"The Kerry campaign, like most, ultimately reflects the candidate. The cautious indecisiveness and occasional vacillations have become Kerry trademarks.Sounds like a team ready to take on the world, no?
Leading Democrats describe a command structure often frozen -- or at least tempered -- by too many chefs, a too-heavy reliance on polls or focus groups and an aversion to risks. As a result, the message often is muddled and the reaction to hard-hitting attacks from Republicans often is slow and unconvincing."
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Monday, August 30, 2004
Unlike the less well-known John Kerry, who was required to spend most of the Democratic convention introducing himself as a decorated veteran who can lead the nation in wartime, President Bush is able to spend the week appealing to the undecided center.I guess in the Globe view Kerry turned the entire Democratic Convention into a Vietnam-Swift-Boat Love Story and gave his sappy salute and lame "reporting for duty" line not in an appeal to undecideds, but rather as an appeal to the long-neglected Far Right element within the Democratic party.
The same editorial ends with this tidy smear and inexplicable typo:
This Republican convention is heavy with symbolism, held for the first time in New York City and just days before the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Bush himself is expected to appear just long enough to deliver his acceptance speech and may not even spend the night in the Democratic stronghold. His aides say this is so the president won't be seen as "exploiting" the tragedy. More likely his team recognizes that associating with Sept. 11 may no longer help Bush. It is an open question whether the administration's response to the attacks -- including a destabilizing invasion of Iraq -- has made the nation safer.At least the GOP party faithful don't repeat themselves in public like some pathetic Bowery drunk.
Unlike the GOP party faithful, the voters do not suffer from temporary amnesia. Unlike the GOP party faithful, the voters do not suffer from temporary amnesia.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Please enjoy an oldie or two. These are my personal faves:
#1 - Watching new American citizens
#2 - Joan Vennochi getting therapy via her column
#3 - A Boston Globe columnist sounding like Monty Python's Black Knight
"Brooks's op-ed falls prey to a disturbing media trend: A the counterintuitive notion that because Senator John Kerry obscures simple truths about simple truths beneath an underbrush of purported "complexity" and "nuance", press coverage of his candidacy is obligated to follow suit rather than do its job of clearing the path. The present significance of Kerry's antiwar activism lies not in its illumination of how the candidate has evolved or, as Brooks argues, devolved. Rather, it is in the frightening possibility that he hasn't changed at all."To a Massachusetts resident like me, that is the key to all this bruhaha about 1968 and 1971.
"Christmas in Cambodia, like the 1971 testimony, is worthy of exploration because it is a barometer of basic honesty, raising the specter of a core lack of conviction and authenticity — one embedded in character, not developed over time."
Monday, August 23, 2004
"Kerry may have been nicked some at the margins by all this..." -Boston Globe
Oliphant's column in Sunday's Boston Globe is entitled “Smear by Veterans May Hurt Bush”. Even a Kerriphile would crack up at that idea. After the media disgraced themselves with the attempted burial of the story of Kerry’s Cambodian Christmas, we learn from the ever-sanctimonious Oliphant that our betters in the 4th estate have actually been protecting us from becoming confused by spurious rumors. Discerning voters will either snicker or toss at this dose of pure manure:
Discerning voters will notice that the more reputable organs of the national press have not cast doubt on Kerry's Vietnam service. That is because political attacks on it don't pass the smell test. We are influenced by eyewitnesses, not by people whose stories keep changing or are contradicted by official records. We are used to arguments over things like war records, but the burden of proof is with the accuser and Kerry's accusers cannot shoulder it with the credible evidence required of credible stories.[Jayson Blair and Patricia Smith, please call your office!]
But there's another way in now. Raise some Bush buddy Texas money, create a TV ad, hire a right-wing loony to put together a smear book, and cable TV producers desperate for shouting matches are happy to oblige. The result then gets recycled into the serious press because "questions" have been raised about Kerry's record that couldn't survive a minute under traditional standards.Well, Kerry "may have been nicked some at the margins", but Oli is as accurate as the Black Night in reporting that this is "but a flesh wound".
Kerry may have been nicked some at the margins by all this while he was responding via surrogates the last few weeks. Raising the profile of the smear, as well as confronting it directly and putting it at Bush's door, is overdue in the view of some Democratic Party operatives, a risk in the view of others. My own guess is that the higher the profile of this mess the more it looks like the smear it is, and the more it risks boomeranging on the president.
As happened to O'Neill in 1971, the best counter to him today is the serious press attention that his group fears most.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Suicide rates in the United States generally rise as you go south and west. Earlier this year,I got interested in the exceptions to that rule, so I decided to create a map. States with lower than average suicide rates I colored blue; the rest I colored red.This bit of wackiness is an inept pitch for Republican support for “The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention”. This must be the liberal response to those stories a few weeks ago saying that the Democrat’s dogmatic support for abortion was, over time, reducing their numbers at the polls.
And there it was: an approximation of the year 2000 presidential election map.
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have lower than average suicide rates. All but one voted for Al Gore. Of the remaining 37 states, 29 voted for George W. Bush. The five states with the most lopsided Bush vote (Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, with a margin of 25 percent or more) were all among the top eight for suicide.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
It is not a lack of objectivity that is the problem. Rather, it is that the MSM is behaving in a manner every bit as partisan as most blogs, while maintaining that their reporting is somehow more objective and creditable. Thus they continue to destroy their own stock in trade – credibility – in order to advance their political beliefs. That is their choice. It’s their business (and they are in business, not public service, despite the sanctimonious gushing).
The Times taking its cue from the Kerry campaign is reminiscent of the way Pravda used to operate on cues from the Soviet Politburo. Kremlin watchers, both within the Soviet Union and in the west, would read between the lines of the stories in Pravda in an effort to inform their speculation about the secret goings on in the Politburo. Often they had to endure long periods of official silence. The official silence in the days following the Chernobyl accident was typical. Today it is the NY Times readers who have to wait for official news, as they did with the Swift-Boat story from August 5-19, or get their news elsewhere. Irony abounds.
Today’s Globe and Times both have Swift-Boat stories. The Globe story has little tidbits of half-truth as usual. For instance:
Yesterday, the veterans upped the ante by rolling out another ad as part of a $600,000 buy that will begin airing Tuesday in three states where "Kerry has touted his military service," according to the group's spokesman, Sean McCabe. The spot features several veterans harshly criticizing Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony about atrocities that occurred in Vietnam. A statement quotes Admiral Roy Hoffman, founder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, saying, "What John Kerry did made Jane Fonda look like a Red Cross volunteer. It was terribly demoralizing."Sorry, no. The atrocities were an allegation, not a proven fact. Kerry was charging that these atrocities were widespread and that the entire military chain of command was complicit. Read his testimony. Unfortunately for him, when you give testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under oath, it leaves an enduring paper trail.
The Kerry campaign responded with a statement condemning "another ad from a front group funded by Bush allies that is trying to smear John Kerry. The newest ad takes Kerry's testimony out of context, editing what he said to distort the facts.”
The second Swift-Boat ad is more damaging than the first, as a Times story today alludes:
Interspersed with their comments is Mr. Kerry's Senate testimony in 1971 recounting accusations of war crimes in Vietnam, involving soldiers who had "raped, cut off ears,'' and "razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.''Unsubstatiated? A Pravda-like repetition of the Party Line. Does this mean that the Times still believes Kerry spent Christmas Eve in Cambodia?
Mr. Kerry's campaign argued that he was relating accusations made by others and that he had since described some of his past remarks as excessive. But some Democrats said privately they feared that this ad would have even more impact than the last, whose charges have not been substantiated.
"It's not something that can be easily or successfully discredited,'' said one party strategist, who requested anonymity because he did not want to be seen as undermining Mr. Kerry's campaign. "It's guys talking about how they felt and you can't discredit someone's description of his own feelings.''I speculate that the third Swift-Boat ad will be even harder for Kerry to swallow. Why? Because (again I speculate) they will discuss how he met with the North Vietnamese in Paris while a young Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve. This event reeks of Kerry’s amazing hubris, and while there is no transcript as there is with his Senate testimony, the fact of such a visit is not one that can be explained away.
A dissident Navy Lieutenant wasn’t ferrying any CIA guys to the North Vietnamese delegation or carrying a personal message from Henry Kissinger. Kerry was inserting himself where any sailor or patriot had no business being. Let him try to explain why.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Even so, the special interests and their loophole finders are proving this year that the supporters of campaign reform were more on target than they knew when they said McCain-Feingold was only a beginning.Don’t you love it? The reason McCain-Feingold fails isn't because it tries to do the impossible. Not at all! It fails because it is just a beginning.
Solzhenitsyn tells a humorous story about the early 1920s when the Soviets began sentencing people to the Camps for terms of 10, 15 and even 20 years. This caused doubts among some believers in the Great Workers Cause who asked “Why would we still need the Camps 20 years after the Revolution? Surely we will have created the worker's paradise by then!”. The same answer was tendered by their murderous rulers: “The October Revolution was only a beginning.”
Just a few lines down in the same piece the former head of Common Cause chimes in with a two word monument to property rights, free speech, and individual liberty. Ready for this?
Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, still touts McCain-Feingold. "Its main goal was to keep the most dangerous money away from candidates and parties, and that's happening," he says.Dangerous money.
Meditate on that concept for a whole minute.
When not used in jest, it is the most sickening term I have heard since the academic left coined Politically Correct. Yes, let’s all petition our representatives in Washington to protect us from dangerous money! No doubt Fred and his ilk know far better than its owners how it should be spent.
If you have an air sickness bag handy, you can read the whole editorial.
The gravy-stained PDs say they are undercompensated. Are they? I can't tell from the Globe's lazy reporting. The only actual data the Globe has reported is that their hourly rate is $37-61, and that these are "among the lowest" rates of any state in the country. But questions like: What activities are billable? How many hours do typical Massachusetts PDs bill annually? Does the state cover any other of their expenses? What is the profile of their total compensation from all sources? What are their costs of doing business? No answers from the Globe. They don't report, and I can't decide. A pathetically poor job of informing the public and instead repetition of a lot of hot rhetoric from all involved.
Second, the MBTA commuter rail. I rode a train last night where they did not move the train to the end of the platform and instead made all their passengers walk 200 yards down the platform to get to the train. Then they did not announce the stops as the train ran. So thoughtful of them! Did I miss my stop? You bet I did.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Mariel Zagunis becomes an Olympic Champion (AP Photo)
Today's Boston Globe has a wonderful picture on page 1 of a young woman named Mariel Zagunis at the instant she won the Gold Medal in the saber competition. A huge upset. Here is both ecstasy and disbelief that give the Games such drama. You need both huge talent and fanatical devotion to reach this level in sport. Then, only every 4 years there is one opportunity. It is impossible to expect victory. It comes as a gift. No doubt there are many many other women, equally talented and equally devoted to the saber, but from this moment on, this woman is the Olympic Champion. Maybe she is the Billy Mills of 2004.
Oh, and another thing not quite so uplifting. There is a little story buried inside on page 10 concerning a Kerry campaign press release from last week by none other than Michael Kranish (apparently the Kerry Damage Control Officer, Kranish last appeared in the Globe writing on a now-disputed interview of a Swift Boat Veteran). The carefully worded headline reads "Kerry disputes allegations on Cambodia". They can spin this all they want, but...
Here is the 4th paragraph:
"During John Kerry's service in Vietnam, many times he was on or near the Cambodian border and on one occasion crossed into Cambodia at the request of members of a special operations group operating out of Ha Tien," Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said in a statement. The statement did not say when the cross-border mission took place.And here is the 6th paragraph (which does not mention Kerry's telling this tale on the Senate floor, or that he said this event was seared -- seared, in his memory):
For years, Kerry has said he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. He gave a detailed view of that experience in an article he wrote for the Boston Herald in 1979. "I remember spending Christmas Eve five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas," Kerry wrote. "The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real." A similar recollection by Kerry was mentioned in a Globe biography of the Massachusetts senator published earlier this year.That is a curious way to "dispute" an allegation. An honest headline here would read "Kerry Lied!".
Update: The Washington Times is all over the story of Kerry's first Purple Heart today here, military records here, a letter to the Editor here, and an Editorial here.
Read 'em all.
"Given the attention lavished on President Bush's service in the Air National Guard earlier this year, we thought that newspapers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times would want to devote comparable attention to John Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia story. We also thought they would want to consider what the falsity of Kerry's story might have to tell us about the uses to which Kerry is putting his Vietnam service in the current presidential campaign.Well put.
To date, however, we have been wrong. Neither the influential mainstream newspapers nor the broadcast television networks have reported the meltdown of Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia story. Only readers of Internet blogs such as ours have kept current on the exposure of Kerry's tall tale. Or on the Kerry campaign's lame efforts to resurrect a version of the story that contradicts what Kerry has said for the past 25 years, but allows Kerry to continue using his Vietnam experiences, real and imagined, for his own political purposes.
Whatever the reason -- and we have our suspicions -- when it comes to scrutiny of Sen. Kerry's veracity, the mainstream media are saluting, but they are decidedly not reporting for duty."
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Today the dam breaks a little more as the Globe's Joan Vennochi mentions the Great Unmentionable of the last 10 days. Excerpts:
"Kerry's statements about Cambodia do have traction for opponents. He has referred to spending Christmas or Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia and coming under fire...The Kerry campaign now says Kerry's runs into Cambodia came in early 1969....Answers like that aren't good enough...Kerry put his Vietnam service before voters as the seminal character issue of his presidential campaign. He should answer every question voters have about it -- and he should answer them himself."Joan is a leading indicator in that she is willing to admit the obvious in writing before most of the MSM. Read the whole thing.
Also today the LA Times has a big story about the story...finally. It is rather well spun in that it edits out the most damning parts of Kerry's past quotes. Nevertheless by tomorrow or Thursday, even the NY Times may discover this story.
Monday, August 16, 2004
"Trouble is, the person who appears to have been wrong here about Mr. Kerry's location was not the president--who was Lyndon Johnson, not Nixon, by the way--but Mr. Kerry himself. His commanding officers all testify to this fact, as do men who were on his boat at the time. And so now, reluctantly, does the Kerry campaign."
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Your search - Kerry Cambodia source:cnn -Is it just me, or is this search as futile as searching Pravda for stories about the Ukraine famine? Come to think of it, The Times of the 1930s never mentioned that story either, did they?
did not match any documents...
Your search - Kerry Cambodia source:new_york_times -
did not match any documents...
Your search - Kerry Cambodia source:washington_post -
did not match any documents...
But today is a different era. You know the bard's old saying,
but today it's more accurate to say
"In time, the truth will out."
"In Internet time, the truth will out, except for the Big Media, which for a
while ignores it."
Mark Steyn isn't ignoring it:
"Thirty-five years on, having no appealing campaign themes, the senator
decides to run for president on his biography. But for the last 20 years he's
been a legislative non-entity. Before that, he was accusing his brave band of
brothers of mutilation, rape and torture. He spent his early life at Swiss
finishing school and his later life living off his wife's inheritance from her
first husband. So, biography-wise, that leaves four months in Vietnam, which he
talks about non-stop. That 1986 Senate speech is typical: It was supposed to be
about Reagan policy in Central America, but like so many Kerry speeches and
interviews somehow it winds up with yet another self-aggrandizing trip down
A handful of Kerry's ''band of brothers'' are traveling
around with his campaign. Most of the rest, including a majority of his fellow
swift boat commanders and 254 swiftees from Kerry's Coastal Squadron One, are
opposed to his candidacy. That is an amazing ratio and, if snot-nosed American
media grandees don't think there's a story there, maybe they ought to consider
another line of work. To put it in terms they can understand, imagine if Dick
Cheney campaigned for the presidency on the basis of his time at Halliburton,
and a majority of the Halliburton board and 80 percent of the stockholders
declared he was unfit for office. More to the point, on the swift vets' first
major allegation -- Christmas in Cambodia -- the Kerry campaign has
Saturday, August 14, 2004
It starts with an athletic contest so infrequent that its awards are coveted and honored by athletes beyond all reason. Olympic medalists not only have to be the best in the world, they also need to be damn lucky to win a medal. And coveted? Remember the NBA millionaires who are giving it up here for a shot at the gold.
A brand is a shortcut; a symbol that carries an understood message. What is the brand message the Olympic Games convey? Youth, beauty, the fellowship of athletes, sportsmanship, fair play, and the brotherhood of all nations. Some enviable set of messages, that! Any other product would be happy with just one of these. Not only that, all these world class TV commercials are celebrating and reinforcing the Olympic brand message; carrying the water while they pay the freight.
So what if it’s really a huge business run by wealthy dilettantes and moronic bureaucrats? So what if “believing” in the Olympics is like believing that Major League Baseball is still just baseball? Of course we know it isn’t, but every so often it sure seems like it is. Once every 4 years it seems like the Olympic Games are worth it all, too.
I plan to enjoy them.
Friday, August 13, 2004
"Google Inc. on Friday said an interview with its founders in the latest Playboy magazine issue may violate U.S. securities rules governing the Internet company's $3.3 billion pending initial public offering.
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Google said it could be required to buy back the securities sold in its IPO if it is found in violation
of securities laws."
"Only the impetuous John Dean was incautious enough to accuse the Bush
administration of manipulating security alerts for political purposes. Kerry,
quite properly, distanced himself from Dean on this."
Funny, I thought the former Governor of Vermont said this, and his first name is Howard. Amazingly, the column contains two other howlers. How about this:
John Kerry, however, is somewhat handicapped to take advantage of this
mess by his odd combination of votes, first to support Bush's going to war and
then against reconstruction aid. Bush has hammered his opponent for his
confusing statements on his votes.
I think Bush is hammering with the view that this "odd combination" shows inconsistency, not on the politician-like verbal dance that JFK has to do to explain these votes.
Bush took the initiative last week in New Hampshire by demanding that
Kerry give a yes-or-no answer to the question: Would he have gone to war
"knowing what we know now" about weapons of mass destruction?
Kerry doesn't do yes-or-no answers, any more than Bush does nuance.
He has spent 20 years in the US Senate. That requires giving many yes-or-no answers in the form of "ayes" or "nays".
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Honestly, if the Governor of Massachusetts admitted to having an affair with a man and resigned, do you suppose that The Paper of Record would cover the event without once mentioning his party affiliation? Me neither. I can just hear their public editor, Okrent, pontificating that the party affiliation the Governor is irrelevant this story.
In the pages of the Times, that depends upon which party.
Correction: The story implies his affiliation later in the article.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
"The people who produced the new campaign-finance law the interest groups that lobbied for McCain-Feingold, the legislators who passed it, the Supreme Court justices who declared it compatible with the First Amendment will say it was not expected to work this way. But it was.That is the exact root cause of the degraded quality of government-constrained political speech. You would think after hearing 75 years of Soviet political discourse we would have figured that out. Nope.
It was always about expanding the regulation by government, meaning by the political class, of speech inconvenient to the political class. "
Reform was not expected to work out this way. But reformers are oftenThanks for helping us to pave that road with your good intentions, Senators.
surprised, unpleasantly, by the consequences of their handiwork.
Monday, August 09, 2004
"But with Kerry, even before any gaffes or scandals, the official narrative makes no sense. He's publicly opposed to the Vietnam War. But he volunteers for it. Then he comes back disgusted with his experience in war, publicly hurls his medals away (or someone else's: that story keeps changing), denounces his fellow veterans as war criminals, torturers and rapists, and claims that he personally committed atrocities.
But then he decides to run for president and suddenly Jane Fonda morphs into John Wayne and all those war criminals are war heroes he wants at every rally and he's got his medals back and his disgust at his wartime experience has mysteriously turned into pride in his wartime experience to the exclusion of all else."
Sunday, August 08, 2004
I did see an OK column in the Times by Dahlia Lithwick. It noted the failute of rape shield laws, especially in media feeding frenzy cases like Kobe Bryant. The failure leaves both parties very damaged by the trial process. Yep. Then she says something interesting:
These laws are alike in more ways than one. Both are from the same era; the post-Watergate 1970s. Both were enacted without much resistance from a demoralized and confused Republican party. You couldn't vote against these laws without being accused of being in favor of rape or political corruption. Both had zealous support from parts of the left. In one case it was the feminist left, in the other the Naderites who (to this day) desparately want to separate elections from big donors and big money.
Both were cases of law that runs so contrary to human nature that the result is utter legal futility at best. Not a Left-Right issue, either. It was just this type of legislation that gave Paula Jones' lawyers carte blanche to question the 42nd President under oath about any aspect of his workplace behavior. Even Slick Willie couldn't escape that net without resorting to perjury.
And of course the latest spasm of campaign finance reform, McCain-Feingold, allows George Soros to pump megabucks into an organization (the aptly named MoveOn.org) that creates anti-Bush propaganda which for Kerry can deny responsibility. But what goes around comes around. The well-financed Swift Boat Vet advertisement of the past week attacking Kerry was financed by a conservative 527, and Bush&Co deny any responsibility for it.
Some reform. Can nobody admit that these laws have made things worse, and that we would likely benefit from less such regulation rather than more?
In her column, Lithwick mentions twice that these laws were well-intentioned. Thanks a lot. What is that supposed to mean, and how are we supposed to be consoled by it? Our country suffers 30 years of rotten law and the best the left can say is that they were "well-intentioned"? Jeez, so was Lenin well-intentioned. Big 'effin Deal. Having good intentions is no kind of yardstick, and if the Left could take a wild leap of imagination and consider the remote possibility that good intentions might exist widely across the ideological spectrum, our political discourse would elevate, and our laws might well improve.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
So what to read? Maybe Paul Gigot, who has a column on the Kerry Strategy in OpinionJournal (registration is required, I believe). Paul is much better in print than in debate. He just can't seem to bring it on when sitting next to the person he disagrees with. In person he would never use a superb line like "he wants to compare medals, not philosophies"
In his speech and the party platform, Mr. Kerry's disagreements with Mr. Bush on Iraq were distilled to two: He'll never "mislead" the country into war, and he'll persuade (somehow, but don't ask for details) more of the world to "share the burden." The Democrat said "I know what I have to do in Iraq" without saying what else he'd do differently than Mr. Bush. A Rip Van Winkle who returned last week after a year away would have concluded that the great Iraq debate was over, and the neocons had won.I am on business travel for a few days, so no blogs until Friday. Sorry.
Yet the very vagueness of Mr. Kerry's promises is what gives the Bush campaign a chance to counterattack. Especially if you re-read his Thursday speech, it is not nearly as muscular as it tried to sound. Its hawkishness was mostly personal, more or less stopping in 1970 in the Mekong Delta. My guess is that this is all by design, since the last thing Mr. Kerry wants is a debate about his own antiterror policies. He wants to compare medals, not philosophies.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
This weekend I attended a rare event for someone of my middle age; a family wedding. My much younger 1st cousin was marrying. She is an only child of an older father, a father she lost to cancer years ago. On her wedding day she was escorted down the aisle by her late father’s twin brother to her rendezvous at the altar with the groom who had lost his mother at an early age and was standing next to his best man, his own identical twin brother.
Weddings are, it seems to men, the ultimate expression of the vast female conspiracy. Beginning with the complete giddiness that infects young women at the sight of a friend wearing an engagement ring, they progress through planning that takes months, complex logistics and scheduling, intra-family and inter-family diplomacy, vast expense, and high emotional tension. This culminates in a brief ceremony (in this case a Nuptial Mass, which though long by wedding standards is only a single hour) which is book-ended by parties attended by varying subsets of family and friends with widely varying levels of decorum.
Looking from outside, this is all a bit absurd. But the true absurdity here is not the event; it is the male compulsion to get “outside” the process and develop an objective view of something that so sweetly trumps such analysis. Whatever could be an objective view of a thing whose ultimate meaning is human intimacy, and the web of family that nurtures, defines, and surrounds the intimacy of bride and groom? And one’s own perception of the event is colored by our own age, and our own memories of the past. As I saw my own wife beaming at this bride, I was reminded of an old picture of her as a young bridesmaid, beaming the very same look at her friend-bride. This look of hers has not changed in decades. She has a special look that is most clearly seen when she is with a bride. The occasion brings a glow to her, one that is always there, but radiates intensely on an occasion like this.
The gallant uncle escorting the bride had been the groom himself 45 years ago. My brother and I were pre-schoolers but invited somehow to his wedding and reception, our first chance to attend such an event. The memories of that day are probably my strongest of any day at such a young age. It was a window into the world of adults on what was, we understood very well, a special occasion although what made it special was a complete mystery to a 5-year old boy. Two generations later my brother and I are again seated around a table at a similar event watching our own children celebrate their youth and their friends, watching a celebration of family that extends from 80 year old dancing grandparents to a group of 2 young flower girls and their 2 cousins who take everything in and dance with abandon at their first wedding reception.
This is a ritual, of course, but a ritual loaded with meaning on many levels. It is fitting to have a Nuptial Mass and note the sacramental nature of what goes on here. “A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace.” the Baltimore Catechism read. Grace is not tangible, but signs happily are, and for good measure we add little signs of our own making as well, some sacramental, such as mom and step-mom each lighting a candle whose two flames will be used by the wedding couple to light the single candle that represents their new family created from the offspring and merger of the two families in this church.
There is the wonderful but uncommon reading from Tobias and the familiar 1 Corinthians, a time to remember those who have died, to share a sacramental meal, and to pray a blessing on this new couple. Then to adjourn for a cocktail reception, a seated dinner, and hours of boisterous dancing which feature groups of young women and men flaunting their considerable talents, as well as young children and we older folks. When this ends (or rather when the hall closes) those who wish, bride and groom included, walk across the street and continue the party in more raucous fashion at the venue of a sports bar.
This particular family has a gift for fittingly celebrating such a day: with both dignity and abandon. They will celebrate a sacred moment and run the celebration non-stop into the wee hours. These are wise people indeed.
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?