Monday, February 27, 2006

You go, Sarah Vowell

I haven't paid attention much to Sarah Vowell, although everything I've heard about her sounded good, and I enjoyed her commentary on the documentary about They Might Be Giants, A Tale of Two Johns.

Well now I know why she makes a living as a writer. I've been reading her guest op-eds in the NYTimes and she is very good. And look, MoDo! Another woman who can opine on a regular basis! This goes against your and Gail Collins's belief that, as Gail said: "There are probably fewer women, in the great cosmic scheme of things, who feel comfortable writing very straight opinion stuff, and they're less comfortable hearing something on the news and batting something out."

If this keeps up, Collins might have to give up her evolutionary psychology-informed understanding of female nature.

Vowell is not only good, she's distinctive, if her Times pieces are any indication. For the past two weeks she's finished up her guest op-ed columns, both hearty and satisfying indictments of the Bush Administration with paragraphs that clang and resonate with the force of a big mofo Chinese gong.

Last week's column is The Pessimism Deficit and its final paragraph reads:
Alas, I see my initial worries about the current administration as the greatest betrayal in my whole life by my old pal pessimism. I attended the president's inauguration in 2001. When he took the presidential oath, I cried. What was I so afraid of? I was weeping because I was terrified that the new president would wreck the economy and muck up my drinking water. Isn't that adorable? I lacked the pessimistic imagination to dread that tens of thousands of human beings would be spied on or maimed or tortured or killed or stranded or drowned, thanks to his incompetence.

This week's column, When Bush Falls In Love has an even stronger finish:
Bonhomie, as our ex-cronies the French call it, should have its limits. Seems as if American voters picked the current president because they thought he'd be a fun hang at a cookout — a jokey neighbor who charred a mean burger and is good at playing Frisbee with his dog. What we should be doing is electing a president with the nitpicky paranoia you'd use to choose a cardiologist — a stunted conversationalist with dark-circled eyes and paper-cut fingertips who will stay up until 3 tearing into medical journals in five languages trying to figure out how to save your life.

Watch Sarah Vowell on the Daily Show here. She discusses her op-eds.