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February 1, 2004 - Not too Swift ...

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Well, this seems to be the Jonathan Swift issue of Just Above Sunset.  In the News Wrap he is mentioned.  And again, twice, in February 1, 2004 Odds and Ends.  And I've written about him before.


As I said in the news wrap:


As the week ends some things have been bothering me.  My friend in Paris, Ric, tells me Im getting a bit angry.  Maybe so.  I suspect my tone is changing.  Do I need to toss a nod to the other side?  No.  Enough is enough.  Angry will do. 

As I mentioned previously, my graduate work was on the satires of Jonathan Swift.  His attitude must have rubbed off on me.  But he was "ironically reasonable" more than he was angry - or the irony masked the deep anger. 

Well, being ironically reasonable, and not directly angry, was fine for Swift.  He dealt with the dumb-as-a-post Queen Anne.  And with Robert Walpole, not a nice man, but one with a veneer of civility, however thin. 

The current crew in power?  They do not deserve the irony any longer.  Bah.  And humbug. 

Swift got pissed at the fact children were starving in Ireland, and with the Wood's Coinage issue.  Were Swift alive today? 


Curiously I got interesting advice from Joseph, the expatiate American living in eastern France:


Ironically, the other side cites Gullivers Travels too, as an argument for unilateralism.  Imagine the giant USofA being tied down by that collection of pesky little insignificant countries (the UN of course).  Literary citations abound lately.  An article in this week's Economist draws comparisons between American electoral politics and politicking in The Pickwick Papers.  It would be amusing if only it weren't so true.


Angry?  You?  Say it isn't so!  It would be about time - IMHO.  There seems to be plenty to be angry about.  Perhaps we need not another Jonathan Swift, but another Paddy Chefsky.


Now that the world has effectively broken down into two camps, the "reasonable" and the "unreasonable," it should by now be painfully clear that only by being terribly unreasonable do you ever have anyone's attention.  The trick to being effective for the reasonable person is to learn to strategically "act" very, very unreasonable.  Democrats won't get anywhere with reason; not where the unreasonable are concerned.  If Democrats want to take back the White House, the rank and file are going to have to throw reason to the wind, and appeal to the basest instincts of the electorate - as do the Republicans.  Fear and prejudice; these are our friends.  Let's start with Hispanics, a group whose even modest support for this president mystifies me.  Don't these people see that to this president, Hispanics are just the help?  I understand that Bush's use of Spanish is very limited; I'm surprised it isnt limited to "Wash the car today, Sancho, and if I catch you sleeping I'm gonna call the INS on your ass."  Someone needs to make these people get it, and that won't happen with reason.  If we believe ourselves above it, we will lose, and we will deserve to.


So take my advice.  I want you to go to your window, open it, stick your head out and yell in Spanish (and in the best Mexican accent you can muster) "I"m mad as hell, and I"m not going to take it anymore!  Reeeeeeba!"


Get angry, Alan. Get very angry.


But Joseph knows me.  I'm not good at being angry.  Yet, sometimes one just reaches one's limit.


So there is a bit of anger in some of the items this week.


But Rick, the "news guy" in Atlanta points out the limitations of anger.


Entreating Democrats to become Republicanesque jerks in hopes of capturing the White House may sound good on paper (or computer screen), but it's not all that dissimilar to advice given to them back during the run-up to the second Reagan administration:


Q: "What does a Democrat have to do these days to vote someone into the White House?"


A: "Vote Republican!"


This points to the core problem:


Q. If voters are torn between voting for (a) someone who is fairly new to being a jerk, and (b) someone with years of experience at it, who do you think they'll pick?


A. If they're already favorably inclined toward jerkism, I'd guess it wont be the newbie.


But the truth is that anger is not hate; nor, come to think of it, is anger unreasonable.  I don't hate Bush and his crowd, at least not in the way all those blockheads hated the Clintons all those years, enough to accuse the president of the United States and his wife of having murdered one of their own friends.


But I am angry at the Bush people.  They've trivialized the presidency and done to this whole country what they claimed the United Nations was doing to itself - this Bush crowd has rendered the United States irrelevant.


The big problem with the United States' place in the world is that it's like a pendulum that swings in the other direction with each change of administration, from the Democratic Dr. Jekyl to the Republican Mr. Hyde.  Then again, if there is a God, maybe that's the way he wants the planet to be, with the most powerful nation acting arrogant and stupid, with nobody else taking it very seriously.


So Howard Dean is angry.  Mostly because of that, I'm still for him and probably will be until he's somehow bumped out of the race.


The truth is that anger is not hate; nor, come to think of it, is anger unreasonable. 


Good thought.


I guess I'll be angry, and keep reading Swift.