Century Marks

Acting out: Playwright Arthur Miller, who died last month, likened politics to acting. Especially in the era of television, political leaders understand that “to govern they must learn to act” (On Politics and the Art of Acting, Viking). Presidents Reagan and Clinton were especially good at politics as acting, Al Gore was not. The current President Bush was not at first, but has gotten better at it, Miller claimed. Politicians must project sincerity, which suggests “honesty, an absence of moral conflict in the mind of its possessor. Of course, this can also indicate insensitivity or even stupidity.” Because human beings can’t handle much reality, it falls to politicians to “act” in such as way as to shield the people from hard truths.


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