Sunday, July 20, 2014

the last book I ever read (John Updike's Rabbit at Rest, excerpt two)

from Rabbit at Rest by John Updike:

“I think,” he says, “Dukakis tried to talk intelligently to the American people and we aren’t ready for it. Bush talked to us like we were a bunch of morons and we ate it up. Can you imagine, the Pledge of Allegiance, read my lips—can you imagine such crap in this day and age? Ailes and those others, they made him into a beer commercial—head for the mountains.” Bernie sang this last phrase, his voice quavery but touchingly true. Rabbit is impressed by this ability Jews seem to have, to sing and to dance, to give themselves to the moment. They sing at seder, he knows, because Bernie and Fern had them to seder one April just before heading north. Passover. The angel of death passed over. Harry had never understood the word before. Let this cup pass from me. Bernie concludes, “To my mind there are two possibilities about Bush—he believed what he was saying, or he didn’t. I don’t know which is more terrifying. He’s what we call a pisher.”

“Dukakis always looked like he was sore about something,” Rabbit offers. This is as close as he can bring himself to admit that, alone in this foursome, he voted for Bush.

Bernie maybe guesses it. He says, “After eight years of Reagan I would have thought more people would have been sore than were. If you could ever get the poor to vote in this country, you’d have socialism. But people want to think rich. That’s the genius of the capitalist system: either you’re rich, or you want to be, or you think you ought to be.”

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