving his lips to a Clancy Op-Center thriller. If that.

Bush had to make matters worse when he praised his vacation choice for its heartland location. The Heartland annoys people on the coasts. It makes their fillings sing. The Coasts require the money and the labor of the Heartland, handed over unstintingly whenever required. In exchange, the Heartland gratefully capers in the fountain of drivel provided by the entertainment establishment, and nods dutifully when the media establishments tells them what their betters think. Coastal sorts are annoyed to no end when people praise the heartland; to them, it's a big flat sileage dump full of dolts who believe in a G-d with a white beard and sandals, and get on the internet only to bid up EBay offerings of Precious Moments figurines with handpainted Nazi uniforms.

It frightens the smart set when Bush appeals to these people. These people shop at Sam's Club. These people buy in bulk. These people not only listen to Paul Harvey, they are completely incapable of a good Silvia Poggioli impersonation. Who knows what they're capable of.

They're capable of an extraordinary amount of physical work, which is more than the nomenklatura of DC can say. Which is why they might well be disinclined to scowl at a month-long vacation. They'd do the same thing if they won the presidency, or the lottery. And they might well do just that - after the tax refund pays off the credit card nut, there might be a few bucks left over for the Powerball.

Thanks, George! Have a nice summer.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2000, James Lileks