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Re: Hypocrisy Holds High Carnival, And Other Recent Travesties Of The Political/Media Complex.

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Message Lawrence Velvel

March 14, 2008

 Re:  Hypocrisy Holds High Carnival, And Other Recent Travesties Of The Political/Media Complex.  

            I gather it is common to become less tolerant of nonsense, stupidity and their like as one gets older.  Never having had a high threshold for these things to begin with, I find myself getting even shorter with political bullroar (a 1950s Chicago word), and with political stupidity, in my late 60s.  So here comes some unvarnished, sometimes (even mainly?) politically incorrect sentiments.


            Let’s start with the imbecile, Geraldine Ferraro.  Here is a woman whose husband and son were indicted and sometimes were convicted of crimes ranging from extortion to falsification to possession of a drug, and who herself had connections to her husband’s business and had to pay back taxes owing. Yet somehow she was a vice presidential candidate -- maybe she rose above it all? -- and said, of one of her husband’s indictments and his guilty plea, that they “brought to an end the difficult period my husband has endured stemming from my historic candidacy.”  Right, it was all because of her “historic candidacy.”


            Now, two decades later, this loser, who had some kind of merely honorary position with Hillary -- in an effort to mount some sort of comeback? -- opens her mouth about Obama.  She said:


If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.  And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position.  He happens to be very lucky to be who he is.  And the country is caught up in the concept.


            And she also is quoted thusly:


“Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist,” she said.  “I will not be discriminated against because I’m white.  If they think they’re going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don’t know me.”


            Now there are two possible major reasons for Ferraro’s first statement.  One is that Obama is not qualified because he has been in the Senate only a shade over three years.  If this was her reason -- and, forgive me, but I don’t think this really was her reason -- she is a hypocrite.  For she forgets that she was only in the House of Representatives a bit over four years when she was picked to be Vice President, an official who can become President in the blink of an eye, in the flash of a weapon.


            Of course, it is far more likely, and apparently most of us believe, that her reason concerned race, in which case it has two possible sources.  One is that Obama gets votes because he is black.  Well, big effing deal.  Hillary gets votes because she is white.  Hillary gets votes because she is a woman.  Ferraro was nominated for Vice President strictly because she was a woman.  For scores of years, Irish men and women, Italian men and women, Jewish men and women, Catholic men and women, WASP men and women and so on have gotten votes because they were Irish, Italian, Jewish, Catholic, WASP or so on men and women.  But it’s not okay for Obama to get votes -- from blacks or whites -- because he is black.  That is sheer racism. 


            But, as said, there is yet another possible racial source for her comment.  It is that Obama is not smart enough to be running for President, is not competent enough.  This would be recognized, and he would lose, if he were either a white man or, because of prejudice against their sex, if he were a woman of any color.  But since he is a black man, nobody will say, recognize or care that he is not smart enough to be President. 


            Now, this possible source for her comment is truly offensive because Obama is likely far smarter than either Hillary or McCain, and probably is a lot smarter than anyone else who has been in the race on either side (with only one or two merely possible exceptions of guys who conceivably could be as bright as him).  I have written of this before, have pointed out that, while nobody talks about it, Obama succeeded mightily in competition with the brightest of the bright at Harvard Law School, where he was the President of the Law Review, while Hillary -- and Bill -- were no great shakes when facing such competition at Yale.


            You know, I’ve spent a lot of years railing against the kind of elitism just reflected in these statements about succeeding at Harvard or Yale.  But the older I get, the more I think that, in politics, we should be looking for the kind of academic records that Obama had -- just as the English used to make a point of mentioning it when a politician had scored “firsts” at Oxbridge.  For politics has now long been the home of the second rater, the second or third rate mind who gets us in trouble because he is dumb.  The first rate minds generally want nothing to do with politics; it is too corrupt and sycophantic for them.  They want to succeed, and/or make money, in law, in business, in medicine, in scientific or technological research, and so forth.  They want nothing to do with a rotten business like politics.  So when we do find a politician whose academic career shows a first rate mind -- which Bush Jr.’s did not, Kerry’s did not, the two Clintons did not, McCain’s does not, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum -- we should embrace the person.  And Obama looks to be one to embrace.


            Now, two things must further be said in this connection.  I am certainly not saying that everyone who performed well or even brilliantly in academia has the tools to be a president, has the judgment, personality, speaking ability, and stamina that are needed.  Such a statement would be absurd.  What I am saying, rather, is that if a politician has a brilliant academic career and these other needed attributes, we should likely embrace him or her, and we should be wary of a politician who wants to be president, and may have needed characteristics of stamina, speaking ability, desire, etc., but has not shown real brains such as are needed to do really well in academia.


            Nor am I saying that brains are the possession only of those who do really well in academia.  This too would be false.  Lots of people did not do so well in academia for one reason or another, or did not even have an opportunity to get a higher education (e.g., because they were poor), but are really smart.  Indeed, I often get emails from people (in response to postings) who plainly don’t have higher educations but obviously are quite smart nonetheless. 


            So what we are left with regard to Ferraro is that she opened her big mouth, said things showing hypocrisy or racism, and ended by appearing to argue, stupidly, that she is being discriminated against because she’s white, and saying that “If they think they’re going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don’t know me.”  Geraldine, we know you.  Shut up.


            Let me turn now to a granddaddy of hypocrisy, the Spitzer affair (so to speak).   That Spitzer himself was a hypocrite is beyond argument, since he publicly excoriated and prosecuted prostitution but was (or became) a customer of prostitutes.  He was like the Republican gays in Congress who excoriated homosexuality while engaging in it.  Of course, if memory serves, their positions on other issues were sometimes bad, while Spitzer’s were heroic (albeit he apparently was purely obnoxious in pursuit of his aims).  But he, and they, had very similar forms of hypocrisy in common.

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Lawrence R. Velvel is a cofounder and the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, and is the founder of the American College of History and Legal Studies.
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