One of my acquaintances here in Provincetown said something arresting yesterday. We’re friendly, although he’s about as perfect an example of a New York lefty, with Wellstonian touches, that I’ve ever met. He disagrees with almost everything I say, naturally, was against the war in Afghanistan, let alone Iraq, thinks Bush is a corporate crony cipher, etc. etc. etc. The first thing he brought up when we bumped into each other was the Wellstone memorial service. It really bugged him. He felt the pure partisanship, the jeering and cheering, the fanaticism almost, just after a family has been killed, was about as unseemly a spectacle as anything one could imagine. As I’ve seen the clips, I can’t help but agree. What on earth could they have been thinking? That picture of Clinton and Mondale yucking it up, for example. Sure, there are times at political wakes when such outbursts of hilarity are appropriate. But shouldn’t an ex-president and an ex-vice-president be aware of what that would look like in such a context? I have a feeling that the Wellstone rally-cum-memorial-service will shortly become a symbol of something: the pre-eminence of political values over humane ones. This is what a lot of people hate about politics. And you can’t blame them. This attitude is not the exclusive province of either party, of course. But one of the reasons Bush is popular, I think, is precisely because he doesn’t seem at all times motivated by such values, however much his critics try to prove the contrary. There’s a decency there that was sadly lacking Tuesday night. And it’s that contrast that so many find instructive.
SOME OTHER BONES: “I’ll accept compliments from the Right when they agree that Henry Kissinger belongs in the dock, and when they admit that this failure on their part is also sheltering Saddam Hussein from an indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and when they acknowledge that their trashing of the International Criminal Court is a betrayal of the whole ethos of “regime change”. And after that, I have some other bones to pick with them…” – Christopher Hitchens lets it rip on the Book Club Page, as the email chat continues.