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Political Editor Believes in the Afterlife

Those who receive the RealClearPolitics morning email alerts are well-acquainted with the daily musings of Washington  Editor Carl Cannon, who used to write a similar offering when he was the executive editor of the now defunct Politics Daily, which has been gobbled up in some version by the 200-tentacled beast otherwise known as AOL-HuffPost. Cannon’s writings are home-spun, Chicken Soup for the Soul-type thoughts on the day and can range from anything from a compliment for Politico‘s Mike Allen to today’s note involving the afterlife.

Cannon mentions that the late President Ford’s birthday is today with wife, Betty, now joining him. He specifically writes that she joins him in the “afterlife.” So we were naturally curious — does he really believe in that sort of thing? “Well sure, don’t you?” he replied when I asked. (We’re not sure if FishbowlDC editors have an afterlife that can be described out of water, so we’re relying on Carl’s expertise on this one.) Noteworthy: Perhaps Cannon has a special connection to the Fords. In 1999 he won the prestigious Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting of the Presidency.

Asked if he was referring to reincarnation, Cannon replied, “I certainly wasn’t referring to reincarnation, which is not something I know much about. My own religious tradition is Christian (Protestant) but I chose a more neutral word than ‘heaven’ in a deliberate attempt to avoid proselytizing. In secular circles, I realize that heaven is considered a Christian notion, but that’s too constricting an understanding of the concept. Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Islam all have some conception of a soul or an afterlife. The Torah counsels the faithful about the “Olam Ha-Ba,” the world to come; and there are several instances in the Old Testament in which the Hebrew greats—Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, among others—are said, after they had passed on, ‘to be gathered to their people.’

“Isn’t that a comforting way of thinking about death … and life? I believe it’s what Thomas Jefferson had in mind in his poignant condolence letter to John Adams upon learning of the death of Adams’ beloved wife Abigail…(see this after the jump…)

An excerpt from this morning: Good morning. It’s Thursday, July 14, the birthday of Gerald R. Ford, the healing president who has been gone these past four-and-a-half years, now joined in the afterlife by his wife Betty. It’s also Bastille Day, if you’re French, which I’m not. This is a somewhat sad morning for France, actually, as the U.S. women’s team wore the French women down in the World Cup yesterday, prevailing by a score of 3-1, thereby earning a spot in the Sunday final against Japan.

Monticello, November 13, 1818
The public papers, my dear friend, announce the fatal event of which your letter of October the 20th had given me ominous foreboding. Tried myself in the school of affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which can rive the human heart, I know well, and feel what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. The same trials have taught me that for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medi cine. I will not, therefore, by useless condolences, open afresh the sluices of your grief, nor, although mingling sincerely my tears with yours, will I say a word more where words are vain, but that it is of some comfort to us both, that the term is not very distant, at which we are to deposit in the same cerement, our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again. God bless you and support you under your heavy affliction.

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