February 24, 2008 - February 17, 2008
There's a slaughter rule for newens here at InstaPunk. After calling
down the wrath of God, then calling down the wrath of everyone left w/
taste and tact not 2 weeks later, I got busted down to the remedial
class. In the basement. For my "protection." This would have been a
brief probation, but I tried to diffuse The Boss's displeasure with a
jocular "N_____ please." Easily the worst idea I've ever had. [IP: Not
quite. He followed
it up with an A____________ please.]
That got me kicked off the politics beat, to boot. Now I'm relegated to Page 6 gossip; panning for gold dust in muddy creeks like this:
Because I couldn't see the significance of something so obvious as the
Presidential election, I have to spin gold out of this?
Since I couldn't find a dollar in a bucket of sand, The Boss makes me
look for a penny in the grain silo of the Britney story? That's like
expelling a kid for truancy.
Deep breath. As an only child, I keep thinking complaining is going to get me somewhere. Not this time. Time to grit my teeth, clench my face like a fist, and CHARGE:
Britney Spears has failed to regain access to her two young sons
following a closed-door court hearing.
Spears, who was recently admitted to
hospital for psychiatric
evaluation, was barred from visiting her sons last January after
refused to hand the children back to their father Kevin Federline, who
currently has primary custody of the boys.
Los Angeles Superior Court spokesman Alan
Parachini told reporters
after yesterday's hearing that there had been no change in the orders
handed out by the family judge who last month stripped Spears of her
The Dr. Drew quote is from last month, and is therefore too old to be
relevant, but I think it is anyway. Everyone is focused on the inanity
of the circus of attention that she and the rest of the Valtrex
command. Even InstaPunk.
We don't think to think of her as a person. Not that we think of her as
NOT a person, mind you. We just don't take the time to put into mind
that no human being can be JUST a lame story we've heard ad nauseum.
But Dr. Drew has. As an addiction medicine specialist who's treated thousands of patients (that's in person, not counting the radio show), he knows drug abuse when he sees it. Me, I give the standard exasperated "so what?" when I see the latest Britney headline, every time, as if that's a new observation. He chose to look at her with the eyes of a medical care professional, as if she were a person and not just a constant drain on media usefulness. He's seen logical implications of a situation we all took as meriting no further attention. That's a habit we'd all do well to cultivate.
(To be fair to The Boss, he's done that with things more important.)
I'd like to think the judge who refused the gag order understands that we're all, to enough degree that it matters, complicit in Britney's tailspin. "We didn't hold her down and shove pills in her mouth and do that throat-rubbing thing to make her swallow," you say. True. We're not responsible for her. Not even in the way we'd be responsible for, say, a friendly but sporadic acquaintance w/ a drinking problem. But all those paparazzi aren't some privately commissioned army of harassment, are they? You know why they make money, and why there's so many of them.
Come on. It's great fun to see the
mighty fall and everything, but look at her. Even if this were Ken
Lay's widow, it'd be dubious to enjoy watching someone die like this.
Let alone some pop mascot whose greatest crime against all of us was
recording dull music.
We don't have to save her. We do have to wish her well, and mean it. Yes, have to.
P.S. Don't trip over each other to bring this up. I get it. Good work.
P.P.S. How was that, Boss? Can I maybe come out of these stocks now, Boss?
BOSS TO BRIZONI: Yes. Instapunk is always right, but even heroes have their weak moments. Apparently, you're not the only one who's been tempted to play gruesome mind games. You also act as if Instapunk has never (un)covered Britney. Untrue. Dominus noster Kobra te absolvat. Get back to work on the stuff you care about, newen.
It may seem like it will be mostly clear sailing from here on in
for Obama, but a few factors that are supposed to be plusses for him
may turn out to be less so in the general election. I'm not going to do
a detailed analysis here, just point out a few things that could become
troublesome down the road if he isn't careful.
1. It's been almost too easy for him thus far. The MSM has been cheering him on the whole way, and in the Battle of Teflon between Obama and the Clintons, it was the Clintons who discovered that their miraculous non-stick surface was finally beginning to wear through to the bare metal. Obama's starting to look and sound as if he's invulnerable. But pride goeth before a fall, and his 45-minute primary victory address last night seemed self-indulgent at best ("He's still talking...") and, at worst, cocky. A lot of Americans don't much like cockiness in their politicians.
2. About all that speechifying... High-flown oratory can be refreshing on occasion, but it gets old. Bill Clinton almost ended his national political career before it had even begun with his endless speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. And Clinton's flavor of windiness is nevertheless more bearable over the long term because it is earnest and plainspoken, while Obama's is more formal, a bit mannered, and far more evocative of the church pulpit than the "bully" one. The true believers on the campaign trail may like being preached at, but it's a pretty good bet that most Americans don't. All that hyperbole of Obama as a savior or messiah isn't going to sell in the long run. He'd better understand that even if his more ardent fans don't.
3. Race is a three-edged sword. The first two edges have been abundantly noted and commented on. Yes, there are Americans who still aren't ready for a black president, though not nearly as many as the paranoids in the liberal media feared. There is also a deadly danger to anyone who makes a charge or even an observation about Obama that might conceivably be interpreted as suggestiive of racial prejudice. The third edge is concealed between the bright lines of the first two. As I've noted before, America may well be ready for a black president, but they're not ready for a president who is black first and American second. That's the real explosiveness of Michelle Obama's twice repeated statement that she is "proud of America for the first time in her adult life." Worse than any public contentiousness about this remark would be the typical liberal first retort, which is that she's entitled to such feelings because she's an African-American woman, and we just don't know what all she's been through. We do know at least part of what she's been through, namely Princeton and Harvard Law School, and race aside, we don't like being told that a candidate for national leadership -- or his wife -- has an inherent right to look down on the rest of us, so shut up. (See the first vid clip below.) If every gaffe or unpleasantness committed by the Obamas on the campaign trail is going to be shushed up or suppressed to spare their racial sensitivities, resentment is bound to grow like mushrooms in the dark. If that's the strategy, the third edge will cost Obama the election.
4. Hope has its dark side, too. The liberal spin is that all those speeches about Hope are the kind of positive and optimistic approach Americans seem to favor in their presidential candidates. But underneath the glowing rhetorical surface of his words, Obama is really playing a political hand straight out of the failed John Edwards campaign: there are two Americas, and if you're in the America that didn't go to Princeton and Harvard, you're shit out of luck unless the Princeton and Harvard folks in the federal government stoop all the way down from their thrones on Capitol Hill to bail you out of your misery. That's actually a pretty negative picture and a pretty condescending political platform. Obama's gotten away with it so far based on the convenient fact that he has no record to speak of and that he has sedulously avoided getting too specific about just who it is that's so damned miserable and worthless they need the government to pick them up, dust them off, and pat them on the rump until tears turn to smiles. It's a perilous circumstance for Obama that middle class Americans are prepared to believe lots and lots of people don't have it so good, but they're the exception (see the second vid clip below). If they figure out they really are the ones Obama considers weak losers, they might not take his compassion so kindly.
5. First Ladies are second bananas. Still. Multiple commentators have noted the irony that Michelle Obama, who is on record as saying she's not sure she could support Hillary if Obama loses the nomination, is acting an awful lot like Hillary in 1992: controversial, self-important, and disconcertingly unpredictable. Whatever feminists yearn for in their dreams, the job the wives of presidential candidates are applying for is to be the first hostess and full-time cheerleader for the nation. A lot of Hillary's almost cripplingly high personal negatives are derived directly from her hubris as First Lady. Teresa Heinz-Kerry may not have cost her husband the election in 2004, but she damn sure didn't do him any good. Michelle had better learn her place -- not in the racial but the political sense of that term -- as an unelected tag-along whose responsibilities are real but mostly symbolic. The biggest responsibility of the First Lady is to do no harm. Sadly, relatively few of them have met even this low standard.
Now, since it's also YouTube Wednesday, here are some vids related one way or another to the points made above.
And a final one (h/t Ace of Spades), just to remind everyone that we're
not pretending to
be completely objective here, about Obama or anyone else.
Enjoy the rest of your day.
Clinton campaign operatives are denying there's any truth to the
stories that any kind of vote-fixing or election fraud was involved in
circumstances surrounding the Super Tuesday primary in Ms.
Clinton's home state:
Neither of the Clintons could be reached for comment. Reportedly, they
were meeting with the 796 superdelegates to the Democratic Convention,
who announced earlier this morning that they would all be casting their
ballots for Senator Clinton in every round of floor voting at the
convention. When they were asked what had suddenly decided them to
commit their support so completely all at the same time, they all said
they "could not recall" what had made up their minds.
In a separate and equally surprising development, binding pre-entry polls (a recently imposed party regulation) of Democrat voters in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania revealed that Senator Clinton will win these key primary states unanimously. Poll responses also indicate that the voters in these states "have no recollection" of what factors influenced their decision.
Senator Barack Obama's campaign manager, who had recently spoken with
Bill Clinton by phone, indicated that he "accepted the will of the
voters," although he was, of course, "saddened" by the sudden end of
his candidate's prospects for the nomination. He said he had "no
memory at this time" of exactly what he had discussed with former President Clinton
in their phone conversation. "I'm sure it was just the usual political
chit-chat," he said.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean expressed his "great relief" that the tightly contested nomination race was now concluded."I'm absolutely certain that the party will unite behind our excellent candidate," he said. "It's time to bury the past -- and keep it buried as long as all the various statutes of limitations are in force." Actually he never said that last part, according to the DNC spokesgirl, who should know, because look at her.
So that's pretty much it for the campaign. Until it's time to destroy
McCain in the fall, of course. We'll be back at you then.