"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wMonday, June 30, 2003

ME IN PRINT: Two articles by yours truly are only available in print. For those fans who just can't get enough (or who are getting sick of all this Report reportage), the publications are the current issues of The Weekly Standard (the Summer books issue no less) and The American Spectator. The first is a short take on Chris Hedges' new book. The second is a long piece on the late Michael Kelly. It begins:

The death of Michael Kelly hit the world of journalism like a brick to the gut, with the pain quickly spreading from the vital organs to the extremities. I learned of it the day after, on April, during a phone call with an editor at a literary magazine. Kelly's name was dropped (and picked up) in a half dozen conversations that same day. According to the early reports, there was gunfire and a Humvee crash and, well, details were still sketchy.

At first, I didn't believe it. I refused to. How could a guy as nimble as Kelly die in such a stupid pointless accident? During the first Gulf War, he was in Baghdad when the bombs started to fall, then in Israel as the scuds descended. He flew to Saudi Arabia for the beginning of the ground war, rode into Kuwait with the Egyptian army ("Sure, why not? It's a free desert," said an Egyptian commander), accepted the surrender of several Iraqi troops, and found his way into Kuwait City for the liberation. Kelly then returned to Iraq and had to be smuggled out by Northern rebels. At every point he had not only evaded death, but thumbed his stubby nose at it.

The irony that Kelly could get through the first war with nothing but his wits and dumb luck, but died as an "embed" under U.S. military protection was not lost on his admirers. Michael Ledeen lamented that the U.S. had lost "a national treasure, dammit." Peggy Noonan called his death "a sin against the order of the world," and maybe it was, though I'm not sure Kelly would have agreed, or put it quite so glowingly. Eulogies paint an idealized portrait of the dead, but a portrait nonetheless. Those who knew Kelly well all painted a picture of a man who was not overly impressed with himself. [If you want more, you'll have to pick it up on the newsstand.]

posted by Jeremy at 12:26 AM