Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Love Song Of H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Ok. Really, that's all I've got, just the perfect alignment of the words with The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the poem by T.S. Eliot.

H. Norman Schwarzkopf was the commanding general of the US and Coalition ground forces in the first war with Iraq. He was likeable, quotable in a quaint old media way. It's not well known that his father was the military governor of post-WWII Germany, and immediately after that, became most powerful man in Iran, where he was sent to fix the deleterious effects of a democratic election in 1953. Senior promptly re-installed the Shah, who reigned to protect Western interests until his overthrow in 1979. That background was not bespoke on The Tonight Show. Whereas The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was one of the greatest works of poet-scholarship ever written in this language, and there are no connections whatsoever to the Schwartzkopfs but through their convenient syllables, and their imperious history.

Growing up, Norman Schwarzkopf didn't see his distant father much at all, and his mother was an unhappy alcoholic. After she became an embarrassment in Washington, he lived with her in Argentina where she was packed off to, and then lived with her in Alaska soon before she drank herself to death. The foreign services of his father were remembered well, or maybe he made others remember his markers, because Stormin' Norman was promoted up through the ranks in a relatively undistinguished career as if by frictionless cold fusion. After he became a functional hero for punishing Saddam, far more famous than his father was, he wrote a best-selling book and ebulliently went onto the Tonight Show With Jay Leno, where he might as well have quoted Eliot: "Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter / I am no prophet - and here's no great matter."

H. Norman Schwarzkopf was no stranger to the undercurrents of stifled sufferings, and seemed to know that behind him in production rooms women would come and go, speaking of Michaelangelo. As all the cameras and the Moulin Rouge called, he seemed to be thinking, "I am old, I am old, shall I wear my trousers rolled." General Schwarzkopf was holding back untold amounts of pain for a long time, and knew the sham of a cheap, hollow victory against a hopelessly overmatched opponent. He heard the voices in their dying falls and retired to Florida. There was another door in this country to which he wanted no key, there was a veil past which he couldn't see. Good move. I hope he fishes on the peaceful sidelines in healing quietude.


Anonymous said...

Good post, nice place here. Thanks for linking to Amsam.

MarcLord said...

Thanks, man. Right back atcha.