Eric Zorn has linked his Tribune blog to my most recent column, which is about some very bad blood between Cardinal George and the octogenarian Catholic conservative Tom Roeser. Zorn has also linked to things he's written about Roeser in the past.
Follow these links — which find Zorn making a case that Roeser is an "irascible crank" whose "splenetic ravings" are "arguably racist and anti-Semitic, and is also, arguably, a plagiarist — and you're apt to wonder what some readers who responded online to my column seem to wonder: what did I see in Roeser's blog in the first place?
For I wrote in 2007 that Roeser, "full of years and beans, writes the most fully realized blog I know."
I went on, "He's a ruminator, his decades in politics the cud he now chews twice, and he's spellbinding. His blog gives him all the time and space in the world, and he's taking it."
What turned my head were his reminiscences — prefaced as "Fifty years of politics written as a memoir for my kids and grandchildren" — tart and canny, on characters of considerable heft he'd known or observed from the era the turn of the century has left firmly behind, in particular, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy, familiar to Roeser from his years in Minnesota. You can read some of what I was reading here and here and here.
Pieces like this demonstrate what a blog is good for. Blogging is dominated by the young, who tend to write as if they're throwing paint at a wall. But their parents will eventually discover what Roeser did, that it's the perfect canvas for the more meticulous brushwork of the old. At the family dining table they might feel uncomprehended and marginalized, but a blog gives their ruminations all the time and space in the world.
But one problem with dwelling on the past is that it can lead to some strange metaphors for the present. I found Roeser about a month ago writing this:
But you must remember that the national Democrats have abandoned being a party and have been converted into a 5-star ideological movement of the Left. The Metamorphosis Began with McGovern. The transition began with the McGovern nomination in 1972 and has veered leftward ever since. In this they are like the stragglers of the Chinese Red Army who participated in the Long March 1934-35 to avoid defeat by Chiang kai Shek.They had become not so much an army but a band of revolutionaries. So like martyrs with a perverted sense of religion, they began the March they believed would take them to utopia.
Eighty-seven thousand began the 6,000-mile march from Southeast to Northwest China from which fewer than 8,000 survived but in doing so they enabled their ideology to survive, canonized their leader, Mao Zedong, making him more than a mere general but a god. Left-wing liberal ideologues today…all you have to do is to read The Daily Kos…don’t want to just win elections and consolidate their gains: they want to overcome this country with their brand of revolutionary change now. A revolutionary is the kind of president Obama is, the kind of person he always has been.
On this subject Roeser, who's 81, would be better served if he'd been born with my youngest daughter in 1983 and didn't remember a thing.