Monday, February 21, 2005

Takes One to Know One

I ran into a friend who reads this blog, and he told me I'd been spending a lot of time on one side of the divide lately.

So this is probably a good time to mention Saturday's story in The New York Times about how well Presidents Clinton and Bush (41 and 43) seem to get along with each other.

As the article points out, only five living people share the experience of having been our president. It makes sense they might flock together when there are so many people on the planet who think they're either a moron or Satan, and so few who might have true empathy for their situation. And it says to me that shared experience may ultimately be more important than politics, even for these most political of creatures.

Through their inevitable contacts outside the political arena, these presidents probably discovered each other as decent human beings.

In A Mighty Heart, Mariane Pearl reprints many letters of condolence she received following the execution of her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl, including these two:

Dear Mariane,
Congratulations on Adam's birth. I know your joy is tempered by sorrow. Because my mother was widowed three months before I was born, I have some idea of what you must be feeling and thinking about your boy's future.

My mother worked hard to give me the feeling that I knew my father, that I could be proud to be his son, that my life could honor his memory. Her love gave me the strength and security to handle the emptiness of his absence. I know that your love will do that too.

My thoughts and prayers, and Hillary's, are with you.
Bill Clinton

Dear Adam,
Welcome to this world! I'm really happy that you are healthy. Your mom is really happy, too. She loves you a lot.

I am so sorry that you did not know your dad. All who knew him say he was a really fine man. He loves you in spirit.

My hope is that the world you enter will be at peace. I will work hard to realize this vision.

All my best Adam. May God bless you.

George Bush
The White House

P.S. Give your mom a kiss.

Now, it's possible that aides handled the notes, but both strike me as authentic — Clinton, encouraging the Pearl family with his own story, and Bush, in short, simple sentences, invoking his vision to the child who will read it someday.

These were not public declarations. They were personal notes to a woman who had lost her husband under horrific circumstances, and they both reflect sensitivity and care.

Decent people can make mistakes. They can be limited in their views. But it's a start.


Blogger bob said...

Woohoo! I'm famous!

I never realized Poppy was such a big guy. It was almost as surprising as finding out Ike smoked five packs of Camels a day.

8:21 PM  

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