Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nose Pressed Up Against the Glass

In 1976 Milton Schapp, the Governor of Pennsylvania decided to run for President. He was one of seven or eight people who made the same decision. The difference between Governor Schapp and everyone else running was that no matter how hard the Governor tried, he couldn’t get any press to cover any of his announcements – so no one knew he was running. In fact, it wasn’t until Jack Germond wrote a piece about the Governor’s inability to get anyone to acknowledge that he was a candidate, that any of the public knew there had been another hat thrown into the ring. It was pretty hysterical—not for Schapp and a staff person we called “the grape”, but for everyone else involved in any of the other campaigns—which included unknown soon-to-be luminaries like Governor Carter, Cong. Udall, Senator Bayh, and the 'Ron Paul'-like character Senator Fred Harris.

It is unfortunate to have to report that John McCain is suffering from Schapparitis. He is just one of many candidates who have anguished from the dreaded ailment, but most of the time it has gone unnamed. This is not the disease caused by having Milton in any part of your name because McCain’s middle name is Sidney—and before anyone goes on and on about my picking on Sidneys or Miltons, it was my dad’s name and I actually kept a straight face when I was required to divulge that information – which is not always the case when I find myself referring to John Sidney McCain. No, this is the political disease you get when you think you are not getting enough attention from the media. It causes you to do totally ridiculous things like make media luggage tags that decry your second place status. It may cause you to give speeches in which you make mistakes and where the information makes little or no sense. And, it has the appearance of whining, which is exceedingly unattractive in a Presidential candidate. It does puts you in the public eye but sometimes being a public which is blind is preferable. Oh, and it may cause you to make scheduling decisions that are responsive instead of proactive. Which means, in human talk—someone else is setting the agenda and you are merely responding. A very bad idea.

The consequences of this disease are far reaching, but the symptom’s identified initially give the appearance of running from venue to venue and pressing your nose, ear or any body part, against the glass—if there is one—otherwise it’s the door, or any partition and beg to be let in. It doesn’t happen and you end up wallowing in self pity and doubt. If it is not controlled with medication, (or a wise strategist – kind of an oxymoron) it can be fatal to your future.

And talk about stupid – maybe we weren’t , but this is worth mentioning. As if there aren’t enough stupid people perpetuating ugly rumors about the Democratic candidate, they had to deal with cover of the “New Yorker” -- which was neither clever nor was it funny—although they claimed brilliant satire. Since most of America merely passes the New Yorker on the stands and never looks inside, all the public sees is Obama is a Muslim and his wife is a terrorist. If they asked my pal Kat, she would rightly have told them that it is only credible satire if the next edition is a picture of McCain wearing a diaper in a wheel chair with a hearing horn and standing next to him is Cindy in a prom dress carrying a designer purse with money pouring out from all sides. But that is not what an elitist would call smart. Here’s the bottom line. Or the top line depending where you start your sentences. John McCain is a guy who (only a few months ago) was beloved by the media. They couldn’t get enough of him and the Straight Talk Express. Now, I’m afraid the only thing that would actually get the media to pay attention to his campaign would be if Obama were run over by that Straight Talking bus. And I’m sure that must have crossed the mind of more than one of the staffers – off the record. It’s unfortunate for the McCain campaign but Obama has had a brilliant overseas trip. He not only looks Presidential he sounds like a leader. He has answered and asked important questions and he has made actual policy statements like he is not about to let the Generals (who have a vested interest in war – my words not his), determine White House policy. I love when the President actually has a vision for what he wants his administration to be—and it is not about pandering to a misdirected military or a fear of being called unpatriotic because you are thoughtful rather than reactive.

So what does John McCain have to do to get back in the race? He has to stop running against an idea and stop running in favor of the past. He has to start to define who he can be and where he wants to take the country. The problem for him is that his thinking is all yesterday and the voter is looking for tomorrow. And no one wants to find a cure for a disease—they just want a vaccine to prevent it. We're just sayin'...Iris


Unknown said...

Years ago, I was having lunch with Charlie McBride at a new, expensive Italian restaurant near DuPont Circle. I ordered a kir (of course). The waiter (dare I call him pretentious?) huffily said, "Kir is a French drink. This is an Italian restaurant."
He was only a "huffy" beginner. Charlie taught him a quick lesson. "Oh, is it?," Charlie asked, and not in a quiet voice. "In that case, she will have coq au vin and French bread."
The waiter managed to find some Cassis behind the bar. He wisely chose not to push Charlie's Louisiana distaste for snobs any farther. By the way, the restaurant didn't last long.

Iris&David said...

Be, what a good story! I have been know to ask someone who I think is acting in a pretentious manner "Do you know what preternaturally means?" They usually don't and I think it makes a point. Love your comments

Anonymous said...

I feel compelled to correct the record:
Milton Shapp, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who ran for President.

Joyce Kravitz