SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2022
Concerning the Ken Burns film: It occurred to us, just yesterday, that we didn't know much about Ron DeSantis, given his increasingly prominent role in American politics.
We checked the leading authority on his life. When we did, we were surprised by some of what we learned.
We were (very) surprised to learn that he's only 44. He seems much, much older to us—and we don't mean that as a compliment.
We were (somewhat) surprised to learn that he's a native Floridian, born and bred. We don't know what "native Floridians" look and seem like, but we'd have to say that DeSantis isn't it.
We pretty much already knew that he graduated from Yale, then from Harvard Law School. He seems to have come from a working-class background. He was not to the manor born.
In this recent column, David Brooks described himself as "a DeSantis doubter...I doubt someone so emotionally flat and charmless can win a nomination in the age of intensive media," Brooks wrote.
We agree with Brooks concerning the gentleman's remarkably lifeless affect. We can't say that we feel sure that Brooks' political judgment is accurate.
Immigration policy and procedure:
By the start of this week, DeSantis was starring in blue tribe discussions due to his recent dispatching of some Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard.
Under terms of a prevailing mandate—No Bait Left Behind—this action produced waves of angry pushback. In a column she wrote with Bret Stephens, Gail Collins offered this overall view:
COLLINS (9/20/22): You have waves of folks fleeing from disaster back home—these days, particularly Venezuelans.
Many of them have endured terrible treks by foot, sometimes with children. If they present themselves at the border, their claims have to be processed, which can take a lot of time. The procedure is really a mess, and meanwhile there’s the choice between letting them live miserably in makeshift camps or providing them, and especially their children, with the services they need.
Like his predecessors, Biden has been trying to get the system improved, but the legal issues plus the politics make it almost impossible.
If these folks make their way into the country illegally, with luck they’ll get settled and work out their immigration problems later. But of course they can also wind up homeless and drift into crime. The border state residents have to bear most of the burden just because of their location, so you can see why they’d resent that.
Prevailing procedures are "a mess," Collins wrote—and it's hard to disagree with that assessment. That said, we were struck by her statement about the way border states, and their residents, have to bear most of the burden of this procedural chaos.
In the tumult of the past week, we saw no attempt from blue tribe tribunes to quantify the way the burden is or isn't distributed.
How much of the burden of prevailing procedure does fall on the border states? Admit it—you don't really know either! As a general matter, our journalism is increasingly built on the angry transmission of narrative, not on the development of information and facts.
The Ken Burns film:
This weekend, we're catching up on the new Ken Burns film for PBS, "The U.S. and the Holocaust." Right from its opening scene, the film is built around a terrible fact:
Anne Frank's family was unable to gain admittance to the United States when they were living in Amsterdam. For that reason, Anne Frank—a brilliant child who would later be regarded as a sacred figure around the world—died in Bergen-Belsen at the age of 15 years, along with her older sister, Margot Frank.
We well remember the first time we learned about Anne Frank. We were maybe 9 or 10. We read about her in a full-length spread in Look or Life, or one of those mid-50s magazine monoliths.
It's estimated that the sisters died in February or early March of 1945. Bergen-Belsen was liberated on April 15 of that same year. They came that close to survival.
Once again, we recommend Francine Prose's 2009 book, Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife. Back in 2009, NPR published its interview with Prose under this headline:
Francine Prose Explores Anne Frank's Literary Genius
Along with the interview, an excerpt is posted. Prose begins her book with a quote from John Berryman, all the way back in real time:
"I would call the subject of Anne Frank's Diary even more mysterious and fundamental than St. Augustine's, and describe it as: the conversion of a child into a person..."
We can't recommend Prose's book strongly enough. For us, it came as a revelation, in several different ways.
Our view? Its beautiful cover, a tribute to life, pays the price of admission alone.