The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Law of Continued Diminishing Returns

The site filmcritic.com uses the phrase “law of continued diminishing returns” to describe Nicolas Cage’s acting skills, but I think it’s a term that has wider application. Worthy recipients could easily include Garrison Keillor or Sarah Palin—perhaps even Michael Moore and Karl Rove—you know, people just like you and I who keep performing the same tiresome gig until the hook comes and yanks them from the stage.

One person who decidedly does not fit into this category is Al Franken. He’s sobered up considerably. I guess in watching his adversary slowly commit political suicide he realized that flip remarks and wisecracks weren’t going to cut it. One hopes he’ll evolve into a new, hip Wellstone, and the green bumper stickers and signs will disappear forever from Minnesota cars and yards.

The New York Times had a very interesting article recently about Minnesota politics. You should read it if you want to feel good about yourself. The piece extols our tendency to vote at levels exceeding 75 percent, our participation in local caucuses, and our love of third party candidates. In light of this, it’s jarring to read comments in the Strib from those who believe Coleman lost only because the DFL machine succeeded in subverting the vote.

To celebrate Independence Day, I’ve been watching the HBO series on John Adams. During one of the episodes—I can’t remember which one—I had a major insight into the tea bagger phenomenon and right wing mentality in general. My insight was that these folks truly believe themselves to be patriots similar to those who founded our country. Never mind that the year is 2009, not 1776. When they wear T-shirts with red-white-and-blue flags rippling across their chests proclaiming “freedom” in capital letters, they mean it literally. As patriots, they see themselves bearing arms in a fragile union of states under attack from whomever our current enemy happens to be. The rest of us they view as naive, who don’t get how dangerous the world actually is.

In some odd way, this insight helps me to respect these folks, whom I’ve always thought of as nutters. Perhaps there’s hope for me after all. As someone once said, “A little bit of tolerance goes a long way.”

July 7, 2009   Comments Off