SOME ONE SYLLABLE ANSWERS
Rarely has a motion picture captured the nation's mood with greater perception than did Robert Altman's 1975 film, Nashville. That ambitious spectacle, billed as a bicentennial portrait of America, chronicled the psychic processes of a nation going mad, exhausted by its own mindless materialism and corrupted heroes. A single voice of reason appeared in Nashville: the presidential candidate in his soundtruck, offering a single, alluring promise: "What this country needs is some one syllable answers."
That conviction, electrifying in its dissent against the complex realities of the contemporary world, foreshadowed with perfect clarity the electoral appeal of Jimmy Carter in 1976. Through eight troubled years in official Washington, two Republican presidents had defined the United States as a declining power, a nation victimized by complicated historical forces far beyond its capacity to control. But for Jimmy Carter, the United States had been victimized by nothing more than immoral leaders and spiritual disintegration, two categories of problems that could be easily resolved through the relentless invocation of one syllable solutions: "yes" and "no,""good" and "bad,""right" and "wrong." It was that enduring, naive determination to view all political issues in essentially moralistic terms that transformed the presidential campaign of 1976 from an intellectual debate, much needed in that troubled year, into a spiritual crusade.
For Henry Kissinger, and for many who endorsed his diplomacy, Edward Gibbon magnificent achievement, The History of the Decline andFall of the Roman Empire