Thursday, October 14, 2004

Novelists for Kerry

Slate interviewed 31 novelists about their preference between Kerry and Bush. In summary:
Thirty-one novelists participated, with four for Bush, 24 for Kerry, and three in a category of their own.
What do you expect from a bunch of fiction writers? Anyway, here's my take on the gang of 31:
  • I've never read anything by 27 of them (and I read a lot of novels).
  • Of the other four, two (Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike) long ago became boring; one (Amy Tan) has always been boring; and one (Jane Smiley) wrote a passably good mystery about 20 years ago.
Joyce Carol Oates's comment epitomizes the vacuousness of the knee-jerk pro-Kerry literati:
Like virtually everyone I know, I'm voting for Kerry. And probably for exactly the same reasons. To enumerate these reasons, to repeat yet another time the fundamental litany of liberal principles that need to be reclaimed and revitalized, seems to be redundant and unnecessary. Our culture has become politicized to a degree that verges upon hysteria. And since I live in New Jersey, a state in which an "honest politician" is someone who hasn't yet been arrested, I have come to have modest, that's to say realistic expectations about public life.
No wonder her stuff has become unreadable. She has become detached from reality and logic. Maybe she should try "magic realism".

By the way, the four pro-Bush writers are:
  • Orson Scott Card, a pro-war Democrat.
  • Robert Ferrigno, another pro-war type who says "Most novelists live in their imagination, which is a fine place to be until the bad guys come knock knock knocking."
  • Roger L. Simon, another pro-war Democrat.
  • Thomas Mallon, who is worth quoting at length:
I'll be voting for President Bush. His response to the 9/11 attacks has been both strong and measured, and he has extended a once-unimaginable degree of freedom (however tentative) to Afghanistan and Iraq. I am unimpressed by the frantic vilification that has come his way from even mainstream elements of the Democratic Party. The rhetorical assault is reminiscent of—though it far exceeds—the overheated opposition to Ronald Reagan's re-election in 1984. Back then the intellectual establishment told us how repression and apocalypse would be just around the corner if the American "cowboy" were kept in the White House for another four years. Well (as Reagan might say, his head cocked to one side), I remember a rather different result from RR's second term. And I'm hopeful about another four years under George W. Bush.
Two of the three agnostics have interesting things to say:
  • A.M. Homes:
Richard Nixon, because I found him so fascinating the first time around I'd be curious to see what he could do from the beyond … ?
  • Richard Dooling:

More than any other election in recent memory, this one reminds me of Henry Adams' observation that politics is the systematic organization of hatreds.

The left-wing political road rage directed at George W. Bush for being dumb and lying about the war reminds me of nothing so much as the right-wing obsessive invective directed at Bill Clinton for being smart and lying about sex. Rush Limbaugh versus Michael Moore, and let the man nursing the most unrequited rage win. The DRAMA and spectacle of the election will be fascinating to watch, but novelists, even more than actors, should be political agnostics.

The same goes for musicians, Richard.