Well, it’s been a hell of a summer. Pestilence, economic destruction, bitter partisanship, and now, the politicians descend from their lairs to commence the quadrennial feeding season. It puts me in mind of Merle Haggard’s old standard: “If we can make it through December/ Everything’s gonna be alright.”
I’ve been reading a lot, which means soon I’ll send you one of my perpetually off-schedule but always scintillating quarterly culture reviews, with links to books, stories, and other delights. For now I’ll just fill you in on some things I’ve had published hither and yon:
This is about what I call a “shirking pandemic” among politicians who prefer to have officials in other branches make the hard decisions they don’t want to be held accountable for. It begins with a story about an elderly couple kept apart in their nursing home for months while my state’s health department director blames the Feds for her cruel policies.
This short essay contends there’s something wrong when what we rebel against are public mask rules rather than the restrictions hamstringing churches and separating loved ones. What’s wrong is that we’ve lost our underlying consensus about a central but archane question: “What is the chief end of man?”
If you’re an idea nerd, you might like this piece explaining why the “three-legged stool” supporting conservative fusionism was predestined to fail. And if you’re an editor looking for the next great book explaining what exactly American conservatism is, and why everyone on the Left and the Right opining about it is wrong, call me.
This recounts my brief Twitter spat with Vanity Fair writer James Wolcott, who contends that American common sense is a myth. A quote: “Mistaking knowledge for wisdom is the perennial smart-guy trap, which is why intellectuals often make worse ethicists than one’s grandmother.” I like Wolcott, but I suspect the feeling is not mutual.
And finally, for something completely different, here’s a story about the most epic dirt-clod fight of my entire childhood. There’s a twist at the end.