Friday, December 28, 2018

Fierce Urgency For The One


What do journalist Jonathan Capehart and US Senator (soon to be "former" US Senator) Claire McCaskill have in common?

Neither is Hispanic, Republican, or allied with the left wing of the Democratic Party. They are, however, both comedians or less generously, oblivious to the past.

Capehart is guilty of the less egregious hypocrisy, and his prescription is right.  He observes

Democrats have this annoying habit of always looking for “The One.” The one who will sweep them off their feet in a fit of electoral ecstasy. Only their “one” should make a go of it. All others are deemed inadequate or somehow all wrong for the party or the times. Then there’s this other annoying habit. If their “one” doesn’t win the nomination, then the person who actually does win is dead to them.

Therefore, he argues

don’t get me started on the political teenage crush du jour. One minute it’s all about Oprah Winfrey. Then there are dreams of Michelle Obama. Don’t forget the boomlet over Michael Avenatti. Today, it’s all about Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.). That’s not to say that O’Rourke or even Avenatti aren’t serious. But, c’mon, people.

He mentions the 44th president only once, that when he notes

The staid process (when viewed through the WWE lens that was the GOP 2016 contest) produced a seasoned and prepared nominee in Barack Obama. He had been elected to the U.S. Senate from Illinois only four years earlier, but he won the presidency against his more senior Senate colleague, John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Barack Obama was not a seasoned nominee. Moreover, Capehart failed to note that Obama, of whom he generally has been enamored, was (and still is) the beneficiary of the equivalent of a "teenage crush." Nonetheless, Capehart was eclipsed by the oblivious remarks of Mrs. McCaskill, who has warned that Democrats

should be cautious about the rise of politicians like the 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez, who vanquished a Democratic leader, Joe Crowley, in her primary, and have vowed sweeping changes in policy.

"I don't know her," McCaskill said when asked if she'd consider Ocasio-Cortez a "crazy Democrat" like the ones she decried on the campaign trail. "I'm a little confused why she's the thing. But it's a good example of what I'm talking about, a bright shiny new object, came out of nowhere and surprised people when she beat a very experienced congressman."

McCaskill added, "And so she's now talked about a lot. I'm not sure what she's done yet to generate that kind of enthusiasm, but I wish her well. I hope she hangs the moon.

"But I hope she also realizes that the parts of the country that are rejecting the Democratic Party, like a whole lot of white working class voters, need to hear about how their work is going to be respected, and the dignity of their jobs, and how we can really stick to issues that we can actually accomplish something on."





Credit the Senator with getting one thing right- invocation of the idiom "hang the moon," defined as "used as an example of a superlative act attributed to someone viewed with uncritical or excessive awe, reverence or infatuation." However, as Ocasio-Cortez could point out (but oddly, has not), the middle and lower middle class individuals and families being carved out of American society need more than rhetoric about "respect" and "dignity."

Ocasio-Cortez is a bright, shiny new object, though one who appears fortuitously determined to use her sudden celebrity on behalf of needed policy changes, such as promoting the Green New Deal. 

She may as well strike while the iron is hot. So, too, was Hillary Clinton a hot political commodity when she resisted the urging of supporters to run for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination in order to gain more experience. Instead, she waited until 2008 when there was, to John McCain's ultimate dismay, a different "hot" politician- a bright, shiny new object.

Fortunately, we have the benefit of hindsight, and of the St. Louis American, which reported in January, 2008 of the same senator (who now ridicules the "bright, shiny new object")

“I get the force and urgency of now,” McCaskill said Sunday morning in a conference call with local, state and national media.

“I feel it in my bones"....

McCaskill credited “the fierce urgency” of her own 18-year-old daughter, thereby aligning her support with the powerful youth movement that has helped to make Obama a strong contender.

"I get the force and urgency of now" because "I feel it in my bones," exulted the United States Senator from the state of Missouri.   And if the "urgency of now" (as opposed to, presumably, the "urgency of then") and her "bones" (judgment optional) didn't convince her, the veteran legislator was persuaded by her teenage daughter. Bright, shiny object indeed.

Let's be serious. The last Democrat to have been elected President had been a member of the US Congress for only two years when endorsed by McCaskill and was noteworthy as a Senator for.... nothing.  He differed ideologically little from his major opponent (Senator Clinton) but was motivated by "the fierce urgency of now."

And he won. He won the nomination and the presidency, later going on to be re-elected. (Thank you, Justice Roberts!) He was a bright and shiny, albeit impressive, object who caught a wave and rode it all the way.

Now Claire McCaskill and Jonathan Capehart want Democrats not to fall in love.  That's a hard sell to a Party which almost visibly swooned, got one of their own elected President, then eight years later went with the tried and true veteran and lost. The warnings of McCaskill and Capehart are very interesting. They're also eight years late.




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