"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, June 11, 2011

David Mamet and The Secret Knowledge

I began adulthood as a liberal and became gradually more conservative during my 20s, ironically, as I took a Ph.D. in English at Duke University, whose English Department was to the left of... well, to the left of Trotsky anyway.   I've recounted that story here.   But it occurs to me that this "narrative of disillusionment" that characterizes so many moves from left to right has no real counterpart in the opposite direction.   People become radicalized as youths, before they have experience, but experience itself never seems to radicalize.   You don't get more liberal as you get older and wiser, you inevitably become more conservative.  

The classic in the genre of leftists becoming conservatives, of course, is Whittaker Chambers' epic Witness.   But a new entrant in the lists is the playwright David Mamet's new book, The Secret Knowledge, in which he recounts his move to the right and his rejection of the leftism of his youth.   Hugh Hewitt, who does great interviews, had a long interview with Mamet posted yesterday.   Here's an excerpt:
HH: In the book, in the middle, you write that a play is basically an exercise in raising, lowering and altering of expectations. So are interviews. And so I kind of want to start by raising the expectation of the audience as to how clear you are in this by talking about Sarah Palin. On Page 137, you write, “Part of the left’s savage animus against Sarah Palin is attributable to her status not as a woman, neither as a conservative, but as a Worker.” That is, I think, 100% correct. Would you explain that to people?

DM: Yeah, the left of today is not the left of my father’s day when it was made up of workers and factory workers and housewives, and veterans of World War II, and people who fix the lawnmowers, and the Republicans were the guys in the plaid pants who didn’t let the Jews in. The left of today is, it’s very much the cheese and white wine guy sitting around and talking about the greed, how greedy the world is, and how the dumb Americans have ruined this beautiful, beautiful world. And it’s kind of Malthusian. It’s saying don’t those people realize there are just too many folks on the highway, in the national forest, and they’re getting in my way? That would be, now tell me the question again. I got carried away with my own rhetoric.

HH: Sarah Palin, how Sarah Palin fits into that.

DM: Oh, sure. So Sarah Palin is a threat for several reasons. One is she’s a woman, and as I wrote an article in Misogyny, the left, if you look at it, really doesn’t like women. How do I know? Well, let’s look at Monica Lewinsky and Broadbent, and Mary Jo Kopechne, and all of these people who were in various ways vastly abused, and in one place, killed by liberal men and the left said nothing about it. They never mentioned it.

HH: Right.

DM: …because they weren’t, because as much as they’re “feminists,” it was more important to be a member of…is attacked as a woman, as attacked as an attractive woman, freed succubus, and attacked because she’s an actual worker, and because her story is part of the American myth.

HH: Yeah, she was a commercial fisherman, and like Harry Truman, actually knew of which she speaks when she talks about hard work.

DM: Sure, and also it’s part of our myth of Hollywood, you know, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, or The Farmer’s Daughter, The Candidate, Bulworth, The Contender. The myth is played out over and over and over again, Dave, the normal person who says well heck, I can do that, and in effect, can do it and rises to the highest office in the land. So when the left sees that in real life, of someone who is not on their side but on the other side, someone who has not been indoctrinated, someone who expresses herself well and is unusual and attractive and funny, it scares the hell out of them. So they say oh, you know, she’s stupid. I say I don’t get the joke. I don’t see what she’s stupid about. She seems to have succeeded wildly at everything that she ever did. All right, she’s just the governor of Alaska. Well hell, I’m not the governor of Alaska, and you aren’t. I doubt that either of us could be starting from zero. Well, it’s a small state. It just has a few people, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But the left knows not why it hates Sarah Palin, but they’re still talking about her.

HH: Yeah.

DM: I mean, even before it became clear that she’s probably going to run for president, when they were still bitching about George Bush, and they’re still kvetching about Sarah Palin. They got scared so bad that they can’t stop complaining about her.
Great stuff.   Makes me want to buy and read his book.  But maybe somebody can give it to me for Father's Day?   (Hint.)

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