Saturday, March 29, 2008

Once Upon Whatever

Once upon a time there was a princess, a prince, a big bad wolf, and, of course, some serfs. And a few too many court jesters. All of this royalty lived in a kingdom that was seriously lacking in leadership, vision, and a sense of the right thing to do. The Kingdom had a good share of famine and disease, for which there was no immediate cure, and a war that took the lives of too many young warriors-most of whom were handsome knights from all over the land. And, in addition to all these problems, their economy sucked.

No one knew what to do. Did I mention the King was a dope and they eventually had to drag him from his throne kicking and screaming about all the important things he had done, and so what if the peasants, farmers, cobblers and hair dressers (yes, there were always hair dressers), were suffering. They were of no importance to him. You see he was the arrogant kind of king who did things simply to prove he could, and for the financial benefit of his friends.

The people put out a call to Robin Hood, but alas, he was tied up in another far away Kingdom trying to sort out their problems and, of course, protecting Maid Marian. So the Prince and the Princess, both of whom wanted the job (it's nice to be King!), decided to have an election. But the Big Bad Wolf said that unless he could run as well, he would simply eat them. What could they do but pick sides and all run against each other.

The contest got very nasty, the jousting dirty and swords were laced with poison. And believe it or not, the big bad wolf emerged as the only candidate who thought waging war against other lands was fine, but he refused to wage it against the Prince and Princess. Besides, they were so busy killing one another off, that he didn't have to do anything, but sit back and wait. Oh my, oh my!

This history lesson was brought to you by a friend of Mickey and Minnie Mouse who was so depressed by anything other than bliss the he bought a condo in Orlando and charged people to come and visit. The End.

Unfortunately, this Fairy Tale is not unfolding nicely. But there are certainly lessons to be learned from history, whether they be fact or fable. In days of yore there was a smart, funny, elegant Prince named Mo Udall, a one eyed Mormon from Utah (although he was Congressman from Arizona), who decided that he could be the leader of the land-as opposed to the leader of the band - that was Dan Fogelberg, may he rest in peace. Anyway, Mo had neither name recognition nor any money. But he had a sense of humor beyond compare and he loved kibitzing with the media. Mo, much like the Father of the country, was incapable of telling a lie. Sure, he could spin a tale but when it came to a lie -- about policy or an opponent - he couldn't do it. In return, the press made him their hero, never said anything bad about his campaign, and wrote wonderful stories about how what a great leader he would make.

And so, out of sheer adoration, and without winning any primaries, Mo went to the Convention as a contender for the highest office in the land. John McCain and Mo Udall were friends. As the Senior Congressman from Arizona and despite their philosophic and party differences, Mo was always kind and generous to the Junior Senator. They loved and respected one another and when Mo was dying in a Veterans facility John visited him every week.

Senator McCain understood the power of what Mo had done in his campaign and is doing the same in his. And for the present, John McCain is the darling of the press, while his opposition is whiny and their antics tedious. And although McCain can be a loose cannon and has derided any number of press people for questions he didn't like or a perceived slight, they just can't get enough of him. Maybe this campaign is a bit more calculated and contrived than Udall’s, but the appearance of honesty, straight talk and likeability is working. For how long? Who knows. But it might be long enough to get elected.

Speaking of long and elected and despite what you hear, this is not the longest Primary race in history. It only seems that way because we expected it to be the shortest (and yes, it did start earlier). Let's take a quick look at the history of the Primaries. Actually, in 1968, when Hubert Humphrey became the candidate it was unclear right up until the convention that he would be the nominee. 1968 was also a year of change in this country, what with the war, women's rights and civil rights movements heating up. In fact, that may have been the last time we had an honest public discourse about race. Subsequently, 1976 was no picnic and although everyone thought Jimmy Carter would be the candidate, and thanks to the press, there was a perceived contest right up until Convention. In 1984 Gary Hart and Walter Mondale ran neck and neck until the primaries in California and New Jersey in June. And had Hart not issued those now famous words “I got stuck in NJ' there is no doubt the contest would have continued with the newly created Super Delegates weighing in.

My point is that while there were a few “whoever had the most money “ early decisions, (Dukakis and Kerry) most of the races did not end in February. The difference with this race is that Clinton expectations were for an early victory, young people came out in droves to express dissatisfaction with the status quo, and Independents and Democrats decided that hope was not a bad idea and real change was more important than experience.

The Princess felt it was her turn to rule. The Prince, being of mixed race and younger, thought there was no such thing as “turn.” And the Big Bad Wolf is satisfying his hunger with a meal of mollified media. The End? Not yet.


bd said...

You did good work here, Iris.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new book, Iris.

Too bad they want to shoot wolves again out west.

Too bad the people with the most money have been ruling the land for the last 7 years so the people with the most money can enrich themselves even more so the people with the least money get booted from their homes and the people with the most money get a bail out from the people with the most money in the Federal Reserve.

This is because with people with the most money got the Securities and Exchange Commission gutted of its powers starting back in 1981 when another President was elected by the people with the most money.

W, a person with very little money

Unknown said...

Iris, I'm headed right for the book website. I use the Apple blog form and that seems to be harder for a lot of people to find. Try this link:
Let me know what you think after you've had time to read the latest. We have to keep up this blogging. Nelson just sent me a NYT story from today about people getting book deals from blogs. We're on it!

Anonymous said...

A first rate piece.