Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A book on France?

I’m not a Garrison Keillor fan by any means (actually, haven’t heard him in over ten years, didn’t know he is still around), but this review of Bernard-Henry Levy’s American Vertigo is very funny, and judging by the Atlantic articles I read that became the book, on the money. 

Discussions - 6 Comments

You’re on the money. A very smart and funny review. GKeilor does in his own way love America and has a decent ear for pompous baloney.

A rare instance when I agree with Mr. Schramm. A great review of what sounds like a horribly dull book.

I agree with Mr. Lawler’s assessment of Keillor, also. Here is what Keillor had to say about the state of the union back in ’04. Some highlights:

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy—the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president’s personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.


Frank, thanks for reminding me why I can’t stand Garrison Keillor. His review of the Levy book seems spot-on, though.

No problem, John. I think that Keillor’s ability to smack down the Levy book while also recognizing so much of the "pompous baloney" that the right-wing produces in quantities that’d shame Oscar-Mayer (such as many of the posts at this blog, for instance) is reflective of his intelligently nuanced approach. He’s certainly no mired-down ideologue.

Peter- You can hear "Prairie Home Companion" every Sunday on NPR. I try very hard never to miss it.

Although the comments above don’t reflect it, I’ve been criticized for embracing the GK and PS alliance arond the opinion that everything French intellectuals say is pompous baloney.
So, to clarify
1. Much of what GK says, even on the Prarie Home Companion, is pompous baloney. But he’s also sometimes funny and the music is good, and I mainly know he really loves his country from the music he chooses.
2. There are some good things in the Levy book, about 30 pages out of 300. For more on that, read the Mansfield review in the WSJ. Not surprisingly, HM manages to be more fair and balanced, and just about as witty, as GK. Levy seems to be a nice guy with a decent sense of humor himself, from what I’ve seen on TV.
3. Pierre Manent, P. Beneton, and Chantal Delsol are examples of French intellectuals who are genuinely profound, almost always right, and pretty pithy. Also: not pompous (well, Delsol a little).
I’m also told I’m irresponsible for endorsing a review that would prejudice the reader so thoroughly against the book. But: Although I don’t really think the Levy book is that bad or even that ridiculous, nobody’s life will be hurt by not reading it.

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