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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
           Monday, April 7 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterWhy do they hate? - 2

In her article in the London Times (linked here) Tina Brown describes the way she sees President Bush:

“IF ONLY TONY BLAIR were President” is still the prevailing feeling among Americans, whatever they feel about the war. It’s only a matter of weeks before Bush starts to become seriously jealous of Saint Tony’s press. He is already put out by Blair’s insistence on the importance of the UN in postwar Iraq.

Blair’s complex nobility makes us feel that he is on his way to being a tragic figure, which is something Bush could never be. When they appear side by side at press conferences the disparity in quality is almost painful. There is something dense and taciturn about Bush even when he’s being charming. He has the damped-down anger of the dry drunk. When he’s not scripted, his bald answers seem to be covering up ulterior motives. His true motives are private and his own and he will tell us only whatever it takes to mollify us. He is the embodiment of a crack Eleanor Roosevelt made when a friend pressed to know what FDR thought about an issue: “The President doesn’t think. He decides.”

By contrast, there is a transparency about Tony Blair. As with a great Shakespearean actor, you can see his mind and soul working through the window of the face and voice. He seems animated by thought, feeling and authentic process. We watch him apparently consider the situation carefully, turn the pros and cons over and, through a process of ratiocination that we have to respect, even if we disagree, reach the same conclusion over and over again. His increasing pallor and stressed-out look have become an asset, too. They speak of late-night cogitation and lonely conviction. If he is hiding something we don’t sense it, whereas Bush seems as occluded as a second-rate actor.

I doubt that more than a handful of the Americans who hate President Bush (like Dixie Chicks lead Natalie Maines, who told an audience in a London concert, "we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," and Pearl Jam's lead Eddie Vedder, who stomped on an effigy of the President's face in a Denver concert) have ever specifically wished that British Prime Minister Tony Blair were our president instead. However, I think that virtually all that Tina Brown imputes to Blair could also be said about Bill Clinton, and I have no doubt that many of the Bush haters and baiters are pining for what they consider the good old days of the Clinton administration.

I'll "unpack" implications of that supposition later in the week, and round out today's thoughts with two points more immediately pertinent. First, "hate" is such a strong and negative word that I even don't like seeing it in the subject line of the email versions of these Jonal entries. And that being so, I'm guessing that Maines and Vedder would, if seeing this, deny that they hate anyone; they're only expressing themselves under the First Amendment. But I have to take issue with such protestations. I'm all for the First Amerndment and the right of anyone to express any opinion. But there's a civil way to do so, and there are hateful ways. Neither of these "disagreements" with the President qualifies as "civil."

Second, the use of "transparent" to describe Blair/Clinton troubles me a bit, as I consider transparency a good thing and I would have probably even applied it to President Bush if commentator Brown hadn't beaten me to its use, But though its "good" sense speaks to candor and suggests honesty, its more basic meaning is "see through," and I do see that fitting former President Clinton quite aptly.

Next time I'll begin by agreeing with many of Tina Brown's descriptive points but go on to show how, in my opinion, she misinterprets her own data.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 EVER WONDER...

...why they call the airport "the terminal" if flying is so safe?
...if con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?
...why they are called apartments when they are all stuck together?

— Sent by Mike Harrison

Lenten thought for today

The shortness of this life is the penalty for people's sins. With all your might, hate what the world loves. Be dead to the world and let the world be dead to you. During your life despise what you cannot possess after your death.

—St. Jerome, c. 340-420 A.D.

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