Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Wrapping up Ted Kennedy
hear about the Kennedys is bad. You can read all the books you want;
every single tome is less a biography than a series of unfortunate
events, featuring plane crashes, premature deaths and social diseases
that stretch way back into the early twentieth century. Now we hear
the tragic news of Senator Ted Kennedy's inoperable brain cancer,
sending shivers down our spines and text messages through the gossip
It's a horrible fate to imagine. Even more horrible is the manner in
which the media and politicos are going to package it.
The first wave of messages will be hardly surprising, driven mainly
by morbid curiosity. What kind of tumor? Is it malignant? Followed
by the ever-present, "How long do you think he really has?"
We'll get the usual, "he's a fighter" and "if anyone can beat this,
Ted Kennedy can." We'll watch the interviews with his lifelong
friends. Given the media mentality of what now passes for American
politics, however, there's sure to be a second and third wave of
messaging that sinks way lower, deep beyond the previous limits of
This being an election year, I suspect that anyone with an agenda
will be soon be invoking the Kennedy name in discussions more often
than Jesus Christ in church. The Kennedy brand, at once as romantic
as it is tragic, will descend upon the Democrats at the convocation
of their national convention. In a twisted attempt to package this
year's nominee as the torch-bearer of the Kennedy legacy, Ted
Kennedy, viewed as "the last of the real Kennedys", will have his
final movie moment, waving to the crowd during a tearful, emotional
fifteen minute standing ovation after delivering his last keynote
address, nominating whichever Democrat that has managed to steal
Democratic strategists, like the infamous Howard Dean, will be
packaging Ted Kennedy as the New Age Gipper, with plenty of upshot
camera angles and slow-motion dolly moves that will be cut into the
eventual documentary film. It will be a glowing, Kennedy moment.
"Win this last one for me."
While the Kennedys have always enjoyed media popularity, reporters
are already writing Ted Kennedy's obituary. They're using words like
"patriarch" and "icon," which when you think about it, is true: Ted
Kennedy is an icon for a entire generation as the first public figure
to abdicate all responsibility for his personal behavior and without
any sort of public accountability. But that, as they say, is water
under the bridge.
As far as the Kennedys are concerned, their myths have always been
larger than life, and so in keeping with that tradition, I have
little doubt that party movers will manipulate Ted's final time with
masterful self-interest. I suspect that in the coming days, we'll
all hear and see the same talking heads bobbing and chattering and
speculating about "who dares to assume so great a mantle" as left by
Ted Kennedy, while anointing their candidate of choice in hopes of
spurring a generation of nostalgic baby boomers into the voting
It's a genuinely sad time for the Kennedy family. It's potentially
even sadder for America if the Democrats commercialize his ill
fortune for their own selfish gain.
H.L. Mencken said it best: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating
the taste of the American public." You just watch what happens with
the merchandising of Ted Kennedy.
And pray that I'm wrong.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Let's Play the Race Card
They find that with a Porsche, they can get hotter chicks.
Nothing really new there, except for the realization that things don't always happen for the reasons we think they do. In fact, one of the most common misconceptions players face in the competitive arena is the assumption of a level playing field. Nowhere could this be truer than in the mega-hypocritical, politically correct stadium known as the American presidential election, where the Los Angeles Times recently reported on the battle between Democratic contenders Clinton and Obama.
In its article predicting the demise of Hillary Clinton, the Times reported the following:
Other Democratic officials said Wednesday that they feared the political damage to the party if Clinton were to succeed in using the party apparatus to take the nomination from Obama, who has energized black voters and many other Democrats.
Seems innocuous enough, eh? Really? Try reading the same lines with the details reversed and see if it plays the same way for you:
Other Democratic officials said Wednesday that they feared the political damage to the party if Obama were to succeed [against] using the party apparatus to take the nomination from Clinton, who has energized white voters and many other Democrats.
Same story, but written from the politically incorrect point of view. Just imagine if any candidate, Democrat or Republican, were to be lionized for their efforts in galvanizing the white vote in America. As we say in my own home, "Boy, would there be yelling."
Think I'm being too clinical here? Well, you may want to ask yourself why it's perfectly okay to bash the "Christian right", while everyone cries foul for referring to Obama by his full name -- Barak Hussein Obama. Nobody has a problem with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Or Richard Milhous Nixon. Or even Lee Harvey Oswald. Call the Senator from Illinois by his full name and the next thing you'll be calling is the riot police.
Don't get me wrong. I don't have any particular agenda here. I'm all for changing what America has become and I think that change could happen with just about any candidate. The only question would be what kind of change you'd be looking at, which is what free and fair elections are all about.
I'm currently writing this from the truly democratic country of Denmark, a country that prides itself on its ethics and freedoms, including the freedom to freely -- and fairly -- disagree. There's surprisingly little yelling here, although there's plenty of debate. There's no political correctness here because the Danes understand the value of truth.
Just like America used to.