In New York Friday to appear on Sean Hannity’s program, I stayed an extra day to catch an early performance of David Mamet's new play The Anarchist, now in its second week of previews. Sitting next to Marcello, a Brazilian venture capitalist, we chatted about the election just past.
"I do not understand you Americans. Dogs on car roofs? Really?"
I can't argue that our process isn't absurd or that our media isn't mired in the trivial. The day before I had interviewed Israel's Ambassador to the United States, historian Michael Oren, and had passed a pro-Israel demonstration in Times Square on my walk to the theater. The brewing war the ambassador was willing to discuss on air with me and about which the demonstrators were fully informed hadn't come up in the love-fest press conference the president held with his fan club earlier in the week, but global warming had. Egypt’s turn to Islamist extremism had barely come up in the entire presidential campaign even though it is has changed everything. What can you say to a serious foreigner about our press and our elections?
The key topics are obvious. The important guests are available. The news business doesn't have to be empty and stupid. But it is.
Then Woody Allen walked in, took a seat in the second row, and the lights went down and came up on Debra Winger and Patti LuPone. They were in a spartan room of a correctional facility, and their dialogue provided much insight into this absurd month, year and election. For Mamet has been thinking about the radical left and what happened to it after it blew itself and the country up in the 1960s. The result of his thinking is The Anarchist, and it is a very troubling commentary on the language of politics, which is the language of media.
The Anarchist won't be reviewed for a week or so, but bet on it being savaged by the usual, lefty, suspects. The actresses are wonderful, their conversation the meaty back-and-forth of two very smart adversaries who have been sparring for years, the one a convicted murderer who killed in the course of an Ayers-Dohrn-Boudin-like spasm of youthful revolutionary zeal, the other an officer of the justice system, the warden, on whose recommendation the freedom of the former depends after decades of imprisonment.
Will anyone under 50 get this? Under 60 even? Slowly, inexorably the drama builds as the voices of the Weathermen come back, coded, over four decades of obscurity.
Where did they go? The bomb-throwers and the sit-in heroes? Sure, we know Ayers and Dohrn are in Chicago, still peddling nonsense, and the Port Huron gang is spread far and wide, some of them via ash scatterings.