There are a lot of things I thought of writing about today. I could have ridiculed Gonzo's breathtakingly lame performance with Pete Williams yesterday. I also considered some thoughts on the latest life lost in Iraq, another soldier from my hometown, the second in two weeks. Or I could have given space to the monumental stupidity of MO Gov. Matt Blunt, a pro-lifer who wants to cut off funds to Planned Parenthoods in his state because...they don't provide abortions. Whatever. There is no end to the material provided by the tragicomedy that is the far right.
But then I heard Tony Snow has metastatic colon cancer, and a correspondingly grim prognosis. And I felt just as bad about that as I did when I heard about Elizabeth Edwards.
Few things more powerfully illuminate our shared basic humanness more than the fact that, rich or poor, devil or saint, conservative or liberal, we are all going to die someday. To varying degrees, we all fear that inevitable time. I remember New Year's Eve, watching them put the noose around Saddam Hussein's neck. I knew what Saddam was; I knew he had sent many thousands more to their own deaths, some on that very scaffold, and did it with impunity. He was a villainous wretch, a sad excuse for a human being, but he was a human being, and in that moment he was only another human being preparing to die, with all the fear and uncertainty that accompanied that moment. That's how I responded. I don't care what he did, I thought. This is not right. George Bush, in his latest PR screw up, was the only man on the planet who could give me sympathy for Saddam Hussein.
Tony Snow is not being led to the gallows, at least not in a state-sponsored execution. But the end result will be the same, and only the most soulless of us could not feel the pull to sit, to hold, to comfort this fellow human being as he confronts the most daunting task of his life. Sometimes, it seems, this time in one's life leads to great reflection and insight (ala Tuesdays with Morrie), but I suspect more often it just magnifies who we always have been, be it cranky, fearful, easygoing, anxiety ridden, humorless, spirited, or some combination. Because of that, I don't like Tony Snow any better because of this diagnosis-I'm sure he'd be relieved to hear that, frankly-but it would be less than human of me not to empathize with him.
It's also tremendously unsporting to kick a man when he's down.
Good luck to you, Tony.