Smiles on September Eleventh


“Sadness flies away on the wings of time.”

-Jean de La Fontaine


On this twelfth anniversary of the September Eleventh attacks, there will be words written, hymns sung, prayers offered….and memories will continue to fade.  Like you, I remember exactly where I was when the attacks took place – celebrating the recent birth of my younger son.  A picture taken in the moments before the attack seems incongruous to the horror about to take place: Devin in his pajamas, Jack wrapped in his swaddling clothes, the three of us with tousled, unkempt hair.   Smiling.  Happy.


September 11, 2001

Jack has no memory of the terror (and his older brother’s memories of the assaults are vague).  I vividly recall holding and feeding Jack, watching the Towers burn…and fall…and thinking how odd it was that despite the horror on the television screen, I remained optimistic, hopeful and –yes- at peace.  I had life in my hands: squirming, grabbing, hungry and laughing.  Life would go on: families, decimated by the attacks, would move forward; a new Tower would rise; we’d spend as much time looking ahead as we did behind…and sadness, on the wings of time, would fly away.



-Cokie Roberts, ABC News

“Nuance can sound a lot like a muddle.”

-Dana Milbank, Washington Post

“It was halfhearted, pro forma and strange.  It added nothing.”

Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter


The results are in and, for the most part, they’re not terribly supportive of President Barack Obama’s address to the nation last night.  It was not unexpected to find the usual snark on twitter as the the President spoke; but in the nine hours since Obama’s East Room talk, that snark has turned into widespread criticism.

For the sake of argument, let’s take the opposite tack this morning. 

Derided on twitter as international-policy-via-FAQ, the speech had President Obama asking –and then answering- the basic questions many of us have about Syria.  While not necessarily Socratic, it did come across as….professorial.  Perhaps the President was channeling his inner Constitutional Law instructor as he attempted to educate America about the issues now involved.  The questions –and responses- described a challenging situation that cannot be easily answered; it’s fluid, ever-changing, and every action taken has countless repercussions.  In short, it’s international statecraft. 

The President laid out his case for some sort of action, recognizing American Exceptionalism as justification for entrance into this conflict halfway across the world.  His description of the atrocities perpetuated upon the Syrian people –by their government- were designed to leave us feeling angry and motivated to do….something.  But, as a result of a throwaway question from a journalist at a John Kerry press conference Monday,   that “something” we should be motivated to do, will involve waiting for the Russians to obtain control of the Syrians’ stockpile of chemical weapons. 

Statecraft through press conference?

Perhaps, but stranger things have happened in the world of diplomacy. 

…and this President, a cerebral executive whose decisions are made on the basis of logic and reason, may very well have done the right thing in informing the world…and then moving with these very fluid circumstances  to fix a dangerous situation. 



Dirty Water

It’s an old Standells song that has become –as any member of Red Sox nation knows- the anthem of the Sox.  The instant a Sox victory is assured at Fenway, the familiar guitar riff  echoes across the Fens and can be heard outside of the Park.  Perhaps last night the tune was heard all the way down into Manhattan as Bill de Blasio won New York’s mayoral primary and may very well have garnered enough votes to avoid a runoff.  Why would the Sox anthem play a role in his victory?  Simple – the likely new Mayor of New York…is a Sox fan.  How do you like them apples?

….oh, and voters of New York turned away Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer last night.  The two candidates, taken down by sex scandals during their previous time in office (Weiner as a US Congressman, Spitzer as Governor of New York) were running in an effort to rehabilitate their images.  Spitzer has done commendable work in that area, Weiner…not so much.  Last we heard, Weiner was seen giving the finger to a New York reporter.  Stay classy, Ant’ny. 

….you too, voters in South Carolina’s First Congressional District: Mark Sanford looks to be the only sex-scandal tainted pol elected to office in this go ‘round.  South Carolina: too small to be a country, too large to be an insane asylum. 


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