|Word of Tom Clancy’s passing in October reached me at a local gym. Ped[a]ling away on an elliptical trainer, I welcomed the distraction of this “breaking news” story as it swept across a bank of video monitors suspended above the cardio machines. On cable networks and local stations, anchors were soon competing with one another to help viewers grasp the story’s significance. Winning the competition (and perhaps an audition with Fox News) was the young newsreader who solemnly announced that “one of America’s greatest writers” had just died at the relatively early age of sixty-six.
Of course, Tom Clancy qualifies as a great writer in the same sense that Texas senator Ted Cruz qualifies as a great orator. Both satisfy a quantitative definition of eminence. Although political historians are unlikely to rank Cruz alongside Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, his recent twenty-one-hour-long denunciation of Obamacare, delivered before a near-empty Senate chamber, demonstrated a capacity for narcissistic logorrhea rare even by Washington standards.
So too with Clancy. Up in the literary Great Beyond, Faulkner and Hemingway won’t be inviting him for drinks. Yet, as with Ted Cruz, once Clancy got going there was no shutting him up. Following a slow start, the works of fiction and nonfiction that he wrote, cowrote, or attached his moniker to numbered in the dozens. Some seventeen Clancy novels made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, starting with his breakthrough thriller The Hunt for Red October. A slew of titles written by others appeared with his imprimatur. Thus, for example, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Choke Point or Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath.
Tom Clancy qualifies as a great writer in the same sense that Texas senator Ted Cruz qualifies as a great orator.
Similarly, on those occasions when Clancy partnered with some retired U.S. four-star to craft the officer’s memoirs, the result was a tome “by” Tom Clancy “with” General So-and-So, the difference in font size signaling who was the bigger cheese. And then there is Tom Clancy’s Military Reference series, another product line in the realm of fictive nonfiction. Each title—Fighter Wing, for example, or Armored Cav—promises a Clancy-led “guided tour” of what really goes on in the elite corners of the United States military.
Clancy did for military pop-lit what Starbucks did for the preparation of caffeinated beverages: he launched a sprawling, massively profitable industrial enterprise that simultaneously serves and cultivates an insatiable customer base. Whether the item consumed provides much in terms of nourishment is utterly beside the point. That it tastes yummy going down more than suffices to keep customers coming back. [...]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—Mitt Romney may not be in this race to make money, but he is in it to protect wealth:
|Mitt Romney's response to a questioner at an Illinois campaign event asking about his Goldman Sachs investments is less obvious as an out-of-touch-rich-guy moment than the $10,000 bet or the "couple of Cadillacs" his wife drives, but, like those statements, it conveys just how deeply embedded in a life of privilege Romney is:
For those of us in the 99 percent, it doesn't really matter whether Mitt Romney would give Goldman Sachs free rein to operate unregulated because it would personally enrich Mitt Romney or because he just thinks it's right that Wall Street should control the economy without being limited in any way by the government. Either way, the outcome is the same.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin helps us segue from bracket chat back to politics, via Nate Silver. Daily Kos faves Charles Gaba & Jen Sorensen make waves elsewhere. The New England Journal of Medicine swats at the NRA for its opposition to Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General. Armando calls in to talk bracketology, and relate it to politics and social commentary, just for the hell of it. We also make some #GunFAIL-based game predictions, take a look at Sarah Palin's promotional materials for her new TV show promotion. CNN explores a new trend in March Man-ness. NSA says tech companies knew about mass data collection.