2008January28 2:34 PM President McCain

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes

It was January 11, at 5:41pm, CET, which would have made it 11:41 in the morning on a Friday in the United States, that I wrote an email message to the professional chefs forum I belong to, and with whom I exchange, likely, the greatest number of messages online. I’ve long since accepted that my friends have forsaken email for other less taxing (on time, on time) forms of communication. This is a very roundabout way of saying, my friends don’t exactly stay in close touch, except one or two, whom I love like life itself.

Anyway in the course of the message, which was extremely brief, brevity being unusual for me, and in a mock tone of some derisory pose: irony, sarcasm, insincerity in one of its more sophisticated forms, I added at the very end, "Women rule./That’s why John McCain will be our next President."

I make no claim on prescience. More importantly, and this is an immodest source of pride, I don’t spend great amounts of time thinking about political matters. I read nowhere nearly enough I’m sure, but sufficient to have a sense of where people stand and what they represent. I spend no time at all, if I can help it, watching debates. I’ve heard it all before, if not from the same lips, then from other lips, and I don’t accept that it’s all so subtle that I am depriving myself of opportunities to see either displays of above-average wit or the gaffe that will sink a campaign. Indeed, the debates long since have proven, to me at least, that they are contests of avoiding the brink while appearing to come closest to it. Hence nothing of substance gets said, and I could care less how people come across on television. And I don’t care what the true weight of the factor of other Americans perceptions because of a television appearance (I am forbearing the urge to say "performance"). The United States electorate has had ample opportunity to prove during the 41 years, soon to be 42, that I have been eligible to vote, that they are not particularly intelligent, nor particularly stupid.

Just significant fractions of them go one way or the other.

I was in France when I wrote that off-handed remark, which seemed not only obvious, if spontaneous on my part, but more importantly was a good laugh line on which to exit. Though I didn’t mean it as a joke. Except of the rueful variety. We make little enough of the continued power of rue and ruth (as in ruthless… there is certainly a dearth of ruth among certain groups of individuals in the world) in our emotional lives. I suspect it is because it is, in fact, all too painful to deliberately remain conscious of the political state of the world, and the behavior of what we are told incessantly are the world’s leaders. Some are OK, I suppose, but this is the world we’re talking about. Big enough that, even though we’re hurling through space at a speed of 40,000 miles per hour along some vector, and twirling with an angular velocity of over 1000 miles per hour, we’re completely insensate of the motion. Big enough that we’re not extremely anxious that the planet now finds six billion souls inhabiting its surface. Is this the best we can do?

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