Monday September 10, 2018
Stingy for Bernie
David Denby's recent New Yorker piece, “A Great Writer at the 1968 Democratic Disaster,” about how Norman Mailer's “Miami and the Siege of Chicago” contains lessons for our time, sent me back to the book to read it, or skim it, again. It's great writing. Unbelievably so. Norman, with just his memory, notes and a typewriter, created this document, which is complex, existential, political; then went on talk shows to talk aobut it. People listened. Enough people. That was the world we lived in back then.
Of course, that world still elected Richard Nixon president, and then again in a landslide four years later.
One thing Denby doesn't call out? Mailer's description of the “Clean for Gene” students who backed McCarthy for the Democratic ticket in 1968 over more establishment candidates. Who does it remind you of?
No, like all crusaders, their stinginess could be found in a ferocious lack of tolerance or liaison to their left or right—the search for Grail seems invariably to lead in a straight line.
It's the Bernie Bros. And they‘re still out there, Daniel. I’d underlined the sentence back in the '90s when I first read it. Not sure why. But it packs a whallop in 2018.