On the Opinion Page today, New York Times columnist Frank Rich joins us to talk about his column, Memorial Day at 'South Pacific'. The Rogers and Hammerstein musical is the hottest ticket on Broadway right now, and as Rich points out, the show is unexpectedly poignant on Memorial Day:
Watching "South Pacific" now, we're forced to contemplate Iraq, which we're otherwise pretty skilled at avoiding. Most of us don't have family over there. Most of us long ago decided the war was a mistake and tuned out. Most of us have stopped listening to the president who ginned it up. This month, in case you missed it, he told an interviewer that he had made the ultimate sacrifice of giving up golf for the war's duration because "I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf."
"South Pacific" reminds us that those whose memory we honor - including those who served in - are always at the mercy of the leaders who send them into battle. It increases our admiration for the selflessness of Americans fighting in Iraq. They, unlike their counterparts in World War II, do their duty despite answering to a commander in chief who has been both reckless and narcissistic. You can't watch "South Pacific" without meditating on their sacrifices for this blunderer, whose wife last year claimed that "no one suffers more" over Iraq than she and her husband do.
Have you seen the show? If so, did you think of the two wars we're fighting today, in Afghanistan and Iraq?