Sunday, August 31, 2008


I just received early copies of the paperback edition of my most recent book of poems (titled Contradictions and published by Copper Canyon Press). The hardcover came out in 2002, and I sympathize with those who in times of economic uncertainty couldn't spring for it. It will be nice to see the new edition on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and Borders again.

On another topic: I've been reviewing the American presidency in terms of the length of terms. We think of the minimum as being four years, but history gives us examples of much shorter Presidencies. William Henry Harrison held office only in the months of March and April in 1841. James Garfield served from the month of March through July in 1881, no more. Warren G. Harding had about two years before dying of mysterious causes. Millard Fillmore had about three years, the same as John F. Kennedy, as many of us remember. Gerald Ford completed just the shank end of Nixon's second term, after the Watergate scandal and Tricky Dick's resignation. Actually, several presidents didn't complete their second term, and F.D.R. died during his third. It would be interesting to hear testimony about the damage to health that the stresses of holding this strenuous office bring on.

May John McCain, the oldest first-term presidential candidate in history, and one whose health was no doubt compromised by his awful years in a prison camp, have a long and vigorous life, whether or not elected President. Meanwhile, here are two intriguing ifs: if he happens to be elected, and if he doesn't complete his first term, we will apparently have Governor Palin as President. Which means the White House will also be occupied by--what term do we apply to him, the First Man? When does the public get a chance to meet this man and take his measure?

McCain supporters have made the curious assertion that Governor Palin is actually more experienced than Senator Obama, at least, insofar as executive experience is concerned. But the duly chosen Democratic candidate's experience has in large part developed in the national capital, not in Alaska (population, about 680,000). Among the tasks facing a first-term President coming from outside the District is to get to know all the players, elected and otherwise. Senator Obama has had time to do this. Governor Palin obviously could not. He has also participated in the legislative process, and a President who doesn't understand the ins and outs of Congress more than superficially is in big trouble. Critics of the Senator say that he has insufficient knowledge of foreign policy. If he does, what about the Governor's experience in that area?

I may as well say it: even the very remote prospect of having a gun-loving individual of either gender as the American President doesn't appeal to me at all, no more than one who prefers drilling the United States, inland or offshore, instead of developing clean alternative energy sources. Governor Palin has made jokes about us non-carnivores, keen hunter that she is. With the result that now, whenever I see her picture, I don't think of the former beauty contestant; instead, an image of her smiling over the carcass of a deer she has shot (perhaps a doe with a near-term fawn in its belly), blood streaming from its side. Governor Palin must realize that a deer of course wants to bring its offspring to term. It does not want that fawn aborted by someone else's decision. Why would she ever feel entitled to kill a conscious being that, according to her faith, is a divine creation? The same question for John McCain who likes to hunt, too. And he has even had first-hand experience of the pain a bullet causes and other things it does when it rips into flesh.


Anonymous said...

FDR died only a few months into his fourth term in office, not his third.

Karen said...

I have yet to see a photograph of Gov. Palin holding the four-month-old baby whose existence she so loudly proclaims as living proof of her Right-To-Life convictions. Somebody else is always holding the baby in any given photo-op. This, to me, is the Right-To-Lifer position in a nutshell. They only care about the baby until it has left the womb - after that, it's up to somebody else to take care of it.

One can only hope, for the sake of the unfortunate Bristol, that Palin family views on divorce are more lenient than those they hold on unwed motherhood.