remains of the day

6/20/04

Greetings from the shortest night of the year!

There’s something terrific about the ambient light of the gloaming sun, still barely visible at 10pm. It hints at infinite possibility, undeniable optimism. I know it drives people crazy near the Arctic Circle, the “white nights” and all, but for now it’s simply brilliant.

You read it here first: the weather the last two days has been the best in three years. Zero percent humidity and 74 degrees, with sky sporting about ten clouds. It was the perfect day for a quick jaunt over to Claverack, NY, where Merchant and Ivory � yep, THAT Merchant/Ivory � were having a benefit dinner for their foundation.

The entertainment was an Indian dancer, very beautiful, who gave a long performance that made me actively miss my friends Jyoti and Swati, the incorrigible twin Indian girls at Carolina during the Purple House years (’92-’95) who made a habit of drinking hard, keeping the nights brisk, and performing some of the most beautiful, intricate synchronized Indian dancing I’ve ever seen. I love the way Indian dancers use their eyes; most other cultures ignore the face while dancing (which leads to the famous “white man’s overbite” practiced by most Baby Boomers dancing to “Boogie Oogie Oogie.”)

At dinner, we sat with Andrew Solomon and our excellent compatriots Ben Feldman (our lawyer) and his partner Chip. The food was exquisite until I bit down on some sort of relish from the salad table that was so, um, unfortunate-tasting that I nearly hurled.

Good thing I didn’t, because as we got up to leave, Ismael Merchant himself wandered over to Tessa and me, asking us how we liked Columbia County, inviting us to dinner, and generally being a fabulous Old World host. That guy does it right, lemme tellya.

After that, he went back to talking to Salman Rushdie. I was dying to ask Mr. Rushdie how on earth he survived a decade of fatwa but that’s what starfucking morons do, and I’m only half of that.

rushdie.jpg

I thought he looked quite handsome in person

We ran home to catch the West Coast satellite feed of Clinton on “60 Minutes,” and you have to admit it was pretty good television. Even near the end of his presidency, I was still defending Clinton to the hilt, because I always really liked the guy. We met him in Chapel Hill in early 1992, and since that day, my respect for him has been unassailable.

Yes, yes, Monica Lewinsky blah blah blah fucking blah. I NEVER CARED. And neither should you, really. If you were embarrassed by Clinton’s White House indiscretions, but give George Bush a free pass on his lies, then you have some serious thinking to do. In fact, go sit in the corner right now. When you’re done, explain why Bush can lie and cause the death of roughly 11,000 people, while Clinton is dragged through the Fires of Hell for a blow job. America, I’ll never fully understand you, and I don’t know if I want to.

0 thoughts on “remains of the day

  1. sleepy dad

    No shit, last night was the shortest night of the year. Maybe that’s why neither of my kids slept all that soundly; they’re both too sun-kissed to say goodnight to Mr. Golden Sun for a few hours. I caught some of Clinton at 7 in the recliner with a fidgety Emily and the rest on the west coast feed with bug-eyed couch potato Sam refusing to stay in his room and begging for more water (which begats bathroom trips which begats more time out of bed).
    Hardly seems like a decade plus since shaking Clinton’s hand in NC in ’92. One of my roommates that year was one of those sad North Carolinians who worshiped Jesse Helms just cause his parents and family did.
    Needless to say, he and I avoided too many political discussions then; I’m sure it’d be even worse now.

    Reply
  2. lurker

    Damn, it sure is a pain in the ass to disagree with you because you lay out your arguments in such a way that any rebuttal will seem to fall flat on its face. I will give it a shot, however, and say that I for one do not give Bush a free pass for his judgement call to go to Iraq based on his view of the facts. Just as I do not give Clinton a free pass for continually lying about Lewinsky or his judgement call not to eradicate Bin Laden when he had the chance. That error in judgement could have potentially saved 3,000 lives on Sept 11th. I wish I had a website hot link to better “prove” my point. All I’m saying is that neither Clinton nor Bush are the anti-Christ. We all know Coach K is.

    Reply
  3. scvecc

    That whole ’92 campaign while living in Chapel Hill (that and my liberal new yorker husband) delivered me from the conservative southern brainwashing by my ‘rents, though I did later intern for Strom. One night while parked on North Street, someone ripped up my “We Strom” sticker and placed it on my window in pieces. Lesson learned.
    never a dull moment with the twins, who knew everyone in town.

    Reply
  4. Lindsay

    “Just as I do not give Clinton a free pass for… his judgement call not to eradicate Bin Laden when he had the chance.”
    Clinton was roundly condemed by Republicans and “Bandar Bush” for trying to do just that. “No war for Monica” they screamed, when Clinton ordered a missile on a Afghan al-Queda base where Bin Laden was sleeping a mere hours before. But for a few hours’ bad timing, the the WTC attacks could possibly have been averted. To date, the Clinton administration has come closer to killing Osama than the Bushies have. OK, they didn’t actually pull it off, but it’s a far cry from a “judgement call not to eradicate Bin Laden”. Or from chartering a plane to fly his cousins to safety during 9/11.
    “All I’m saying is that neither Clinton nor Bush are the anti-Christ. We all know Coach K is.”
    OK, you have a point with that last part.

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  5. Emily

    I doubt that Clinton’s decision about bin Laden was a faulty judgement call. Imagine the scrutiny he was under in the later part of his presidency. I’m sure that it was much more threatening than the blind faith that Bush was followed with post-9/11. That could make anyone hold back their true feelings – perhaps even more if they are relevant. Clinton may have been thinking that Republicans would disagree with him about Osama simply for the sake of disagreeing. Instead of firing off missiles or pushing “the button,” he chose to inform the incoming Bush about the situation in the Middle East. Clinton claims in his memoirs that he stated this specifically and clearly to Dubya before he took office. According to Clinton, Bush dismissed his advice completely.
    Who made the error in judgement there?

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  6. Lindsay

    “Instead of firing off missiles or pushing ‘the button,’ he chose to inform the incoming Bush about the situation in the Middle East.”
    I would still argue that it should be “*in addition to* firing off missles…”

    Reply
  7. Bud

    With post 9/11 hindsight, it’s easy to look back and say woulda/shoulda/coulda, but that’s dumb and unfair.
    As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright noted in her testimony to the 9/11 commission, Clinton took a lot of heat during his presidency, not for being too soft on terrorism, but for being *too aggressive*.
    The best case for criticizing Clinton in re: bin Laden rests on his refusal of the Sudanese government’s 1996 offer to turn Osama over to the US (they had detained, and were about to deport OBL). Osama hadn’t committed any crimes against the US, so Clinton refused. In those days, merely *wanting* to harm America didn’t automatically earn you a bunk at Abuse Camp.
    But all this misses the point: I’m glad we can put aside our petty differences to agree on Coach K.
    And lucky you, Ian. Andrew Solomon, Ishmael Merchant, Salman Rushdie *and* Indian dancing (about which you are totally right). I miss Swati and Jyoti, too.

    Reply
  8. Pete Stanley

    When a president or any of our leaders fail, I think our response should be disappointment and perhaps some well-measured anger, but I’m not into this hatred stuff. I didn’t really care about Lewinsky, either. The Supreme Court decision to allow someone to sue a sitting president was wrong, the Ken Starr investigation of this matter was wrong, and the impeachement was a farce.
    Clinton’s record of fighting al Qaeda was poor and Bush’s is not too much better, though it’s certainly more active, which has bought us a little time but not a lot. And our fearless leader has apparently decided to dither until after the election, leaving more time for our enemy to act.
    And who is the enemy? Well, as I see it, it’s not just bin Laden and his merry band. It’s also people who want to kill your man in the top half of your blog entry: Salman Rushdie. The entire attitude of the Islamic world has to change. No more assassination fatwas, no more jihad. We can’t afford that mindset any longer, as the world is too small and our weapons too dangerous.
    Iraq was second for a lot of reasons, but we never heard that from fearless leader. His deputies just gave us a lot of half-ass/mis-mash/hocus-pocus about weapons of mass destruction. And that’s why, despite supporting the war, I don’t get really angry when I see people say that “Bush lied.” I view it as lies of omission rather than commission.
    The President has not yet told us why, exactly, conquering and holding Iraq is worth 1,000 American lives or 10,000 Iraqi lives. And the answer, ultimately, is that we do this conventionally now, or someone does it it non-conventionally later. 10,000 is less than a billion. Forgive the long quote:
    “It would not be the first time that the inner contradictions of a civilization, taken to their limit, have killed it. Something in the expansionist and militant hubris of 19th century Europe led the continent to the mindless mud and trenches of the Great War. The Lost Generation died by Europe’s own hand. Now it is Islam coming face to face with a challenge of how to handle the true divine fire. And the real dilemma is that the power behind the light of the stars is incompatible with the framework bequeathed by Mohammed. It may be the turn of the Faithful to die by Islam’s own hand unless it can listen to the word that speaks from the very heart of the flame.
    And that message, surprisingly, is that we must love one another or die. J. Robert Oppenheimer thought, as he beheld the fireball of the first atomic test at Alamogordo, that he heard the Hindu god Shiva whisper “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”. He understood at that moment that mankind’s moral capacity would have to expand to match its technical prowess or it would perish. If Islam desires the secret of the stars it must embrace the kuffar as its brother — or die.”
    Scroll up for the quote, down for the argument behind it.
    http://belmontclub.blogspot.com/2003_09_01_belmontclub_archive.html#106401071003484059

    Reply
  9. Ian

    Great stuff, Pete. I have similar thoughts, but unfortunately, I feel like I veer into full-on Muslim racism if I’m not careful.

    Reply

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