Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shut Up, They Explained

One of the by-products of the terrible ordeal in Arizona is this notion that we should all be respectful and tone it down a bit when we discuss politics. Let me know how that works out.

The President urged us to do this at a ceremony that was initially thought to be a memorial service. However, this one came with t-shirts. I want to take this opportunity now to inform all my friends, loved ones, bill collectors, etc, that there will not be any “swag” at my memorial service.

There was a fear, at first, that the nut job that shot Congresswoman Giffords was some Tea Party activist that was inspired by (pick one) Sarah Palin’s PAC website, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or all three. Turns out he lives in his own climate and was inspired by of all things, a movie, instead of AM talk radio.

This didn’t stop some Noble/Pulitzer/Peabody prize winners for connecting the dots anyway and pretty soon we had a food fight about if it was okay to say Sarah Palin, a mother of about 400 children, inspired somebody to kill a nine year old girl but not okay to say the term “jobs killing”.

All of this is predictable as it is useless. There are some hurt feelings out there, but American History teaches us that Aaron Burr, a former Vice President, killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. I haven’t seen many duels out there lately. You might have noticed a Civil War; it was in all of the papers. President Garfield was killed by “a disappointed office seeker” (a guy that didn’t get a job). I won’t even mention the 60’s which seem like one long scream from one side to another.

That’s not to say that it can't get pretty nasty out there. There are a couple of reasons for it. One is the narcissistic nature of our culture. If the 70’s were “The Me Generation”, today is ‘THE ME ME ME ME ME ME ME Generation’. A lot of us think we speak infallibly in every breath.

Second, we are a competitive generation raised on sports and talk shows where winning is the only thing. Thus, people become competitive in arguments, worrying not about being factually right, but by winning the argument in their own mind. This usually involves a lot of loud talking, gestures, and some rhetoric hot as a Bunsen burner. This usually gets loud applause on shows where they are trying to determine who’s the Daddy of this baby.

Third, one side (usually the liberal side) wants the other side (usually the conservative side) not to be so stupid and to get with it. They are really impatient with us. “What do we want? (Fill in the blank).When do we what it? NOW!” They usually don’t try to persuade as they do try to bully and/or guilt the other side into doing “the right thing”. It is like a big brother and a mom merged and formed one big nag.

Someone is always making “too much money”. This someone is “you”, as the President said, but not “him” or Oprah. Now you have to watch not only your words, but the tone in which you say them, except, of course, when you are speaking truth to power.

Of course, my side has some explaining to do, Lucy. Some continue to hold on to this notion that the President is not an American. (Despite a story in the August 6, 1961 the Honolulu newspaper reporting “wise men surfing in from the East”). Others make themselves the final arbiter of what is and is not conservative. A person cannot be just 99% conservative or they will be tarred as a closet Obama supporter or worse, a Republican In Name Only (RINO).

My suggestions to make things just a little bit nicer when we argue politics: 1) Just remember you might be wrong. 2) It doesn’t make someone wrong if they disagree with you on a minor issue. It makes them stupid. 3) You can concede a point and you will not die.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Who Will Not Become President: Haley Barbour

As a public service, this blog will be taking a look at the potential candidates for the Republican nomination in 2012. Periodically this year, I will write about the people who will not be elected President. There are a lot of them. First up: Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi.

This one really isn’t so hard.

President Haley. Come on. That isn’t even as tough sounding as President Hillary. Even “Barack” sounds more forceful than President Haley. You think Iran is going to shake in their boots over President Haley? “Oooo, we have a letter from President Haley, a fat man with a girl’s name. Let us laugh at this poor unfortunate fellow”.

One thing Chris Matthews says that is right about elections: the new guy elected President is always different from the old guy. Eisenhower was old/Kennedy was young. Nixon was a shifty liar/Carter would never lie to you. Carter was a smarty pants stick in the mud/Reagan was glamorous, etc.

However, the change from President Obama to a President Barbour would be epic. On one hand, you have the handsome professorial young African American. On the other, you have Mayor Teddy Burnside. (This was the mayor on the 70’s TV show “Carter Country”. It was the typical show about the American South-nobody wore shoes; we all ate dirt, etc. Like all other 70’s sitcoms, it had a catchphrase and it was “Handle it”. Mayor Burnside used to say, “Handle it, Roy. Handle it, Handle it”. Every Southern male knows a plumb pasty boss that likes to tell people what to do, but doesn’t like to do it himself. Barbour seems like a guy that would say “Handle it”.)

Despite all of this, the main reason Haley Barbour will never become President, excluding the fact that he is chubby (it is still acceptable to judge a person by their weight), is the quicksand of Race.

This blog has a policy of not discussing any racial issues except in the broadest of all terms. Being from the Atlanta area, I’m used to even the most benign of discussions on topics unrelated to history suddenly becoming racial issues. Because of that, I try to avoid any discussions of anything that might come close to race. I realize that I could say what I think sounds like “Kumbaya” but someone else might interpreted it as something else and it just takes up a lot of time and effort and once you have given someone the impression that you might have tried on that Pointy-Hat, it is hard to convince them that you haven’t.

Barbour, in an interview with The Weekly Standard (a conservative magazine) commented that he didn’t remember the sixties being being “that bad”. Of course it wasn’t for Barbour; he was white at the time. He then went into a half-hearted defense of white citizens councils which he had to back track on a couple of days later.

This got Barbour a lot of publicity, the bad kind. Some politicians can out run a questionable racial past. For example, Jimmy Carter was not above using race, not in a good way, was he was running against Carl Sanders in the 1970 Georgia governor’s race, but by 1976, it was all forgotten.

Some of that has to do with letters. Specifically the letter “D” and the letter “R” that appear after a candidate’s name. Since Barbour has an “R” appearing after his name, he is going to be held to some higher standards than other people, particularly since he is from the South.

It is too bad that Barbour didn’t recognize this because by most accounts he has been a pretty good governor of Mississippi, for whatever that is worth. Compared to Gov. Blanco of Louisiana in 2005 when Katrina hit, Barbour looked like a genius and kept Mississippi pretty stable through a pretty rough time.

Barbour just has too many negatives to win the Republican nomination. Did I mention he was a professional lobbyist? For tobacco? (DUN-DUN-DUNN!). Throw in the his corn-pone nature that makes Larry The Cable Guy seem like Christopher Hitchens, his weight, and his racial foot in mouth disease, you have the makings for a candidate who can’t get a bumper sticker made for him.