Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Secret Life of Michael Astrue

I sent one of our regular commenters a link to this, but had second thoughts.  It's too good not to share with everyone.
"In the hot Washington afternoon, in one of those endlessly bustling government offices, there sits a man named Michael J. Astrue, the fifty-four-year-old head of the Social Security Administration. Competent, organized, bald, and busy, he is not a politician, exactly, but one of those people who has to live in a highly political world, trying to make what the politicians come up with actually work.

Groomed by the American system for some job like the one he holds—high school at Roxbury Latin, undergrad at Yale (and president of Yale’s prestigious Political Union in his last year there), law school at Harvard—he belongs to a type of quiet and careful civil servant that Caesar Augustus would have recognized. As would Phillip II and Napoleon and Gladstone, for that matter. Powerful governments have always needed this kind of man: the senior administrator, the superior public official who (to reverse the entropy the Irish senator W.B. Yeats feared) makes the center hold and keeps things from falling apart.

Across the city, in the only slightly less hot Washington evening, in an apartment overlooking Georgetown, sits Astrue’s opposite, a man named A.M. Juster: formalist poet, comic versifier, and classical translator. Eight years ago, Juster won the Richard Wilbur Award for his collection 
The Secret Language of Women (2002), besides publishing book-length translations of Petrarch (the 2002 Longing for Laura) and Horace (the 2008 Satires)."
  continued

No comments: