Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What shall it be, hash at 21 or the blini at the Tea Room?

Possibly you remember, too, when
you could be seen stepping out for
lunch with your Senator, without a
wave of humiliation sweeping over
you if you ran into a friend. Now
that the country's been turned over
to Others, one must wonder if they
would ever believe it, or what good
it would do, to tell them.

.. and everyone would have said, 'Impossible casting! He's too young!' And he was too young. Too young for Senator, too young for President, it felt strange in his pres-ence thinking of him as President, as if the country would be giddy, like the whirl of one's stomach in the drop of an elevator or jokes about an adolescent falling in love, it was incredible to think of him as President, and yet marvelous, as if only a marvelous country would finally dare to have him.

We have to think, now, of how it could be that the marvelous country could be entertaining what The New York Times so tellingly finally conceptualised only today, as New Frontiers in Extremism as guidelines for its future. We have to wonder at the turning over now, of all of its institutions to their operation by a generation which must regard it as absolutely normal, for the fortunate to use the Treasury of the United States as a grossly rigged casino for the most immoral redistribution of wealth in the western hemisphere since Cortez, and now plan to blame and scourge and bleed their hod carriers for their helpless trust. Is there to be no end, to the B-movie casting catastrophes of Reaganism?

Concluding his indelibly historic contemporary history of the Party conventions of 1968, Norman Mailer reflected to a candidate's daughter, We'll be fighting for 40 years. Arithmetically impeccable, he could not have imagined the late spike of hallucinogenic revanchism in the Party of history's disfavour, irreconcilable not merely to its defeat by a person of color, but to its financial and political rescue from its own arsenous bonfire, by the same forgiving hand. 

Forty years from the inevitable triumph, in Roosevelt's sense, which is bound to transpire this November, who will forget who it was, who kept faith?

Robert Francis Kennedy
Rudolf Nureyev

Norman Mailer
Miami and the Siege of Chicago
D.I. Fine, 1968©
New York Review Books, 2008©

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