Barbara risked having her neck slit to warn the country of a terrorist attack. She was a patriot to the very end.
This is not to engage in the media's typical hallucinatory overstatement about anyone who is the victim of a horrible tragedy. The furtive cell phone call was an act of incredible daring and panache. If it were not, we'd be hearing reports of a hundred more cell phone calls. (Even people who swear to hate cell phones carry them for commercial air travel.)
The last time I saw Barbara in person was about three weeks ago. She generously praised one of my recent columns and told me I had really found my niche. Ted, she said, had taken to reading my columns aloud to her over breakfast.
I mention that to say three things about Barbara. First, she was really nice. A lot of people on TV seem nice, but aren't. (And some who don't seem nice, are.) But Barbara was always her charming, graceful, ebullient self. "Nice" is an amazingly rare quality among writers. In the opinion business, bitter, jealous hatred is the norm. Barbara had reason to be secure.
Second, it was actually easy to imagine Ted reading political columns aloud to Barbara at the breakfast table. Theirs was a relationship that could only be cheaply imitated by Bill and Hillary -- the latter being a subject of Barbara's appropriately biting best seller, "Hell to Pay."
Hillary claimed preposterously in the Talk magazine interview that she discussed policy with Bill while cutting his grapefruit in the morning. Ted and Barbara really did talk politics -- and really did have breakfast together.
It's "Ted and Barbara" just like it's Fred and Ginger, and George and Gracie. They were so perfect together, so obvious, that their friends were as happy they were on their wedding day. This is more than the death of a great person and patriotic American. It's a human amputation.
Third, since Barbara's compliment, I've been writing my columns for Ted and Barbara. I'm always writing to someone in my head. Now I don't know who to write to. Ted and Barbara were a good muse.
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