Halberstam, Thanks for the Fish
If only Halberstam had said that to me, I would wear it like a red badge of courage. If an icon spitting on you isn't a passing of the baton, I don't know what is.
The genesis of this post was a comment on a post at Slate about David Halberstam by Press Box press critic Jack Shafer. Thinking on my comment, I realized Hablerstam was owed an obit of sorts, and so is Kurt Vonnegut – perhaps even more so, but I can't link to a future post.
After partying, or at least trying to, way too much at the sacrifice of my grades, I was drafted and had to serve in a war I knew was wrong, but I never confused duty with politics – a problem many people seem to be handling badly today.
As any vet can tell you, most of your time in the military is spend in an extreme state of boredom, and so I read. I looked forward to being free of course required reading and return to my favorite: science fiction. But what little bit I paid attention in school must have had an affect; I could no longer read as I had read before. It lacked the depth and style of what I had been forced to read. I found myself analyzing what I just enjoyed before. Eventually, I read the stuff I was assigned to read in school but didn't.
I read classics, and for the first time, I began to read nonfiction. I wanted to know how my ass ended up in Vietnam, and one of the best books I read was Halberstam's Best and Brightest.
It is one of the most important books I have ever read. I noticed the run-on sentences Shafer mentioned in his post. Faulkner came to mind. There must be a period somewhere in those long paragraphs other than the end, I kept telling myself as I stop reading and look back for the period. (When you are in a state of continuing utter boredom, you grab any mental exercise that comes along.)
At any rate, after reading about how even the smartest policy makers and implementers (deciders) blundered as well as everybody else could, I decided that after my military commitment was completed, rather than stand on the sidelines and watch these type of guys drive the U.S. into the ground, I would go in there and blown the whole thing myself.
BureaucratMan was born, with my trusty sidekick, RedTape, I have the power to say: "You won't get that, today!"