Recently, the news has been full of the intestinal ruminations of US Secretary of Homeland Security, who abruptly announced last week that he had a “gut feeling” that the US was about to be attacked by foreign terrorists.
The major media outlets and the blogosphere alike immediately ramped up an uproar, insinuating darkly that if anyone knows when its time to be very afraid it’s Michael Chertoff.
Well, let us go on the record as saying that the Dowbrigade isn’t worried. And we can say that with some degree of confidence, as we have , if memory serves, some experience with Michael Chertoff’s “gut feelings”.
For, you see, if we remember correctly, the Dowbrigade and Secretary Chertoff were at Harvard together (class of ’75), although in different departments and circles of friends. Chertoff, we seem to recall, majored in history and political science, while the Dowbrigade was engrossed in psychophysiology and shamanism.
If we remember correctly, Michael Chertoff was that skinny kid with the cadaverous skull who wore ratty sleeveless sweaters and argyle socks, and who we called “Jerk-off” behind his back.
We seem to recall an incident at a regular Friday wine and cheese reception at the Lowell House Master’s residence one November evening before the Harvard-Yale game our junior year (1973), when, after perhaps one too many glasses of Beaujolais, Michael, after removing his penny loafers to reveal subtly stained argyles, stood on one of the House Master’s living room chairs and announced that he had a gut feeling that Harvard would attack and overcome Yale’s formidable defenses the following day.
1973 Harvard-Yale final score from the Yale Bowl : Yale 35-Harvard 0.
At that point, if memory serves, Chertoff’s predictions were already well-known due to a oral report he delivered on October 4 of that same year to a Pollysci seminar called “Deciphering the Middle East”, in which he announced that he had “a gut feeling that there would be no further fighting in the area for at least a decade” while the Arab world waited to coalesce around a new generation of leaders.
Two days later Syria and Egypt simultaneously invaded Israel, setting off the desperate, bloody Yom Kippur War.
And to top it all off, if our memory holds, the following summer Michael was stuck in Cambridge for the summer, doing unpaid research for some professor’s book on Democracy. Late one night, legend has it, at Chiang Kai-shek’s Chicken Shack in Boston’s Chinatown, on the night of August 7, following a somber meeting of the Young Republicans Club, the future Terror Tsar made a heart-felt attempt to animate the crowd by proclaiming his “gut feeling that the President was going to come through his crisis and show up the Senate Democrats for the heel-snapping hyenas they were.”
The next day, of course. Richard Nixon announced his resignation, and Michael Chertoff was admitted to Stillman Infirmary with an acute case of food poisoning. If memory serves.
Of course, our memory is pretty hazy these days, especially of those days, which were pretty hazy themselves, come to think of it. But even if we have some of the details mixed up, we aren’t canceling any plans due to the Secretary’s sensitive gut.
His track record simply doesn’t merit it.