In the anniversary week of Barack Obama’s election, the New York Yankees won the World Series, as all the world surely knows by now. The victory might have guaranteed a celebration, even in an America where unemployment hit ten per cent in the same week, but the glitz of the Yankees’ Friday ticker-tape parade through Lower Manhattan’s sombre but not sobered financial district was overshadowed by the news of the mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas by American-born Major Nidal Malik Hasan.
By Sunday, when Ari Fleisher, Yankees fan and George W. Bush’s former press secretary, wrote a rueful column about the ironies of victory for a Republican-voting baseball tragic like himself (since Eisenhower, the Yankees have only ever won the World Series under a Democrat president), the joke fell a little flat. Bad timing. Still, the New YorkTimes judged right in carrying the column: it was a salving piece of bi-partisan whimsy in a week marked by violent death, by extreme Republican naysaying in Congress, and calls for revolution from the ‘Tea Party Patriots’ rallying on the steps of Capitol Hill. Their ‘little bit of revolution’ included brandishing poster images of the piled-up dead of Dachau. That’s how some of the patriots chose to characterise Obama’s reform initiative: as ‘National Socialist Healthcare’, somehow akin to the Holocaust. Only the kinder pundits called them crazy.