#Punditrysopeculiar: "De gustibus non est disputandum!" We believe Abraham Lincoln said that.
We thought of Lincoln's famous remark on Monday evening, January 6, 2020.
Shortly after 10 PM Eastern, Rachel was performing her "throw" to Lawrence. Candidate Castro had dropped out of the White House race, and he'd now endorsed Candidate Warren.
As the pair of cable friends chatted, Lawrence offered explosive remarks, with Rachel voicing agreement:
LAWRENCE (1/6/20): The one thing I was not surprised by was this particular endorsement, because knowing that they are all, except one, eventually going to drop out, and knowing that this is one of the most impressive groups of Democrat presidential candidates I've ever seen–We won't make you read any more of the mandated friendly agreement. That said, Lawrence actually said it, and Rachel seemed to agree:
LAWRENCE: My favorite question, actually, for all of them who come on the show, "What is the most interesting thing you've heard, best thing you've heard from one of the other candidates?"
RACHEL: That's very smart.
"This is one of the most impressive groups of Democrat presidential candidates I've ever seen."
Warning sirens began to wail in our sumptuous underground apartments as our youthful analysts started to cry. "That was a subjective judgment—almost a matter of taste," we quickly and thoughtfully told them.
Does Lawrence really think that this is one of the most impressive groups of Democrat candidates he has ever seen? Does Rachel really agree with him?
We don't know how to answer your questions. But everything is possible, and it always will be!
Our own view is somewhat different. We think this is a god-awful collection of amazingly beatable candidates.
That doesn't mean that one of these candidates might not reach the White House. But when we watched the bulk of last Friday night's debate, we were struck by how amazingly beatable these unlikely candidates seem.
Two front-runners are way too old; one is way too young. Another spent several decades claiming to be an American Indian.
That leaves Candidate Klobuchar, coming up on the outside, but lacking the kind of "charisma" (or "command presence") normally associated with candidates who manage to win.
(Candidate Yang still wants to give everyone $1000. That's $1000 per month!)
We think this collection of candidates is preternaturally awful. Still and all, that's a matter of judgment. Others may have different views.
On MSNBC, we're still being told how "exciting" and how "historic" recent events have been. It may be that Rachel's just selling the car, or it could be that she really believes this.
We bring to this the wisdom we're gaining from our recent exchanges with a group of future ancients. Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, a group of despondent future scholars, keep telling us that our society's ongoing headlong decline is simply a matter of anthropology—of the insufficient wiring of the human brain.
When it came to maintaining a modern society, we simply weren't up to the task! So these despondent future experts insist on saying, through the peculiar nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.
Has modern punditry utterly failed? Just yesterday, we took you back some twenty years, to the day when Don Imus—and Lesley stahl—made absolute fools of themselves as they tried to discuss the workings of the Iowa caucuses.
A remarkable set of pundit stampedes were underway at that time. In the last few months, we've seen a similar burst in the remarkable Scripted Group Punditry concerning last Sunday night's Oscars.
Future ancients tells us this about the highly scripted punditry we've heard. Given the way the human brain was wired, discussion of even the most worthy topics was destined to be performed in the dumbest possible manner.
Is it possible that this gloomy anthropological claim is actually correct? Tomorrow, we'll turn to a strange claim by Professor Matteson, a claim advanced in The Atlantic in a discussion of Greta Gerwig's very badly snubbed film:
MATTESON (1/1/20): Among children’s classics, Little Women is virtually unique in its lack of a personified villain. The prevalent reading of the novel is that the chief evil that must be fought and subdued is the flaw in each character’s own breast, whether Jo’s temper, Laurie’s laziness, or Beth’s shyness. While these inner struggles are amply addressed in the film, Gerwig convincingly proposes an alternative reading: A considerable source of pain in Alcott’s world is the disapproving masculine gaze, so often clad in the guise of moral judgment, that can bruise a woman’s self-esteem and steal her self-expression.All hail the badly snubbed Gerwig! According to Professor Matteson, she managed to find a reading of Louisa May Alcott's famous though widely unread book which lets us recite a favored claim about "the masculine gaze."
Alcott’s novel presents two powerful instances of such criticism. Laurie chides Meg for her attire at a party, which she considers beautiful and he deems immodest; and Professor Bhaer arraigns Jo for publishing lurid stories that he regards as a waste of her talent and that he fears will subvert her readers’ morals. In the novel, these scenes occur far apart, with no obvious linkage. Gerwig has heard the similarities between them; her film makes the two moments rhyme thematically and lingers on the hurt and indignation that the two men heedlessly cause.
What makes Gerwig’s take so notable is that she sees both sides of the situation with equal conviction. Laurie and Bhaer speak in good faith, yet are largely oblivious to the depth of the pain they are causing...
According to the leading authority, Professor Matteson "won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for his first book, Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father."
On that basis, we feel sure that Professor Matteson has actually read Alcott's book. For that reason, we were puzzled by his account of the deep pain his fictional colleague, Professor Bhaer, is said to cause in the fictional episode to which he refers.
In search of the depth of the pain to which the actual professor alludes, we've searched and searched through the relevant chapter in Alcott's famous book.
We've found no such occurrence there. Experts claim that Professor Matteson has himself created a "fiction."
In his perpetually best-selling book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Professor Harari says that our war-inclined species, Homo sapiens, conquered all other human species because, though a set of chance mutations, we attained the ability to engage in "gossip" and to concoct, repeat and march to battle under standard group "fictions."
So it has been in the past few months. So it was in the fall of 1999, when some of the most consequential modern group fictions were being shouted from the rooftops by people like Lawrence, Chris and Maureen, supported by a cast of thousands.
No good deed ever goes unpunished! Also, even the most worthwhile values will be pursued in the dumbest possible way!
This is what the future ancients insist on despondently saying. The Oscar punditry of the past few months has struck us as a truly remarkable example of this future ancient wisdom.
It's all anthropology now! Or so these future scholars say. We're just along for the ride.
Tomorrow: Did Alcott have room for the pain?