You all remember Tucker Carlson, right? The right-wing water carrier with the prep-school name (but apparently not the education) and the insipid bow tie? The one who got that bow tie handed to him live, on the air, by Jon Stewart and then had his show on CNN shit-canned? Who then moved to MSNBC and promptly lost his show there because nobody cared, even after he ditched the bow tie? Who is now relegated to playing that network's requisite voice from the right whenever Pat Buchanan has something better to do? And now, as a result of all this, has about as much political relevance as Freddie Prinze Jr.? Yeah, that Tucker Carlson.
Barack Obama made history last night. After capturing the Democratic Nom (and he has, folks) he spoke to his supporters in St. Paul. There were a lot of them. According to the Fire Marshall of that fair city - not his campaign, not the press - there were 17,000 people in that arena and another 15,000 outside it. That's a rairly respectable number especially when you consider that both McCain and Clinton spoke in what appeared to be oversized garages with supporters bringing their own lawn chairs. The Obama supporters came in all shapes, ages and colors and all seemed to be damned enthusisatic. Anyway...
Last night Tuck (he doesn't mind if I call him Tuck) was part of a post-primary discussion on MSNBC. As the moderator, Dan Abrams, offered up questions to the assembled pundits, Tuck cooled his heels waiting for his chance. Finally Dan tossed one to old Tuck. Tuck ignored it. He had something else on his mind. He wanted to do his bit for the cause. He jumped on Obama's speech from last night, in particular this poetic portion that closed it...
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.
Tuck opined of Obama that those were some lofty promises he was making. Dripping with sarcasm, Tuck said that Obama was boldly going to cure the sick, save the unemployed, and heal the planet. He then added that the rhetoric was the most ridiculous he had ever heard and that he couldn't imagine a plan that would ever live up to those promises.
Setting aside for a moment that the real hyperbole here is not Obama's, but Tuck's, what Tuck ignores, of course, is first, the nature of political rhetoric; all pols make promises, Obama just happens to be more poetic and much better at delivering that poetry. That is what people find inspiring about him. That leads to the next thing that Tuck misses; leaders have to be inspirational, especially in bad times. Hey, Tuck, you remember these political flights of fancy, don't you?
FDR - "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
JFK - "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." & "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."
It is not necessarily what the President does so much as what he can get the people to do that matters.
When another pundit pointed out to Tuck that Obama's supporters wanted change and he seems to be offering it, Tuck countered with, "Change is not always good. People don't like change." That statement would be ripe for parody had it not been uttered satirically days earlier at the Princeton commencement by Stephen Colbert. That would be two for two with Comedy Central, Tuck... if you're keeping score.
But Tuck saved his best for last. In his continuing oratory as regards Obama's speech, he said, referring to the throngs that filled last night's arena and its environs, Obama had better come up with a plan for those promises he was making because all those "slack-jawed Starbucks baristas won't stay starry-eyed for long."
So, if you couldn't get a latte last night there's your reason; all the baristas were busy cheering the future in St. Paul.
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