04 August 2004

You Look Maherrrrrrr-vellous! or,
   How Justin Timberlake Might Have To Save Democracy

It's comin' from the feel
That it ain't exactly real,
Or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.

    --- Leonard Cohen, "Democracy" (1992)

      Gee, that was quick: no sooner do I provide a link to HBO, and they go ahead and update their site with info from the latest episode.   I miss having the satellite dish right about now, because I would have loved to have seen the episode, a curious one that featured, along with Ralph Nader and Michael Moore, former Canuck PM Kim Campbell who, with her last appearance on the same show, demonstrated surprising good humour and common sense. If she'd shown any such character when she was running in 1993, history might have turned out very differently. This blog likes what she had to say to Mr. Nader:

A vote for a third party here does not translate into any seats, into any say. On the contrary, if you were to - you are a great man, Ralph Nader. I respect you. You changed the way people think about power. Not in this country, but in every developed country. I can't tell you when I was a political science professor, how often - I mean, how Unsafe at Any Speed changed the way we think about power. You could be out there as the gadfly mobilizing the people who look to you for leadership and being like Sam Gompers and saying, 'I'm going - let's call it the 'feet to the fire' campaign.' And close to November 2nd, you do a report card where you say what you think people should vote for. But then you have leverage. And if you help somebody win, then you're still a player. And the people who look to you get to be players.
Simply put: Right. On.   This blog also likes Maher's observation about the seething illogicality of the Bushies: "Every time I hear somebody who talks about President Bush - I hear this: 'God puts people in authority for good reason.' I wonder if this guy will agree with that if Kerry gets elected." Innnnn-Deeeeeeeeed.

      Check out the New Rules, too, which features this stinging bit:

I'm not saying everyone has to pore over issues and read everything that's out there. We can't even get our president to do that. But the conventions are one of the only times when the election isn't reduced to sound bites and attack ads. When you can get to know these people a little. It's not exciting enough just to hear Theresa Heinz[-]Kerry? Oh, I'm sorry, next time we'll get Justin Timberlake to whip her tit out!
In a word, OUCH.   Then again, we've moved so thoroughly through the looking-glass that Justin may end up in history alongside Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.   Put that in your irony pipe and smoke it.

      This leads me to make an observation here that I never got around to making when the time was right.   For the various flaws, weaknesses and vagueries of Kerry's speech at the Democratic Convention, it's worth pointing out what he did accomplish: he's changed the rhetorical dimensions of the campaign, or, at least, he's made it a great deal more difficult for the GOP to use their tried-and-true tactics of allege and besmirch. Appropriately, he's taken the battle to Bush's playground (Iraq, terrorism, and so forth).   Has anyone, after all, noticed the trepidation with which Bush and Chicanery Dick Cheney have approached their attacks since the convention?   They're surprisingly muted, even cautious; they're certainly less sniggering and less overtly derisive. I don't think Kerry accomplished much else with his speech, but it's quite possible this change in dynamic could prove to be the peripeteia of the campaign. This is what I think he needed to do, and as much as one might say this just a posturing of positivity while the Democrats let MoveOn.Org and company do their dirty work, it was a necessary (and largely symbolic) taking of the high-road. There might yet be hope for actual debate, though hope, I'm reminded, generally meets a fate that would make Lady Macbeth's unborn child grateful for his dashing.

      As for this blog, well, it's neither left or right, it's just stayin' home tonight, gettin' lost in that hopeless little screen.

      ADDENDUM: Er, regarding that muting of attack: it looks like this blog spoke too soon.   Sheesh.   This little nugget, if it can't be proven, could be grounds for a libel suit: "Kerry entered an abandoned Vietnamese village and slaughtered the domestic animals owned by the civilians and burned down their homes with his Zippo lighter."   So much for that little hope for civility.... How predictable-- and how contemptible.

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