Sympathy for the Sympathizer
From the Scrapbook.
Aug 13, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 44 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
If, like The Scrapbook, you have the feeling that there is something a little, well, 1970s about it all, you’re not alone. Isn’t celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz now fighting her creditors in court? And when was the last time actor Robert Redford acted in anything you can name? We’re delighted to learn that 90-year-old Ben Bradlee can still make the journey to the Post newsroom to be photographed by Leibovitz, and that Woodward and Bernstein will tolerate one another’s company long enough to talk for a Redford/Discovery documentary.
But how many times, over the past 40 years, have magazines such as -Vanity Fair chewed over the Watergate break-in and cover-up, or has television celebrated Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward? The Scrapbook would guess that the answers are in the thousands. And if there is anything new or instructive to be learned on the subject in a glossy text-and-photo spread in Vanity Fair, The Scrapbook would like to know about it. Innumerable forests have already been cleared this year to print the Post’s own serial celebrations of the Watergate anniversary.
Which, when you think about it, is good news for the rest of us. For if, at the end of Barack Obama’s first term, people like Leibovitz and Redford and the editors of the Washington Post are obliged to reach back four decades to cheer themselves up, the present must seem awfully desolate by comparison. It is as if, during the Watergate era, the media had remained obsessed with the Teapot Dome scandal. Wallowing in Watergate (to use Richard Nixon’s famous phrase) may now be taken as evidence that the left hasn’t had much to celebrate in the decades since.
Gore Vidal Postscript
Stop here and do yourself the favor of reading Andrew Ferguson’s essay a few pages hence on the late, unlamented Gore Vidal, to which this is a postscript of sorts.
As Ferguson notes, Vidal’s status as a “literary icon” remains unquestioned in death. But there has been some confusion about his life. The New York Times, in particular, was moved to correct its Vidal obit more than once:
The Scrapbook is guessing, of course, but we’ll bet that this piece of labored and earnest prose outlives most everything that seeped from Gore Vidal’s “poison pen.”
The Scrapbook was long ago disabused of the notion that athletes should be viewed as role models. That said, we always make an exception for the Olympics—with the way things are headed, we take any chance we get to chant “USA! USA!” unironically.
So it is with a heavy heart that we report that Ryan Lochte, the swimmer who is one of the breakout stars of the 2012 games, is something of a cretin. We know this because his own mother said as much. “He goes out on one-night stands,” she told NBC when asked about her son’s romantic eligibility. “He’s not able to give fully to a relationship because he’s always on the go.” A writer at Salon wonders, “Is this Mrs. Lochte’s subtle way of discouraging some distracting, would-be girlfriends from her golden boy, or is this actually a wingman move?”