candidate. Exeryone knows the list —rnTraxelgate, national health care, campaignrnfinance scandals, the bombing ofrnYugoslavia.rnBut despite her chic radicalism, Mrs.rnClinton is not the political operator thatrnher husband is. She is cold, rigid, andrnself-righteous. The notion that she couldrnbecome a serious force in American politicsrnis an illusion of both the left and thernright.rnFor all of Mrs. Clinton’s flaws, however.rnRick Lazio is no better. The GOPrnhopeful is a Clintonite politician whornthroughout his career has pandered to hisrnconstituents. And on most issues—abortion,rnthe minimum wage, the environment,rngovernment spending, and gunrncontrol —he is as far to the left as Mrs.rnClinton.rnThe Clinton-Lazio race is nonethelessrnimportant because it embodies thern”Clintonizahon” of American polihcs: arnpolarizing partisanship in which both nahonalrnparties have abandoned their principles,rnhoping to achieve victory by focusingrnon personalities and expediency.rn—Jeffrey Thomas KiihnerrnTHE PATRIOT, Mel d b s o n ‘ s epicrnabout tlie American Revolution, openedrn(by an amazing coincidence) in theatersrnon Independence Day weekend. Andrncynics complain that Americans don’trntake national holidavs seriously anymore!rnMan” viewers may regard the film as onernmore wallow in fantas and stale popcorn,rnbut among the nation’s literah, itrnhas actually incited something resemblingrnthought.rnYet the resemblance is not too close.rnThe immediate reaction to The Patriotrnwas denunciation for a scene in whichrnthe hero’s pre-teen sons are gix’cn flintlockrnrifles by dieir dad (Cibson) and conscriptedrnto help massacre a contingent ofrnBritish troops about to hang their brother.rnChildren aren’t supposed to havernguns, you sec; and you are not supposedrnto hae guns either. E’en if ou do haernguns, you’re not supposed to give them tornkids. And e’en if you give them to kids,rnyou’re supposed to tell them not to shootrnanthing, espeeialh’ people, even ifrntliex’re government troops about to hangrn}()ur son. What ou’re supposed to do inrnsituations like this is dial 911 and wait forrnthe cops. The film manages to violate everyrnone of these rules in the space ofrnabout ten minutes.rnThis line of criticism came a cropperrnwhen Mr. Gibson and the film’s producersrnrefused to change anything in thernscript, but it should have told them whatrnwas in store for their movie. Is it toornmuch to ask late-ZOtli-centurv critics torngrasp that people who lived 200 years agorndid not necessarily harbor quite the samernsuperstitions that we do? Maybe backrnthen, they believed in witchcraft andrnwere against premarital sex and all thatrnsort of stuff but even they didn’t beliexernin gun control.rnUndoubtedly the dumbest thing saidrnabout the film (maybe the dumbest thingrnever said about anything) comes fromrnJonathan Foreman, reviewing The Patriotrnfor Salonxom. Mr. Foreman found itrnobjeehonable because “The Patriot’ presentsrna deeply sentimental cult of thernfamily, casts unusually Aran-lookingrnheroes and avoids any democrahc or politicalrncontext in its portrayal of the RevoluhonarV’War.”rnNot only is the cast cntireK too Aryanrnfor Mr. Foreman, but the scene with thernpre-teen sharpshooters is “the ec|uivalentrnof the Werwolf boy-soldiers that thernThird Reich was thought to hae recruitedrnfrom the Hitler Youth to carry outrnguerrilla attacks against the im’ading Allies.”rnWell, now, it ought to be clear whatrnGibson and his “German directorrnRoland Emmerich” are up to. “Ifs hardrnnot to wonder if the filmmakers havernsome kind of subconscious agenda,” Mr.rnForeman mutters. The Patriot w on’t winrnany Aeadenn Awards, but Mr. Foremanrnand his own agenda ought to get arnPulitzer for paranoia.rnYou are probabU catching the drift ofrnthe objections leeled at the movie. Notrnonh’ is it polihcalh’ incorrect on gun controlrnbut also on race (b- lea ing out allrnthe glorious ethnic diersih of 18th-centuryrnSouth Carolina) and other matters asrnwell. There’s no sex in the moie and nornslaerv. Gibson, a prosperous farmer,rnemploys free black laborers.rnActualK’, een though it’s an obviousrnevasion of the skuen’ issue, this is not inaccurate.rnAccording to Eugene Genovcse,rndie leading historian of Americanrnslaer’, diere were numerous free blackrnfarm laborers in colonial America. ‘Plicirrnnumber began to dwindle after die Reolution.rnBut if there aren’t any slaves, there isn’trnan- feminism, either. The female charactersrnare strong women, but they do notrnbehave like men. They don’t shoot peoplernor fight in battles or sae the malerncharacters, but the do protect homesrnand children, facing mortal dangersrnbraelv. Religion —meaning Christianit)rn— is also positivcK’ portra’ed, with cliaractersrngathering in churches and a cler-rnBOOK OF NEXT MONTHrnOur book for next month is tlie Libraryrnof America ‘olume The Dehaternon the Constitution: Federahstrnand Antifederalist Speeches. Articles,rnand Letters During the StrugglernOver Ratification, Part One, edited brnBernard Baihn. This is a brillianthrnarranged volume that putsrnyou back into the debates. Irnne er realh’ understoodrnthe Federalist, especiallyrnHamilton’s loopy defense ofrnthe federal jndiciarx’, until 1rnfollowed the pamphlet war inrnNew York. (For m’ money, Brutusrnbeats Publius, and predicted therntyranny of the Supreme Court.)rnRemarkabI}, Professor Bailvn doesrna good job of Icthng each side speakrnfor itself This is a better volumernthan we had any right to expectrnfrom the 1990’s. ‘rnSEPTEMBER 2000/7rnrnrn