Bob Carr throws a party he pays for the guests he wants. You won’t find
a conservative thinker giving the keynote address at this Sydney
Writers’ Festival. So last night, Sin City’s literati glitterati paid
homage to Lewis Lapham, long time editor-in-chief of Harper’s magazine.

message from the 70-year-old patrician? Democracy is dead in America
and the contagion is spreading. Lapham’s speech began with an earnest
tour of pre-Kennedy American history, but warmed up to encompass most
of the concerns embraced on the leftish side of the Culture Wars.

W Bush, Condoleeza Rice, (Republican house majority Leader) Tom DeLay
and 130 members of congress are born again Christians,” he reminded us.
“And they work closely with God’s associates.” And their weapons of
choice? “Foreign wars. They are the lollipop to sweeten up the press
for our loss of civil liberties.”

And the literary connection?
“A democracy, at least in the traditional understanding of the term, is
based on literacy. And now in the United States, there are 40 million
people who are illiterate and even the people deemed literate by the
Department of Education, have skills sufficient to read a menu, a road
sign and a tax bill.”

Which is good enough for the White
House:”Because the current ruling class believes money is excellent for
the rich but bad for the poor.” You can check out his speech via the
streaming vision here.

were more interested in the party goers. We spotted fading political PR
power broker Ian Kortlang, with partner Claire Montgomery; they avoided
Labor court jester Bob Ellis and partner, scriptwriter Anne Brooksbank.
Bulletin editor Garry Linnell was deep in conversation with Random House publisher Jill Baker – they are both former Age colleagues, and seemed to be debating how long current Age editor Andrew Jaspan has until he’s sent back to the Outer Hebrides.

As we left, Mandy Sayer was dancing to a jazz quartet with her publicist. Was this in her contract, we wondered?