A Bridge Over Very Troubled Water

A Bridge Over Very Troubled Water

There is an old story about the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that may well be apocryphal.  I can find no documentation of it (although I didn’t search all that extensively) and it contradicts the standard, accepted version of how the song came to be.  Nevertheless, it sounds correct, in that it captures the personality involved quite well.  More to the point, it suits my purposes today, so….

The orthodox version of the story has it that Paul Simon wrote the song specifically for Art Garfunkel to sing, or at the very least, upon concluding it, he realized that only Art could sing it.  It was Paul’s masterpiece, his musical and lyrical zenith, the song that best showcased his unmistakable talents and expressed his personal determination, even in the face of the political tragedies of the 1960s.  It was everything to him, yet he knew that justice could be done to it only by Garfunkel’s soaring and crisp falsetto.

Or so the story goes.

By contrast, the story I recall – a better, more entertaining, and probably more accurate story – goes like this:

Interviewer: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was very personal.  It was your masterpiece, but it was also the expression of your own sorrow and resolve.  Why, then, did you give it to Art?  Why did you have him sing the lead on the song that was “yours” perhaps more than any other?

Paul Simon: You have to understand.  The harmony in “Bridge” is what makes the song.  It’s what makes it great.  And it’s very complicated.  I just couldn’t take the chance that Arthur would f*ck it up.

Apocryphal or not, we can draw several lessons from this story that we know are consistent with the truth.

First, Paul Simon may only be 5’3”, but he’s still one of the biggest jerks in a business filled with jerks.

Second, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

Third – and seemingly paradoxically – sometimes, if you want to accomplish great things, if you want to realize the best possible outcome, then you have to be willing to swallow your pride, bury your ego, and take on a background, supporting role, allowing someone else to win the accolades.

I’ve been thinking about this story and the lessons it imparts quite a bit over the past few days.

On February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini left Paris to return to Iran after almost 15 years in exile.  Ten days later, the Iranian monarchy was dissolved, and Khomeini took control of the government.  The following month, after a “referendum,” Iran’s new leadership declared that the nation would become an “Islamic” republic.  Eight months after that, on November 4, the Khomeinist regime unofficially declared war on the United States, when its revolutionary supporters took control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 53 diplomats hostage.  Khomeini supported the action and the hostage-taking, calling the embassy a “den” of American spies.  The Iranians held the hostages for 444 days and finally released them on January 20, 1980, just minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th President of the United States.

Whether the foreign policy “blob” in Washington acknowledges it or not, the Khomeinist regime has been at war with the United States ever since, and it or its proxies have been responsible for the deaths of countless American servicemen and women from Beirut to Iraq to Syria.

Not surprisingly, the Khomeinist regime and its proxies have been at war with Israel and worldwide Jewry ever since as well, slaughtering Jews in their homes, at their jobs, and as far away as Buenos Ares.  On October 7 of last year, one of those proxies – presumably with material support from the Iranian regime – launched a most horrific and vile attack on the Jewish homeland, an assault so grotesquely abominable that it forced the hand of the Israeli government.  The attack compelled the Israelis to do something they had been loath to do for some time, launch an all-out response against the Palestinian terrorist organization and Iranian proxy, Hamas.

Today, Israel is poised to destroy Hamas with an invasion of its last remaining stronghold of Rafah.  Such an invasion is a necessary, although not sufficient step in the process of crippling Hamas and dealing a serious blow to the Khomeinist regime.  Additionally, Israel could continue its destruction of Iranian proxies in Lebanon as well, if conditions permit.  All things considered, the West – of which Israel is the founding member – stands at the precipice of an enormous victory against an implacable enemy it has battling for more than four decades.  It stands on the verge of the best possible outcome anyone could have imagined seven months ago today.  This is a war that must be won, and Israel is ready to do so.

The only thing holding it back is the Biden Administration and its ideological recklessness.

Part of the problem here is that the Biden White House is very much an extension of the Obama White House.  Obama bafflingly adored the Iranian regime, preferring to see it not as the enemy it has declared itself to be but as an entirely new category in human relationships: friends without benefits.  The current administration has revived and continued this dishonorable policy.

The bigger part of the problem, however, is that Joe Biden is simply unable to stand up to the postmodernists and antisemites in his party and defend the nation’s most trusted ally.  He is unable to maintain the supporting role that Israel requires the United States to play.  All Israel needs the United States to do at this moment is to continue its decades-long support of the nation while also keeping its nose out of the details of its defense plans.  That’s it.  But Biden can’t do it.  He is unable to balance his supposed support for Israel with his desire to win reelection and his need to placate the younger factions of his coalition.  He is, in short, unable to sing harmony while that dirty, rotten, so-and-so Netanyahu takes the lead.  He just can’t allow that scoundrel Bibi to get the glory for destroying the bad guys, while he stands by and watches approvingly.

As I noted above, Paul Simon is 5’3” and is nearly universally acknowledged to be a complete and irredeemable jerk.  He is, in more than one way, a very small man.  And somehow, Joe Biden is even smaller.

This is a tragedy in more ways than one.  Not only does it give the Israeli government pause at a moment when it needs to be certain of itself and certain that it has the support of its “allies, but it also lets the Iranian regime off the hook, allowing it and its proxies to live another day.  While we hate to mix out cultural metaphors, it doesn’t take a soothsayer to see that the likeliest outcome of the latter tragedy will be a catastrophe that hits closer to home, the murder of an American Uncle Ben, so to speak.

With great power comes great responsibility, Mr. President.  Now shut up and sing harmony.

Stephen Soukup
Stephen Soukup
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Steve Soukup is the Vice President and Publisher of The Political Forum, an “independent research provider” that delivers research and consulting services to the institutional investment community, with an emphasis on economic, social, political, and geopolitical events that are likely to have an impact on the financial markets in the United States and abroad.