January 5, 2016

ROGER SIMON: Ted Cruz’s Foreign Policy Adviser Writes a Book on… Art?

It’s almost an insult to Victoria C. Gardner Coates to begin a review of her excellent  David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art  (published today by Encounter Books) by noting the author is the chief foreign policy adviser to presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz.  Her intertwining history of art and democracy is far more interesting than any campaign tome I can think of (not a high bar, I know). Nevertheless, it’s 2016 and obviously Coates’ work is going to be getting more attention than normal because of her association with a potential president — and, in this case, that’s good.

Coates — no neophyte in the political world (she worked for Donald Rumsfeld) — is an art historian by profession with a University of Pennsylvania PhD, specializing in the Italian Renaissance. She has helped curate major exhibitions at the Getty Museum and elsewhere.  In David’s Sling she brings her interests together, unpacking the complex relationship between art and democracy from the Athens of Pericles and Phidias all the way through the World War I France of Clemenceau and Monet and on into more recent times with Picasso and Guernica.

That will likely come as a shock to the left, but then, they’ve been underestimating the breadth of interests of conservative Republicans since Coolidge era. Or as Jay Nordlinger wrote a decade and a half ago in his review of Reagan In His Own Hand:

[W]hen excerpts from the book appeared in the The New York Times Magazine, I got a marveling phone call from an old friend, reared in the liberal Democratic (and Reagan-hating, or at least-belittling) faith. “Can you believe it?” he said. “Can you believe how impressive these things are? They are completely at odds with the image we have of him.” I could only respond, Reagan-style, “What do you mean ‘we,’ Kemosabe?”

Funny how that keeps happening — it’s as if “Progressivism” is still stuck in century-old mud.

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