Cleveland: Keeping Christmas at Home
Ramona: The War on Happy Holidays
Do you remember the 1984 movie The Verdict: Paul Newman, James Mason, Charlotte Rampling? Opens with Newman a down-at-the-heels Boston attorney, attending a wake in a funeral home, probably in Southie. He leans over to say a consoling word to the grieving widow. And presses his business card into her hand. In case she wants to sue someone. He's angrily ejected for this tasteless intrusion.
The mourners are unpretentious, lower class, but they know how you behave after a death. There are some things that aren't done. Some activities that are OK at other times are briefly suspended.
Now do you also remember the spring of 1993. The Wall Street Journal published almost daily stories making allegations about a White House aide, Vince Forster. His diary reveals that he found this intolerable. He shot himself.
This gave rise to a whole new line of talk- radio attack on Hillary, but that's another story. The one that caught my attention was that of the Journal. There was an obvious course for it to follow: a brief editorial saying they were sad to learn of Forster's death and wished to offer condolences to his family.
Instead they editorialized saying that they didn't regret their coverage. I'm not sure what they wrote subsequently, since that was the last edition of the Journal I ever read.
The world wasn't created yesterday. There are certain ways of behaving that we've learned are appropriate. For everyone: powerful newspapers, bloggers, presidential candidates. You violate them at your risk. The risk of showing that you just don't get it.
Candidate Romney's reaction to the Middle East riots was probably excusable. He spoke before we had learned of Ambassador Stephen's death. But the subsequent attempts by (some) Republicans to immediately turn even that into the basis for an attack on Obama (see Norm Coleman last night on the News Hour) were indefensible.