Supplemental: The New York Times brings us the head of Miami!


A primer on how liberals lose: Until yesterday, we didn’t realize that Pamela Druckerman’s piece on Miami appeared in last weekend’s Sunday Review, right there in the hard-copy Times.

We had read the piece via email. In part because the piece was so odd, we assumed it appeared on-line.

To us, it’s amazing that the New York Times would publish such a piece in the august Sunday Review. On the other hand, it almost defines a key way we liberals choose to lose.

Poor Druckerman! Today, she lives in Paris, France, a fact we’ve learned in previous columns. But she is sometimes forced to visit her home town here in the States.

Miami is the godforsaken little burg in question. Condescending headline included, this is the way she began:
DRUCKERMAN (8/10/14): Miami Grows Up. A Little.

If you had asked me what I wanted when I was 12 years old, I probably would have said, “to marry a plastic surgeon.”

You can hardly blame me: I was growing up in Miami. My life plan elegantly combined the city’s worship of bodies and money, and its indifference to how you came by either. When I left for college, I put Miami behind me, and tried to have a life of the mind. I got a graduate degree. I traveled. I even married a fellow writer, whose only real estate was a dingy one-bedroom apartment in Paris, where we lived.

But with kids came long summer pilgrimages to Miami to see family. It took a lot of effort to keep spurning the city, especially since the weather was so good. Miami had grown up a bit, and so had I. Hadn’t it developed a soul beneath its vapid, extremely pleasant, slightly menacing exterior? If I understood Miami better, could I grow to like it? Maybe I was the problem?
Druckerman returns to Miami, hoping to see if she is the problem. Despite her acknowledged “life of the mind,” we’re inclined to suspect that she is!

Midway through her return of the native, Druckerman says Miami offers “proof that a city can be international but not cosmopolitan.” It’s based on the way Miamians (allegedly) talk. Accents exist nowhere else!

Druckerman then puzzles us with this brisk formulation:
DRUCKERMAN: Most locals also don’t seem bothered that Miami is one of America’s most unequal cities, with lots of very poor people living close to rich ones. Miami’s have-nots are easy to ignore, since—if they’re not cleaning your house or parking your car—you just drive past them.
Based on a short visit, how could Druckerman possibly know what “most locals” think? By the way, isn’t she likely talking about most upper-income locals? If so, hasn’t she proven her own point: “Miami’s have-nots are easy to ignore?”

Whatever! As she continued, we chuckled at the ease with which Druckerman does supercilious. This is her considered closing assessment:
DRUCKERMAN: Still, Miami has gotten more interesting, just by existing a while longer. Its buzzing new arts scene is a start. “I think Miami is now trying to figure out a way to be a center of ideas and brains,” the urban-studies theorist Richard Florida told me.

For the moment, though, Miami looks like a giant construction project. After a several-year lull that started in 2008, luxury condominiums are shooting up again, often right next to each other. The local economy still runs on selling bits of land to newcomers.

And while there are some thinkers scattered around town, Miami is overrun with lawyers, jewelry designers and personal trainers, all trying to sell services to one another. “Injured on a cruise ship?” reads a sign on South Dixie Highway, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. My recent stay coincided with Miami Spa Month, a bathing-suit fashion week, and a “camming” convention for stars of do-it-yourself pornography. While dropping off my rental car, I met a Central American woman who made extra cash picking up people at the airport and driving them to their appointments for cut-rate breast enlargements.

I wanted to fall for the place. I’m a third-generation Miamian. I’m fond of it. I’m an expatriate, so it’s the only American city I can still legitimately claim. Many of its faults—especially its inordinate interest in shopping—are my own too. And it’s obvious why people like it here. After two weeks, I’d swum so many laps that the flaps of fat on my arms, which I’d assumed were an inevitable consequence of middle age, were nearly gone.

But still, compared with the Miamians, I felt practically deformed. And I struggled to have conversations that weren’t about real estate or consumption. There was a lot of pleasure in Miami, but not enough surprising interactions and ideas. Miami may one day be the city for normal-looking people with semi-intellectual aspirations and a mild social conscience. But it’s not there yet.
Poor Druckerman! “There was a lot of pleasure in Miami, but not enough surprising interactions and ideas.” There’s no one to talk to down there!

No one is going to die from these oddly haughty musings. We’re surprised the Times published this piece, but no one will actually care.

On the other hand, we were struck by the way this piece recalled an early passage in Nixonland, Rick Perlstein’s widely discussed 2008 book.

We liberals! All too often, we choose to lose through our open contempt for the lives of those regular people. As Perlstein notes—as everyone has always known—resentment against such condescension was a basic part of Nixon’s political success.

That’s why Perlstein’s early passage strikes us as so odd. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the passage, in which he describes Nixon’s childhood home town.

As we do, we’ll note one distinction:

In the end, no one will care about Druckerman’s piece. But Perlstein’s an important figure. When he thinks and talks this way, we liberals are itchin’ to lose.

Tomorrow: The Nixon doll


  1. Itch in' to lose and should lose. Who wants policy reflecting the conceits of these weirdos?

  2. OMB (CasaBOBba...We'll Always Have Croatia)

    "Poor Druckerman! Today, she lives in Paris, France, a fact we’ve learned in previous columns."

    BOB learned it in previous columns. You, dear BOBreader, may have only learned from the one previous post by BOB on her, in which he praised her parenting:

    "In fairness, these kids are already 5. They already go to school at some level. But in this delightful, tongue-in-cheek report, Druckerman describes the giant head start they’re getting on their literacy.

    These kids get to fire off questions at dinner—and their questions get answered! And look at the language, the knowledge and concepts they’re gaining in the course of pursuing their new obsession.

    They know there’s a place called Croatia—and that the people there speak “Croatian.” Complex language is flying around and entering 5-year-old heads:"

    When you fit BOB's meme on gaps....praise.

    When you fit BOB's meme on liberal doll playing....pity.

    1. Would you prefer it another way? Pls explain.

    2. Hit a Bobfan between the eyes with a two-by-four. You still can't get them to pay attention.

    3. Explain the logic of it for me. I'm not as smart as you.

    4. Well, you load the mule up, hoping it will pack your goods up the mountain. That is, after all, why you got the mule.But the mule won't budge. You tell the mule to "Giddap." You tug and tug and even personalize your entreaty: "Giddap, darn mule!" But the mule won't budge.

      So you take out a two-by-four and whack it right between the eyes. The mule still doesn't budge.

      So you take out a virtual Chucky doll and the damn thing scrambles right up and over the mountain. Get it?

    5. No I don't. But no big deal. Have a good one.

  3. Here's how Liberals lose. The media elite pretend a right leaning hawk is a liberal and is a shoe in for the next presidential Dem candidate.

    I hope the media once again gets it wrong and some more liberal, less blood thirsty candidate is on the ticket.

    If not, i'm writing in Nader.

    1. A vote for Nader would be foolish. Most every thing he's done after Unsafe At Any Speed, especially since 1992, has been questionable.

    2. I disagree. But thank you for saying not to vote for him because he's done some questionable things. You didn't name any, but baby steps. Usually it's "voting for Nader is like voting for the GOP." or some such nonsense.

      Frankly, i don't see much difference between Clinton and McCain when it comes to foreign policy, and i'd wager McCain is a more serious environmentalist. Not that's he'll run, but you get my drift.

    3. Except, of course, that it is not nonsense that voting for a third party at this time, unless you are in a sure-thing state, makes it easier for Republicans to win -- OK, it's only giving half a vote to the Republican -- and in this time of absolute party discipline from the Tea Party, Grover Norquist and Boehner standing by the so-called Hastert Rule, there is no such thing as a good Republican candidate, or even a decent Republican candidate. You are unfortunately probably right that the Democrat will not be much different from the Republican on foreign policy, but you have a better chance to get a minimum wage increase, the right to purchase health insurance if you lose your job even if you have an existing medical condition, and infrastructure spending to create jobs (and, incidentally, fix the country). And, for that matter, would we have gone into Iraq if Gore had been President?

      If you want to know the real reason liberals lose as much as they do, it's the "I'm going to take my marbles and go home" attitude of so many when they don't get the entire package they want. In abandoning the vote, they turn all the politicians over to the complete control of the people with the money.

      Democrats at least have to pay lip service to voters, and lip service generates a few wins. That lip service will be stronger if it's the voters themselves, acting on their own, who put the candidate in office.

    4. Yeah. You're NOT getting unicorns, so vote for folks who'll sell you down the river for political expedience.


    5. Urban, seems to me the Dems are willing to compromise their principles, not the GOP. GOP get what they want, even if most Americans disagree with them.

      So, they're playing "we'll take home our marbles" and it seems to be working. Might be worth a shot if the Dems did it as well.

    6. I've heard it all. Disgruntled and former Democrats guilty of "turning over" Democratic politicians to big money? Get real, they went leaping like flying squirrels.

  4. This piece was critical and timely. Good that you postponed a piece on a six year old book about a Presidency that ended forty years ago. That gives everyone all weekend to play with dolls then get ready for that long postponed Tour of Homes!

  5. How Bob loses: Like any right wing pundit his age,
    blogger Bob presumes Druckerman, as a career journalist, is a liberal.
    No evidence offered. Oh, I forgot. She mentioned inequality. Only a liberal would do that.

  6. Another post, another woman to diminish.

    1. The problem is that lightweight columns are disproportionately written by women. E.g., I don't think the Times would have printed the cited column, if it had been written by a man.

      Perhaps the NY Times and WaPo can't find enough serious women columnists. Or, perhaps these papers think that their female readers are more likely to enjoy lightweight columns.

    2. Really, David? That's a rather stunning revelation. You got any numbers that up? Surely you do. You wouldn't just make things up would you?

      And while you are at it, what is your objective standard that would help us define with certainty a "lightweight" column from, say, a welterweight or cruiserweight column?

      Such a standard, rather than a subjective matter of opinion, would be rather necessary in order to determine which gender disproportionately writes the most "lightweight" stuff.

      After all, this is a HUGE issue, one that our host blogger has devoted the autumn of his years to as he rushes headlong into dotage.

    3. I don't think I can define the standards, but I know a "lightweight" bit when I see one, and hers was lightweight. Are you disagreeing? Or are you just looking for ways to disagree with whatever anyone says here?

  7. She does sound like a horse's ass.

    1. She also sounded like a horse's ass when she was bragging about her five-year-old wanting to learn Croatian.

      Bob thought that column was brilliant.

    2. Was it the column or the French parenting? Bob just can't
      help but show his contmpt for low income mothers.

    3. Bob rushed to the keyboard with the brilliant notion that Druckerman was one of those model mommies who talk to their babies, and thus opened their eyes and ears to Croatian by the time they were five years old.

      Unlike those parents of all those underachieving poor kids who we can't even count because free school lunch is no measure of poverty.

      Why if more mommies talked to their babies more like Druckerman obviously did, how higher would our high-flying minority kids be doing on their fourth grade NAEP math test?

      Of course, Bob was silent on the issue of whether low income minority families should move to Paris as well.

    4. He didn't think the column was brilliant. He thought it was a good illustration of what happens when parents talk to their kids. It illustrated class differences.

    5. Yes, 6:42. As does this one.

    6. Quote the Somerby:

      "But in this delightful, tongue-in-cheek report, Druckerman describes the giant head start they’re getting on their literacy."

      Yes, wealthy white woman moves to Paris then writes about how smart and cosmopolitan her five-year-old kid is. How delightful! How tongue in cheek!

    7. Could it be possible that Druckerman is a good mother *and* a bad journalist? It seems possible to me. It would make sense to praise her child rearing skills, but later trash her journalistic work, wouldn't it? Or are people just good or bad and we must choose?

  8. Bob, Have you ever read any of Joe Bageant's works. I grew up in the South and a liberal. I like his take on liberals on the coasts and their disdain for working people..especially in the South. Peace;)

    1. I kinda liked Faulkner.

    2. Thomas Wolfe couldn't go home again either. Personally I like Asheville more than Miami.