The Pelican Brief and the People's Romance
By David Henderson
A large percent of my vacation reading this last week has been novels, rather than than non-fiction. But even in those, I see things to blog about. One novel I just finished is John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. I won’t put in spoilers, but I will say that the President and his aide don’t come off looking very good, to put it mildly.
Here’s what I find interesting. In the second-last sentence of the novel, only a few pages after the president and his aide have looked bad, Grisham writes, “The White House sat majestically before them.” So even after seeing how corrupt the political system is, Grisham holds on to his belief in what Dan Klein has called “the people’s romance.” If you haven’t read Klein’s article, “The People’s Romance: Why People Love Government (as Much as They Do),” I highly recommend it. His basic idea is that people have a romantic view of government, which causes them to overlook really how bad government is. Or, if you want to read the thumbnail on Klein’s piece, read the last paragraph of my article, “The Case for Prosecuting Bush.”