Monday, March 06, 2006

Timeless prose

From my email today: Edgar Lawrence Doctorow occupies a central position in the history of American literature. He is generally considered to be among the most talented, ambitious, and admired novelists of the second half of the twentieth century. Doctorow has received the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, the William Dean Howell Medal of the America Academy of Arts and Letters, and the residentially conferred National Humanities Medal.

E.L.Doctorow wrote this about a year and a half ago. His words are still timely and powerful. I'll give you the opening and closing grafs and urge you to read the rest for yourself.

The Unfeeling President

I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.

[...]

The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.

Finally, the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail. How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

[hat tip JZS]
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2 Comments:

Blogger No Blood for Hubris said...

What empathy can one expect from a guy who in his youth got off on putting lit firecrackers into live toads and exploding them?

11:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Libby said...

Empathy? I don't even expect cognizance from this guy. He's in his own little dream world Hubris.

8:17:00 AM  

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