Karma (and Charles Freeman) on the Bus

By Conor Clarke

On Monday I recorded an episode of blogging heads with Brian Beutler on the subject of Charles Freeman. I took the position that, since Freeman had managed to become Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, AIPAC's ability to crush its critics must be exaggerated. Of course, a couple of hours after after the episode appeared, Freeman went and resigned. The timing could not have been worse.

I now know that Karma does not work in subtle ways. A few stops after I got on the 42 bus this morning, Charles Freeman plunked down across from me. He was reading an old paperback copy of Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds, and looking more like a high school English teacher than an existential threat to the state of Israel.

I introduced myself and told him I was sorry that he resigned. He recoiled only slightly when I mentioned I worked for the Atlantic, then smiled broadly. "Shit happens." He added a little wistfully: "I wasn't so eager to go back to the government, anyway."

I asked him what he thought of his critics. "I don't pay much attention to the blogosphere. But I did read Jim Fallows. Fallows actually seemed to have read what I said."

The woman next to me suddenly pieced it together. "Now I know who you are!" She hesitated for a second. "I still disagree with you." Others on the bus started to look confused, even a little worried.

Freeman smiled again, and laughed. "I guess now I'm a notorious  personality." He went back to reading his novel. A few stops later, he got off the bus.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/03/karma-and-charles-freeman-on-the-bus/1431/