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What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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Straight Shooter of the Week; Political Epiphany; the Highest Authority
Thursday, September 02, 2004

So I know it’s the dog days of summer and all, but I kind of feel guilty that I haven’t watched any of the Republican convention. I feel like I owe it to the good readers of APW to follow this kind of stuff. But frankly, I just haven’t been in the mood. (Similarly, for what its worth, I didn’t watch a minute of the Olympics.) I tried to watch that Reagan movie, but I really just couldn’t make it through the treacle. I mean, what was the name of the movie—“Lovable Dead Guy Returns From Grave to Say ‘Vote Bush’”?

I will say that I’ve seen some of the coverage (which I tend to like way better than the convention itself, regardless of party.) During the Democratic convention, Tucker Carlson was on Larry King, and he voiced the opinion you heard all that week from Republicans that the Democrats were only featuring moderate, “Republican-sounding” speakers (he said Barack Obama gave a “Republican speech.”) Then this week, the Republicans are facing the same charge about loading up the convention with moderate speakers.

Larry King put the question directly to John McCain, who is like a real-life Bullworh. True to form, McCain said roughly this when asked why moderates like Giuiliani and Schwarzanegger were featured so prominently. Basically McCain said, and despite the quotation marks this is a total paraphrase, “Lookit, everyone has a clicker and 500 channels, and we want people to watch the thing, and those are the most popular guys.”

Thank you John McCain. Thank you for being the first politician to state the obvious—that the conventions are TV SHOWS, not political events where something happens, and the idea is to put on the best show. McCain is APW’s straight shooter of the week. Which, if we had every week, he’d probably have won several times already.


While I was diligently not thinking about politics, I may have had a political epiphany.

We often talk about the job of the professional politician—for the sake of this train of thought, let’s say the job of the political party—as being to articulate the will of the people. To bow to the will of the people. To yield to the will of the people.

I think I disagree.

Here’s the thing. The variable in this equation that we aren’t considering is that the will of the people is a function of the state of the people. Hungry people want food, so if the people are hungry, the will of the people is going to be, “Feed us!” Once you’ve fed them, you’ve moved them up the Maslow needs hierarchy. Your success has changed the will of the people.

We accept that the political party has a responsibility for, a stake in, the state of the people. We must therefore realize that to make and implement policy successfully is by definition to effect change on the will of the people.

Subsequently, it should be the ultimate goal of the political party to change the will of the people; not to bow to it. Respond to it, sure. But the response should meet a collective need and so improve the collective lot in life of the people. Isn’t that the very beauty and promise of the American system, after all-- that it provides a means by which we can collectively better our lot?

In this light, not surprisingly, I find that the Republicans generally yield to the will of the people, while the Democrats are more likely to want to effect change on the will of the people. Traditionally we’ve seen the Democrat approach as elitist or wrong-headed, but I’m starting to think that’s unfair. On the other hand, it is also why they keep losing ground among the people—because it is not the short-term popularity builder that bowing, reflecting, mirroring back that will is. And obviously it is axiomatic that people vote their will, not the future state of their will.

But any difference between the two parties with respect to which one strives versus which one panders is actually pretty moot, because the parties themselves are maybe inches apart. Both pander far too much, both strive—or maybe challenge is a better word—far too little. Critics of the faces each party put forward at their respective conventions were both right—moderates on both sides. Two sides of a coin, more alike than different. (Minus the attacking of Kerry’s war record by people who never made it over to Viet Nam on the Republican side, they might be indistinguishable.)


My friend Minty makes a good point. Actually she makes it better than me, so check her out. She noted that Zell Miller said this in his speech (which I did not see, but I gather he came off like a nut job because even Republicans appear to be wincing at his rhetoric day-after):

"I admire this man (referring to Bush). I am moved by . . . the fact that he is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America."

See, personally, I am terrified by that; in no way do I admire it. It generally amounts to having a president who believes he can do what he wants, regardless of the constitution, because God told him to. (To be fair, I don’t admire it in Osama Bin Laden any more than I admire it in George W. Bush.) I don’t mind someone being devout of faith—not in the least. But the way I learned it, the president wasn’t supposed to believe he “answered to a higher authority than the constitution.” (Yes, he’s said that.) No, if you’re the president, there is pretty much no higher authority than the constitution, that’s sort of the way the system is set up. We have a term for people who rely on subjective, immutable interpretations of ancient religious texts as a roadmap to determining the nuances and policies of national leadership. We call them Wahhabis.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 12:20 PM  

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