Thursday October 23, 2014
October 16th, 2014
Are we spending our democracy into oblivion?
This is the time of year when media scribblers bemoan how nasty political campaigns have become. The complainers are accused of a dainty form of historical ignorance by defenders of mud-slinging who drag out Finley Peter Dunne's 1895 assertion that "politics ain't beanbag." Politics has always been nasty, the argument goes, so we should get over it.
It's often said and written that presidents, to achieve greatness, require great challenges. Washington had the challenge of creating a new nation; Lincoln had the Civil War; FDR faced the Great Depression and World War II. All clearly qualified by that standard and achieved greatness.
Sometimes it's hard to tell which is more terrifying: Ebola or the commentary about it.
On Monday, radio host Rush Limbaugh suggested that President Barack Obama is refusing to divert flights from Liberia and other Ebola-infected countries because of some sort of racial payback.
The 2008 campaign was the first time a woman was a serious presidential contender, so it was not surprising that gender was an uncomfortable, tiptoe-y subject. The male candidates weren't sure-footed in dealing with it -- recall Barack Obama's "you're likable enough, Hillary" and the debate discussion about the color of her jacket.
“Gov. Tom Corbett, who claims he opposes legalization of marijuana, was seen behind a barn smoking weed. Just a-puffin’ and a-grinnin’.”
“Tom Wolfe was speeding and driving drunk through the streets of York. If he can’t obey traffic laws, why would we think he’d obey the Constitution if elected Pennsylvania governor?”
Some white Americans may be surprised to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu describe Bryan Stevenson, an African-American lawyer fighting for racial justice, as "America's young Nelson Mandela."
("Huh? Why do we need a Mandela over here?" they might ask. "We've made so much progress on race over 50 years! And who is this guy Stevenson, anyway?")
"A talib fires three shots at point-blank range at three girls in a van and doesn't kill any of them. This seems an unlikely story," writes Malala Yousafzai in her memoir "I Am Malala." "When people talk about the way I was shot and what happened I think it's the story of Malala, 'a girl shot by the Taliban'; I don't feel it's a story about me at all."
Fighting Superman is super hard.
"The guy is tough," says Ben Affleck, who is playing Batman in a new iteration filming now in Detroit where the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel duke it out. The actor is also having a tricky time with less heroic characters in his new hit movie, "Gone Girl," a twisted and twisty conjugal cage fight that has sparked charges of misogyny, misandry and misanthropy.
As British war planes arc through Middle Eastern skies and security services race to unravel terrorist plots at home, the nation's most prominent propagandist for the Islamic State sits in a London sweets shop, laying out his radical vision between bites of dessert.