What follows is lifted from the comments to my previous post on this issue. I’m reposting it simply because as I was engaged in responding to this particular comment, I realized — even to my own surprise — how close the Petraeus imbroglio corresponds to the the tragic story of my old friend and source, John O’Neill. It’s worth posting on its own, I think.
I can remember the specific moment when I swore off the sex lives of the famous as journalistic currency. It was the case of a national sportscaster — I won’t name him, but, alas, most of those old enough will remember the name, which is regrettable — whose sex life had suddenly become the media chow.
This man had been involved in a consensual relationship with another adult and for reasons both ridiculous and obscure, the other adult thought it just and meaningful to reveal herself and her complaints, making explicit all of the unique and varied ways in which she and this man had expressed their sexuality. And my, wasn’t he a weird one. And wasn’t it funny.
When that story broke, I was standing in the newsroom of the Baltimore Sun and I remember my growing distaste watching reporters and rewrite men as they were sucked, joking and snickering, into the breaking news. And no one had any doubt that it was news. The man was a national sportscaster, for the love of god. A more public figure this nation cannot muster.
I was on an airplane last night as the election was decided. As the plane landed after midnight on the East Coast, I confess that my hand was shaking as I turned on my phone for the news. I did not want to see dishonesty and divisiveness and raw political hackery rewarded. It is hard enough for anyone to actually address the problems, to move this country forward, to make the intransigent American ruling class yield even a yard of the past to the inevitable future. But going backwards last night would have been devastating. I read the returns in silent elation; a business trip had me traveling in business class and the gnashing of corporate teeth all around precluded a full-throated huzzah on my part. I abhor a gloat.
But the country is changing. And this may be the last election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals. Some in the Republican party and among the teabagged fringe will continue to play such losing hands for some time to come; this shit worked well in its day and distracted many from addressing any of our essential national issues. But again, if they play that weak-ass game past this point, they are fools.
Best comment of the night, from my younger nephew, a lifelong Baltimore fan:
“I don’t know how to process these feelings.”
(And we can call each other Baltimorons, the rest of you can just back away from the term.)
I ask you to put down the torches and pitchforks on this obvious affront to the baseball gods. When Sports Illustrated called and asked for an essay they said nothing — nothing — about the cover. It’s a big magazine, with a lot of sports coverage. And I undertook what amounts to a sidebar-next-to-the-main-baseball-piece. And, hey, all of that runs inside the mag as a package right?
Had I known about the cover, I would have written half as long, and misspelled every other word, and scrawled it in crayon.
Yes, I am worried. Yes, at this instant — if not three days ago — I believe the jinx to be an absolute threat. An SI editor first mentioned the cover in a phone conversation with me on Monday, late afternoon. The O’s had won the first game of the Monday doubleheader, they dropped the second. And then they were shut out for the first time in almost two months last night.
Right now, I am so tight you couldn’t pull a pin out of my ass with a John Deere tractor.