Sunday, August 19, 2007

Camilleri in America plus a bit of politics

The Crime Scraps blog, presided over by the King of Camilleri, last week ran down the worldwide availability of Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series on television and DVD. No DVDs in suitable format yet in Canada and the United States, but il signore Scraps did offer the delightful news that a public television station in Washington, D.C., is broadcasting the series. So now there is something to do in Washington besides watching members of the Bush administration jump ship.

That is no gratuitous snipe. The United States has just received its clearest signal yet that the administration of President George W. Bush is over, and it had nothing to do with the announced departures of chief strategist Karl Rove and press secretary Tony Snow. The obituary came in the form of a column by the syndicated commentator Charles Krauthammer.

Krauthammer has been a forceful, sometimes strident Bush booster, notably on Iraq. Headlines over his columns have included "Congress must not micromanage war," "Supreme silliness about Cheney," and "Comrade Feinstein?" for example. Another column scoffed at the perjury conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney's former aide Scooter Libby, downplaying Libby's misdeeds by comparison with lies uttered by, you guessed it, Bill Clinton and members of his administration. Like Krauthammer or not, in other words, a reader rarely has trouble figuring out where he stands.

Yet this week, with the 2008 presidential races heating up in both major U.S. political parties (Yes, they do things that far in advance here), with all the chance in the world to bash China over product-safety scandals and mining disasters or Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf over his hands-off attitude toward warlords who may be sheltering Osama bin Laden, Krauthammer wrote about ... baseball. And not just about baseball, but about the wistful yearning for redemption exemplified by a fictional character, Roy Hobbs in Bernard Malamud's The Natural . (Krauthammer was stirred to invoke Malamud by the story of Rick Ankiel, a pitcher-turned-outfielder who recently made a comeback with the St. Louis Cardinals.)

The column was escapist in matter, perhaps less so in manner. Here's how Krauthammer ended it: "(n)o one knows why Hobbs is shot. It is fate, destiny, nemesis. Perhaps the dawning of knowledge, the coming of sin. Or more prosaically, the catastrophe that awaits everyone from a single false move, wrong turn, fatal encounter. Every life has such a moment. What distinguishes us is whether — and how — we ever come back."

Coming from a normally pugnacious Bush booster, that sounds like an elegy for the Republican Party's hopes to retain the White House.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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8 Comments:

Blogger Linkmeister said...

Does George Will know Krauthammer is encroaching on his turf? Will's been the designated baseball writer at the Post and Newsweek forever.

On the larger point you may be right; regrettably there are still some 500 days of fear and loathing still to go.

August 20, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I wonder if Will turned to baseball at a period of low political fortunes for those he supported, as Krauthammer seems to have done.

I'm sure that as a former psychiatrist, Krauthammer would understand my temptation to divine his state of mind from his actions.

August 20, 2007  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

To be fair to Will, I think he's a Cubs fan and has been all his life; that may excuse periods of despondency.

His choice of political philosophy is a separate issue. ;)

August 20, 2007  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Your discussion of baseball and Rick Ankiel reminded me that the Father of Baseball and inventor of the box score Henry Chadwick was born in Exeter, Devon, England on October 5, 1824.
We don't have these heated election races here in England, because we have adopted the old Soviet system and don't have an opposition. It saves all that tension on election night, and you don't have the problem of hanging chads.
Scotland is of course another country with a completely different system of law, more spoiled ballot papers than Florida, and some pugnacious crime fiction writers.

August 20, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Yes, I had the idea that George Will has been a Cubs fan for years, like Hillary Clinton.

August 20, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Good gosh, that's something to be proud of. I knew about Chadwick and I knew he was born in England, but I didn't know you where.

As in recent election cycles, states have scrambled to schedule their primaries earlier and earlier, in part to exert greater influence on the choices of nominees, and in part for sheer prestige. There was serious speculation that Iowa would hold primaries for the 2008 presidential nomination in December 2007. That has to be enough make observers from other democratic nations scratch their heads.

August 20, 2007  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

What happens in the House of Representatives with elections every two years? Do they start their campaign for reelection before they are elected?

August 21, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

There have been complaints that representatives spend all their time campaigning, but that primary nonsense really is the case only in presidential elections.

The concern one hears expressed about House elections is that incumbents so rarely have challengers.

August 21, 2007  

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