David Mamet shuns his ‘brain-dead liberal’ past
The American playwright and screenwriter David Mamet, whose play Speed-the-Plow is currently one of the big hits in London, with Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum wowing audiences at the Old Vic with Mamet's trademark rapid-fire dialogue - has dropped a bombshell. Writing in the Village Voice, he says that after years of considering himself a liberal, he has suddenly found conservatism.
He puts his epiphany down to recent readings of Paul Johnson, Milton Friedman and - "our greatest contemporary philosopher" - Thomas Sowell. "I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind," says the man responsible for Oleanna, Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo.
The most shocking aspect of his article "Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal" is his questioning of his long-held admiration for John F Kennedy. JFK, he now believes, was just as worthy of our disdain in the 1960s as George Bush is today.
"Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh."
Mamet's readings of Johnson, Friedman et al have led him to understand that "a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism."
Reflecting on his past attachment to the liberal dogma that government is the citizen's friend, Mamet writes: "Well, in the abstract, coming from my time and background, I thought it was a rather good thing, but tallying up the ledger in those things which affect me and in those things I observe, I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow." ·