Today, 50 years ago, I was walking from class up to the Student Union on the Stanford University campus, when a friend told me that he just heard a bad joke: President Kennedy had been shot.
“At the student union only minutes later, I understood that it had not been a joke. Kennedy had been shot, in Dallas, Texas. He had been gravely injured, and he died. Everything at the university stopped. Lectures were canceled. The big football game against the University of California was postponed. That Sunday we all went to church, and we cried.”
About this, and about my first five years as an immigrant/student in California during that tumultuous decade, I write in my book Land of Dreams: A Reporter’s Journey from Sweden to America, which is now out also in English, both as e-book and in print. The book was originally published in Sweden with the title “Amerika – drömmarnas land.”
The book is a personal and political retrospective on my many years in America, from those days in California to today’s Washington, DC.
The two best speeches so far on the Republican convention have been given by women, Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
It was hard not to like about Ann Romney and her speech about the love for the man she has been married to for over 40 years, without revealing anything really new about her husband.
It was Ann Romney’s day, that first convention day. She outshone New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Yes, she outshone her husband, who has never given a speech like that. It remains to see how Mitt Romney succeeds tonight in his big opportunity to explain to the American people why they should vote for him in November.
Condoleezza Rice’s speech was also very good. But it made me sad, that after many times having heard her lecture as professor of foreign policy during my years at Stanford University, my image of her, a prominent academic, has now changed into a Republican standard-bearer, a Republican spokeswoman. Yes, she was national security adviser and secretary of state, but, in my view, she never seemed to be hardline partisan, though she has never hid her Republican sympathies.
But now? To me, she finally made the move from academia to partisan politics, and although she denies it, it is quite possible that she has now also launched a political career with 2016 in view.
When I say that her speech was very good, that does not mean that I didn’t have big problems with her uncritical history of recent foreign policy, of her description of the years during George W. Bush, and of the current foreign policy situation and on U.S. standing in the world. Not a positive word about President Obama, not one.
One can only gasp at the magnitude of “chutzpah” in one woman. Condi Rice, a top adviser in the most disastrous, reputation-crippling foreign policy management in decades, has no business lecturing anybody on this score.
The New York Times’ former editor Bill Keller describes in “Condi’s World” the foreign policy dilemma in the Republican Party and the fact that Rice now, as with George W. Bush before that, “endorsed another would-be president unschooled in world affairs – conspicuously, embarrassingly so – and this one is Already seemingly in thrall to the hard-liners. “
On the sidewalk below Steve Jobs’ office at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, the mound of flowers in memory of Silicon Valley’s perhaps the greatest name ever is still many feet high.
At Stanford University, a few miles north, a memorial service in the church on the campus was recently held, where one computer giant after another, Bill Gates, David Packard, William Hewlett, Paul Allen, Jerry Yang, have their buildings on the university’s fabulous, still unfinished science campus. There is no building with Steve Jobs’s name, at least not yet.
Today, his biography came out, written by veteran journalist and author Walter Isaacson, who wrote the brilliant biographies of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. Isaacson was contacted by Jobs himself a few years ago and asked to write about his life. Jobs knew he was dying but refused for years to undergo the surgery that the doctors recommended. It was something that Jobs came to regret, according to Isaacson.
The book, “Steve Jobs” will certainly become a bestseller, and certainly not the last book about Jobs. But here, just a few weeks after Steve Jobs’ death, the book is a little strange to read, wrote Janet Maslin in The New York Times this weekend under the headline “Making the iBio for Apple’s Genius.”