Thursday, January 31, 2008

Some Times a Topic's, Not Really a Topic (JM)

Four’s a Crowd

By GAIL COLLINS

There are some relatively new cowpokes in the NYT op-ed pen: Roger Cohen and the above cited Gail Collins. They are amazingly similar in so far as they say absolutely nothing. While they say this “nothing” way better than a certain She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (see Maureen, I can do the nickname thing too), they still say “nothing” and to me this is kind of unacceptable.

DENVER

Farewell to John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani. Guess which one is planning to devote his life to helping the poor? No fair looking it up.

Oh, snap! Nailed Rudy from the get go.

The presidential campaign is kind of lonely — we’d gotten used to having a big crowd. The parents of extremely large families must feel this way when their children start going off to college.

It’s true, it was sad when we had to send little Joe, Bill and Chris off to school. But it’s okay, I hear Joe’s been active with the student government and Bill is quite the ladies’ man. Chris seems a little homesick, but we have to let them grow their wings and fly, right Gail? My point: what a truly dumb analogy.

Mike Huckabee is still in the Republican race, possibly due to a belief in miracles or a lack of any other specific occupation. Ron Paul pops up for the Republican debates, and Mike Gravel is rumored to have been seen wandering down a Florida highway recently. But we’re really down to four, and tonight the Democrats have a debate involving only two people. Has anybody ever tried this before?

So your point is that there are less people in the race now, we get it, what of it?

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been extremely testy toward one another, but so far the rancor at the top has not trickled down. The Democratic voters haven’t seemed angry at all. In fact, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen such a chipper group. Racing to the polls in droves. Not a single reference to holding one’s nose or the lesser of two evils. “I want the Republicans to feel the way I did in 2004,” said Mike Sherzan, an Iowan who was for Edwards in the caucus while his wife was for Clinton and his son was with Obama. (Basically, everybody’s son is with Obama.)

First of all, this seems to have next to nothing to do with the purported point of this column. Secondly, this is just the least true thing I have ever heard. There is tons and tons of rancor. Obamabots and Hillarites, it’s like the Jets and the Sharks. I have seen many people on both sides claim that they would rather vote for McCain than the other Democratic candidate. Of course, that is profoundly stupid, but still it is going on. But perhaps you have evidence to back up this insane claim? Oh, Mike Sherzan the bellwether person for all Democrats everywhere.

It would be nice if the two survivors could work a little harder on encouraging that mood. Anger is out. So 2006. So ... Tom DeLay.

Did you watch Clueless last night? Using so… like that is sooooo 1998. Also that is the appropriate way to express sooooo. Your version, so… Tom DeLay, is what it would sound like if you were having an awkward conversation with your teenage daughter after finding pictures of Tom DeLay under her mattress.

Hillary could start by purging her campaign of the lingering sense that the presidency is her due and anyone who stands in her way is a particularly mean chauvinist. You cannot run a campaign with the slogan: “Vote for Hillary — Think of All She’s Been Through.”

I think this is fair so long as the Obama campaign agrees to stop complaining about every attack Hillary makes as an assault on hope or African-Americans.

And while it seems unlikely, Barack might consider admitting once in a while that it’s possible for a person to reach for a greater tomorrow while voting for somebody else.

I would like to see this too, but it seems unlikely. I just can’t see Barack saying, “You know both Hillary and I want a greater tomorrow, but I want the greatest tomorrow.”

“It’s about the past versus the future,” he said yesterday, railing at some people (no names were mentioned, but we’re really running out of alternatives) who are willing to settle for small change, who “look backwards and try to build a bridge back to the 20th century.”

I like the little side reference to “we’re really running out of alternatives”. It’s like she suddenly realized this column has absolutely nothing to do with its stated topic and just decided to parenthetically stick it in there.

See, that is the sort of thing that makes Hillary voters depressed. Everybody wants to be a change agent. But Barack is making Clintonites feel like an elderly aunt who won’t let the kids play their newfangled music in the talent show.

You! You are this newfangled aunt, aren’t you!

In Colorado yesterday, Caroline Kennedy once again passed the torch to a new generation at an Obama rally that drew an estimated 18,000 people to the University of Denver arena, an overflow room and an overflow overflow room. “Let’s give a shout-out to all the folks who are still outside on the lacrosse field,” Barack urged the early birds who made it into the actual event.

The Kennedy-Obama connection is central to the campaign’s message, which is that the American people have been wandering in the desert for more than a generation, waiting for another leader who could show them how to reach for the stars. But J.F.K.’s grand achievement was the raising of expectations, not the follow-through. His administration was a decidedly mixed bag, during which people spent a great deal of time building nuclear fallout shelters.

I guess really she has just given up pretending that this is anything but a free form opportunity to just sort of say anything that pops in to her head. It’s exactly like that scene in 8 Mile where they come up with extemporaneous rhymes (I swear Maureen, I am really trying to learn from you, how am I doing thus far?).

Some of the Democratic resistance to Obama’s magic comes from people who are wary of politicians who want to win their hearts. Every great candidate has golden moments when the campaign merges perfectly into the zeitgeist of the people. But sooner or later it passes, and you’re left with a tired, flawed human being making a pitch to crowds of slightly deflated citizens. One of Hillary’s selling points is that we’re pre-deflated. We’ve known her so well for so long.

I seriously have no idea what this means. This is one of the most confusing paragraphs I have ever read. My best guess is: People are wary of inspirational politicians because eventually they let us down. Hillary’s awesome because she’s already let us down. This is weird over analytical nonsense, but hey at least you used the word zeitgeist correctly in appropriate context unlike the Dowdasaurus Rex.

The Obama let-down would be way harder to handle. Earlier this week, his campaign visited Barack’s sort-of ancestral home in El Dorado, Kan., a small town outside Wichita where the community college gym was rocking.

“An hour-and-a-half wait. It was well worth it,” said Hardy Stegall of nearby Pretty Prairie.

It was Obama’s first visit. His grandparents, the Dunhams, kept chasing the American dream west until they wound up in Hawaii. Stanley Dunham started out in El Dorado, where he managed a furniture store and, family legend has it, once decked the high school principal. At the rally, Obama told the story of how Stanley married a young woman from the right side of the tracks and how their daughter married a man from Kenya, who left her a young single mother whose son is running for president.

“Their journey, like so many others, speaks to a simple truth ... the future is what we decide it is going to be,” he said.

“I never thought he’d come here,” said Stegall, almost beside himself with pleasure.

And to tell the truth, I never imagined sitting in a gym in small-town Kansas, watching people whoop for a black, Hawaii-born, grandson-of-a-son of the Kansas soil who promised to bring their hometown values with him to the White House.

Seriously, these last seven paragraphs can be summed up as: Obama is Super Awesome and Inspirational! I really wish that had been the title of this column, then I wouldn’t have to have read it because everyday people like to tell me how Super Awesome and Inspirational he is and ask me whether I have yet be Inspired by him, because if not it is a totally Inspirational experience. I feel kind of queasy.

We may remember this as a great campaign, people. Presuming they don’t screw it up.

1) Remember when this article was about how there are two people left in each race? I do, I totally do. See it’s in the title and the introductory paragraph; 2) No one is ever going to forget this campaign, it has been pretty great, Mittmentum and all that, but who is the “they” to whom you are referring. I am seriously unclear. Is it the candidates for being too negative? Is the voters for considering choosing someone other than St. Obama, Patron Saint of Hopespiration? I do not get the point of your article, but welcome to the fold Gail.


5 comments:

skn said...

Ugh, I don't get why you guys only attack women columnists and that British guy. This is just woman bashing.

Dennis said...

Ahem, excuse me what about our attacks on David Broder, and libertarian icon John Stossel. Also, just because he is British and stupid doesn't mean he doesn't count.

Men attacked: David Broder, Bonnie Prince Finkelstein, John Stossel, Michael Gerson, Wil Wilk-...wait hold on a second! Maureen, is that you? Stop complaining and write better columns.

Jonathan said...

Damn, you got me. The truth is that I hate the British AND women. Maggie Thatcher stood me up when I was five and I've never forgiven them. So now, after many years of intense plotting, I have unleashed my vengeance: a blog read by possibly fifteen people. Take that gynocracy!

Pontious said...

This is some fiiiiiiiiiiiine sarcasm. Why wouldn't you take complaints a bit more seriously?

Dennis said...

Are you being sarcastic?