We were very impressed with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Barak Obama. This endorsement may well turn out to be the turning point in this protracted campaign. However, we for one do not believe a contested convention would be a bad thing for the Democratic party. For one thing, it would bring excitement to an otherwise dull event. For another, the candidate that wins will have emerged as a “battle tested” victor, and will have that almost ghostly quality of what George H.W Bush called in 1979 (during his primary battles with Ronald Regan) “big mo” or momentum.
Senator Obama’s speech on race was masterful. Beyond the words however, we were impressed by this man’s ability to take a crisis and turn it into a positive event. Obama has emerged stronger from this race/Reverend contretemps, and that says something about the man’s leadership abilities.
What is Rumpole reading?
We just finished Charlie Wilson’s War: If you saw the movie, you saw about 5% of the story. The book takes the reader through the entire astonishing career of Congressman Charlie Wilson and how he single handedly directed American foreign policy (which happens to be illegal for a congressman to do) in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 1979 through 1989. Wilson was a lightweight congressional playboy with a penchant for self destructive acts and an even greater penchant for daring last minute rescues of his career and the Afghan Mujahedeen. The chapter on Wilson’s DUI crash on a bridge the night before he led a congressional delegation to Pakistan and the subsequent DC Police escort (Wilson sat on the DC appropriations committee that handled the budget for the Capitol Police) to Andrews Air Force Base as the Virginia State Police sought to arrest him, is not to be missed. The book is a hundred times more fascinating and astonishing than the movie, and it contains the type of “it's too strange to be fiction” Washington DC stories that Congressman Wilson relished being at the center of. Many years ago Rumpole played a small part on the periphery of the struggle of the Mujahedeen against the Soviets. Our role was way too modest to mention here, but the brave Mujahedeen have always had a spot in our heart, which made their corruption by the Taliban all the more painful. Not all of the Mujahedeen are Muslim radicals, but the byzantine world of Afghan tribesmen is so wrought with tribal internecine disputes that it would take a westerner a lifetime to understand their ways. It seems in retrospect almost pre-ordained that we would screw up Afghanistan after the Russians left. And that’s just what happened.
We also poured through Jimmy Breslin’s “The Good Rat”, which is the story of a low level mafia informant and his testimony in the trial of mafia hit men/NY Police Officers Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito. The book is a good and fast read. The story is typical Breslin, with a riveting cast of NY characters from the mob, the police department, and the fringes of society. The prosecution of Caracappa and Eppolito weave together the familiar NY mob stories of John Gotti, Henry Hill, and Paul Castellano, along with the stories of a dozen or so sad sack mobster characters. Readers should note that the trial Judge in the case just happens to be the very best Federal District Court Judge Rumpole has ever had the honour and privilege of appearing before: The Legendry Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York.
And finally, we recommend one of the very best novels we have read in the last ten years: Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen. An amazing tale of an old man, a young man, love, the circus in depression era America, and last but not least, of an elephant that ties the whole tale together. It is a great great novel, and you will really be missing something if you enjoy literature and don’t read this book.
Currently we are poking into The Shadow Year, by Jeffrey Ford. Set in Long Island, NY, the story of a young boy and his family and a bizarre series of events promises to be a most interesting read. We’ll let you know.
Have another great weekend with some more great South Florida spring weather.