Idleposting 101

Continuing on the theme of vain self-indulgence, a few more notes today.

A certain Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had never previously impressed me, except in a negative way, finally has, with her admission that for years as the foreign secretary of a neighbouring country — visiting the world’s hot spots and dealing with the most sensitive matters, including it would seem the channelling of huge donations to the Clinton family charity from some of America’s most dubious allies — was not using a government email account. And this, notwithstanding she was required to do so by law. As ever with the Clintons, the malfeasance is heroic, and the explanation of it (personal convenience) gob-smacking. But that is part of their charm, and in this case the aristocratic, or even royal indifference to government policy should be recognized with some kind of prize.

L’État, c’est moi” is not quite a mediaeval principle, but half way there. The idea that the state’s agents should be responsible to the historical record goes, on the other hand, all the way back — so that really, Mrs Clinton is only being “early modern.” This is a topic I hope to revisit: the relative openness and honesty of government in mediaeval royal courts, and the freedom with which public questions were discussed — as compared with the thick, acrid smog that enhovers our modern, democratic regimes, wherein the Courtiers of the People must advance themselves by lying and misrepresenting the most elementary realities to their masters. Thus, anything that moves us backward should be celebrated, even if Mrs Clinton might take credit for it.

But why was she using email at all? Surely a woman of her wealth and connexions could afford private couriers, whose secrecy, under threat of death, would moult no feather.

A certain Senator in the same country, Mr Lindsey Graham, for whom I had also not previously entertained any particular affection, has gone a step farther. He admitted on television, Sunday, that he has never sent a single email, and wouldn’t anyway know how. I find this very impressive, in a man actually younger than I am — reminding of Harry Truman, whose only keyboard was attached to his piano, who hated telephones with an exhilarating passion, and was deeply suspicious of electricity. To be above not only government policy, but the demands of the technology on which it depends, passes subtly beyond heroism almost to sanctity.

Now, when Truman had something to communicate privately, he wrote on paper with a pen, folded it into an envelope, licked on a stamp with his own saliva — then walked it to the letterbox on Pennsylvania Avenue, just outside the White House gate. He paid for his own postage, too, and never submitted an expense account. Bravo!

As for me, what can I say? I am “on email,” as many of my correspondents have discovered, and thus a dreadful failure as a Luddite. The matter is on my mind because, on checking the account this morning, I see that I have messages unanswered since February 23rd. My most abject apology, if gentle reader is among those awaiting a reply.

Let me also take this occasion to express my heartfelt gratitude to Protestants and Evangelicals, who so far as I can see account for 50 percent of my current readers, and about 90 percent of the PayPal donations. I reflect that they have patiently endured my occasional lapses into jag-edged Catholic sectarianism.

I should also mention, as a latter-day United Empire Loyalist, the plurality of my readers who are Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution. (Indeed there are days when I think I have more followers in metropolitan Buenos Aires, than in the Greater Parkdale Area.) … I truly don’t deserve to be treated so well.