November 21st, 2006

Then As Now

Napoleon's Egyptian campaign was a real fuck-up. His army came down with the plague. Napoleon cut and ran, but before he did so he cleared out  the plague hospitals by poisoning all the patients.

Later, Nappy's favourite artist, the Baron Gros, painted him visiting the hospital in Jaffa.  Brightly lit amid the encircling gloom,  he  extends a healing forefinger and touches the infected sore of some poor, suffering soul.  Like Jesus. Exactly like Jesus.

The Battle of Eylau was another fuck-up. The Russians withdrew, drawing the the Grande Armee deeper into the killing winter of the Motherland- and Nappy was able to chalk it up as a victory. Gros paints him riding across the previous day's battlefield at the head of a team of doctors who minister impartially to French and Russian. His eyes roll heavenwards, his arm is extended as if in blessing. 

And we talk as though spin were something Karl Rove invented.