Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Touching Behavior 


Primary Colors - a movie with an uncomfortably honest yet favorable depiction of the Clintons during Bill's presidential campaign - has a segment in which one of the aides talks about the man’s use of touch, touting it as the basis of his ability to make meaningful human contact with people in limited situations. This aide explains how each variant - the hand on the shoulder, the grasping of an elbow, the pressure on a forearm - conveys a different level of instant intimacy. Clinton's behavior is described as though his manipulation of other people's bodies is what convinces them that the man is concerned about their issues.

Could it be possible that Clinton might really be concerned about people - that they could be capable of reading that in him, could have read it in him even if his hands had been securely tucked into his pockets? They weren't puppets, were they?

This reminds me of that story about an eastern religious guru who decided to take a walk on the beach. He buried his only possession, a bowl, in the sand, making a mound above it so he could find it when he came back.

His followers, wanting to be just like him, made mounds in the sand, too, then set off after him along the beach.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Musings in the Aftermath of Fahrenheit 9/11 

Thanks to Michael Moore I now know the answer to my burning question the morning of 9/11. Where in the world was George W. Bush?

My best friend called me from Rowland, North Carolina and told me to turn on the TV. The first tower was already smoking from the impact of American Airlines Flight 11 and we were about was to watch the whole horrible thing unfold without any input from our national leaders.

Now I know that a couple of thousand miles away George W. Bush was sitting on a grammar school room chair, his eyes shifting this way and that. When the second plane went into the second tower, a man walked over to him and whispered in his ear. He continued shifting his eyes. This way and that.

Moments later, back in Iowa, I was watching those towers come crashing down and I needed a leader. Rudi Giuliani was there for me, obviously in shock, depressed, real. Thank you, Mr.Giuliani , I will always be grateful to you for anchoring me to reality that horrible morning.

Later on in the day commentators told us Mr. Bush was on Air Force One. Hmmm. Maybe like Harrison Ford in Air Force One he was valiantly fighting off the bad guys in order to Save the Nation? Maybe that was what he was doing when I needed him?

The media were strangely silent on the subject of the whereabouts of Mr. Bush throughout that morning. Why? There was a camera in that classroom. Couldn’t he have said something to us? After the teacher had finished reading her book, of course. We wouldn’t have wanted to interrupt that.

Someone somewhere closed down the airports. That was a good idea. Maybe Mr. Bush had been busy taking part in that decision? Finally, hours after we had bonded with Rudi Giuliani in the vacuum left by our national leaders, George Bush made a brief appearance and said a few unmemorable words. I don’t remember whether the smirk that played around his lips later when he mentioned the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq was there that morning. But he did say something. We knew he was still alive.

I hope I’m still around when the book is published that fills us in on the blanks. Only the people who were with Mr. Bush in those first few hours can do that. Hopefully they were not merely lackeys with a job description that would obligate them to keep forever silent. For history’s sake, I hope not.

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