Thursday, October 02, 2008

A regrettable development

From today's NYT's account of last night's Senate session on the bailout--or "fiscal stability," as I think it's been renamed:
The political tension was clear as Senator Barack Obama walked to the Republican side of the aisle to greet Senator John McCain, who offered a chilly look and a brief return handshake.
This reminds me of the documentary film version--they didn't have videotape back then--of Teddy White's great The Making of the President 1960. There was one scene when the TV people were doing lighting checks for the first presidential debate (which was, literally, the first). Kennedy and Nixon were together at center stage for a few moments, as the technicians scurried around them. Underneath the noise of the preparations, you can hear the two men chatting--one says, "I hear you had a big crowd in Cleveland" or something like that, and the other responds, "Yes, and I heard that you did well in....."

From everything I've read--I'm no scholar on the era--JFK and Nixon were never close, not even casual friends, and certainly they were not political allies. But for a few seconds they could forget the politics, forget that they were competing for the most important job they would ever have, the most important on Earth, and chat like any other Americans.

We seem to have lost much of that. Sad. Sad for the participants. And sad for us.

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