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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Uniters and Dividers

Driving out of Nashville yesterday, I surfed the radio, looking for something other than bad music or right-wing political commentary, and happened on a syndicated BBC show discussing the death of the great Swedish filmaker Ingmar Bergman (his Winter Light, the tale of a Luthern minister losing his faith, is one of my very favorite movies). Some film critic came on, and suggeseted that Bergman’s period of popularity peaked in the 1960s because his bleak and emotional themes tapped anxieties spurred by the nuclear arms race, the war in Vietnam, and battles over gender and sexual issues.
Hmmm. A disastrous war. Nuclear fears. Culture wars. Sounds like it’s high time for a Bergman revival.
I soon tired of the next BBC story, having to do with horse carts creating traffic congestion in Bogota, and started listening to sports talk stations. Despite the efforts of hosts to get callers talking about the death of–no, not Ingmar Bergman–former pro coaching genius Bill Walsh, most of the gabbing revolved around the perennial sagas of Barry Bonds’ ascent towards the major league home run record, and Michael Vick’s descent towards disgrace and perhaps the slammer (the latter story is on the front pages of the Atlanta newspapers just about every day). As you may know, public reactions to both controversies have largely broken along racial lines, much like the O.J. Simpson case.
On the other hand, it’s worth noting that the longstanding racial disparity in assessments of George W. Bush’s presidency is steadily being healed, with black and white Americans coming together in disdain for the man. In this one sense, and perhaps only in this one sense, he’s redeeming his pledge to be a “uniter, not a divider.”

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