... and a mixed bag this morning, Bush. First, the compliment. I caught a glimpse of your latest pep rally event with those restaurant folks in Chicago yesterday. (Was it Chicago? I think so, but I'm not a hundred percent sure.) Anyway, I liked particularly your invocation of "the armies of compassion all across America"--with you, I take it, as their general. Or rather their Commander of Compassion in Chief. In view of which, after the familiar oration about how well things were going in Iraq, you took "questions" from the hand-picked audience of cheerleaders and fans, I was frankly tickled when this chef stood up in full kitchen regalia--you know, with the white apron and the toque--and said: "You run the country the way a chef would run the country"--I think he meant his kitchen. "I'm proud of you," he added.
Well, Bush, in case you didn't know it, the way most great chefs run their kitchens could put the cruelest of absolute tyrants to shame. They demand total obedience and loyalty from their staff. Their egos are notoriously huge and their tempers--thanks, perhaps, to the heat of the kitchen and the persnickety demands of their customers--notoriously short. My own somewhat brief experience confirms this reputation. Many years ago, as a Cambridge undergraduate, I worked as a waiter at the most prestigious hotel in town. You entered the chef's kitchen there in fear and trembling. Heaven help you if you made a mistake or, worse, laid a hand on any of the surfaces he claimed as his domain: his butcher's knife would nearly take your fingers off.
So... what a compliment, eh? And not far off the mark. Such praise, from petty tyrant to petty tyrant! Think about it.
On another front, I'm truly happy to see so much participation in our daily conversations. Have you been clicking on the comments button once in a while? Great to have passionate views, and the exchange of passionate words. We need more of that in this country--so long as we're also actually listening to the other side. Too much of our passion, it seems to me, is exclusive and intolerant.
One thing disturbs me about the passion of our new "anonymous" correspondant: in his defense of the rights of the unfortunate Palestinians, he seems to dismiss a great deal of effort that has been devoted over the past decade to come to some kind of reconciliation of conflicting "rights." I trust that anonymous (who is welcome to identify himself, by the way, in private, via my PeterAtLarge@cox.net email account) is not amongst those who, with Hamas and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmendinejad, want to see the state of Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
In any event, in my judgment the Palestinians are not blameless victims. They have missed or spurned important opportunities for peace, and have too often chosen in word or deed the path of senseless violence to achieve their goals. In divorce, they say, no single party is ever solely to blame: it's always fifty-fifty. By the same token, no matter how much I might understand or sympathize with their frustrations, I myself must hold the Palestinians accountable for their fifty percent. And that's not to neglect the fifty percent on the other side.
Well, there you go, Bush. That's it for today. Watch out for the book, "The Real Bush Diaries." It's going to press this week, and will soon be coming your way.