In Memoriam (12 January, 1956 - 22 February, 2012)

The sublime Marie Colvin, a 56-year-old veteran correspondent, was killed along with her friend and collaborator French photojournalist Remi Ochlik in Syria, where they have been covering the revolution. Colvin, originally from New York, worked for The Sunday Times of London. She was reported to have been trying to retrieve her shoes, which as custom dictates she had left at the front door so she could escape the shelling that had begun. Every report of her demise described her as courageous and dedicated to the story.   

The UK's Guardian carried the following: Colvin writes, "Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction and death, and trying to bear witness. It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash. And yes, it means taking risks, not just for yourself but often for the people who work closely with you."

Republicans in Debate

And then there were Four....   

I remember the moments right after I tuned in to watch the first of what seems like a million Republican Debates. I settled in with a bowl of popcorn on my lap so that I could fool myself into thinking I was about to be informed and entertained. But I set the popcorn aside as I took a good look at the assemblage of hopefuls: Senator Rick Santorum; Herman Cain; Rep. Ron Paul, Mitt Romney; Rep. Michele Bachmann; Tim Pawlenty; Jon Huntsman; Newt Gingrich.

Wow!" I thought. Is that the best they've got? And though I knew they were all going to be pretty good news for Democrats, I said a prayer for my country and watched the Republican Debate for as long as I could--long enough for me to remember that Jon Huntsman, who had served in China for President Obama, was a keen strategist and gifted foreign policy expert, and Ron Paul, who is an interesting outside-the-box thinker and innovator, were unique among the group. But soon Huntsman dropped out of the race leaving Paul as the only voice of reason and by far the brightest of the bunch. That remains true now that their number has shrunk to four. Of the other three, Romney, who looks the most Presidential but sounds, well, let’s just say not so presidential, won both the Michigan and Arizona primaries, yet seems unsure of his own beliefs. Rick Santorum, who makes things up at will, is flat out uninformed and doesn’t seem at all suited to the presidency of anything more complicated than a church group, came in behind Romney, but not by enough to keep him from swaggering. Gingrich swings between being an affable guy and an arrogant old war horse. He has a bunch of accusations, divorces and other questionable integrity gaps swirling around him, which may account for his low scores in both states.

Out of self-love and self-preservation I stopped watching full debates after the second one and came to rely for information on The New York Times, clips of the highlights, my favorite talking heads, and the words of the candidates themselves as they hit the trail. Through it all, I have found myself astounded and dismayed that someone so obviously unqualified to be the leader of the free world as Rick Santorum, could be taken seriously. Only in America, which is both the good and the bad news about my country.

I expect that President Dwight David Eisenhower is spinning in his grave at what has become of his party. He once said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” 
A Few Simple Actions:
  1. If you haven’t watched any of these debates, then please at least get used to the idea that what happens among the Republicans can greatly impact you in more ways than I can even think about. Look at the websites of these men and see how they are selling themselves.
  2. Encourage members of your family and your Progressive, Democratic and Independent  friends to do the same.
  3. Set a few hours over the next few weeks to catch up. YouTube and CNN can make it easy for you.
  4. Write to those of these nominee hopefuls who you think might be reasonable, and tell them what qualities you’d like them to adopt.
  5. Let President Obama know what you want of him as well. And please be constructive and supportive.