Sunday, January 30, 2011

Clarification and Thinking Politics

I was right, I got a call from Elaine within an hour of that post.  Now, to be fair, I'd told her it was coming and gave her the opportunity to hear the outline.  When I didn't hear back from her, I went ahead with the writing, then called to tell her it was out there.

So, I'm outside with Cowgirl Slim tearing-up one of my barrel courses with Milagro when the call comes in.  I've got thundering hoof beats on my end and she's on hands-free in the car with the kids on her end--something she didn't mention to me quite soon enough.  Always tell me when I'm on speaker phone folks, you never know what I'll say!  Anyway, there was a lot of noise on both ends.

Through her laughter and the ambient noise--she's got a great laugh, by the way--she loved the descriptions of herself and Lee and the post in general, well almost.  She got me on the "brilliant strategic thinking protege."  She exclaimed over the noise, "But you are a strategic thinker!"

"Yes, I know, but I can't say I'm brilliant."
"Well, why not? You are."
"Because, Elaine, I've got to have some humility."
"Harrumph! Humility only gets you rolled over in politics."
"Well, I'm not in politics anymore."
With a sort of wistful little sound she said, "Yeah."

An aside:  The whole social work detour really disappointed Elaine.  I remember telling her the day I resigned and why.  In not quite a scream, but very loudly, she said, "You're doing what? Why?"  Well, because...whatever I said...she responded, "That's stupid. I cannot believe you're doing this."  Oh, Elaine, I never have to worry about wondering what you think, do I?

Ok, back to the call.  Then she told me she was not Lee's driver.  She was doing polling for Reagan.  I promised her I'd correct that information on the blog.  But, I did ask her, "What about the 'Drive, baby, drive!' story?"  She responded, quite calmly, "Oh, Reagan was in town.  (pause) I deceived Reagan."


"He called me 'Sugar Plum'. He thought I was sweet."

I gave a response inappropriate to be on speaker phone with the kids.  See, you gotta tell me when the world and especially the kids are listening.  And, no I'm not going to tell you what I said.  Geez, some things are sacred.  Not everything can be in the blog.  I have to keep some interesting details of my life to myself.

The "Drive, Baby, drive" story? Well, Elaine will have to chime in on "Comments" with that one if she wants you to know it.  My life did not intersect that story directly, so, I'm not telling it.  For now, you'll just have to smile and wonder.

Our phone call ended before I could further corrupt her children and before Cowgirl Slim rode the legs off of Milagro.  I need Milagro to have legs, after all.

I did call her later and leave her a message offering to write her eulogy, just to have on file.  Then, I realized, her mother couldn't take it and her sister would be jealous.  Her buddy in Sacramento and I will have to have a private service in her honor.  Wait, why wait till she's dead?! She may outlive all of us!

Hey Kev, we need to get together next time I'm out there!  Tee hee, tee hee, tee hee hee hee. But, we love you Elaine.  You're just the most amusing, smartest, Amazon-Kewpie Doll-Pixie we know, that's all.  You've got the best stories!  Hey, if I'm willing to admit that someone else has the best stories--that's saying something.  Ok, I gotta give Elaine a break before she decides I'm not funny anymore.  She is a predator, remember, and it's getting close to lunch.

Later in the evening, I call my mother for her review.  My mother gives honest reviews.  She was a successful business woman.  One of her kinder nicknames was "The Velvet Hammer."  So, she's not going to coddle me on weather the blog was good or not.  Mom was afraid I'd been drinking the Sarah Palin Kool-Aide that's so popular right now.

Who doesn't get the cultural reference? What are they teaching in schools today? Drinking the Kool-Aide? Really, you don't know? It's a reference to Jonestown and Group Think.  Now, look it up beyond that.  Geez, at least you're getting an education here.  Ok, now, back to the story for the Well Built generation who got the reference in the first place.

"No, Mom, I said, 'James Carville, too.'" See, now you're confused, my readers.  How could anyone so deeply admire both Lee Atwater and James Carville?  Talk about opposite ends of the political spectrum.  Well, let me tell you who can admire them both: a political strategic thinker.

I am able to admire them both so much because they made silk purses out of sows ears.  They were/are so brilliant that one of them changed the politics of an entire region of the country in one election and the other took a really smart affable guy with "a past" and made him president anyway.  Clinton was facing George H.W. Bush--who was really squeaky clean on the "past" stuff, and he had a lot of federal government experience--for goodness sakes.  Carville couched Clinton in a way that he beat Bush anyway...brilliant.  I love 'em both, Atwater and Carville.  Geniuses.  No, I'm not telling you whose politics I agree with, this is about thinking.  Which brings me to my next point...

There's very little thinking going on in our political discourse today.  It's boring to me.  Boring, you say?! Boring? Talk radio? 24 hour news cycle? How can it be boring?  It is boring because everyone is just shouting sound bites and bumper sticker phrases at each other.  There's no real thought.  No strategic thinking.  No actual opinions of their own.  It's dull.  It's stupid.  It's cut throat without a cause.  It's why I left politics.  I could see the writing on the wall.  It had already begun in 1995.  I wasn't going to be working 70 hours a week for those idiots. Nope.  Not me.

I go back to last Sunday's blog where I talked about the days when I was in politics and the sense of being collegial.  It was possible because there was more thought going into things.  A lot of, though not all, debates were interesting.  Both sides had some merit to their arguments.  You can respect, even admire, people when they have well thought out arguments with merit--even if their ideas are radically different from yours.

I'm afraid those days may be gone.  With talk radio and the 24 hour news cycle, we've robbed people of the time to map out well planned and merited arguments.  It's just shouting now, like kids on a playground.  Dull. You see why I like horses so much, huh? And, how it's possible to admire both Lee Atwater and James Carville.

Go and have a good Sunday. Don't waste your time on the Sunday morning political talk shows.  Go talk to a horse, he's smarter anyway.  Thanks for reading.

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