A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Friday, May 09, 2003 :::
Democrats Have Trouble With Patriotism, Again...Women Fall for W and the Dems Don't Get That Either...Renaissance Conspiracies in the Vatican, Still?

Democrats Try To Spin the USS Abraham Lincoln Democrats are saying that the Abraham Lincoln was close enough to shore for Bush to helicopter in, and that its return had even been delayed. In other words, they are saying the whole moving ceremony was contrived, and that he kept our boys from getting home so that he could tell them he was sending them home. So reports today's "Washington Wire"column in the Journal (this link for subscribers only).

Republican packaging surely helped give the Democrats their edge: flacks portrayed Bush as so eager to tell the troops it was over he was flying out in a jet fighter to meet them. This is a conservative administration, and it should have been played conservatively: returning armies have almost always been greeted by their head of state, and very often the head of state has arrived in a style befitting the occasion. That used to mean on horseback, even when they normally ran around in carriages. Today, it is a jet fighter. Further, there is an important symbolism to the head of state formally dismissing the troops from active duty, and they used to have to head to the national capital before they got to go home. Sitting and waiting for the Commander-in-Chief is part of active duty.

This story has not found much resonance with the public, however, and the troops certainly showed no sign of impatience with their leader, whom they clearly revere. One suspects the Democrats are making it up.

The Gender Gap Closes a Bit. Until very recently, the Democratic Party suffered terribly from a gender gap. Women voters tended to split evenly between the two parties, but men notably favored Republicans. (George Will gets the prize for pointing out, 15 years ago, which party was actually suffering.) In recent elections, both parties have suffered, as Democrats pulled ahead decisively among women. Those who say that that shows that the Republican Party needs to "speak to women's concerns" have a hard row to hoe: one thorough study showed that the differential between male and female voting patterns followed the differential in how each sex got its news. Men read more, women watched TV more. (For news, this is; I have no idea about the general patterns, where I would think women read more.)

This was brought to mind while reading this hysterical piece in this morning's Journal by Lisa Shiffren, about how hot George W. is when he lands on aircraft carriers wearing a flight uniform.

Also called to mind were widespread reports, including one long piece in the Washington Post, in the aftermath of 9/11: former Gore staffers were nearly unanimous in saying that it was a good thing Gore wasn't president "in a situation like this." "Like this?" The President is always in a situation "like this," and no one should be in the office who couldn't handle it.

Which calls to mind the further thought that liberals seem very uninterested in the basic things (like the ability to lead) in making decisioins. Al Gore could recite facts and figures: that was why he should be President. The fact that he could not see beyond the facts and figures was apparently evident to everyone around him, and no one thought of it as making him unqualified for the office of President of the United States, but it did.

Now I've Heard Everything. Well, actually, A Mind That Suits has had to think that a lot over the years, so maybe he hasn't heard everything. But he was forced to think it again in poking around a little further on the Swiss Guard, subject to a post two days ago. (Please scroll down to the piece on 500-year-old Pajamas.) Conspiracy theories about a recent, very private Vatican tragedy are simply astounding.

Readers may remember that several years ago the Commander of the Guard and his wife were found shot to death in an apparent murder/suicide by a young Guardsman. It has been a long time since people were routinely offed in the Vatican, and that was when the Vatican thought of itself, or at least acted as if it thought of itself, primarily as a military power and conspired with the Ottoman Sultan against other Christian rulers. These days, it's pretty unusual.

Initial reports said that the young man (23 at the time) was upset over not receiving a promotion. "What promotion?" A Mind That Suits must ask, as there are only 6 officers over 100 very young privates, who almost invariably leave after two years. The Vatican spokesman announced that the young man had sent a letter to his parents which "explained" why he did it, but the family has not released the letter and murder still seems a rather extreme reaction to most anything the Swiss Guard encounters.

There is no real mystery: an autopsy revealed a cyst on his brain, and that is quite a sufficient explanation. It also explains why all three bodies lay in state together in the Vatican and the Pope himself prayed over them, something which probably could not have happened if it were simple suicide, a mortal sin in Catholic doctrine. Insanity is an exculpatory debility, according to the same Catholic teaching.

But simple explanations are not enough for many people, and two theories have cropped up. Both, of course, involve a second gunman, and one wonders how a bureaucracy that cannot even keep the Pope's medical records secret could hush this up, but anyway...

The first was predictable: a gay writer in Italy had, conveniently, just written a book which, he said, was based on extensive interviews with a gay couple within the Vatican. He announced that the Guard commander and the Guardsman were the two guys in the book. A Mind That Suits has seen enough of life to admit that it is entirely plausible, but the writer damages his case by advising us now to "look for a second gunman." Vatican murder to hush up a gay romance? They didn't shoot Rembert Weakland, the Archbishop who used diocesan funds as hush money for an ex-lover. They fired him, and Guardsmen are much easier to get rid of: they all have to re-up every two years. Perhaps he means it was a gay love triangle, with the third man committing three murders. That is also certainly possible, but one thinks of the Irish gay writer who claims that he was in a bathhouse when someone had a heart attack. A priest suddenly appeared in the mist to administer last rites and then slipped off before the cops and reporters could catch him there, or so the writer said. Entirely within the realm of possibility, but way too convenient.

The really wild rumor said the men died as a result of a power struggle between some Vatican faction and Opus Dei, the much maligned movement approved of by John Paul II. John Paul approves nearly all of the new popular movements for increased piety and good works, so not too much should be made of that. However, Opus Dei members do indeed sometimes present themselves as the shock troops and guardians of orthodoxy, and this has caused some problems. A Mind That Suits has an entirely admirable young friend who is in Opus Dei, so has long since come to the conclusion that the movement itself is pretty much what it portrays itself as being, a movement for personal piety and good works. News stories and some other personal encounters have also led him to believe that individual local Opus Dei groups have demonstrated the failings common to all groups, bringing unwarranted suspicion over everyone else.

So now we have this rumor that Opus Dei sought to take over the Vatican in part by...knocking off a pair of decorous young tour guides. Logically, this leaves us with two possibilities: either the conspiracy theorists are seriously disconnected from reality and Opus Dei is no threat, or we now know why Opus Dei has been so singularly unsuccessful in taking over the world. A Mind That Suits is inclined toward the former possibility.

Have a nice weekend. There will be no weekend edition, and A Mind That Suits will return on Monday.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 11:06 AM



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