Archive: July 2004

(2 entries)

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Independent of y'all

This year on Independence Day, I chose to celebrate in a manner Americans have honored for generations: by not posting to my blog. But now I realize the short-sightedness of my action, as I usually do eventually in all cases of action or inaction taken by me. So let’s seize this opportunity, on a week often considered related to the birth of our nation, to check in on the American political scene.

One thing that pops up immediately is that we seem to have political parties, in clear violation of the advice of one of our first presidents, George Washington, but that we cling fast to the musket-era idea that everyone can have guns.

My colleague in bling, one Puffy Diddy, brought gravitas to our weekend through his well-publicized and -politicized party in those Hamptons. All invited guests were required to wear nothing but white, white, white; reportedly one confused industry insider was made to bury his off-color sneakers in the woods before being allowed past the gates. Of course, the white theme was in honor of our Founding Fathers, who were exclusively white. Apparently an additional Puff notion of having the guests wear only men’s clothes, in remembrance of the masculine gender of all the Founders, was rejected as not sufficiently bling-friendly.

Puffy also went around telling everyone that a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence under his arm was his “date”, which, while maybe heavy-handed, is a pretty good way to avoid the issue of girls at parties. For those of you holding less patriotic gatherings, try walking around with a copy of Penthouse instead.

And in what passes for “surprise” in politics, the guy who stayed in the Democratic primary race longer than anyone else picked the guy who stayed in almost as long to be his running mate in their quest for the presidency. This didn’t surprise me, but it relieved me, mostly because I like Edwards better than Kerry. He’s a bit of a tabula rasa, and that worked well for the Republicans the last time around, but he also learned how to smile from someone other than Poppy Bush.

So maybe it’s not quite as surprising as when it was finally revealed that the anonymous author of Primary Colors was none other than Chelsea Clinton, but it means we get to see lots of pictures of John Edwards looking so effusive on airplanes, and that is what America needs to heal. It also means that John Kerry was able to put the fact that he and Edwards hate each other to one side and pick the strategy that helps America. Could George Bush do the same (for “hate Edwards” substitute “love Haliburton”)? Fortunately, he doesn’t have to.

And celebrity Midwesterner Michael Moore has once again proved why he’s the most talked-about grossly obese man in the country! Let’s hurry up and get a Democrat in the White House while Mike is still alive to see it! Now that Bush is ruling Middle Eastern republic Iraq as well as the United States, maybe he could move over there and let someone who doesn’t have any countries at all take a turn. Iraq, after all, is much more like Texas than the U.S. as a whole: lots of oil, lots of sand, lots of guns, and lots of children who do not graduate high school. I’d say Rod Paige’s miracle educational policy is working just as well in Iraq, as well as on the Moon, as it did in Texas! Don’t say no right away, George!

I think that pretty much catches us up with the state of the nation. Keep those cards and letters pouring in, and raise a glass to the hope that America will last another year. Or at least New York.

by Jack, 2:47 PM | Link | Comments (3) | More from Election 2004 | More from The Damned Human Race

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

America Has Convention Fever

If you’re like me, you’re a little underwhelmed by results of the decision to allow political bloggers at the Democratic convention, because those results are almost nothing. There is little coming from these blogs, and what there is doesn’t seem to be aided by the bloggers’ emergence from their living rooms. One can only presume that they are too busy schmoozing at the traditional power centers, and that must be fun. There is also a lot of catering, and excellent R&B dance grooves between the speeches, although of course those of us at home are dancing up a storm too.

But the fact remains that even if the blogs can contribute little to the good feelings streaming out of Boston, the American people have picked up the charge of rhetoric. America, as it does every four years or so, has Convention Fever, and it’s apparent everywhere you look.

A candidate’s plans and policies are what’s important, but the way he or she explains and frames these plans in speeches is revealing not only of the approach and personality of the candidate, but how effective he or she might be at getting all that done. You need to be able to talk to people, to persuade. Convention speeches showcase your ability or its lack.

This year in Boston, the Democrats have hit incredible high notes each night: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton on Monday, Ron Reagan and Barack Obama on Tuesday, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson on Wednesday, and probably nobody tomorrow, unless you want to hear more about a certain patrol boat in the Vietnam War. To me, the greatest convention speech of all remains Mr. Jackson’s from 1988, perhaps because I’ve always felt my patch is not big enough.

But, caught up in the frenzy of American rhetoric on display this week, Americans are joining our participatory democracy in a new way: rhetoric, and powerful rhetoric, is entering the mainstream. Gone from our consciousness are unclear, lightweight catchphrases such as “I’m lovin’ it” and “Wasssssuuuup”. I took the Trouble Sells fuel-conscious S.U.V. around America, and everywhere I met orators.

A retiree at a lunch counter in Omaha, to a waitress: “I say, to you, today, as I have said again and again: I will have the chicken salad. There can be no other choice.”

A young mother in Seattle, to her child in a stroller: “We have struggled together, and we have suffered together, but all along the way our commitment has not wavered. With your help, with your support, and with your faith, I know we can achieve much together. Otherwise, and on this I wish to be clear, we will not stop for ice cream.”

A man to a woman, in a bar in Cincinnati, at closing time: “I remain resolute in my belief in a career of service, and I stand before you to say that with [Name Withheld], you are getting a man who takes pride, not only in his accomplishments, but in his reputation. I will not lie to you, I will not mislead you, and I promise here, before God and my fellow bar-goers, that I will call you the next day.”

I am proud to have been born in a country that values verbal persuasion and atmospherics so highly, even if only for a few days a year, and it is to my fellow rhetoricians that this blog entry, and my life, is dedicated.

God bless America.

by Jack, 11:57 PM | Link | Comments (1) | More from Election 2004 | More from The Damned Human Race

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