A few days ago, I was reading the Sunday Telegraph, and their front page was an interesting study. The big headline was, “The Bombing of Gori.” And across the page was splashed one of the most horrific and arresting war photos you can imagine: of a bloodied old woman, lying half-naked in rubble, with a fire raging behind her. Then underneath there was a little article headed, “Meanwhile, Bush Enjoys the View.” It showed the president with members of the U.S. beach-volleyball team.
“While Georgia burned, Dubya gurned,” said the article. (“Gurn” is an unusual word meaning make a funny face, and it really didn’t belong there, but the writer or editor wanted the rhyme.) “The contrast between events in Gori, pummelled by Russian jets, and east Beijing could not have been greater.” And so on. (“Dubya” this, “Dubya” that.)
Well, yes: And while Gori burned, the editors of the Sunday Telegraph were having their breakfast, walking their dog, or whatever else people do when life is calm and normal. And the contrast could not have been greater. As for Bush, I think we can safely say he did what a U.S. president could.
We’re often told that the British papers are livelier and more interesting than ours, and it’s true. But if being lively and interesting means being stupid and despicable — who needs it?