A wonderfully nuanced piece of classic compare and contrast writing appears this morning in The New York Times, written by Thomas Lynch, author of “Booking Passage“. In it Lynch looks at all the things he and President Bush have in common, including their mutual joy at the “quittance of the suit and tie, freedom from duty and detail and to breathe deeply the insouciant air of summer” during the August break. Of course there are differences, especially in the scale of their lives. But the ultimate difference boils down to this:
“And maybe this is the part I find most distancing about my president, not his fanatic heart – the unassailable sense he projects that God is on his side – we all have that. But that he seems to lack anything like real remorse, here in the third August of Iraq, in the fourth August of Afghanistan, in the fifth August of his presidency – for all of the intemperate speech, for the weapons of mass destruction that were not there, the “Mission Accomplished” that really wasn’t, for the funerals he will not attend, the mothers of the dead he will not speak to, the bodies of the dead we are not allowed to see and all of the soldiers and civilians whose lives have been irretrievably lost or irreparably changed by his (and our) “Bring it On” bravado in a world made more perilous by such pronouncements…. We may be irreversibly committed to play out the saga of Iraq. But each of us, we humans, if we are to look our own kind in the eye, should at least be willing to say we’re sorry, that all over our smaller and more lethal planet, whatever the causes, we’re still killing our own kind – the same but different – but our own kind nonetheless. Even on vacation we oughtn’t hide from that.”
Can it be said better than this?