Friday, February 20, 2004

I guess Walt Whitman was WRONG

Wasn't it Walt Whitman who advised his readers to release their mighty "yop" to the universe? Well, I guess there is good proof that this doesn't apply to presidential politics.

Yes, the former anointed successor is today's sacrificial scapegoat to be sent out to the Azazel of obscurity and isolation from the political process. So long, Howard Dean. But here is what puzzles me. How did this guy go from being the salvation of the Democratic Party and among some, the whole democratic process to being a nut job? The only explanation was the crowd turned on him. The release of the "I have a Scream" speech permitted his opponents to take his views and marginalize them. The high priests of the process then baited the crowd through news outlets and the Tonight Show and the literal thousand replayings of this gaffe. For goodness sake, even NPR ran it several times. You would think that lovers of classical music would have something better with which to fill their time. So in the choice between the one they first loved to the one they were told to love, the crowd ripped him to pieces. This is why the Psalms advise us not to find out strength in men but in God. "It is better to trust in the Lord than Princes."

And then there were two. Or at least the media thinks so. Did Kucinich and Sharpton drop from the race? I didn't see anything to that effect. This is the other part that chaps my fur. The media shape and affect the outcome of elections more than any group, special interest and PAC groups included. They wield the sword of inevitability and if they stand there and say, this is what will happen, it often does. The statistics pass for real commentary and real input, when in truth it is more like a drunk leaning on a lightpost. It provides more support that illumination. (Tip of the hat to G.K. Chesterton for that witty bit.) This is not to say we don't need a media; but the media, especially television news, must recognize the influence they wield and be cautious. If they were true to the job, they would report who appeared where, what they talked about, and how that relates to the overall platform they endorse.

So wherever you are, raise your glass to Howard Dean. Is he crazy? Only his shrink knows for sure. But he deserved to lose the race for better reasons than an excited utterance.

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