Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 4, 2009 15 Elul 5769

No Requiem for a Twitching Corpse

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | All but hidden in the fulsome eulogies for Ted Kennedy lurk a few serious ideas worthy of more than romancing history or waxing sentimental over a death in a famous family. These ideas are about the very nature of liberalism and conservatism, the connections between personal virtue and public morality, and how emotion shapes ideology.

The passing of "the last liberal lion" comes amidst a national debate over health care "reform" that grows fiercer by the day. President Obama, who has tried to stand above the messy details of whatever emerges from Congress — tacking first left, then right, then left again — is about to tack this time into the fray. But there's scant room left above the fray. Two books, one a reissue of a minor classic, illustrate how and why. The president, like the rest of us, could usefully make room on his bedside table for both of them.

Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review, set out six months ago to pronounce a requiem for conservatives, and given the events of the summer he probably wishes he had waited awhile to publish "The Death of Conservatism." This grew from an essay in The New Republic, and his rush to a soliloquy recalls Mark Twain's famous remark that reports of his death were "an exaggeration." He serves up a few raw vegetables (mostly turnips), if not red meat.

"The Liberal Imagination" by Lionel Trilling is reissued a half century after original publication and asks again for a re-examination of private motives behind public power, an exercise that Washington takes only reluctantly. Trilling's book raises ethical considerations to mull when political idealism camouflages private sins. Trilling as literary critic asks the ever-relevant question: "What might lie behind our good impulses?" Like Tanenhaus, he looks to Edmund Burke, who understood how "light and reason" and the noblest ideas behind the French Revolution ran into a dead end of barbarism. Public morality couldn't accommodate the complexity of human differences.

Events of the summer demonstrate that Tanenhaus is no clairvoyant. He describes conservatives as "the exhumed figures of Pompeii, trapped in postures of frozen flight, clenched in the rigor mortis of a defunct ideology." The absurdity of the image is undercut by his point of view. He regards Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as "model contemporary presidents," comparing them to Edmund Burke in their talent for adjusting their ambitions to the realities of the moment.

Tanenhaus sees only two kinds of conservatives, good ones in the tradition of Burke, who today would be classic liberals, and bad ones like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. The modern bad conservatives resemble Madame LaFarges with knitting needles to destroy the nation stitch-by-stitch, snuffing out the last remnant of benign humanity.

He calls them "insurrectionists" and "radicals," blind to the reality that he is describing many on the left. His description of Joe McCarthy as the father of contemporary conservative insurgency is the simplistic analysis beloved by ideologues of the left. This analysis ignores the shrill gasps of outrage and name-calling in Obama's base, recalling the lava-encrusted dog at Pompeii, frozen in ash struggling against the leash that denied escape from doom.

Like his liberal cohort, Tanenhaus imagines the examination of the conservative movement as an "autopsy," but the corpse begins to twitch as plummeting public-opinion polls signal a new reality as we move beyond Labor Day. Nevertheless, the "autopsy" is useful for examining flaws and weaknesses on the right, suggesting a need for a fresh vocabulary. And that's the prescription in Trilling's book, whose literary analysis of politics is a corrective for the arguments of knee-jerk liberals.

Trilling worried as early as the 1950s about the complacency of liberalism, urging liberals to read imaginative conservative writers if only to sharpen wits and clarify reasoning. Nothing refreshes the mind of an ideologue like the cogent argument of a skillful opponent. He understood that liberal goals, no matter how "righteous," could be corrupted in the journey to attain them.

This is the useful lesson for conservatives who cling stubbornly to rigidly traditional values when there are badly broken families to mend. Just as undisciplined capitalism can give way to undisciplined greed, uncompassionate conservatism can be stingy in taking care of the most needy.

"Now and then," writes Trilling, "it is possible to observe the moral life in process of revising itself." This could be one of those times.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on JWR contributor Suzanne Fields' column by clicking here.

Up

Suzanne Fields Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles