IS IT JUST ME: or is there something frightfully hypocritical about criticizing the Bush administration for failing to prevent 9/11 and dogging the Bush administration for its preemptive efforts to root out terrorism in Iraq? What exactly do these people want?
REALITY PRESIDENT: I hadn't, even in my worst nightmares, considered the possibility of making American political life a TV game show... but apparently someone else suffers more fitful sleeps. "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast" supposedly makes for a good campaign strategy. At least there is some upside. As my friend, Rob, points out: "I've got to think it hurts D[emocrat]s more than R[epublican]s. I think their voter base is more likely to be enthralled by such a spectacle. What we really need is "American Senator", to siphon off some D[emocrat] votes in a few key races."
IN LARRY TRIBE'S BACK POCKET?: It's hardly likely, but by some inexplicable chance, Laurence Tribe and Cass Sunstein, two of the most unmitigated liberals teaching Con Law these days, have recommended that the Judiciary Committee approve the nomination of Michael W. McConnell, a Utah (formerly U. of Chicago) law school professor, and perhaps the best legal mind practicing on behalf of the Right in a long, long time. Maybe it's because they know McConnell will be less of a threat to their agenda for liberalizing the law on the bench than he is at the bar. Deserving most of the credit for the thinking behind the Supreme Court's recent pro-religion decisions (including school vouchers), McConnell is more than well-deserving of his nomination, and hopefully, future appointment, to the 10th Circuit Ct. of Appeals.
CHILDREN AS GOOD MENTAL HYGIENE: Life with toddlers can seem so surreal. They run in circles for no reason at all. They respond to simple questioons with non sequiturs. (Mom: "Would you like some more juice?" Toddler: "Do cars have gas tanks?") Sometimes it seems like small children are only good for driving their mothers insane, giving them grey hair, and making them pull that same hair out in handfuls. And yet sometimes these strange, maddening little creatures who make their parents' worlds so surreal and chaotic are the only ones who can impose reality and order. That's my September 11 story.
A year ago today, I woke up in Fairbanks, Alaska to a ringing telephone. It was my husband, calling from his hotel in California. He asked me if I had heard the news. I hadn't. It was only seven in the morning Alaska time, but the towers had fallen hours before I woke up. I turned on the TV and just watched, not quite believing, and feeling several million more miles away than the four thousand or so I was from the attacks. Like many others, all I could do was cry, for the dead, for the living left widowed and orphaned, for my husband who would have to fly home in a few days, and for myself, because I was all alone and nothing seemed real, just a nightmare that wouldn't end.
Then my son woke up. It would be touching to say that his good-morning hug and kiss reminded me that there was good in the universe and made me feel at peace. But it wouldn't be true, because I was too busy feeling scared and wanting revenge to pay much attention to goodness in the universe. But what my son did do was demand attention, a diaper change, and breakfast. He had visceral needs that didn't stop for war but reimposed a schedule and priorities on me. I won't say my son made me feel any better that, not at first anyway, but he got me through the day. He anchored the surreal to the real.
And so he did again today, when I was listening to NPR's coverage of the memorial services and crying, again, over the senseless loss of life and feeling, again, a strange and powerful urge to kill the people who planned those attacks and the people who celebrated them. For my son, the morning of this September 11, like that a year ago today, was just another morning: he needed to be pottied, fed, and taken out for his daily time on the front porch to blow bubbles and, in his words, "annoy [enjoy?] the day."
THE NEED TO MEDDLE is something that most of us have in some measure or another. We can't just leave well enough alone or recognize that doing something isn't always better than doing nothing. In the political realm, Bill Clinton was the master of meddling and a lot of my friends, even the conservative ones, repeat the mantra, "But we have to do something," about whatever current crisis is looming. That's the mentality that brings us long airport lines and random searches of old ladies in wheel chairs.
This need to fix things that aren't actually broken or fix them in the least useful and efficient way possible also spills over into personal life way too frequently. Putting together a house is a lot of work under any circumstances, but when you are working under the deadline of a baby's impending arrival, it can be overwhelming. We bought an old house in very good, recently renovated shape. That means nothing had to be done to it right away. Somehow we've managed to already make this far more of a project than necessary, by changing almost every light fixture in the house, painting a bedroom and a wide variety of other home improvement projects that, while nice to have done, could certainly have waited for a more opportune time.
I'm not sure what drives man to meddle and to fix things that aren't actually broken. I guess we believe we know best and if only we can put our stamp on something it will suddenly become perfect. We ignore, of course, that we are imperfect creatures and our attempts at perfecting the universe, either on a large or small scale, will quite possibly create larger issues and more difficult problems -- whether that is the Middle East Crisis or the mirror we pulled down only to discover that we need to plaster a wall now.
JUST IN CASE we still have anyone checking in, we're finally in the South again, have the house relatively unpacked and an internet connection established. I, at least, will attempt to resume blogging. The baby is due in about 3 or 4 weeks though, so we'll see how long my abilitiy to string two thoughts together lasts.