A Remarkable Article by Ron Fournier

By James Fallows

Our Atlantic-world colleague Ron Fournier, of National Journal, has written a remarkable long article that I promise you will not regret taking the time to read. It is not what most readers would have expected from Fournier, who is best known for very hard-headed political coverage at NJ and before that for many years with AP. Instead it is a personal, unsparing, often beautiful account of family struggle featuring an improbable cast of main characters: Fournier and his wife Lori; their son Tyler, who has Asperger's syndrome; plus Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

For instance, Fournier offers this moment, after an extended father-and-son road trip across they country he has taken with Tyler as a bonding exercise. He asks Tyler what he got from the experience:

"All I got out of it was time with you," he says, laughing. "No offense." I tell Tyler there's got to be a better way to end our story than saying we spent time together. "This isn't Twilight," he says, referring to the film saga he wouldn't be caught dead watching. "This is you and me. Just write that we like to spend time together. That's a big deal for a kid like me."

It would be a big deal for me--if I believed him. The fact is, he'd rather be alone, and I can accept that now, because the aversion to social contact is part of who Tyler is. But he is telling me what he knows I want to hear, and that's progress for my empathy-challenged Aspie.

The views of Clinton and Bush -- as actual human beings, rather than public figures -- are precisely rendered and revealing. Fournier's vignettes don't change what we think of either man, but they extend it in interesting ways -- and to the credit of both, but especially for Bush. I'll stop describing and suggest that you set aside time to read it yourself.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/a-remarkable-article-by-ron-fournier/265771/