Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Vigilists

It's just a pile of stone and glass. It's not supposed to be responsive. Yet, just like falling snow can make an entire city quieter, early Sunday mornings do something to a hospital.

Outside the entrance three middle aged people who look related are standing aside, speaking softly. A young woman paces back and forth, talking on a cell phone. As you pass by she's saying, "I didn't expect all these questions. It's kind of overwhelming you know." In the lobby a teenager is sleeping in a chair, her purse for a pillow and a denim jacket for a blanket. These are the vigilists.

Most are strangers to one another and will remain so, but they have one thing in common. Just right now their lives are frozen in time, waiting for news. The day may pass without news. The news may come and confirm their worst fears. Less than a mile away the world remains its dizzying diversity of activity. Less than a mile away someone feeds the cat then reads the morning paper. Less than a mile away Starbucks employees are arriving at work. In this place though, early Sunday morning is mostly about the vigils.

Of course it's not uniform even here, now. Over by the elevators a family group is all smiles, perhaps discussing a late night delivery from the Stork. Life goes on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Edwards Group-think

I'm reading articles about how John Edwards is now and ever shall be as popular as a tattoo artist with Parkinsons' and something strikes me odd. I wasn't in a coma during the 1990's and the name "Monica" still rings a bell with me. Yet Bill Clinton will be speaking at the Democratic convention.

So why the difference in how the two affairs are seen? Is it that time has led people to forgive Bill, while the freshness of the Edwards thing won't get him a pass? Nope, it's not that. I remember what people were saying when Clinton was in trouble. They were saying, "It's a private matter, nothing to do with solving the nation's problems." I've every reason to believe Clinton supporters were sincere in their reaction. Yet now some of the very same folks seem equally sincere in their desire to ban Edwards from the planet. I've been wondering about the difference in reactions all weekend.

It could be argued the response is a self-serving effort to cull a rival from the 2012 or 2016 Democratic race. I don't think it's that.

I think the difference in response lies in the personalities of the wronged spouses. Elizabeth Edwards is a mother who has buried one of her children. As a man, I can only approach about a third of the agony that must be to a mother. And Elizabeth keeps battling the cancer that will eventually kill her. A very sympathetic figure. Obviously there is steel in that woman, beneath the soft exterior.

With Hillary, all the steel is on the outside. Nobody can feel sorry for Hillary; she wouldn't allow it, unless it got her votes. That's the decision Hillary made a long time ago, and she's to be respected for it. She's a tough bird in a tough world. But she made a choice she must live with. When Bill cheats on her it's not the same as John cheating on Elizabeth.

Hillary is just a cold person, and she took that course to survive, but she is cold. If all the ice up in the Arctic ever melts like Al Gore predicts, Hillary should be sent there and the place would freeze up immediately. She's a smart, capable woman. She might actually make a good President. But she chose to be cold, perhaps unknowingly. So that's why John Edwards is not welcome at the Democratic convention, but Bill Clinton will speak.