Harry Hope's Saloon

This blog takes it's name from the setting for O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh -- a lousy gin-mill; a smoked-out, greasy dive where the habitues have all landed, it seems, permanently. Their lives, in each case, are paralyzed by fear and laziness. Like my own.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Meanwhile, Back in Hope's Saloon...

Yes, I watched the debate this past week, with a quick wit and a jaundiced eye (so I flatter myself). Very much looking forward to, what is it, two coming up this next week? vice-presidential and presidential candidates?

And, yes, I thought Mr. Bush acquitted himself very poorly, as has been well attested in every medium since. I was struck at one point when he noted, for the kazillionth time, that the "war on Terror" (not terrorism, not terrorists: Terror) is "hard work," and claimed his personal anguish as he "reads the casualty reports" every day, and sees "how hard it is on the TV screens." I wondered if this sort of easy and insincere sympathy would ever become the long term target of ridicule - like when Clinton famously bit his lip and told that single mother that he felt her pain. Or rather, I didn't really wonder ... I immediately doubted. And I continue to doubt.

I watch this man perform - watch him squirm and sneer and blink - this godly man with the mean little spirit - and I marvel at the stubborn stupidity of those who I'm thinking will almost certainly return him to office.

Am I angry? Confounded? Yes ... and maybe, no.

In moments of such pique, perhaps, we should also think about an epigram written by Friedrich Nietzsche, in Human, All Too Human:

Anyone who has declared another to be an idiot, an unpleasant fellow, is annoyed if in the end he demonstrates that he is not one [Translation by R.J. Hollingdale]

Would I be happier if Bush proved to be a moral exemplar, really working to protect me and my children, this generation and the next? Would I feel better if it turned out that the war on Terror was actually something quite concrete and necessary, and that the president knew precisely what he was about in "staying the course?" If his decisions indeed made the world safe and united under one banner of freedom? I mean real freedom, involving unfettered spheres of activity and opportunity for individual expression and enlightenment? Freedom not polluted by its current Republican hard and constant association with the other "F" words: faith and family?

Man, I don't know. I think I really like the idea that he is just wrong - and that his supporters are ill-intentioned, misguided fools. I mean, I really do think that, but I also suspect that I like thinking it.

This, by the way, also goes (of course) for all those everyday knuckleheads whom I meet and know and who seem to get in my way at every turn - whose tics and traits irritate me so, whose peronalities seem so off-putting and behavior so obnoxious. The jerks! God, what would I do, when you think about it, if they reformed? What if they no longer gave me grounds for complaint? I don't know about y'all, but I believe I need my foils.

Or am I crazy?


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