OK, I promise to try not to overuse "squitchy." Or at least, not to misuse it. I've coined a new use with my "squitchy good" thing, whereas Melville meant something else by it. (I actually use it correctly, as Melville intended, in a comment on this post).
Where was I? Oh, yes… A few days ago, Cindi shared with me a laugh at herself. Somehow, she had gotten the impression that I had chosen a George Will column for the next day's op-ed page, and when she read her proof, started into it without noticing whose picture was on it. And she thought, "Wow, I can't believe Will wrote this! This is really a departure for him!" That was because it was written by David Brooks. (OK, so maybe that's not much of a laugh to you — too esoteric. Think of how, in "Amadeus," all those people at the party laughed at Mozart playing "in the style of" various other composers. Not very funny unless you lived and breathed that music, his comical mugging aside. So to us, seeing a "Will" column "in the style of Brooks" is a real knee-slapper. It takes all kinds.)
Anyway, I had just grabbed a bunch of columns off the wire — a George Will, a Trudy Rubin, a Bob Herbert, a Cal Thomas and a David Brooks — and then called them up again in quick succession to read further and try to pick one.
Well, I was doing this in a hurry the way I have to do everything these days, and I THOUGHT I had clicked on the Herbert column, and as I read it I was amazed. It wasn't his usual partisan rant that turns me off in the first paragraph. It was really different. It was really thoughtful. And best of all for me, it was really communitarian — overtly and obviously so. Hey, I was going to enjoy running the first Herbert column I had run in a while.
I got all the way to the bottom before realizing I had NOT clicked on the Herbert column, but on … yes, another David Brooks, which happened to be right next to it the Herbert. A slip of the mouse. Oh, well — hey, maybe the Herbert column would be good, too. But here's how it started:
have sent the country hurtling down the road to ruin? Are they so
divorced from reality that in their delusionary state they honestly
believe we need more of their tax cuts for the rich and their other
forms of plutocratic irresponsibility, the very things that got us to
this deplorable state?
Yes, another flat, two-dimensional partisan rant, nothing original, nothing to appeal to an UnPartisan. Hey, if I wanted that kind of nonsense, I could run the Cal Thomas piece, which said in part:
The president has commendably met with Republican congressional leaders during the early stages of his push for an economic “stimulus'' plan, but now comes the hard part. There remain two distinct and possibly irreconcilable differences between traditional Republicans and traditional Democrats. Republicans once believed and encouraged doing for one's self and approaching government — if at all — as a last resort. Democrats see government as a first resource and people as an expanding pool of victims who are incapable of independently bettering their lives (and if they do, they are to be taxed to subsidize those who don't).
Unfortunately, you can too often summarize Thomas by saying "Republicans good, Democrats bad." And you can definitely summarize Herbert by the opposite.
So guess what I'm picking for tomorrow?
Now, before you accuse me of picking it because I agree with it, think: Seriously, I pick columns every day, and when was the last time I even had the opportunity to choose one that was so overtly communitarian? Like, practically never. No, the reason to pick this one is going by the same standard that I try to apply every single day: It says something that might help people think thoughts they haven't thought before. The communitarian thing on this one is just a bonus for me, this one day.
And yeah, I always lean toward the columns that are NOT all about "Republicans good, Democrats bad," or the opposite. You can read that junk anywhere; I'm looking for something that goes beyond that.