Monday, June 04, 2007

Mother Duck

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network 6/04/07

We missed most of the debates last night – Democracy’s only show in town featuring eight ducklings and Mother Duck. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer being the Mother Duck.

We have a statue of Mother Duck here in the Boston region. The Boston Common, homage to Protestant Clarity and Yankee Character, features in statuary the whole crew from Robert McCloskey’s classic “Make Way for Ducklings.”

It is a great book and deserving of the statuary. And it does explain how the world works: Mother Duck is Kundalini, the primal force of the Universe. The little ones come along under her wing, try to do something by themselves, but fail and fall again and again until they finally fulfill Mother’s form. The world stops and patiently and kindly waits for them: The Irish Cop stops traffic all across the Universe till Mother Duck finds her way through the Boston traffic and finally arrives safe to brood on the little island among the Swan Boats to raise her babies. But it is all about Kundalini, the brooding Mother Duck: Everything which comes from the ducklings comes from Mother Duck and is a manifestation of Mother Duck. In the Chinese version of the story, the yin and the yang and the ten thousand things all come from Mother Duck.

Last night in the part of New Hampshire we call Massachusetts North, Wolf Blitzer actually asked the baby ducks to raise their hands on different hypothetical issues just like in school. But it makes no difference what the little ducks say or do, it is all about Wolf Blitzer. The ducklings are only the partial and secondary aspects of Wolf Blitzer.

TV debates are the worst way of deciding Presidents anyway. They would be good for deciding a tenured professor or a monk maybe. Or a President’s helper. (One of the best in recent years was the Cheney/Lieberman debates – both helper ducks, but now one has taken over the show.)

We only caught parts of the debate because I got distracted by Arianna Huffington in the last few days before. Her daily paper, The Huffington Post, has found the new voices this past year and increasingly they go there to gather. I go there to look for opinions as I used to go The Nation, The New Republic and NYTs 30 years ago.

But I like her voice as well. Last week she interviewed Al Gore about his new book and Gore talked about several failures of the people and its government. But Huffington sees at the core a failure of character – a failure of the American soul, she says - and she is right: Character and courage is central to all the other failures; it is a failure of leadership and competence, but beneath it is a failure of attitude, character and courage. And it is the one lacking ingredient in Big Nurse, Big Hair, Bad Hair, Happy Face Button, The Guy from Alaska and all the other little duckings in Wolf Blitzer’s passive and accommodating debating society. (If you can’t say anything nice about someone, call them names.)

I hope she was watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers last night as I was when I was supposed to be watching the debates. Their dance together was the essence of character: A free dance in the free world – the antithesis of brooding and dominating Mother Duck on the other station. At the top of the Great Depression, with fascism spreading across the one half of Europe and Stalinism the other, Fred and Ginger dressed to the nines and spun in circles like American mystic dervishes, as no one ever has before or ever will again. Their dance was a collective attitude study in the courage of the common people to face their dangers in 1936. Hitler was watching. The world was watching.

They did it all with such apparent ease and nonchalance. And at the end, Fred and Ginger casually walked off the stage; nothing to it - all in a day’s work. But the last number alone in Swing Time took 450 hours of rehearsal and 47 takes. By the end Ginger was bleeding through her shoes. On the final take, the studio crew broke into applause and so did the world. And the applause has never stopped. Ginger never complained. In the spirit of Roosevelt and the spirit of the day, they hid their wounds and bandages as Roosevelt hid his wheelchair.

The only purpose of these early primary debates is to advance the agenda of the brooding and dominating Mother Ducks who have territorialized the political process. Al Gore, in his recent comments on Charlie Rose recalls the idea that by asking the questions, you control the debate: This is how Mother Duck controls her ducklings.

Huffington’s new paper, blogs like the Daily Kos other new on-line journals like this one are the only venues asking other questions. These journals are entering the new century first. New voices are coming through like Jon Soltz’s of VoteVets.org, and some good old voices, some of which have long been silenced or exiled by Mother Duck; the voice of Gary Hart, the Democrat’s brilliant foreign policy commentator who accurately predicted the way things would go in Iraq; of novelist Erica Jong and activist Tom Hayden and the creative and versatile Nora Ephron, who represents us collectively at times as well as George Stevens did in 1936 when he directed Swing Time.

These new venues and voices should establish their own debates and ask their own questions. New organizations like the Fighting Dems might join in with them. It they still want to hear the voice of the enigmatic and gnarly codger – which brought creative spark to both parties in earlier New Hampshire debates, they will have to move it up here way north to the mountains. I’d propose holding alternative debates at Dixville Notch, NH, maybe, way at the top of the state, where Wesley Clark won with eight votes in 2004, John Kerry came in third with three and John Edwards third with two votes in 2004.