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Why This Election Year America Is Carmela Soprano

From the opening of Richard Fernandez's article at Belmont Club today, "Happy Endings":

Ernest Hemingway believed that there were no happy endings. In his essay on bullfighting,  Death in the Afternoon, he wrote that “all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.” That if the camera kept rolling after Shane rides into the sunset he dies from loss of blood. That after Eliot Ness cleans up Chicago in the next reel the Daley Family takes over and in the reel after that come Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel.  Was it worth it, Eliot?

Hemingway ought to have known a thing or two about the subject of No Happy Endings. A supporter of the New Deal and once an object of KGB recruitment (Codename Argo), the great writer must have known the complementary proposition: that all idealisms end in scams. For there is a dark side to every dream: the moment you wake up and realize that the men with steel teeth have planned it all.

Why This Election Year America is Carmela Soprano

If you only watch one scene from The Sopranos, make it this one from the third season, the thirty-third episode, "Second Opinion." (Hat tip: Andrew Klavan for reminding me of this one.)

Carmela Soprano seeks the opinion of a new psychiatrist for dealing with her depression and shame -- and her husband's criminality and serial infidelity. She confesses that she has considered divorce.

To her shock, he tells her to leave him now and then refuses to accept payment for the session -- "I won't take blood money" he says as he explains the dark truth about the show's protagonist.

The key portions, courtesy of the IMDB (and in case the video disappears from YouTube):

Carmela Soprano: He's a good man. He's a good father.

Dr. Krakower: You tell me he's a depressed criminal, prone to anger, serially unfaithful. Is that your definition of a good man?... You must trust your initial impulse and consider leaving him. You'll never be able to feel good about yourself. You'll never be able to quell the feelings of guilt and shame that you talked about, so long as you're his accomplice.

Carmela Soprano: You're wrong about the accomplice part, though.

Dr. Krakower: You sure?

Carmela Soprano: All I did was make sure he's got clean clothes in his closet and dinner on his table.

Dr. Krakower: So "enable" would be a more accurate job description for what you do than "accomplice". My apologies... Take only the children - what's left of them - and go.

Carmela Soprano: My priest said I should work with him, help him to become a better man.

Dr. Krakower: How's that going?


Dr. Krakower: Have you ever read Crime and Punishment? Dostoyevksy?

[Carmela shakes her head 'no']

Dr. Krakower: It's not an easy read. It's about guilt and redemption. I think your husband ought to turn himself and read this book in his jail cell and meditate on his crimes every day for seven years, so that he might be redeemed.

Carmela Soprano: I would have to get a lawyer, find an apartment, arrange for child support...

Dr. Krakower: You, you're not listening. I'm not charging you because I won't take blood money, and you can't, either. One thing you can never say is that you haven't been told.

Carmela Soprano: I see.

After this election, American voters can never say that they haven't been told the truth about Barack Obama: now they must do the same thing as Carmela for the same reason.