1.) Gadfly, public intellectual, and quasi-liberal raconteur Christopher Hitchens resurrects the possibility of an Al Gore run on Slate today, putting it in a context I hadn't really considered by focusing on the very real likelihood that Al Gore might win the Nobel Peace Prize on October 12th. If he did, Al Gore would, in the year 2007, be the author of a bestselling book ("The Assault on Reason"), the recipient of an Oscar (for "An Inconvenient Truth"), and the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize. According to Hitchens, this trifecta of achievement should have the effect of forcing Gore's hand. Hitchens writes:
"Should [Gore] make up his mind not to run, he would retrospectively abolish all the credit he has acquired so far. It would mean in effect that he never had the stuff to do the job and that those who worked and voted for him were wasting their time. Given his age and his stature, can he really want that to be the conclusion that history draws?"
Hitchens, who hated Bill Clinton with a passion bordering on the inappropriate (no, it more than bordered upon; it was just straight up inappropriate), who loved the idea of invading Iraq and is still one of that bad war's few deluded boosters, sounds a lot like someone who's hot for a Gore presidency. From Hitch, this is crazy, though I agree with him that Gore is the best candidate going right now. Though I don't agree with the above statement Hitchens makes, I kinda hope Gore believes it and, if he wins the Nobel Peace Prize on October 12th, feels compelled to quickly assemble a crack team of politicos, deep-pocket donors, and jump in the race. Don't get me wrong. I think Obama's great but his campaign's floundering right now; and Hillary would be a fine president, as centrist Democrats go, but Gore talks passionately about the things I care about, and Hillary doesn't. Not once. So I hold out hope, but am still pessimistic that Gore's going to change his mind this late in the game. Getting flayed unfairly by a thought-free, bandwagon mentality press, and then shafted by the supposedly above-the-fray Supreme Court should be enough to make any man say, "I've had enough, thanks." But I hope that, in this case, Gore does the unreasonable thing and runs.
Anyway, it's an interesting and uncharacteristically brief essay by Hitchens. Give it a look.
2.) Did anyone catch any of the speech Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University, gave yesterday? Take a look here. Given just seconds before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke, it was harsh, awesome stuff. A lot of knee-jerk conservatives were giving Columbia a hard time for allowing Ahmadinejad the opportunity to speak. Bollinger's speech should shut them all up pretty well. In his remarks Bollinger called Ahmadinejad "ridiculous", "a dictator", "uneducated", "petty and cruel", and a "Holocaust denier" among other things. The boldness of the speech clearly took Ahmadinejad aback -- during the question and answer session, Ahmadinejad essentially recanted his previous denials of the Holocaust, saying it was "given" that the Holocaust had, in fact, occurred. A small triumph. Later on during the Q&A, Ahmadinejad said that "we don't have gays in Iran like you have here." The audience laughed and laughed, but poor Ahmadinejad was clearly not in on the joke. Iran regularly hangs gay men.
Another higher-up at Columbia started some controversy prior to Ahmadinejad's speech, telling an interviewer that Columbia would invite Hitler to speak (if he were still around, that is). After having viewed Bollinger's speech, I see why that hypothetical invitation isn't so bad as it sounds. If our nation's universities made a habit of inviting the world's nastiest world leaders to speak in their lecture halls, and then, prior to these dictators' lying, disingenuous speeches, clear-eyed and articulate professors got to insult them at length to rapturous applause, then I think that would be something everyone could get behind. I wonder if the world's tinpot dictators will think twice before accepting another invitation from an American university. My guess is they will.
3.) The MacArthur "Genius" Grants were announced today. Stuart Dybek, a Chicago short-story writer Shawn mentioned reading and enjoying, was one of the recipients. Maybe now the chain bookstores will start carrying his books and I will be able to read them.
4.) And, just for fun, here's a reference photo my wife took for the graphic novel proposal I've been working on. Just below the photo is the drawing I came up with:
Anyway, that's all I got today.