Paul Greenberg

Enthusiasm is as dangerous in the arts as it is in politics. Especially when, unmoored from the past, it sails off under the delusion it's creating something NEW! In Webern's case, the New Order he celebrated turned out be the old, barbaric disorder only delivered with modern efficiency.

To quote Alex Ross, "The cultish fanaticism of modern art turns out to be not unrelated to the politics of fascism; both attempt to remake the world in utopian terms." And utopias have a way of becoming dystopias, just as the perfectly logical has a way of becoming the wholly unreasonable, and the entirely new the entirely old. Webern's music led only to a dead end. In his case, what began as brave new music ended in the sound of shattered crockery.

It's enough to make a fella sing the blues.

Diminuendo,

Inky Wretch

Dear Mad as Hell,

It was wholly a pleasure to get your e-mail raising Cain with Congress, but not because your sentiments are particularly novel. There has been dissatisfaction with Congress ever since there's been a Congress. It's something of an American tradition, and at times an eloquent one.

To quote one of Mark Twain's observations on that august body: "Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

Will Rogers got in on the act, too. ("The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.")

So you're not alone in your sentiments, valued correspondent. You've got historical precedent on your side. And the public opinion polls, too, for what they're worth. Congress' approval rating is now said to be even lower than the president's, and that's low indeed.

Last time I looked, Bush 43 was scoring in the low 30s while the best Congress could do was the high teens. If the president's popularity is approaching rock bottom, Congress' is subterranean. When it comes to the subject of our lawmakers, you're scarcely alone.

But your e-mail marked the first time I've heard the suggestion that "all of the members of Congress need to be impeached." It's an interesting idea, but I doubt we'll see it implemented any time soon, since I guess Congress would have to do the impeaching. And I doubt it would impeach, let alone convict, itself. Although the spectacle would be engaging.

Your suggestion reminds me that, whatever the faults of our legislative branch, We the People can come up with some pretty strange ideas, too. And just when I think I've heard it all.

Thanks, I guess,

Inky Wretch


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.