Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Lower Broadway then and now

Every time one may be tempted to decry
a collapse in standards in an American
context, it is useful to remember that
there really never has been any such a
thing as a single context in this soci-
ety. There have been prevailing modes,
volatile but enduring visions, but the
only context of America is multilater-
al and fluid. This makes the biography
of the late Mrs. George Herbert Walker
Bush something of a study in tenacity.
This is Lower Broadway in her infancy.
It reeks of a single language, and we
are always reminded, language changes.

People are reflecting today on the il-
lusion that greed, the sine qua non of
Lower Broadway, even its raison d'être
as well, was so held in check by decor-
um and fastidiousness as to become civ-
ilized. All that was done was to limit
its reach by containing its popularity.
Those to whom greed was granted upheld
discretion and other concealment while
pursuing its ends, commissioning monu-
ments imparting aloofness more than os-
tentation. Mrs. Bush never failed this
style, even in the shadow of Reaganism.

She was as cognizant of the perils of
popularizing greed as her husband, who
denounced its euphoric propaganda for
the voodoo economics that it is, even
going on to betray it, having gulped
its toxins to serve his own ambitions.
The impression is awkward to struggle
against, that she conducted herself in
the constructs her context assigned to
her gender; but one is free to believe
that her trust in reticence would have
served the other well, holding power.

Charles Hellmuth
Lower Broadway

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