FauxPolitik

Monday, November 17, 2003

Beer and Pussy: P.J. O'Rourke has a piece out of Iraq in this month's Atlantic. It's worth a read, but the real meat comes in the interview (available here) in which he talks about taking over for Atlantic editor-at-large Michael Kelly, who was killed during his embed. Begging your pardon while I quote liberally:
Oh, yeah. These guys just loved Mike, and they really wanted to talk about it. I mean, everybody from General Blount right down to the sergeant who had been driving Mike around—not the one who was driving when he died, but who had been driving him around when he was with his proper embed, before he sort of wiggled out in order to get up to the front. Every single one of them said, "I've just never met anyone who was interested in the same stuff that I am." For one of them, it would be military history, for another one it would be politics, for one of them it would be logistics and planning. Finally, I get down to this sergeant and he said: "Me and Mike, we used to talk for hours." And I asked, "What'd you talk about?" And—if you'll excuse the language— he said, "Beer and pussy." In fact, Mike had bumped into somebody else I talked to, a photographer for USA Today, Jack Gruber, and he said, "Yeah, I bumped into Mike and he said, 'It's been a long time since I've been around eighteen-year olds—if I have to talk about beer and pussy for one more minute, my head is going to explode.'" But they just all loved him. Mike's enthusiasm, and his way of paying attention to people, and the fact that for at least those moments he was with those people, he did care about that stuff in the way they did—that's part of what made him such a good reporter.
I have to admit that I was disappointed that Atlantic did no wrapup on their dead colleague, other than an editor's note. Perhaps these comments from O'Rourke are as close as we'll get to knowing what Kelly saw in Iraq, where he went, what he thought. I wish he was still here to write about it all.

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