Admit it, one reason to read the newspaper is to see who you're glad you're not. Great not to be a spoiled Yalie named George W. Bush. Good not to be a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. But a little close to home, my nephew was just injured in Afghanistan saving one of his men from a burning Humvee. And he was happy being him, and went back to duty instead of to a hospital in Germany. Still, I wouldn't want to be there.
This is a round-about way of getting to the guy in the news I definitely wouldn't want to be: the young man who was driving the car in which David Halberstam died. Christ, it's sad. The thoughtful and generous Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the man who first exposed Vietnam as the quagmire it was, died in a crash in San Mateo County two weeks ago after giving a talk at UC-Berkeley. Driving him to an interview was a 26-year-old grad student in journalism named ... well, no name. He's got enough troubles, and now a lawyer.
How would you like to be the journalism student who killed David Halberstam? The guy who did what the Viet Cong couldn't do and the U.S. Army wished it had?
That may be a bald way to put it, because fault in the crash hasn't been found yet. But still. It will be the invisible ink on the young man's resume. Worse, it will be etched on the young man's mind forever. Should he have made that left turn onto Willow Road when he did? Should he even bother to stay in journalism?
Best to simply read the newspapers, the Cliff's Notes of the Fates, and be glad we're not in them.