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

Sunday, October 10, 2004 :::
Recent news indicates that the opposition leaders who complained about vote fraud in the Afghan elections are backing off a little bit, perhaps because the pressure from their own people is forcing them to tone down the absolutist language and concentrate on particular problems. One really does hope that this situation remains calm and the Afghan people get a break.

The original post:

One hates for war and politics to intrude on Sunday, particularly when one has been to a glorious Latin Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in downtown Washington, DC. But war intrudes on the lives of its victims without mercy or attention to the calendar, and so one must.

I have been wondering if a "tipping point" would come for George W. Bush. By that I mean, would there be a point when the combination of bad news and shocking revelations would overcome the public's fundamental trust that our president is a very tough man, which he is, and that his instincts see him--and us--through the strange impasses brought on by his own intransigence?

The overheated rhetoric of some of his followers, it seems to me, only adds to the likelihood that the tipping moment will come sooner rather than later. Mr. Bush has been derelict in his duties--our soldiers currently have no idea why the Commander in Chief has sent them to wherever they have ended up, and it is his solemn moral duty to tell them--but certain fantasists who dare to call themselves conservative when they are not have poured gasoline on the fire by making claims that are ever further from self-evident reality.

I hope and pray that some solution can be found to the morrass into which the Afghan elections quickly transformed. The fantasists mentioned above have looked the other way at the compromises that their preferred candidate--acting President Karzai--has made with the unrepentant warlords who still dominate most of the country. Other candidates for president have not overlooked them, and they are under no obligation to do so. As of this writing, 15 of them have charged that vote fraud is so rampant that the results of the election are unreliable. 10 million people have braved terrorist attacks to register and then to vote, and every report has them hoping that the elections will bring peace to their long-troubled homeland. Every person of good will should join with them, and every person of good will should curse the way in which numerous people--foreign and domestic--have ridden roughshod over the dreams of the average Afghani.

And so one must hope and pray that some way is found out of the chaos.

But I wonder if--should no way be found--this will be the proverbial straw. The Administration has placed a ridiculous amount of weight on the "success" of an Afghan war that it did not finish, and so it will only be fitting if this is its undoing. John Kerry's fundamental beliefs and civic irresponsiblity are so profound that one can only look on the prospect of his presidency with what diplomats euphemistically call "the gravest concern." But are we faced with a choice so unacceptable that giving the other guy a shot may be the reflex of thinking voters?

And yet one is still given moments of wonder and beauty in this ugly world. A confidentiality agreement prevents this writer from revealing the particulars of a scene to which a certain pudgy, balding English teacher was privileged last night, but the general story is so wonderful that it must be shared.

A prominent writer in his seventh decade and with grown children has found a woman--another woman--he loves, and so he held a lovely dinner to follow their wedding. And to that dinner was invited a college friend, another prominent writer, a writer who is, in his chosen field, perhaps the greatest that there has ever been.

It turns out that these two writers, shameless liberals both, share with this writer a fondness for that greatest of all American prose works, The Great Gatsby. So the Friend, rising to honor the Groom, recalled the moment when he first read the "last page" of that great novel. Stunned, he went to his college buddy--decades later, the Groom--who shared a passion for great writing, and asked him what he thought of it. It was the greatest expression of the failure of the American dream, responded the Groom. It is the greatest American prose ever written, said the Friend, and announced his intention to memorize it. If you memorize it, said the Groom, you will always have in your head (the perfect model of great writing.) (That is in parentheses because the Friend's voice dropped at that moment so it was not quite clear.)

And so it came about that on this brisk fall evening many decades later, in tribute to his friend and his friend's new-found love, the very greatest writer in his chosen field that has ever been stood and recited from memory the greatest American prose ever written--clearly, movingly, without affect or needless drama. One should look for such moments, and savor them when they come.

What is the difference between a liberal and thinking conservative? "The greatest expression of the failure of the American dream." Put "a" before failure, and you have a thinking conservative. The difference is not slight. The Friend had, for many years, a reputation for bitterness that was overcome by the love a good woman, which he freely and admirably admits. This is so obvious to everyone that just the night before, a friend of this writer, watching him on TV, commented that "since he got married, he always (makes positive statements.)" The Groom had apparently found love twice in his life, and both the Groom and the Friend--and their wives--are quite comfortable, economically speaking. Gatsby, however, never got Daisy, and Scott did get Zelda.

A recognition that failures are always particular makes one a conservative. A recognition that there are such failures makes one a thinking conservative.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 2:19 PM



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