MARCUS (3/28/07): There can be no questioning Edwards's fierce love for her children. When her son Wade died at 16 in an auto accident, she visited his grave every day for two years, often reading aloud the books he would have been assigned in school. Afterward, she underwent fertility treatments to have Emma Claire, now 8, and Jack, 6.I cant help but wonder about the Edwards situation, Marcus writes a bit later. And lets face it—thats precisely the problem.
I have a hard time reconciling that devotion with the decision to forge ahead with the presidential campaign. If he loses, was racing to the next fundraiser really worth it? If he wins—well, if she is gravely ill, or worse, is having a father occupied with being president really in the best interest of their children?
The Edwardses have had more reason than most of us can imagine to contemplate life's fragility; their choice about how to proceed now was obviously shaped by that sad experience. Yet their reluctance to consider a middle ground—continue the work they've been doing, but step back from the rigors of a presidential campaign—is mystifying. After all, becoming a parent is all about relinquishing some freedom of action for the joy—and the responsibility—of raising a family.
Here at THE HOWLER, we have been able to avoid wondering about that decision. In part, thats because we understand a simple fact; the Edwardses know a hundred times more about their situation than we do. How do they plan to raise their children? We dont have the slightest idea. What role might grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, their young-adult daughter play in the future which they have envisioned? We dont have the slightest idea. Neither does the nosy Ruth Marcus. Despite that, shes willing to tell.
Tomorrow—IWDSSO: We let them do it to Gore for two years. After that, for seven years, we pretended that it just didnt happen. Result? Now theyve started to do it to Obama! Do you see why we tried to get our liberal/Dem elites to describe our partys recent history? Do you see how stupid we were when we said (reciting the press corps script) that Gore brought this sh*t on himself?
DEATH SENTENCE: Under Andrew Rosenthal, the Times op-ed page is becoming a study in irrelevance and upper-class trivia. Today, the largest chunk of space goes to the question of twenty recent pet deaths; the piece is written by Deborah Blum, who is writing a book about poison murders of the early 20th century. Right below that, Stanley Fish extends the theme. He tells us how to select murder mysteries at airport book stores.
We couldnt help chuckling at one part of Fishs absurdly pointless piece. Whats the best way to spot a bad mystery writer? Just read the first sentence, he says:
FISH (3/28/07): The only thing left—and this is sure-fire—is to read the first sentence. The really bad ones leap out at you....Huh! According to Fish, some first sentences help you see that the writing will be all about the writers deep genius. Again, we thought of a famous first sentence—the first sentence Maureen Dowd typed up long ago, in a front-page Times news report:
Sometimes a first sentence is bad because it's pretentious. ''Some stories wait to be told.'' That's an opening Tolstoy or Jane Austen might have considered (although they would have produced superior versions of it). But mystery writers usually aren't Tolstoys or Austens, and a first sentence like this one is a signal (buyer beware) that the author is intent on contemplating his or her ''craft'' and wants you to contemplate it too. No thanks.
DOWD (6/9/94): President Clinton returned today for a sentimental journey to the university where he didn't inhale, didn't get drafted and didn't get a degree.Hey, look her over! What a shame the Times didnt look at that sentence and just say, No, thanks. And what a shame they didnt throw Dowd away after reading this first sentence, five days earlier, in another alleged news report:
DOWD (6/4/94): The salute gave it away, of course. Where there should have been snap, there was only chagrin.Good God—thats pure political porn. That crap is how Bush reached the White House.
In a photo opportunity arranged by the White House, President Clinton was welcomed at the American cemetery in Nettuno by June Marion Wandrey, a 73-year-old pint-sized former Army nurse who fought death in Sicily, Cassino, Anzio, Naples and Dachau.
Proud that she could still fit into her 51-year-old brown wool uniform, with eight battle stars bespeaking her heroism, Mrs. Wandrey greeted the President with a saucy smile and the crisp salute of a professional.
Mr. Clinton returned the salute slowly, tentatively, a self-conscious gesture that reflected his ambivalence about using the fraternal greeting of a military he once said he "loathed." As much as he may love being Commander in Chief, his salute often falters in a military setting, as though he fears a silent reproach about his right to use that mark of mutual respect in light of the years he spent evading the draft and protesting the Vietnam War.
CALLER 7, WISCONSIN, REPUBLICAN LINE: As far as the global warming, I just have a hard time believing it, considering three-fourths of the world is water, so we dont have any control over that particular. I mean, thats a large chunk of the earth that we dont have any control over. And then theres the land, and how much, what percentage of that do humans ever occupy? I dont think its even 20 percent. And then, of the land that we do occupy, how many countries arent even developed? So I think its a real stretch to say that humans are causing the earth to warm. Theres just too much to question about that...He had given a similar answer to Caller 5—a man who was sure that Gore was wrong, although he plainly didnt know what Gore had said. And Barnes fell for the third time with Caller 9—the caller who assured him that Mars is warming. For the depressing text of these Q-and-As, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/27/07.
BARNES, RESPONDING TO CALLER 7: As we see, global warming—theres two views of this subject. Its a hotly debated issue.
CALLER 8, ILLINOIS, DEMOCRATIC OR INDEPENDENT LINE: I wonder if Mr. Barnes could explain how we get these different—its very confusing. We go, you know, death tax, climate change versus global warming. Which is it?You could hardly offer a weaker account of the current science. And sure enough! When the next caller said that Mars is warming, Barnes went in the tank once again.
BARNES: Well, I think that both of the terms, in terms of climate change and global warming, really sort of get at the same basic issue. I think that most science—I think there was a United Nations report recently, back in February—I think most science these days is saying global warmings a problem and if some of your viewers saw those hearings, Lamar Alexander, Republican senator from Tennessee, he said he thought—when he was introducing the vice president—he said he thought there was a global warming problem.
FRIEDMAN (3/28/07): I wonder how Mr. Cooney would have edited the recent draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, written and reviewed by 1,000 scientists convened by the World Meteorological Society and the U.N. It concluded that global warming is ''unequivocal,'' that human activity is the main driver, and that ''changes in climate are now affecting physical and biological systems on every continent.''For the record, Friedman is working from this February 2, front-page Times news story about the UN report. Summaries of the state of the science are not real hard to find.
By the way: At the Gore hearings, did Lamar Alexander really say that there was a global warming problem? Yes—but so did many Republican members of the House and Senate committees. Lets quote David Leonhardt in todays Times: Representative Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican (lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union: 90 out of 100 ), told Mr. Gore, I think everyone recognizes—as you have said and the scientific community agrees—that there is global warming caused by human activity. Thanks not true, of course—a point Leonhardt skips. But Representative Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Republican, went even farther during the hearing, saying this in response to some clownish GOP colleagues: "It's possible to be a conservative without appearing to be an idiot." Meanwhile, to see Senator John Warner voice solidarity with Gore, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/23/07. In fact, many Republicans voiced their agreement with the scientific consensus on warming. But weak-minded Barnes, re-enacting an age, whittled their number to one.
That C-SPAN session was a gem. It captured the heart of a broken age. Three voters heads had been filled full of mush—and a journalist agreed not to tell them.
TOMORROW—PART 3: In which we learn more about the warming science NPR agreed not to share.