Sunday, March 27, 2011
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
These days, I often get the blues. I get out of sorts, more than I'd like. So I try to hold back, in conversation and in print, wanting not to be a BBC prophet of doom, determined not to puncture all those protective bubbles of well-being that keep others afloat in their personal worlds. Maybe, as in the Psyche myth, it might be better not to shine that bright light on Eros--because once you shine the light and get a really good look, your golden world may fall apart. Knowledge comes at a price.
With respect to Libya, Tom Friedman warns that we need to be cautious about intervening in places that could fall apart in our hands. But isn't everything already falling apart? Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, concedes that there are no predictable outcomes in Libya. Nobody knows what will happen. Hillary insists there were no desirable options, and Obama himself, off camera, has described the decision to intervene in Libya as a turd sandwich. Dennis Kucinich, Congressional Democrat, wants to impeach him for eating turds without first consulting Congress.
All this hasn't stopped everyone else from having an opinion about what to do. Everyone has his or her own distinctive wiggle on the subject, say, of Libyan intervention. (Devil you do, devil you don't.) I say we should do this, and you say I would rather not have done that. What if Qaddafi doesn't leave? What if he does? Why take action in Libya and not in Syria, or Yemen? Why not somewhere/anywhere else? How on earth will we ever know it when we're done? Why are we even doing this, anyway?
"Obama acts as if leading the free world is an inconvenience" Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham stated recently, as if he would do a much better job of eating turds than the president. ("You try it!" exclaimed my friend Hakuin, when I told her about his comment. "It's the title of the book a teacher-friend of mine is writing," she went on to explain. "An exasperated version of you should try walking a mile in my shoes,)
Obama doesn't want to put America in the driver's seat, or be the ringmaster running the show. He doesn't want to be seen as the enemy of Arabs around the world--an attitude often criticized as if this were a weakness, or a bad thing. Obama's Bad: let's be blunt, he hates the whole idea of American Exceptionalism. (Perhaps the time has come, said the Walrus.) How easy is it, when there are no easy answers, to persist in asking futile questions? How easy is it to insist on knowing a future nobody can predict? More pertinently, in a world where it's become impossible to know anything for sure, why not dip into how much you know better? Rip the confusion. Be "outspoken."
On the bright side, at least Halliburton won't be moving in any time soon to rebuild what we've just destroyed. As for me, I'm ready with one suave stroke to bury the whole musculature of everybody's opinions in the Virginia hills. That includes my own. Here's the simple truth: we rushed to the side of Libyan rebels and in all likelihood prevented a massacre. It's not really a war; it's more like when Eddie Fisher rushed to the side of Elizabeth Taylor, after her husband, Mike Todd, was killed in an accident. "He rushed to her side to comfort her," Taylor's daughter writes in Vanity Fair, "but eventually he made his way around to her front." Maybe we'll get that lucky, too.
I read In the same issue that Truman Capote once owned a mynah bird, which he carried on his shoulder wherever he went. He taught it to squawk "Fuck you!" at frequent intervals, and that sent him into gales of laughter every single time. Maybe we should consider trading in our opinions for mynah birds? As in: put on your pearls, girls, we're about to go bird shopping.