Summer is the slow time around here, mostly because summer “vacation” is when I get to work through my pile of history-writing projects that are supposed to lead to the production and consumption of paper products. You know the ones. As with most subjects, I wax hot and cold as to whether light blogging complements or interferes with other types of writing. Clearly the dial this June has been set to “interferes.” While we are on the subject of waxing hot, I can definitely report that our faltering HVAC system’s efforts to recreate the productivity of the summer of 1993, when I wrote 400 pages of dissertation in a stifling hot 4th-floor Boston apartment, did not work.
I have also found the public occurrences of recent weeks to be more of the wait-and-see Obama type than the call-forth-the-thunder Bush-era kind. Mostly this is a good thing. The two most recent foreign political crises, in Iran and Honduras, are the sorts of situations that might or might not strongly affect the U.S. but that our government cannot really Do Something About without obvious interference that would amount to taking ownership of another country’s fate without being able to fully predict or control what that fate would be. Washington chin-waggers always suggest Something should be done — it’s easier and safer to maunder about Freedom somewhere else than take a constructive position on this country’s problems — and presidents have tended to fall into the trap of following the chinwaggers’ advice, often with the Something being “send in the military.” Barack Obama may yet take that fall, but it has been refreshing so far to have a president whose characteristic response to a foreign crisis is to say some decent things about another people’s struggles, but otherwise stick to his job of managing the United States without trying to be World Emperor on top of it.