Historians and filmmakers alike know that the British revere leaders who defy Europe: Elizabeth I against Hapsburg Spain, Winston Churchill against Nazi Germany, and George III, had he not lost his mind just as Napoleon was rearranging the map of Continental Europe. The mythology of the island people who stand alone possesses imaginative appeal, but it obscures the historical reality. The leaders of the past defied Europe from positions of relative weakness.
President Trump relishes his reputation as a savvy dealmaker. “Deals are my art form,” he once tweeted. “Other people paint beautifully or write poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals.” He promised during the 2016 campaign that if elected, he would work with politicians and foreign leaders to make “smart deals for the country.” But since he took office there has been precious little evidence of Trump’s vaunted dealmaking prowess. Such successes as his administration has been able to claim have generally been accomplished without his direct involvement—and sometimes in spite of it.
In blistering remarks, conservative writer Mona Charen called out Republicans for hypocrisy on Roy Moore and Donald Trump and called the invitation of Marion Le Pen a "disgrace." For her trouble, she was booed so viciously that she needed a security escort to get out of the hall. This is CPAC.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s February 16 indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian companies for interfering with the 2016 election fits with much that we already know. The Russians were opportunistic, stirring the pot and turning up on both sides of the partisan divide. This holds true not only for the frenetic and often laughable social media efforts of the Red Troll Army, chronicled in the indictment, but also for the rather more serious efforts of other Russians to involve themselves in the campaigns of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
The fact that accusations of collusion with Russia have dogged the president and not Clinton isn’t just because it was Trump who won the election.
In 2003, when J. M. Coetzee was announced the recipient of that year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, the news wasn’t met with outraged cries of “Who?” or “Why?” With nine brilliant novels under his belt, along with a haul of prestigious literary awards—including a hitherto unprecedented two Booker Prizes—the South African-born author had been a laureate-in-waiting.
In its citation, the Swedish Academy made mention of the “great wealth of variety” in Coetzee’s works. Though spare, austere, and clinically precise, his novels are rich in moral complexity and ambiguity, and each ruthlessly probes the human condition. But each does so in a different way.
In 1885, nearly broke from bad investments and dying of cancer, Ulysses S. Grant spent his final days writing the bestselling memoir that gave his family financial security after he was gone. The story of Grant’s swan song seems memorably American, touched by the mythic national themes of boom and bust, ruin and redemption, the abiding art of the deal.
But a generation before Grant’s grand authorial gesture, French aristocrat François-René de Chateaubriand did something similar with Memoirs from Beyond the Grave, published shortly after his death in 1848.
In 1960, already a movie buff, educated by Bill Kennedy, the ex-film-actor host of CKLW’s programs featuring old Hollywood classics, I took the bus from my east-side Detroit home to the Fox Theatre downtown. I vividly remember watching Victor Mature, all muscles, and Hedy Lamarr, all allure, in Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949).
Going to the Fox was a special event no matter what was shown. It had some 5,000 seats, and its grandeur had not significantly diminished since it opened in 1928 as the flagship theater in the Fox chain.
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