mad.” It is almost beyond their ken, past the outemiost hniits ofrntheir understanding, whv someone would not move when “opportunih”rnrears its meretricious head.rnConsider, for instance, the favorite recent movie of the consen’ativernculture-vulture set, October Sky. This is a moving,rnpoignant, funny, wonderfully acted story of a Coalwood,rnWest Virginia, boy whose dream, which we are encouraged tornshare—in fact, which we are assumed to sliare, in the same wayrnthat it is assumed that if a character has some horrible diseasernwe want her to get better—is to leave this “bunch of hillbillies”rnand become a federal employee. Truculent old daddy, hackingrnaway with the coal cough, says, “Boy, you’d better take an interestrnin your own damn town” instead of Werner von Braun, butrnin the end cranky dad loves his son Homer—an inappropriaternname —and is duly proud when the bov rides his rockets out ofrnCoalw ood and to a career with NASA.rnThis is a sweet movie with a poisonous core. I can imaginernGeorge W. Bush and Steven Spielberg and Sumner Redstonerndabbing their eyes, blinking back the tears as they watch it, becausernthe men who run the major institutions in this country—rnthe government, the Fortune 500, Hollywood —have, almost torna man, abandoned the Coalwoods of their childhood to floatrntheir lives away among a placeless elite, purged of such debilitatinglyrnprole-ish and provincial biases as place-ism.rnThey are welcome to their world. The problem is, they willrnnot let the rest of us be. For almost 60 years, the placeless havernwaged war on the rooted, stealing their children, devastatingrntheir neighborhoods, wiping out ever’ local peculiarity’ and idiosrnncrasv they could find. This has been done through thernnever-ending wars, hot and cold, that the American Empirernwages against any villain or stumblebum or ebon renegade unluckyrnenough to amble into its crosshairs. The onslaught has includedrnbusing, consolidation of schools, the hiterstate HighwayrnSystem, the subsidizing of colleges and universities, publicrnhousing construction that displaces the urban poor and shattersrnworking-class neighborhoods… in other words, 60 years of vitalrncenter domestic and foreign policy.rnWliat we have is class war—though this war has never beenrnacknowledged because the casualties are places and attachmentsrnand sentiments; nothings, reallv; everythings, in factwagedrnb- the mobile against the immobile, by the cosmopolitanrnagainst the rooted, and the winners are the professionals,rnpeople so depraved that they would actualK move to a differentrnplace for mere money. How bizarre.rnI’he sanest, most congenial response to this war would bernthat of the antebellum Connecticut poet James Gates Pereival:rnI leave the world of noise and show;rnto wander by mv native brookrnI ask, in life’s unruffled flow,rnno treasure but my friend and book.rnAlas, as an occasional arrestee once put it, they just won’t letrnyou be. And yet we ought to be cautious before signing on tornone of tiie Washington teams in this war, because both sides arernpushing toward the same end zone.rnFor instance: Richard Cohen (Ellen Goodman with a littlernless testosterone) recentiy wrote, “Communit}’, at least our traditionalrnsense of it, is being shattered.” What he meant by thisrnwas: “Once, American families sat before a single TV set andrnwatched the same program. Now everyone goes to his or herrnown room and vatches what he or she pleases. Once Americarnspent its mornings talking about the TV shows from die nightrnbefore. We were one audience. Not anymore.”rnThat is Richard Cohen’s idea of old-fashioned community:rnsitting around a TV set watching Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., impersonaterna human being.rnAnd so official Washington is riven by the great debate of thernage: On one side, the dynamos of globalism—the WTO andrnBill Clinton and the progressive Republicans who want a computerrnat every school desk—the party of the 21st century. Andrnon the other side, playing Calhoun to their Webster, the traditionalists:rnRichard Cohen, Hillary Clinton, Senator Liebermanrn—the partv of V-ehips and an FBI-monitored Internet andrnthe whole family sitting around the TV watching Rosie O’Donnell.rnThis is the reactionary side in Washington, and theirrngrand idea now has a name: “civil socieh,” a virtual key to thern501(c)? bank, whereby rootless professors who could not namernthree neighbors if their lives depended on it sit around and pontificaternabout “intermediate institutions” and, if fliey are reallyrnunlucky, listen to monologues by communitarian guru AmitairnEtzioni, who might benefit from that intermediate institutionrnknown as the English-as-a-seeond-language class.rnIn a choice as agonizing as that facing the hungry travelerrnwho must choose between a Whopper and a Quarter-Pounder,rnthe civil-societ’ Democrats are splitting between Albert Gorernand Bill Bradley. Al Gore, son of Armand Hammer’s errandrnboy, a lad whose boyhood home in the Fairfax Hotel was paidrnfor bv Hammer, a Soviet agent—a stunner even to an anti-ColdrnWar peacenik like me. Gore’s father’s onK legislative accomplishmentrnwas his sponsorship of the Interstate Highway System,rnwhich created the sprawl that so vexes his charismatic son’srnspeechwriters.rnAnd then Bill Bradley, who was described to me by the fellowrnwho tutored him when he joined the Senate Finance Committeernas “the dumbest Rhodes Scholar in history.” Bradley’s campaignrnchairman recentiy told the New York Times that his manrncoidd win Southern votes because “even in the South, yourndrive down the street and you see the same Blockbusters, thernsame McDonald’s. Now, Wal-Marts are in the Northeast.”rnThe bane of mv town is the hope of his campaign.rnBradley calls himself “a citizen of the wodd,” which is to sayrnhe is a citizen of no place in particular. Among his sugar daddiesrnis the CEO of Starbucks. Making us one world, one cup ofrnsludge at a time. I suppose President Bradley’s first act will be tornsend Lon Horiuchi and the FBI to Porfland, Maine, wherernsome loathsome vandals keep breaking the windows of the PortlandrnStarbucks. The old sabby cat that the Wobblics serenadedrnis alive and well: French farmers are smashing the windows ofrntheir McDonald’s, evidenfly unpropitiated by the appearancernof french fries on the menu. You desen’c a brick today . . .rnOne of the expressions I hate most is “get a life.” This is generallyrnused by people whose lives are defined for them by therncorporate media. They sneer “get a life” to those whose pa.ssionsrn—stamp collecting, squash growing, writing poetry aboutrnbaseball—fall outside the bounds of the world as demarcated byrnRupert Murdoch. For those Gap-wearers ever ready to advisernthose incorrigible losers who have never seen Dawson’s Creek torn”get a life,” this past siunmer was, to borrow the lapidary phrasernone minicon applied to the Bush administration, a hell of arnride. The summer of ’99: We all cried when John-John died.rnOur prince stolen from us, all too soon. We are left to wonderrnwhat George magazine might have become.rnMARCH 2000/21rnrnrn