E. J. Dionne—probably my favorite big-daily columnist—thinks liberals need to make a direct, full-throated defense of government:
If progressives do not speak out plainly on behalf of government, they will be disadvantaged throughout the election-year debate. Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall election owed to many factors, including his overwhelming financial edge. But he was also helped by the continuing power of the conservative anti-government idea in our discourse. An energetic argument on one side will be defeated only by an energetic argument on the other.
Hmm. I share Dionne's frustration with the success of anti-government conservatism in recent years, as well as the positive view he goes on to present of government's singular role in stimulating the economy and creating jobs (the main policy focus of his column). But more generally, I'm not convinced that the answer is to match anti-government attacks with equally fierce pro-government rebuttals.
Flipping through the new issue of The American Prospect, I saw a blurb about an article from last month's issue that I missed amid the end-of-year craziness: Ann Friedman's commentary
on the need for different left-leaning political interest groups to
On Hallowed Ground: Abraham Lincoln and the Foundations of American History, by John Patrick Diggins
In his long and storied career, historian John Diggins has, he admits, been called many things. He says that the phrase he likes best is "a cold water historian." Fittingly, in this work he lines up a myriad of candidates and gives all of them a thorough dousing.
While I was writing this review, I came across a statement from the managing editor of Christianity Today, who wrote that his magazine offers "independent journalism about an important niche of American Christianity." He went on to say, "We are the 'new mainline,' a principal voice of Protestant Christianity in America."
With his astonishing mix of blarney and brilliance, personal empathy and political calculation, Bill Clinton could have walked off the pages of a southern novel. The revivalist language of repentance and redemption is second nature to him, but so too are the practices of “war room” politics.
Reflecting on the “disestablishment” of the mainline Protestant churches, Walter Brueggemann once observed that those churches and their members are for the time being living in a kind of exile. He offered the further challenging and comforting observation that though exile entails humiliation and suffering, it is not necessarily a bad place to be.