Friday, October 3, 2008

American Syzygy


photo by Brooklyn Beat/TN 2008

syz·y·gy a pair of related things that are either similar or opposite

If the Democratic Party could muster the ruthless campaign operational style of the GOP, as conceived by Lee Atwater and honed by Karl Rove, would they still be the Democratic Party? Last night's media event shows the complexity of the Obama campaign's desire to play by different, non-combative rules. Funny, you would think that the Democrats were the incumbents. Even though a relative political novice, Governor Palin was a very effective media presence, talking right to the audience. She made for very strong TV. She hit a lot of the right notes, right down to the adorable children. What can one say? While I imagine in a lot of clubs and bars on the coasts or on college campuses, schooled in semiotics and deconstruction, you can easily read the message and sharp media preparations that she clearly received. But I dare say that to a lot of folks, including many working stiffs in NYC, she seemed quirky, a little daffy, but real. As Chris Rock said in his recent special, and I paraphrase, 'Bush messed things up so much for white men as political candidates that people are saying, give me a woman, a black man, a giraffe, anything but another white guy.' Senator Biden, no matter what, is limited by being the white, male political establishment candidate in this debate. That seemed to be the dynamic at play last night. But the election is for President, not Vice President. Let's see how all that will play out at the next round of Presidential debates when Senator Obama, hopefully, gives it the full court press and shows the American public that he, too, is a maverick with remarkable leadership capacity, a unique family story,and vision for new directions.

Clearly, after 8 years of the Republican Party in the White House, we need new executive leadership. Regardless of who voted for what, President Bush, a Republican, waged war in Iraq, was Commander-in-Chief on 9/11, had a major role in the post-Katrina debacle, and must accept responsibility for the economic mess. That's how it goes, if you are the President, you take the good with the bad. As a two-party system, the Republicans have shown us what they can do; we need new leadership and the Democrats deserve that chance. And make no mistake about it, despite all of the extremely clever debate tactics and rhetoric in which Ms. Palin was quickly schooled ("There you go again, talking about the past"), Senator McCain and Governor Palin are Republicans and it will, to a greater or lesser extent, be more of the same.

So, as the election campaign continues to generate stomach churning twists and turns, for the moment, I am still hopeful, but beginning to wonder if I need to set my expectations a bit lower.

Now Hillary versus Palin, now that would have been a debate. And McCain versus....? Well, don't get me started. But when it comes down to the wire, one gets the sense that people will respond more strongly to Senator Barack Obama's calm, intelligence and inner strength as the leader, at home and globally, that the United States needs at this moment. He will garner respect and offer hope, sensitivity and a vision for a new foundation and perspective that America sorely needs.

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Current Reading

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  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
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  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
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  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
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  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
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  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
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  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
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  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
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  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
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  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
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  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
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  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
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  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
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  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
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  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
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  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

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