Monday, September 24, 2007

In honor of my brother, Jim

Thanks to Jim, I got this tomdispatch email today:
Freedom as Theft
Honoring American Liberators

By Tom Engelhardt
Let's take a trip down memory lane.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America's highest civilian award, ranking
second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. According to its official website,
the medal "is reserved for individuals the President deems to have made especially
meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United
States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private
endeavors." In 2004, George W. Bush had already awarded the medal to Estee Lauder,
Arnold Palmer, Norman Podhoretz, and Doris Day, among others, when, on December 14
in a ceremony at the White House, he hit the trifecta.
Jim used to do this number where he started with, "I sez to myself, Jim (I call myself 'Jim').
I sez to myself, "Barbara "(I call myself Barbara), "Who the hell is Norman Podharetz?"
Google gave me the answer:
The narcissism of Norman Podhoretz has for years inflicted us with a seemingly endless stream of autobiographical musings that, one day, may be the subject of a psychological case study: like a hot-air balloon, his oeuvre expands inexorably and exponentially, year after year, with new tales of his triumphs, his friends, his ex-friends, his feuds, and, most of all, his own sense of self-importance. This is a man incapable of writing in any but the first person. His latest book, My Love Affair With America: The Cautionary Tale of a Cheerful Conservative, is even more rambling and self-indulgent than previous efforts, and might just as well have been titled My Love Affair With Myself: Tall Tales of a Nattering Narcissist. This lack of structure – and, on occasion, even coherence – turns out to be a virtue, however inadvertent, in that it reveals much more than the author intended. Packaged as a paean to his own puffed-up image of himself as the quintessential American patriot, this book is the kind of confession that comes easily to a man who no longer has the art or the inclination to hide his true character as the supreme opportunist.

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