The common theme of all the stories is the notion of the "epiphany," by which Joyce meant a realization that a character comes to, often quite by surprise, that changes the meaning of the events experienced and, in the broader sense, changes the character's understanding of his life. This particular season has been a time of many epiphanies, it seems. A careful observer of the scene would note that many of these epiphanies have taken place in the last few weeks, in a place where self-realization is often quite rare; i.e., the campaign trail.
Jonathan Chait has been a prominent political writer and occupies a pretty prestigious spot as the writer primarily responsible for the venerable TRB column in The New Republic. Chait wasn't, for the longest time, particularly concerned about the political carnage that the former president and his wife have wreaked. But lately the subtle ministrations of America's favorite couple have been trained on Barack Obama, putative wunderkind of the Democratic Party who is bidding to save us all from ourselves. Oddly, some of the tactics that were ignored, or even admired, are now the source of concern, disdain and even disgust among the bien pensants of our betters in the Democratic Party. Chait states his epiphany this way:
But the conservatives might have had a point about the Clintons' character. Bill's affair with Monica Lewinsky jeopardized the whole progressive project for momentary pleasure. The Clintons gleefully triangulated the Democrats in Congress to boost his approval rating. They do seem to have a feeling of entitlement to power.
Then there's my friend Strolling Amok, who described Mrs. Clinton this way a while back:
I know a lot of people who like Hillary's husband Bill a lot but can't stand her. I'm not one of those people - as I've mentioned I always found Bill to be
an unctuous sleaze even though I thought he was an OK president. Hillary reminds
me of one of those Meryl Streep characters who seems completely detestable but
is actually kind of an OK person. Like that Australian lady who everyone thought
murdered her baby even though it was actually eaten by a dingo.
Not any more, though. Now that the Clinton dingoes have been unleased on Senator Obama, SA has learned what a lot of us wingnuts (or Repuglicans, to use a favorite SA term of affection) knew a long time ago. You might even say that SA, Chait and a lot of other portsiders have had an epiphany.
One of the things that I do seriously admire about Obama is this: despite his callowness and his wrong-headedness about most issues, Obama is clearly a very smart man and is capable of learning. As it turns out, so are some of his supporters.