Sunday, April 01, 2012

A fascinating read about a dinner party...

This essay by the former Weatherpeople Underground leader, Bill Ayers, about him and his wife, fellow ex-domestic terrorist Bernardine Dorhn, hosting a dinner party attended by Tucker Carlson and his wife, Andrew Breitbart (alone) and two young reporters from the Daily Beast, Carlson's on line magazine, was deeply fascinating, and somewhat hopeful.

The way Breitbart reacted proved what I thought about Breitbart, which is that his bark was sometimes much more of a pose, and that deep down, he wanted to find a way to get along.

There is also a sneaking admiration for Ayers and Dorhn among the bomb-throwers of the political Right, similar to the way they admire the tactical analyses of Trotsky, Lenin, Mao and Stalin (Hint: Research the Internet for Grover Norquist and his admiration for Lenin, for one example). I think that is why Breitbart and his fellow "conservatives" are smiling so broadly in the photograph accompanying the article. Dorhn and Ayers know they are deeply de-legitimized outside of their circle. To be embraced by these stars of the "conservative" movement had to be...fun.

For me, I will readily admit that the dinner I'd like to have with a prominent "conservative" person of the 20th Century would probably start with Richard M. Nixon. Not Kissinger. Nixon. Nixon always struck me as a decent, knowledgeable and witty guy underneath his abiding bitterness and sometimes paranoia toward those in the elite who treated him badly. It would have been a great treat for me to listen to him play piano and talk about classical and other music he enjoyed. I think my wife and I would have liked Pat Nixon, too, for her abiding traditional teachers' personality that admired decorum, a traditional sense of respect and her longing for a home life uninterrupted by the ghoulishness that permeates corporate media.

Yet, I have to also admit, I consider what Nixon did in southeast Asia and in Chile to be war crimes. How to square that with my emotional sympathy for Nixon? I don't know if I can. It is because the USA is my country and I have a hard time emotionally distancing myself even from leaders I politically speaking detest. Heck, I like Obama and feel Michelle Obama is the hottest first lady ever! (I blush as I wrote that!) GW Bush may have been a tough sell for me, but not his Dad. Reagan, well, I always felt there was really nothing underneath his superficial personna, which may be more fascinating if I was a psychologist. I'd end up talking more with Nancy, as most did if they wanted to have a deeper exchange of heart-felt dialogue.

Nonetheless, my sympathy for Nixon is a strange phenomenon for which I have thought long and hard and find no satisfactory answer. It is why I think it is important for us as citizens to call out our leaders when they commit such crimes. We must at least say it to help us understand that if we were to so describe another nation's leader for the same misconduct, then we should do so when it is our nation's leader which commits the same crime.

Oh well. It was still a fascinating article...

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