Friday, April 04, 2008


Forty years ago this evening, Bobby Kennedy, who was on the campaign trail, addressed a mostly black crowd in a poorer neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana. He did this in spite of the fact that his police detail, fearing violence, had refused to follow him there. Refused.

He told the crowd that Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been assassinated, and he improvised a remarkable 6 minute eulogy before entreating the crowd to return to their homes and pray.

Whether it was due to Kennedy’s influence that Indianapolis was spared the violence that rocked other large cities in the aftermath of the assassination is debatable, of course.

What’s plain, is that just like MLK, Kennedy was a man of extraordinary empathy and intelligence. In his attempt to console the anger and wild grief of his audience, he quotes his favorite poet – Aeschylus! He quotes Aeschylus - some ancient Greek dude in a chiton and sandals who wrote about the Trojan War and died 500 years before the birth of Christ - to an angry black urban crowd! Tell me, was there ever a politician who so persistently refused to speak down to people, who refused to play to the lowest common denominator?

Here’s what he quoted off the top of his head, a rather rough translation of a bit of a speech from the play Agamemnon:

In our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

Fast forward to 2008, when, during his moronic and ridiculously macho-monikered show Hardball, Chris Matthews asks his guest if Obama can appeal to regular people, or just blacks and college graduates?

Well, since Mr. Matthews has just called me out for being non-regular, I would like to know when the media’s worship of stupid white people is going to end once and for all. Surely the fall of George W., the ultimate stupid white dude, is a signal that it is time to take our collective fingers off the pulse off the NASCAR set and put them back on those who actually fucking think about things.

Alas, I fear that the blind, the halt, and the lame as the go-to arbiters of national priorities will continue until it is proven that a smartypants in the White House can actually be a good thing. Al Gore couldn’t inspire the media to give him a lick of credit in 2000, and then we all had to sit around as every single prediction he made about the disasterous war in Iraq came to pass – in spades.

If only we had listened to a smart person. If only we had ignored the god-awful judgment of the willfully ignorant, and their insistence that the most important quality in a leader is his ability to not act high-falutin’.

Look, I have a lot of relatives in red states, and I understand that they get very upset when they feel like a politician is getting a little too big for his or her britches. But here’s the deal: THEY HAVE TO GET OVER IT.

This penchant that the “regular” voter has for thinking with his beer hand is not something to be admired and worshipped by the likes of Matthews. It is a deplorable state we have found ourselves in, when candidates must pretend to be ignorant or indifferent in order to be accepted. It is the electoral version of the cool kids in school, and it’s literally killing us.

But how can we hope to reverse this kind of thinking, when we must wake up to letters like this in the goddamn Wall Street Fucking Journal:

“You wrote that living in a Blue State reduces the odds of divorce. Democrats divorce at a lower rate than Republicans? I find that very difficult to believe.”

Yes, the breezy hatred of the letter is rather shocking, but perhaps worse is the opening sentence of the columnist’s response, in which she says “I can understand your skepticism.”

Stunning. She later goes on to attribute the effect to the high number of Catholics in Massachusetts.

What is it that these people think we are? Do they think we want to make over the country in the image of the Woodstock Festival, or the Haight, or downtown Detroit? Do they think our model for society is the decadence and immorality of the ancient Roman royal courts? Because let me tell you, if Caligula were alive today he would definitely vote Republican.

Perhaps, now that Matthews’s hard-on for our flight-suited Commander-in-Chief is waning, he and our other media leaders can adopt a more realistic approach toward those who wish to guide the direction of this country. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Kennedy, in that short speech many years ago, said to the crowd “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”

If Kennedy were running for president today, Matthews would no doubt not be impressed, and would rather dedicate his show to a discussion of Kennedy’s bowling prowess.


Anonymous said...

I heard that garbage from Matthews the other day. Why does that two bit ass clown still have a job, that's my question. Regular my ass.

Grant Miller said...

Countdown celebrated five years this week. Which, seems like it went by in a flash and I'm amazed it's still on. Amazed, but very pleased.

Bubs said...

What a great post. I feel like shouting an amen.

SkylersDad said...

Did you see the video of the clown trying to dance with Ellen? Whitest man in the USA right there.

Distributorcap said...

what a terrific post

one of the true tragedies of the bush years has been the complete and total collapse of the NEWS media into one big britney-fest === and matthews, tucker, hannity etc are all equally guilty.

that total f-wad, joe scarborough spent almost an entire show about Obama's bowling. NOt on issues, not on the war -- frigging bowling.

the inmates have truly taken over the govt and have made the media THEIR mouthpiece.

the dumbing down of america will be its final nail in the coffin

you nailed it vikki

GETkristiLOVE said...

"voting with the beer hand" - that's some funny shit, and it explains a lot.

If Bobby were alive today, I'd feel ashame to tell him where we are in this war, and that we didn't listen to the smart people.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Sorry DadE, that I deleted your comment. Here it is:

"It occurs to me that the model for arrogant and stupid is our commander-in-chief. And if you support such a person, do you find it necessary to minimize people who seem larger than yourself so you can reward your own ignorance?

When Matthews says, 'Tell me something I don't know' on his Sunday morning show, I always think,'this should be easy.'"

Bro said...

ah, that must be where they get the "bleeding heart" part of the liberal tag, imagine caring about poor people and people that can't otherwise make you richer. Preposterous.

Imagine caring about people in general.

dguzman said...

Holy shit, Vik, you. nailed. it. on this one. Beautiful post.

I think there are two kinds of people: those who would help others because it just seems logical to do so, and those would would look at the helpless and try to figure out how to profit off them. The line between these two kinds of people has never been wider or more distinct.

God, Bobby Kennedy. Al Gore. Intelligent men of conscience with a firm grip on reality. I can only hope an Obama or a Clinton, both very intelligent people, will win the White House and stop this country's slide into the shitter.

Madam Z said...

May I echo all the praise in the previous comments, times 2? I especially like your statement, "It is a deplorable state we have found ourselves in, when candidates must pretend to be ignorant or indifferent in order to be accepted. It is the electoral version of the cool kids in school, and it’s literally killing us." This is SO TRUE and your analogy to high school is perfect.

Regarding presidential candidates, I absolutely cannot fathom how people can think that the most important office in the world should be held by by "a good ol' boy...a regular guy...a guy you can sit down and have a beer with..." In MY opinion, we need to elect the smartest, best educated, most sophisticated and well-spoken person we can find! He's the leader of the free world, dummies! Not your buddy!


Liberality said...

it isn't so much that the pundits really believe that politicians pander to the average joe, no, they demand that politicans pretend to, especially if that politican is a democrat. it is understood that these politicans really pander to wealth and corporate interests but shhh, don't tell anyone okay.