The Edge of Mystery

Matt Bia, a political commentator for the New York Times Magazine, likens Barack Obama with Mailer’s hopes for a President Kennedy in his “Superman Comes to the Supermarket.” Bai begins “The Edge of Mystery” by referencing Mailer, the great political commentator of the twentieth century:

Weeks before the election of 1960, Norman Mailer, already an accomplished novelist, sat down to write his first major work of political journalism, an essay for Esquire in which he argued that only John F. Kennedy could save America. In an unruly, haunting and somewhat self-indulgent piece running nearly 14,000 words, Mailer submitted that a mechanized America, with its bland and automated politics, was on the verge of stamping out individuality and randomness and artistic spirit; the only kind of leader who could rescue it, who could sweep in an era of what Mailer called “existential” politics, was a “hipster” hero — someone who welcomed risk and adventure, someone who sought out new experience, both for himself and for the country. In Kennedy, Mailer saw a man of “not quite describable intensity, a suggestion of dry pent heat perhaps,” with “the eyes of a mountaineer” and a penchant for risking his life.

Bai examines attempts to transform D.C. since the death of Kennedy. Read more at The New York Times.