Notes from a fascinating world.
The world is like a bazaar, full of interesting odds and ends, and I've been exiled into it. This is my all-over-the-map (literally and metaphorically) attempt at capturing some of the world's many wonders.
“We gather here to mourning the passing of American greatness,” said Meghan McCain at her father’s funeral. Not the passing of a great American, but of American greatness. More than anything else, more than any not-so-veiled dig at Trump, that was the line from all of the speeches that I heard that struck me the most.
There is a special agony in watching a once-great civilization writhing in its death throes. You kind of wish someone would put it out of its misery. Having to watch it die, paradoxically at once all too swiftly and in excruciating slow motion, cannot be anything but the most dispiriting spectacle. But that is what we’re being treated to nowadays watching the United States destroy itself.
And there’s an extra je-ne-sais-quoi for those of us who adopted, or sought to adopt, America as our own, those of us who were not born there but who once invested in it our hopes and dreams.
For me, as a student of constitutional law, it is bitter revelation to discover that the much-vaunted American constitutionalism that I devoted so much energy to studying is no match against raving lunacy and Russian propaganda. That the combined legacy of great men from James Madison to Abraham Lincoln cannot stand against a two-bit conman who can’t even keep his lies straight.
The ancient Romans used to describe one or another of their great fallen colleagues as Ultimus Romanorum, “the Last of the Romans,” one who embodied the traditional virtues of Rome that they were unlikely ever to see again. Over Rome’s long history, a number of political figures have posthumously been endowed with that title.
When the Edward Gibbons of the future write the history of the decline and fall of the American Empire, who will they name as Ultimus Americanorum?
An optimist would say that this person is yet to be born. A realist might say that it’s Barack Obama. A pessimist would say that it was John McCain.
We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness.
Writer, traveler, lawyer, dilettante. Failed student of physics. Not altogether distinguished graduate of two Ivy League institutions. Immigrant twice over. "The grand tour is just the inspired man's way of getting home."