April 26, 2015

Now Playing

(Reviewed August 29, 2014)

A portrait of modern sanctity which — very oddly, in my view — asks not to be taken too seriously

(Reviewed August 27, 2014)

The movie it took twelve years to make — about a childhood that appears to be taking much, much longer

America: Imagine the World Without Her
(Reviewed July 31, 2014)

Another foray by Dinesh D’Souza into the lists in order to break a lance on President Obama — and Howard Zinn. At least the latter is effectively unhorsed.

(Reviewed June 30, 2014)

An austerely beautiful film by the Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski that could hardly be a greater departure from his earlier My Summer of Love

ENTRY from April 22, 2015

As a scandalologist of long standing, I am fascinated by the Clintons’ apparent invulnerability to the sorts of claims of wrong-doing that routinely cripple or disqualify other, lesser politicians, at least since Bill’s impeachment back in 1998. To some extent, of course, this is easily explained. For scandal to be wounding or fatal, it has to be relentlessly pursued by the media to precisely that end, and the media are in no mood to wound or kill the reputation either of Bill or of Hillary. In this month’s New Criterion I ventured to suggest that this was because the media felt guilty about their scandal-enthusiasm during Monicagate and that Ms Lewinsky and her blue dress had only been for Bill the non-fatal, homeopathic dose of scandal which gave him immunity to much more serious scandals down the road. Hillary, too, as an unwilling participant in that affair, somehow emerged from it with an immunity of her own.

When the news came out of large foreign donations to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation while Mrs C. was Secretary of State, I foolishly supposed for a moment that this would be an automatic disqualification for higher office and very possibly reason enough for her to be prosecuted for corruption. How was what she did any different from what Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife did, as a result of which both are now appealing their prison sentences? Mrs Clinton’s behavior is actually much worse, since she potentially jeopardized national security as the McDonnells never did. But they were prosecuted under the old standard for scandal, which involved merely the appearance of impropriety. There was no proof of any quid pro quo for the money they took — less than Hillary or Bill gets paid per speech — from Jonnie Williams.

Turns out their big mistake was that they failed to set up a non-profit foundation for Jonnie to give the money to — not a mistake of which the Clintons could be said to be guilty, obviously. But their long history of skirting scandal also means that the mere appearance of impropriety is nowhere near enough for them to be condemned by the compliant media, let alone prosecuted, let alone convicted. They’re old friends with the appearance of impropriety. Thus Paul Waldman of The Washington Post writes that  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

The irony of p.c. March 31, 2015.
What do Jonathan Chait, Rotherham borough counsellors and the French Revolution have in common? — From The New Criterion of March, 2015 ... Full Article

The New Rules of Journalism February 28, 2015.
The old maxim about not picking fights with those who buy ink by the barrel doesn’t apply to dictators or terrorists — From The New Criterion of February, 2015 ... Full Article

Heads Over Heels February 16, 2015.
Decapitation in the good old days — From The Weekly Standard of February 16, 2015 ... Full Article

eResources ©2000-2015 James Bowman