Saturday, September 29, 2012

When Fallows is Fallows

Not to be too fulsome about it, but James Fallows, as his readers well know, is fair-minded to a fault, and generous to a fault. On my morning read, two moments in a recent post struck me as echt Fallows, recalling a third by association. On the timeworn theory that three is a trend, and by extension a portrait, here they are.

I have known, respected, and come very much to like Jim Webb over the course of more than 30 years. We originally met because of deep disagreements about the Vietnam War. He went to Annapolis, served with distinction and bravery as Marine officer, was badly wounded, and then in his novels, movies, essays, and public-affairs work championed the memories and the futures of the people he had served with. I was in college while he was in combat, opposed the war, and deliberately avoided being drafted to serve in it.
When was the last time you saw an elder boomer, engaged n any way in the political arena, recount in print that he "deliberately avoid being drafted to serve" in Vietnam?

The next flash is Fallows' reaction to Webb's calling out of Romney for not mentioning the troops in Afghanistan in his convention speech -- and implicitly, for dismissing the many combat vets among the 47% that Romney dismissed as hopelessly dependent on government -- along with his reaction to the latest Obama ad highlighting that infamous riff.  By way of introduction, note this admonishment by the relentlessly data-driven political scientist John Sides:

Amazing how many people develop opinions about effect of campaign ads on undecided voters from their personal reaction to the ad...
To my no doubt biased mind -- biased as a friend of Webb's, biased as someone who likes very little of what the current GOP represents -- the passage of Webb's is as powerful a response to the "47%" video as this also extremely powerful Obama ad.
Let's fight that confirmation bias as we express it! (Though to attempt the same virtue myself, I must note that Sides recently labored to demonstrate at length that presidential debates rarely move the election needle much, while Fallows' recent Atlantic cover story was premised on the possibility of their being a game-changer.)

Finally, just by association -- in fact, double association -- this from back cover of James' wife Deborah Fallows' Dreaming in Chinese:
When in the United States she and her husband live in Washington, D.C. They have two sons and two daughters-in-law.
When was the last time you saw daughters-in-law mentioned on a back-cover bio?  Okay, so that's not James, strictly speaking. But you know how it is with long-marrieds.

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