When I lived in the States, one of my favorite ways to pass a Sunday morning was with a big pot of coffee, a pitcher of scalded and frothed milk, and the New York Times. Just the Magazine alone was worth the purchase price.
Sadly, the Times is not available here in Asia except as a special purchase at a newsstand that imports days-old copies. Instead, you can purchase the International Herald Tribune, which is the Times’ international coverage and a smattering of US news, combined with some local stories provided by a partner newspaper in each particular country. It just isn’t the same.
One of the things I like best about the Times is the quality of writing. I honed my appreciation for the written word by reading the prose in Times articles, which are written several grade levels above the average newspaper.
These days I read the Times online. The writing is just as good but the experience is not the same. Still, I enjoy the reporters’ clever turns of phrase such as this choice bit from an article about some notable people who died in 2007. This quote comes from an entry about former longtime Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton, the first running mate for George McGovern’s 1972 Presidential campaign, who resigned from the campaign after acknowledging his history of depression and mental illness.
The federal courthouse in St. Louis is named for him. Accomplished men and women have recounted how they were awed by his intellect, influenced by his humanity, inspired and enlisted by his passion. Thomas Eagleton was a giant of Missouri politics. But he was a giant bound by ties of his own peculiar design. He spent the first part of his career in the grip of a secret. Later, he was fettered to a question he answered countless times but never resolved.
“He was a man of decency, honor, humor, integrity,” George McGovern told me recently, rattling off Eagleton’s virtues until they veered abruptly off a rhetorical cliff, “with an incredible cover-up.”
Beautiful, isn’t it?