The Weekly Standard has a profile of David Mamet, focusing on his new found identity as a conservative. Mamet announced in the Village Voice three years ago that he was no longer a “brain-dead liberal.” Now he has a book coming called The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture— in which according to the the publicity material provided to Amazon.com—Mamet will “take on all the key political issues of our times, from religion to political correctness to global warming.” That sounds distressingly like the sort of right-wing tract published several times a year by conservative talk radio hosts, politicians and teenagers.
Mamet’s liberalism, as he characterized in in the Voice indeed sounds brain dead. “I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.” His conservatism doesn’t sound particularly compelling either. Andrew Ferguson quotes from a Mamet lecture at Stanford, in the Weekly Standard profile:
Higher ed, he said, was an elaborate scheme to deprive young people of their freedom of thought. He compared four years of college to a lab experiment in which a rat is trained to pull a lever for a pellet of food. A student recites some bit of received and unexamined wisdom—“Thomas Jefferson: slave owner, adulterer, pull the lever”—and is rewarded with his pellet: a grade, a degree, and ultimately a lifelong membership in a tribe of people educated to see the world in the same way.
I can’t imagine that the major problem with higher education these days is an excess of Dead White Male Bashing, and Mamet’s assertion makes him sound as if his conservatism is only caught up through the early 1990s when countering Political Correctness was all the rage. Give him a few months and he may be talking about Paula Jones and Whitewater. Toward the end of his profile, Ferguson notes how well thought out Mamet’s political views are.
The conversion is complete: This is not a book by the same man who told Charlie Rose he didn’t want to impose his political views on anybody. At some moments—as when he blithely announces that the earth is cooling not warming, QED—you wonder whether maybe he isn’t in danger of exchanging one herd for another. He told me he doesn’t read political blogs or magazines. “I drive around and listen to the talk show guys,” he said. “Beck, Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved.”
In other words, Mamet is imbibing the lowest of talk radio dreck and then hectoring Standfordites for their groupthink. Mamet’s Liberalism may be in remission, but the brain-death still lingers.