If you are an individual of cosmopolitan inclination, yet native affections, you are bound to have moments that rupture your sensibilities. On the eve of the new millennium, Julia and I were in Venice with our dear friends Ashley and Mark, all of us marveling at how an event long anticipated in the far horizon of our lives had arrived so quickly. One day we wandered the Piazza San Marco, my mind traveling among cultural associations both sublime and sublimely ordinary, and decided to ascend the campanile, or bell tower. Julia and Ashley descended before us, as Mark and I lingered over the view. When at last Mark and I entered the elevator for our own return to ground, we found ourselves with two companions – two other Americans, as traveling fate will have it. In fact, they were a couple from New York, an Italian-American couple. Practically homies to us, Mark being a native New Yorker also, the two were making their first visit to the ancestral home. I felt that warmth one feels encountering another person from home while traveling in a foreign land. It was only when Mr. Homie asked, “Where youze guyz from?” that I realized I was sharing an elevator with Paulie Walnuts.
We told him.
“L.A.?” Paulie declared. “Everybody in L.A.’s whacked –”
He pointed his index finger to his head, his thumb cocked.
“They’re all whacked.”
Clinical diagnosis? Prediction of the largest rub out on record? He was a master of ambiguity, that Paulie.
So, now this Harris poll, to be released today, reported by John Avalon at the Daily Beast.
Sometimes one engages in analysis, and there will be analysis for decades to come of what happened to American conservatism in the first decade of the twenty-first century, and the various forces – political hacks, politicians, think tanks, media personalities and organizations, and some purported intellects – that produced this dreadful phenomenon.
Other times one needs to be allowed to be stopped by wonder, to stand in dread and amazement. The wonder? How anyone who is not so untethered from reality as to believe any of these things, who might actually hold cogent and respectable conservative political views, does not cringe with embarrassment at the possibility of any association with this catastrophe. I suggested some months back that the GOP had gone of Prozac. It begins to appear antipsychotics are more like it.