National Salvation in Confusion and Mediocracy

As one who grew up among evangelicals similar to Sarah Palin and experienced “higher learning” at George Roche’s Hillsdale College, I found GQ’s Glenn O’Brien’s article “The Rhetoric of Confusion: Sarah Palin and the Rise of Mediocracy” fascinating.  The independent soul in me yearning to breathe free does not seek in a Vice President “a charismatic genius sprung from the educated elite”, the yin O’Brien contrasts with the Palin yang.  Nevertheless, I find compelling O’Brien’s critique of “a Tourette’s syndrome of euphemism” and the “ordinariness and lack of distinction and achievement . . . now considered to be a key manifestation of the democratic ideal”.  But then, as H.L. Mencken noted about a century ago:

No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

Paul Newman the Gentleman

I turn 37 later this year, but I’ve certainly felt my mortality with all the losses this year (Tim, George, Bernie), of which Paul Newman is the latest.  GQ considered him one of the top 50 gentlemen of the 20th century, and for good reason.  I’ve got a page from that issue of GQ on my wall, with nine of those top gents, and Paul is there next to Pacino and above Jack.  His Newman’s Own line was a fantastic example of a celebrity committing a significant and lasting act of charity . . . in the private sector.  I grew up watching Butch & Sundance.  This year I’ve finally embraced the journalist/entertainer in my soul.  So I feel like I’ve lost not just a portion of my childhood, but a mentor and hero in Paul Newman.  Others spoke, even screamed.  He simply and elegantly acted.  The results were his quiet eloquence.