Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Lion and the Wolf and the Autumn of Steve

Equus asinus.
Man, has there ever been a bigger braying jackass than Wolf Blitzer?

Perhaps. But ya gotta give it to him: he pours his heart and soul into summiting that equine mountain every time he opens his neatly trimmed hairy white monotoned pie hole.

Howling Wolf's personal donkey is alive and kickin' judging by his voice over commentary this morning as dignitaries flowed into our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica for Ted Kennedy's funeral mass.

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were quietly talking prior to the service while Wolf endlessly prattled on and on about obvious and/or meaningless minutia, struggling then failing to contain yet another outbreak of his Dullard's Tourette Syndrome. Hey, children, remember way back three weeks ago when Clinton briefed Obama on his trip to North Korea? Did you know that meeting took place in the Whitehouse Situation Room? "Of course, that's the Whitehouse Situation Room," Wolf unnecessarily explained. "Not my situation room. But they are always welcome to have such meetings there." Thanks for the clarification, Wolf. And the invitation. Now shut the fuck up, Steve said as he flipped to CSPAN.

Hey, who is that young dude with the shaved head and long flowing black beard attempting to blend in with the gaggle of priests and other religious types during the funeral? He's in white robes in the foreground on the left in this picture. He looks more Radical Fundamentalist Muslim than Boston Irish Roman Catholic. He clearly isn't a member of Obama's Kenyan Muslim sect, so he's not there as part of some presidential decree. Maybe a nod to Ted's alliance with Al Qaeda, allowing one of their own be included in the religious delegation? And kudos to Obama for allowing the service to proceed in English rather than Kiswahili, as will no doubt soon be required throughout the land. Oops, sorry - wrong channel. Stumbled upon Fox News rather than CSPAN. Click.

My own reflections on Ted Kennedy? For those who are interested ...

Teddy was a drinker, often a drunk. Born into wealth, privilege and power. He lived, he knew forever, in the shadows of his older brothers. He was compared to them often but usually in terms of disappointment and wanting. Martyred American icons make no mistakes or bad choices and he continued to make plenty of both simply by being alive.

Despite (or perhaps because of) all that, I think Ted was the best of his family and the best the Senate had to offer. He certainly did more good for more people, most of whom had and have no idea. Ironically those who may have benefited most from the legislation he championed over close to half a century are the same salt-of-the-earth folks likeliest to decry the "womanizing, privileged, drunkard, liberal." He was at times all of those things. He was a Kennedy, after all.

It's funny how the most effective people in public service seem to share these characteristics, not all of them flaws; anyway, not to some of us. To me, liberalism is a virtue. And to be born into a life of privilege is not something you choose, it's what you do with the things you've been given that counts. And it might be true liberalism is a luxury only those with money can afford but likely without it, there wouldn't be a middle class.

As for the failings of drink and philandering, often one is fueled by the other and both by a culture and heredity that also ignited tremendous good. That's some of it, but a driven personality at some level doesn't differentiate what it's driving at and toward.

He of course broke the cardinal rule of male politicians ('Never let them find you with a dead girl or a live boy'). He'll forever be remembered by many for that alone. Maybe he deserves to: it was a horrible thing. But for some of us - well, I can count at least a handful of situations that might well have ended in similar fashion for me. There but for the grace of dumb luck go I. So I'm a bit more forgiving.

People who decry the Kennedy clan as a bunch of pampered, self-important patronizing booze hounds who walk through life as though it were their own private stag party are missing the point: most families of power and wealth do that and you only read about them on the society page or Star magazine 'cause partying and whatnot is their full time gig. The Kennedy gang do all that when they're off the clock, sure. But they were and are otherwise chronic workaholics who have had it beaten into them from a very young age that their privilege and wealth must be repaid with a lifetime of service helping those less fortunate. It seems arrogant and patronizing by it's very nature.

Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby (a Kennedy caricature Ted apparently found amusing) has a favorite toast: "May all your indiscretions be private." Ted's weren't but neither were his triumphs.

Hey, that's all just the opinion of this commie pinko limousine hemorrhaging heart liberal.

And now, since it most definitely hasn't been a Summer of George for yours truly, I gotta start planning my Autumn of Steve. It might not be the most fiscally responsible thing I do (that list is small), but it might be necessary for my sanity and peace of mind.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, "Life is full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness—and it's all over much too quickly." I happen to agree with Woody that life's much too short. I also recognize it has gobs of inevitable misery you have no choice but to deal with so why add to it by enduring the avoidable variety?