Around this time every year, the staffers at the Weekly Standard provide their individual lists of recommended reading. This year, Bill Kristol implored everyone to read "anything by P.G. Wodehouse." Shortly after this recommendation appeared, we learned that Wodehouse-mania is sweeping Russia, which is the best news to come out of Russia since Vladimir Putin appointed himself Czar.
Also, Scottish journalist Alex Massie, in a blog post titled "The Wodehouse Primary," showed how Wodehouse characters can provide useful guidance in observing the presidential campaign:
In my sourer moments I find myself persuaded that Bertie Wooster's verdict on aunts also applies to politicians: "It is no use telling me that there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof."
Never is this more the case than during a Presidential campaign. The sheer ghastliness of the front-runners is something to behold. Or not, as the case may be.
Try as I might, for instance, I find it hard to warm to Hillary Clinton even as I acknowledge that some of the hysteria surrounding her is absurdly overblown. And yet, there's something to it too. This story in today's Washington Post about Hillary's struggle to appeal to male voters won't have pleased the campaign much, (it's pretty anecdotal for one, and, for another, she is doing slightly better with white men than might be imagined). Still, it's undeniable that there's something about Hillary's demeanour that puts people off. It's not as simple as her being a woman, though that doubtless disqualifies her in some folks' eyes, but that she's a particular type of woman.
As always Wodehouse is an invaluable guide to matters of the heart. Dipping into The Inimitable Jeeves last night, it struck me that, for a certain kind of chap, Hillary is the Honoria Glossop of the presidential campaign. It's not just that Hillary's now infamous "cackle" is dangerously reminiscent of Miss Glossop's laugh "that sounded like a squadron of cavalry charging across a tin bridge."
No, it's more that Hillary too often gives the impression of sharing Honoria's horrifying determination to mould a fellow. To wit, one can easily imagine Hillary addressing a chap, thus:
"I think" she said "I shall be able to make something of you, Bertie. It is true yours has been a wasted life up to the present, but you are still young, and there is a lot of good in you...It simply wants bringing out."
But what if you don't want bringing out? Opting out ain't an option with this sort of girl.
Read Massie's entire outstanding post, if only to enjoy the funny British spellings he occasionally uses. And for goodness sakes, read Wodehouse!