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Of Men, Presidents and Jackasses

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Message David Cox
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their entrances and their exits:" Old Will Shakespeare knew his stuff, why that line alone is worth the price of admission. Now if you couple that with the famous Mark Twain quote, "Man is the most amazing Jack ass" you have a workable foundation for a philosophy of life and an insight into the mechanics of the world.

But it is too succinct to be a religion and far to humble to be a philosophy, now if Will and Mr. Twain had only sat under a tree or wandered in from the desert and claimed them as divine revelations perhaps we would pay more attention. But that's my point entirely; it's not the weight of the message or the truth of the message but the quality of the messengers. We sit in the theater and take note of the stage lights and lush curtains and as the house lights go down we willingly suspend belief!

We want to believe, that when the actor strolls across the stage delivering his soliloquy that it was in fact his original idea and not a planned and staged event. We know in our hearts that he is not Mac Beth but just some Jackass in a costume but we marvel at his ability to deliver the lines to say the same things we've heard a hundred other Jack Asses say. We truly admire the actor's ability to make us believe that fiction is fact and at the conclusion his performance he is acclaimed as inspired and greeted with cheers and bravos. While behind the scenes hundreds work long hours to make this Jackass appear to be a giant among his peers.

After the performance, after the crowd files out and the actor reassumes his birth persona and returns to the less lofty orbits of Earth. This I think is the primary difference between actors and politicians, the actor knows he is not Mac Beth or Romeo no matter how many performances he gives in the role but many politicians who put on the robes of Julius Caesar begin to think they are Caesar. And working in the loftiest play in the grandest White House or Capitol Theater I suspect it would be hard for any of us not to fall into it after all, "Man is the most amazing Jack ass."

It's our own fault as much as the politician's, George Washington struggled in the role as President to make the distinction between the dignity of the office of the President and the fawning and stepping over of the royalty anointed. America has suffered ever since George's time with a hero worship cult like the actor the most minor nuances are credited with genius and inspired wisdom. A man with a septic tank truck and a dream is disparaged and not invited to the parties of the in crowd but let that dream come to fruition, let him own a fleet of thousands of trucks, and he becomes a man of the most amazing insights.

Let him become the world's largest provider of the septic tank cleaning arts and books will be written about him. He will be welcomed on the talk show circuit and lodged among the elites. For America loves heroes and if we don't have any readily available we will gladly make them ourselves. Soon someone will cry out, a man with this much natural talent and ability should run for political office! As his campaign gets into full swing the story of his humble origins will become embellished as to how he started with just a wheelbarrow a hand pump and a dream. And we will believe because we want to believe, we hope and we pray that our leaders are inspired or wise beyond us lowly mortals because deep down in our hearts we know, "Man is the most amazing Jack ass."

I don't exempt myself from this; I'm just as guilty as the rest of you. Ronald Reagan was speaking in my hometown and he had to get from the venue to the Air Force base. When I saw the city workers putting up barricades I knew we were on the route then when the police manned them I knew the time was close. I walked to the curb ready to voice my dissent; my middle finger was cocked and ready. But as I saw the Presidential limousine approach followed by an open car containing the Blues Brothers with Uzi's I was mesmerized.

In that instant I was transfigured from a defiant liberal appalled and revolted by this barbarians actions to destroy the middle class to just another slack jawed yokel standing on the curb. But even more than being awed by the accoutrements of the office, as the limo went by the Presidents window was down and he passed right before my eyes. For fifteen to twenty seconds I had eye contact with the President and what I saw shocked and disturbed me to this day.

The President had a gaunt vacant stare he looked like a robot whose paused button had been pushed. He was made up for TV with too much rouge and pancake make up but for me with this back stage glance. He looked like a transvestite who had just woke up from the party hung over or freshman that fell asleep too early at the keg party. Reality crashed in on perception, despite the limo, and the heavily armed G-men. The illusion was destroyed I was just a slack jawed yokel on the curb but he was just a slack jawed actor playing the role of President.

We try to pretend its not so, we want so to believe the myths and legends, that John Kennedy with chronic back pain and failing heath was a sexual gymnast. That Nixon didn't wander the halls of the executive mansion in his boxer shorts alone with his delusions and his whiskey. Reports have surfaced that the current resident is profane in speech and verbally abusive to spouse and staff. I wrote about this once and was lambasted with complaints about the credibility of one of my sources but I had two. But I received one response from a woman who thanked me for talking about it. She claimed to have a relative that was an employee of a large cable news network other than FOX who was an eyewitness to it.

The shock and outrage, how dare you imply that the public image doesn't match the private behavior. Ok, you win he fell off his bike and choked on a pretzel but it offends the hero worship myth. It has been the custom that past Presidents not criticize the current administration, but the principle has been violated in the past and will be violated again in future times. But when Jimmy Carter says, "George W. Bush is the worst President ever."

What is it about that statement that makes Fox News apoplectic? Is it the violation of the principle? Or the pointed nature of the statement? Others have said the same thing; a noted group of Presidential historians said the same thing verbatim. Maybe Fox News and we as a nation are offended when Presidents deviate from the script and violate the hero myth and tell the plain unvarnished truth.
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I was born and raised in Chicago in a liberal Democratic home my Grandfather was a labor union organizer my Father a Democratic district committeeman my Mother was an election judge. My earliest memories were of passing out Kennedy yard signs from (more...)
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