Monday, January 24, 2011 :::
for a Monday,
in Ascending Importance
Rahm Emmanuel, former Member of Congress from Chicago, resigned as White House Chief of Staff to run for the office he has always wanted, Mayor of said Windy City. He had just expressed his desire to run for mayor when the incumbent, Richard M. Daley, unexpectedly announced he didn’t want another term. Mr. Emmanuel was caught flat-footed, and had to sprint back home, not letting the proverbial door hit him on the way out of the White House. Good thing he is such a runner.
“Back home” became something of a problem, as Mr. Emmanuel hadn’t really expected it to happen so soon. Thus, such simple actions as renting out his Chicago home called into question his eligibility for the mayoralty. Candidates are required to have been legal residents of the city for one year.
Of course, some “voters” filed suit to block his candidacy, though one suspects the voters were votaries of another candidate. The Board of Elections and the lower state court said, “Not a problem,” and on Mr. Emmanuel ran, but not fast enough for the state Court of Appeals to catch him. By a 2-1 vote, a panel of said appeals court said, “Yes, a problem.” Mr. Emmanuel must now appeal to the state Supreme Court.
One would like to think that all this has been fought along clear legal principles and all the decisions accepted one side’s arguments or the other’s according to those principles, as was the case with Bush v. Gore.
Then one remembers that, if memory serves, the 1982 gubernatorial election in Illinois was decided by the same Supreme Court, which, though controlled by Democrats, handed it to the Republican on the grounds that the corruption was so pervasive on both sides throughout the state that they could not hope to sort it out.
So one has to conclude that at least one of the decisions in the current imbroglio did not involve any principle whatsoever, except the kind that's spelled the other way, the kind one has to launder before depositing.
Which does not implicate any of the candidates whatsoever. Certainly, when Mr. Emmanuel masterfully handled the campaigns that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives, the only words bandied about were “brilliant” and “relentless.” He even went so far as to recruit Democratic candidates who affirmed the sanctity of life, some of whom actually stood by their beliefs once in office. But there was no breath of scandal.
Perhaps an honest man simply learns not to ask to many questions if he wants to win in Chicago.
A Mind That Suits gets his daily news in Italian, from Tg1, the equivalent of the BBC. He has had rather a lot of the travails of Silvio Berlusconi, the country’s longest serving prime minister and owner of most of the country’s profitable major corporations. Around his name has hung not just a whiff, but the full stench of corruption. In recent years, it has seemed more and more that he has clung to office because the Prime Minister cannot be indicted while in office, under Italian law.
Until now, the prosecutors (in Roman law jurisdictions parlance, the magistrates) have been after him for financial irregularities, while the country has laughed and sighed over his priapic tendencies. During one campaign, he even promised to abstain from phone sex until the election as a sign of his seriousness.
Ironic, then, that it appears his priapic tendencies will be his undoing. One of his conquests, a Moroccan dancer with the improbable name of Ruby, appears to be underage. If the Italian of A Mind That Suits was up to the job, it appears that this is the kind of crime that a Prime Minister can be indicted for.
The Italian Prime Minister is, interestingly, not the Prime Minister, but one of two Presidents. There is the President of the Republic, holder of a job only slightly less ceremonial than the Monarchy of Great Britain, and the President of the Council, in British terms, of the cabinet.
With a tiny three vote majority becoming more fragile by the second, Mr. Berlusconi is now reduced to squirming his way through ever more embarrassing public addresses. A Mind That Suits thinks of no one so much as Richard Nixon in his final months: all of his actions as President make sense only as moves to make sure he does not become ex-President.
In this, Mr. Berlusconi will prove as successful as Mr. Nixon.
Yesterday, A Mind That Suits did something he should have done many times before, and that was attend the Mass opening the Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Vigil precedes the annual March for Life, usually attended by around 100,000, which the press dutifully reports as 873, with no zeroes.
The Shrine opens its doors to thousands of high school kids who break free of the mind-control pervasive in our education system and brave the ridicule of many around them to take a stand with the most helpless members of our society. (They also brave the icy cold which always seems to descend on Washington around January 22, as if Divine emphasis is being placed on the anniversary of that foul usurpation of power, Roe v. Wade.)
A Mind That Suits did not prove equal to standing in the wildly overcrowded Basilica, so he stayed only for the procession, retired to his office across the driveway to watch some of it on his computer, only to rejoin the kids for the Communion rite itself.
A Mind That Suits is always proudest of being Catholic when he sees those kids marching, and last night he may have felt his most Catholic. Masses in the Upper Church at the Shrine can hardly be intimate—the place holds thousands—but they can be magnificent, and so last night's was. Here was Catholicism at its most unapologetic: the procession alone took 30 minutes.
Although certainly the Catholic intellect, that bottomless and ancient reservoir of ever new wisdom, was on display through the homily of the Mass’s celebrant, His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the part of Catholicism which simply is was more important. A Mass, properly performed, joins all five senses with the intellect and the human spirit in one Act of Worship. And so all the senses were engaged last night, from beautiful music, (including the great Tallis, for a Mass for teenagers! Youth choir directors take note.) to the colors to the smell of the incense. And most importantly, the Body of Christ made truly present in the bread and wine to the mystical Body of Christ, His Church.
And the part of "Catholic" that is catholic, universal, was on rich display. The entire hierarchy was represented and then some, with a superabundance of cardinals and bishops to concelebrate with seemingly hundreds of their fellow priests. Every order of participants in consecrated life was there, and the Basilica was filled to the rafters with the future, the kids, that other kind of mass—the mass of the faithful from every walk of life and every corner of the earth, who go out into the world and do whatever they are called to do in the service of the truth.
Truly, an evening filled with Life.
::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 3:59 PM