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Today in Overshares: Jewish Novelists On Politics

As Super Tuesday approaches, three prominent Jewish writers get political in their personal essays. In The Washington Post, Michael Chabon and Erica Jong set out a point-counterpoint of sorts, with each one trying to out-hyperbole the other. First, Michael Chabon … Read More

By / February 4, 2008

As Super Tuesday approaches, three prominent Jewish writers get political in their personal essays. In The Washington Post, Michael Chabon and Erica Jong set out a point-counterpoint of sorts, with each one trying to out-hyperbole the other.

First, Michael Chabon chides us all on being a nation full of fear:

The point of Obama's candidacy is that the damaged state of American democracy is not the fault of George W. Bush and his minions, the corporate-controlled media, the insurance industry, the oil industry, lobbyists, terrorists, illegal immigrants or Satan. The point is that this mess is our fault. We let in the serpents and liars, we exchanged shining ideals for a handful of nails and some two-by-fours, and we did it by resorting to the simplest, deepest-seated and readiest method we possess as human beings for trying to make sense of the world: through our fear. America has become a phobocracy.

 

Then Erica Jong justifies Hillary Clinton’s centrism with an appeal to baby boomer women who identify with her struggle:

As a senator she has learned compromise and negotiation. She has gotten to know red America as well as blue. If she could win over the rednecks in upstate New York, she can win over any American. She knows this country is full of "security" moms as well as soccer moms. Since she is a woman, she has to show she's ready to be commander in chief. Hence her "triangulation" on Iraq and her signing the absurd Lieberman-Kyl resolution, which calls on our government to use "military instruments" to "combat, contain and [stop]" Iran's meddling in Iraq.

By the time it came up she must have known the Cheney-Bush war profiteers would never embrace even partial peace. She had to win over her America and theirs.

Shalom Auslander, our third prominent Jewish author, forgoes these emotional pleas for votes and instead talks about politics the way they’re lived among news-cycle junkies in the days before the primary. He admits that he’s never voted before, but now that he’s “downloaded pretty much all the pornography on the internet,” obsessing about the election has become his new favorite way to procrastinate. Also his wife found a lump in her breast, and maybe he needs distractions more that he’s willing to confront head-on. His essay won’t convince anyone to vote for Obama, his candidate of choice, or to vote at all for that matter, but it’s the most realistic evocation of the 2008 race I’ve seen so far.

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