The Long Race(Reprinted from the issue of February 15, 2007)
In keeping with modern journalistic tradition, the media gave much heavier coverage to the recent antiwar rally here than to the annual March for Life. Guess which one featured more celebrities. Jane Fonda was back for the first time in ages, that is, for the first time since the Vietnam War. Dear old Jane, pushing 70 didnt she win an Academy Award once? Now she only reminds us how old were getting. The things we used to be passionate about!
The absence of the military draft no doubt accounts for the relative smallness of todays antiwar movement, even though todays antiwar sentiment seems more widespread and mainstream than the last time, when it was much more leftist in tone. With Communism in eclipse, even conservatives are aboard now.
But the Republicans dont know what to do, except to stay the course without actually using the phrase; maybe they could try to pacify Baghdad with enterprise zones. Every day the mayhem gets worse. The place may be in ruins, economically and otherwise, but the Iraqis can still afford such luxury items as explosives. Iran is said to be meddling in Iraq. The United States can invade Panama because its in our backyard, or Iraq because it threatens our vital interests, but Iran must ignore its next-door neighbor or its a rogue nation.
Its all complicated by the never-ending presidential campaign, with Hillary Clinton still trying to position herself prudently. If she is elected, will the Marine Band be playing Hail to the Squaw?
Meanwhile, John Edwards, denouncing the Iraq War at home, has gone to Israel to suggest nuking Iran. Of all the many candidates in the race, Edwards is undoubtedly the most slippery and least trustworthy, though his character has escaped the scrutiny it deserves. So help me, Id rather see Hillary in the White House. (It wasnt easy to type those words. But I mean them.)
The endless campaign was very briefly interrupted by Joe Bidens latest campaign, which did end the same day he announced it. He got off on the wrong foot, which he put in its usual place: his mouth.
Trying to be nice, he remarked that Barack Obama was not only black, but also articulate and clean. This brought angry responses, so Biden had to swallow what little dignity he still has and do another grovel. His presidential prospects appear dim. I thought it was a little unfair: Obama is much more well-spoken than, say, Jesse Jackson, and by clean I think Biden was referring not to personal hygiene, but to the fact that Obama doesnt keep money in his freezer. Regardless, Biden wont be having his finger on the nuclear trigger now. Our loss.
Rudy Giuliani, officially a candidate at last, now seems to be the Republican front-runner, passing John McCain in the latest polls, and, seeing the hawkish McCain slipping, hes trying to say as little as possible about the war. Winning the GOP nomination is going to take some fancy footwork as well as a lot of money. Giulianis appeal eludes me; hes a hawkish liberal, or maybe an ambiguous neocon, whom I expect to be eliminated when Republicans start asking themselves why they should vote for a crass New Yorker who is both pro-war and pro-abortion.
Giuliani and McCain both rode the 9/11 panic for a while, but the threat of terrorism already seems nearly as passé as the threat of Communism that shaped American politics for a full generation. George W. Bush has drained it of its political potency, leaving all the candidates somewhat off balance; what seemed winning positions only two years ago are liabilities now. The day of the hawk is over. Obama has supplanted Osama on the covers of magazines.
Only two years ago Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard could visit Iraq and call the American invasion the greatest act of benevolence one nation has ever done for another. How times have changed. Fred, one of Bushs most enthusiastic encomiasts, has had to change his tune. He also credited Bush with redefining American conservatism for the better. How would you like that crow, Fred fried or roasted?
Does it really matter who the president is anymore? The office and the entire executive branch are so overblown that it may only matter for the worse. After Bush, we should be especially wary of messianic leaders, including big government conservatives.
Contrary to everything we hear, a weak president, opposed by Congress, unable to get things done, may be the best we can hope for. Lets pray that the next one will know how to use the veto. And will have occasion to use it often.
My hero this week and I think I speak for many is Tony Dungy, coach of the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts. For weeks the media had been hyping the historic fact that both coaches in the game (the other being Dungys old friend Lovie Smith, coach of the Chicago Bears) were black.
Personally, I found this trivial. Does it matter that both quarterbacks were white? Id be more impressed if both coaches in the Stanley Cup finals were black, but I dont expect to see that soon.
After his victory, Dungy commented that that was nice, all right, but what mattered more was that both coaches were Christians. This may not be what the media call a historic first, but it showed that Dungy had a proper sense of proportion.
A generation ago, when Don Shula coached the great Miami Dolphins to a perfect season, culminating in a triumph in the Super Bowl, I read a long profile of him, of which only one detail stuck in my memory: Shula was a daily communicant.
When I met him at a big Catholic banquet in New York many years later, I told the audience how that had impressed me at a time when Id drifted away from the Church, and I turned to him and said, Thanks, coach.
Football is a brutal sport, but sometimes the Lord works through the NFL.
The Wrong Stuff
Now that the lid has been ripped off the sordid reality of the space program, maybe we can stop blaming President Bush for everything that goes wrong.
This was a weird country long before he took charge.
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|Copyright © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission
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