Sunday, April 27, 2008

What the World Should do

I voted for Hilary Clinton in the California primary.

The reasons for this are likely similar to those of her other supporters. I won’t recite all of them here. I’m not mad that things aren’t working out for her—the way she’s been running her campaign of late, it’s not too surprising things are going a little south. And then there’s the success of the amazing, formidable, intelligent, and eloquent Barack Obama. I don’t blame her one bit for being mad about that, too . . .

. . . but I’m still not mad. In fact, barring any weird last-minute twist, after the final primary is over, she should gracefully hang it up and, along with Mr. Hilary, give everything she’s got for the fall campaign (Right. Should, but won’t.)

No, I’m not mad, but I’m still anxious. Barack Obama may need all the support he can get from here on out, especially if he takes the oath of office in January 2009. A guy can only skate so far on the charismatic ghost of JFK.

Whoever of these two we like, the real chore lies ahead: pushing the Republican Party in its currently dangerous and pathetic state, out of government into the woods for a nice long rainy camping trip. Yes, lots of rain!

Unfortunately, I don’t have the Big Mic to say “call it!” and make it stick. And if I were, say, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, CNN et al., I might not make that call. After all, this Three Stooges-minus-Larry act, though its abuse is mild by historical standards, would be my bread and butter. “We love it!” I’ve heard one pundit say (i.e., “What fate of our country? Fate shmate! This is fun!” But so is drug-dealing to the pathetic thugs in HBO’s The Wire.)

I’ve watched little actual network news since Cronkite signed off. One hour a day of punditry is all my nerves can stand. That hour I spend with Olbermann on MSNBC because he’s the closest thing to a traditional anchor; and he’s an excellent interviewer, a sharp wit and, importantly, knows when to admit he’s wrong and apologize.

I hate the horse race aspects of politics. Give me a day at a real race track. I’m not a political junkie-—though policy, especially environmental and foreign policy, does hold my concern and interest. I want to watch some governing! But when it comes to the process of getting there, like Al Gore, I’d rather punch a brick wall with my bare knuckles. (My new slogan: “Run away Al! Run away!”).

Politicking is the nasty pursuit and tedious smelly craft of power in human civilization. A purely saintless church. Politicians have to act friendly to strangers, get in fights with their friends and make the kind of allies a dog wouldn’t sniff. The lying and the pandering; the Orwellian obfuscations; the whoring and pimping for money; the pitifully few opportunities to command honorably without calculation or opportunism.Even in the careers of the most patriotic, successful politicians, the chance to make decisions based on honest patriotism, a genuine sense of justice, and concern for the nation don’t come often.

Example: my favorite U.S. President is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But as I dab away my tears thinking about FDR’s courage in the face of polio and his nimble-minded, pragmatic, clear-eyed governance of this country through the storms of the Great Depression and World War II, I’m obliged to recall his many failures—his disastrous try at forcing the Army to deliver the U.S. Mail; his attempts to pack the Supreme Court (as ruthless as the Cheney Administration’s manipulations, but less successful); his cut off of Depression-era aid to New York City in a petty personal feud with the city’s mayor; his surrender on legislation that would have made lynching a federal crime; and while I reject the paranoid-nihilist claim that FDR deliberately allowed the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was a tragic blunder that included the scapegoating of a two admirals who only shared a small part of the blame.

And then finally, of course, the rounding up and internment of Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps during the war. Inexcusable. On these issues, FDR has it coming.

Still, we were terribly lucky to have him. I really miss him now, wheels of clay and all.

Back to anxiety: I am a concerned citizen. I should decorate that noun with “scare quotes.” Not as a statement of wink-wink-I’m-only-kidding, post-modern abuse of irony, but out of a sense of detachment created to help me cope with deep anxiety.

Right now, I am anxious about Senator Obama. I hope he’s fooling just himself and he stops doing that soon. No candidate will ever come up with the alchemy that turns politics into backgammon. There’s no trail back to Eden in this world, nor a utopia in the future.

Hey, look at the opposition! They not only don’t believe in his vision of the New Politics, they’re actively, passionately sincerely opposed to it. Rush Limbaugh, the psycho bullhorn for the 30% Dead-Enders who still love the Cheney Administration, is out inciting riots. Maybe we are all Americans . . . but the Dead-Enders scream to disagree. "American" means only them and their decadent elite.

Sooner or later, someone, if not Senator Obama, then his supporters, will have to throw hard dirt and the sharpest rocks they can find—preferably not at each other.

But will the Democrats take this sound advice from this tiny voice? O, how I fear not! A couple nights ago, I saw that great clip of Bill Clinton throwing Chris Wallace around the room on Fox News awhile back. Yo, Bill! Why aren’t you doing more of that to them instead of your own team? Whoa! Where the hell was the rest of his party? If I’m not mistaken, around that time, we were also treated to the spectacle of Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid folding like a lawn chair: “Ooooo! Don’t want to get the Republicans mad! Ooooooo! President Cheney might veto our bill! Filibuster!? Ooooooo! I might have to spend the night on a cot next to Trent Lott and he smells bad! Ooooooo!”

(Pssst! Harry? Harrr-rrry! Dude, it’s OK to lose some votes! Just lose big, loud and brave and then hang it on them! Even us pragmatists like it when you guys stand up and fight! What? You're afraid of a guy with a 30% approval rating?)

It’s never dirty politics to tell the facts and present them with hard-bitten tough-ass, moral fighting passion. And, after what this nation has been through the last eight years, it’s not like the Democrats have to lie or contrive anything. Repeated ads of McCain saying “100 more years”, hugging Cheney’s Chief Aide, and defending the Reverend Hagee are just the start of the Wikipedia of All-True-Facts they have to throw. Tie ‘em all up in a nice big bundle and drop ‘em in the lake.

You don’t even have to go near swift-boating McCain’s war record; that, the good and brave gentleman from Arizona can run on till he wears his feet out.

. . . though I wouldn’t be above sneaking in a clip or two of him snoozing in public . . . hey, somebody get me Democratic Headquarters!

Photos from Star-Pulse, Flickr & FDR Library

1 comment:

Hugh Lafferty said...

Mr. Burchfield: Another well-written, but questionable commentary.

1) Sending Republicans on a camping trip seems insufficient punishment, unless Vice-President Cheney comes along.

2) FDR would often deliberately not grease his wheelchair, causing it to squeak repeatedly during cabinet meetings. This is believed to be, by at least one historian, why so many officials resigned during FDR's term. Clay wheels, indeed!

3) Please, do not punch brick walls with your bare fists! You'll hurt yourself! Take it from me, a former amateur boxer!

Thank you.