Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I find it fascinating -- especially when it comes from folks I know who are pentjak silat players -- to see all the shit Hillary Clinton is getting as the campaign for the D's candidate for President progresses.
Why, she is saying bad stuff about Obama! Can you imagine? Just to get the nomination! She even says McCain would be better than Rocky! She -- she's trying to win, and doesn't care how!
What a bitch!
So, I have to ask: Where were you when politics were covered during history class? What were you smoking that semester?
Pick an election, back to Washington, and look at what got said. Go back to Hamilton and Burr -- people used to kill each other of the slurs, slanders, and libels that were flung around like whiskey bottles at an Irish wake.
Scurrilous talk, sir! How dare you? Pistols at dawn, you cur!
Of course, some of it was true. Jefferson, that paragon who wrote that all men are created equal, owned slaves, and even fathered children by one. That was bandied about by the yellow press even way back when. He denied it. Our brilliant forefather was a liar. It took DNA testing to prove it.
Politicians bend the truth like pretzel makers. It's always been that way. Always.
When you are fifteen points ahead in the polls, you can afford to be magnanimous; you can play nice, you can duck debates, you can avoid saying the other guy's -- or gal's -- name. Take the high road. Be above it all.
Once you draw even or start losing, the game changes.
First off, anybody who wants the job of President has two strikes against him or her going in. A) They have egos the size of super-tankers. They think they are qualified to run the country and not coincidentally, have the wherewithal to be the most powerful person on the planet. Somebody who can wipe out most life on Earth. Once you get to that level, when you truly believe you are The One, then ends-justify-the-means is SOP. You can smile, hold your nose, and swallow stuff that would gag a maggot and rationalize it as being for the greater good. Once you get the job, you'll make up for it. Really.
I was for it, now I'm agin it, and once I get elected, why, I'll be for it again. The sand shifts underfoot, one has to step lively or get sucked under.
B) Any Presidental candidate has -- any of them -- in order to have arrived at the place where they have a legitimate shot at the office, given up part of their soul. Yes, it's true, you can't get anything done if you can't bend with the wind now and then. Politics is the art of compromise, you have to be a horse trader, quid pro quo, or you can't do the job. But: I have yet to see a President in my lifetime who didn't give up something that he once swore he'd never do, to be able to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. (Well, except maybe for the Current Occupant, and about whom I have nothing good to say, so I'll stop now.)
They lie. They have to. They promise the moon and deep down, they know they can't deliver it. But, they think, they will be ever so much better than the alternative, that such, um, shadings are necessary and valid. They'll make up for it. Really.
The silat reference? Our art has a running joke: If somebody says, "Hey, you cheated!" we all laugh. Stealthy and sneaky are part of what we do, because the goal in our fighting art is, when the dust-up is over, to be the guy who goes home, under his own power, with his teeth intact, instead of the guy who is going to the hospital or the morgue. We don't play fair, and we are proud of it. But, of course, that's just us. Nobody else should do that, especially not in the sainted realm of politics, where everybody should always, you know, play nice ...
People don't like to see negative campaigning. But as long as it works, you will see it, and it does work. War hero? Why, not at all -- he's a coward who lied about his record, he kicks old ladies down escalators, plus he has children who say Baaah! when they try to talk ...
As I said in an earlier post, it doesn't seem to be enough for people to triumph, they need to feel that their enemies fail, as well. Nobody running for President has reason to claim purity, because none of them are pure. You pick one you like, who seems closest to your philosphy, whom you believe will do the best job for the country, and you make your mark. But if you put them up on a pedestal and think they are any better than the rest of humanity, you are apt to get surprised two years on.
(Two points if you know where the picture came from and why I used it here ...)