Saturday, January 24, 2009

The difference between "the Presidential" and "the Political"

If there's anything that the recent election season has (once again) confirmed for us, it's that, in fact, most politicians are people deeply, profoundly, (typically) cripplingly in need of approval. Either (a) they got into politics in the first place or in part because their personalities were so needy that only an entire crowd or constituency signaling blatant approval at the ballot box would make them feel OK about themselves; or (b) having got into politics--typically for the only other common reason: namely greed--they realize that the only/best hope for staying within that ego-intoxicating bubble is to manifest a constant, avid, pathetic need for approval.

And this innate or learned neediness in turn makes them, typically, deeply timid if not outright cowardly people. How many chest-thumping war-mongering torture-promoting politicians can we enumerate who, when the option of actually putting their bodies at risk for the sake of the nation, found deferments or "other priorities" or cushy National Guard gigs? Can we say, pretty much all of them? They are deeply cowardly people--and their compensatory war-and-torture-porn fantasies of macho dominance, which reach their most blatant homoerotic nadir with the contemptible 24, reveal that cowardice. Viz the FOX news assholes who claim "Obama and his wife just exchanged a terrorist fist-bump!" or "what if there's a ticking-bomb scenario and the only way we can 'get the intel' (they fucking love slinging around military jargon, mostly because their experience is so distant from the combat zone) is by torturing?!?" or "why, Obama was so mean to Preznit Bush in the inauguration speech! He was so mean!" or "How do I know he's not a seekrit Musl'm?!?" or "I hope the Preznit fails!" These are frightened, cowardly, bullying people, and like most bullies, they fold like tissue paper when they are confronted with someone in public life who is not.

This is why, when they encounter a politician like James Webb, or Max Cleland, or even corrupt old Marine jarhead Jack Murtha, who actually is a combat vet--who knows what real (as opposed to fearful pornographic fantasy) bodily peril actually is--all those gutless posturing assholes squeal like pigs. They are needly, fearful, cowardly, bullying phonies.

It's also why, when we see a politician who is not afraid, who seems to have a reasonably robust and centered ego, who is morally tough, and who, most crucially, is willing (as one of Dharmonia's Tibetan teachers said) to "dare to be disliked," it hits us like a bolt from the blue, and we say "Oh, yeah, that's right! That's what we remember some of our greatest leaders to have been like!"

George Washington, John Adams, Frances Marion, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, Abigail Adams, Baron von Steuben, Henry Knox, Benjamin Franklin, the barefooted ragged volunteers freezing at Valley Forge at the darkest moment of our battle for Independence...these were not frightened people. They had the courage of their convictions, and the confidence and unwavering moral center that arose from knowing why they were fighting. They practiced "Freedom from Fear."

Like this guy:
WASHINGTON -- President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders.
'Bout damned time a President said that.

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