Tonight’s Reading Plan: Lawrence and Lebowski

I’m reading Lawrence, Hemingway and Anderson.

Tonight, I will read a few chapters in the Sun Also Rises and perhaps a little more of St. Mawr. 

I’m also reading The Most Excellent Comedie and Tragical Romance of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski.

You’re going to want to check that out.  Full disclosure:  I get a small percentage if you buy it through the link. 

I hadn’t heard of this work by Adam Bertocci until my wife bought me a copy as a surprise earlier this week.  The opening scene alone is worth the cover price.

Bill Clinton Has Obviously Never Seen “The Big Lebowski”

From October 25, 2012.

Matt Bai says Bill Clinton’s advice to frame Mitt Romney as an extreme conservative rather than the nihlist voters believe him to be was a mistake (here in The New York Times).

Crux of the piece:

“The bottom line here is that one can over-think this whole notion of framing your opponent. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the line of attack that works best is the one that really rings true. In the case of Mr. Romney, whatever his stated positions may be, the idea that he’s a far-right ideologue, a kind of Rush Limbaugh with better suits and frosty hair, just doesn’t feel especially persuasive.

On the other hand, the notion that Mr. Romney isn’t centered in any philosophical impulse — that he will say or do whatever it takes to win — seems more plausible, given his contortions on a range of policies, and given his excessive caution as a candidate.”

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan said that Romney’s singular skill at reversing positions whenever it seems expedient (or, to be generous, right) could be understood in the context of his mid-century Mormonism.  Mormons believe in continuing revelation, Sullivan says, pointing out that Africans and African Americans were classified as cursed in the LDS until 1978.   He quoted Mormon leader Bruce McConkie’s statement that year: “It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978.” (Sullivan also points out that for close to 40 years, Mitt Romney remained active in a racist church, and that no one is raising that issue the way Obama’s connection to Jeremiah Wright was held up for all to see).

Sullivan claims that it’s okay to use Mormonism, “the only consistent intellectual thread in Romney’s life,” as a kind of decoder.  Readers accused Sullivan of not understanding what Mormons believe about the efficacy of continuing revelation.

Is it possible that Romney’s left-to-center-to-right-to-center-to-right-to-center dash of the last 18 months is simply the candidate’s inner life lived out in public?  Maybe.

And then there’s the belief, which Bai basically says most voters hold, that Romney is a manipulative nihilist.  The Lebowski Problem come home to roost.  Unfortunately for Barack Obama, Bill Clinton was otherwise engaged when Walter Sobchak instilled in us a deep distrust for that particular non-ethos.

Third party!

Romney’s Lebowski Problem

This is from March, 2012.  I’m reposting it today because everyone seems to think Mitt Romney is going to save the world from Donald Trump.  Or something.

I had the blissful opportunity of enjoying exceptional hot wings, conversation, and bro time in Wayne, PA this week.  One of the insights that emerged from this time of fellowship is offered here for your consideration.

Mitt Romney is so unpalatable because there’s absolutely no reason for him to be running for president.  It’s great that he’s not an ideologue, but it would be nice if he had some ideology.  It’s not the incessant flip-flopping so much as what that says about his real motives for running.  He has no great beliefs and hence no great motives.  He’s running because he wants to be President, pure and simple. He’s running because he wants the Office of Ultimate Upward Mobility.  He’s running for power or prestige or from some deep-seated need to leave no opportunity untapped.

We’ve been saying things like this for a long time, but it wasn’t until this week that we’ve been able to put it in the most precise terms possible:


Say want you want about the tenets of Obama’s socialism, dude, but at least it’s an ethos.

Does anyone really believe anything this man says?