The New Yorker talks to Philip Roth after an Italian journalist falsified interviews bearing his name: “Asked if he thought that Debenedetti was a would-be Moishe Pipik, the doppelgänger in Roth?s novel Operation Shylock, who impersonates the Philip Roth character, he said, ‘No, that was literature, this is merely life, and I certainly did a better job of imposturing.'” It turns out that Roth stands in good company: J.M. Coetzee, Jose Saramago, Nadine Gordimer, A.B. Yehoshua, and the late Gore Vidal were also victims of this stranger-than-fiction hoax.
The New Nullifiers
Sean Wilentz on the wave of enthusiasm for “states? rights,” “interposition,” and “nullification”: “There are those who now seek to reopen this wound in the name of resisting federal legislation on issues ranging from gun control to health care reform. Proclaiming themselves heralds of liberty and freedom, the new nullifiers would have us repudiate the sacrifices of American history?and subvert the constitutional pillars of American nationhood.”
The Liberal Fatalism
Kevin Baker finds that recent Democratic failures of nerve are symptomatic of American liberals’ “learned helplessness” in the face of political obstacles: “…Obama?like most Democratic leaders?concedes that the way of the world is wrong but tells us why it must stay that way because, some time in the past, powerful interests decreed it so…The idea of modern American liberalism has vanished among our elite, and simply voting for one man or supporting one of the two major parties will not restore it. The work will have to be done from the ground up, and it will have to be done by us.”
War By Other Means
British foreign secretary David Miliband believes victory in Afghanistan is within reach, but only if we turn to non-military and non-economic means: “The route to progress depends on recognizing the centrality of politics to issues of war and peace. Violence of the most murderous, indiscriminate, and terrible kind started this Afghan war; politics will bring it to an end…The lesson I draw from history is that Afghanistan will never achieve a sustainable peace unless many more Afghans are inside the political system, and its neighbors are in agreement with a political settlement.”