Vacation Note:

Very grand accommodations: not ours!

The terrorist attacks on Americans and Britons in Mumbai have made it hard for me to work up even a modicum of Thanksgiving spirit. Sorry — I forgot to mention that I’d been reading about all the passengers stuck at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok — among them the mother of a friend. The two incidents are utterly different in one respect: the Thai protests have little or no international dimension. And yet perhaps for that very reason they trouble me more. I’ve been watching Thai democracy founder for a few months now, and what bothers me the most is that I’m on the protestors’ side: my instincts, too, are to disenfranchise uneducated, semi-feudalized rural voters. I’ve wanted to disenfranchise rural American voters ever since I lived in Texas, in the 1970s.

I say “wanted.” I didn’t say that I thought it would be a good idea. Clearly it would be best to bring rural Thai voters into some kind of cultural synch with their educated urban countrymen. But what if they don’t want that? What if, like so many Americans, they’d rather reality television?

My democratic impulses, obviously, are a lot more head than heart at the moment. So it’s a good thing that the most problematic of American holidays (in my book) will find me at a table for two with Kathleen, far from home, eating anything on the menu that isn’t a turkey dinner.

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