Ed Driscoll



IN A SILENT WAY: Miles Davis knew how to make silence work for him as a musician–by carefully choosing when not to play, he made what he did play that much more eloquent. George W. Bush seems to understand that that can work equally well for politics.

I remember saying to my wife at the time, that I must be the only guy who would compare George W. Bush with Miles Davis.

But Suzanne Fields’ January 9th column is an essay titled, “Celebrating compassionate cool“, in which she writes:

Conservatives like leaders who are like themselves. George W. lives in the White House but we know he’s also at home on the range, which he visits often. Bill Clinton lived out wild fantasies without a sense of place, not even Hot Springs, which is why he almost never went “home.”

The world has become a more dangerous place since 9/11 and we may soon be in a hot war. That requires a cool hand. Cool, of course, changes with shifting cultural and political forces. When Donald Rumsfeld, our 70-year old secretary of Defense, began holding widely watched press briefings on television, the press started treating him like a rock star. American Maturity, the magazine for retired folk, featured him in an article on “Eldercool.”

Cool in the modern vernacular began with jazz. Miles Davis, the brilliant trumpeter, is credited with “the birth of cool,” a relaxed, smooth style in reaction to the hard bumping, jumping, grinding, flashy, vulgar rhythms of bebop. Cool, like jazz, is easy to recognize but difficult to explain. If you have to ask, as Louis Armstrong said of jazz, you ain’t cool.

It’s a great essay–she has some excellent thoughts about the coolness of conservative women (see also John Derbyshire’s essay from early 2001, for some additional examples of cool conservative babes), and this paragraph, which I love:

Conservative cool comes with a preference for uncomplicated leaders, plain guys who could play linebacker. Liberals want showoffs with lots of hair, to idolize as quarterbacks even if they throw more interceptions than touchdowns. Conservatives are more likely to go to church; liberals are more likely to worship trees and snail darters in their natural habitat.

I’m far from a regular churchgoer. But on the other hand, I don’t spend a whole lot of time worshipping snail darters, trees, Xenu, or Gaia, either.