Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Guns, Harleys, the Constitution, Oh My!

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 10/28/09

President Obama is lately being accused of “Nixifying”the White House. He’s also been compared to Jimmy Carter quite a lot lately – especially in my columns – and of course, to JFK, Roosevelt and Lincoln. So far, as far as I can see, no one has compared him to President Gerald Ford. Ford was bland. He was awkward. He was always bumping his head. But he was a great and noble man and a great President because as President he did the work that needed to be done. He ended the war in Vietnam. And that is what Obama needs to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. That may be his only legitimate duty.

One of the bravest moments in post WW II history was when Graham Martin, the ambassador to Vietnam, suffering from cancer and pneumonia in both lungs, infuriated President Ford by parking the U.S. Navy in the Sea of China after the fall of Saigon. For three sleepless days and nights he stood on deck and refused Ford’s order to leave the region. The Vietnamese who helped the Americans knew they would be slaughtered when the NVA headed south and they were moving fast. But Martin had promised them he would keep his ships nearby for three days and anyone who could reach him by whatever means would come back with him. He arrived back in America with a full ship and the lives of tens of thousands of Vietnamese with American families now into the third generation were saved by this heroic action.

The war in Vietnam was then over. Martin and Ford closed the book. We Americans were able then to go on to the next thing; happy days when the Americans beat the Russians in hockey and Jimmy Carter, followed by Ronald Reagan and a new generation of prosperity. But the prosperity and power which rose American wealth to its highest post-WW II peak in the Reagan, Bush and Clinton period would not have been possible without Jerry Ford. Things need to end before they can begin again. And if Obama passes these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on to Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Rick Perry or anyone else, he will have misunderstood his duty. Prosperity will not return. The states will be in turmoil.

The Obama group and the Congress conspicuously doing his bidding seem to value nothing more than going to meetings. Both traditional parties – but not the new group rising in the NY 23 election – seem stuck in the past. Which is to say they seem detached. For a cluelessness test they might be stopped randomly by the press and asked, who are Bella and Edward and what’s up with Taylor and Taylor? If you don’t know, ask a kid.

And instead of heading out nightly to those big hair, dress-up lobbying dinners – Newt Gingrich once compared these gatherings to those of the Mandarins of the Empress Dowager Ci’an’s court before he joined them – they might turn on cable.

Linda Gray and Larry Hagman have been asked to reprise their Sue Ellen and J.R. Ewing characters for a remake of the Reagan-era soap, Dallas. Good for Rick Perry and suggests a George W. Bush revival. But to see what’s really going on in the amorphous, uncharted waters of the collective unconscious, plug into Sons of Anarchy, the FX production which recently beat Leno and the mainstream networks.

I don’t get those high stations but it looks pretty hot, like Kurt Cobain meets Hell Boy. It suggests the first days of the rising Sixties when Hell’s Angels and the Bay Area hippies were brother and sister. Days of love and thunder awakened by war across the Pacific. Which suggests a California revival.

Some quotes from the trailer: “Seems like the original idea of the MC was something simpler. You know, social rebellion . . . call it a Harley commune . . .” And a mother’s advise to younger woman: “You love the man . . . you learn to love the club.” (Harley is family.)

When the local cop stops Jax, the Kurt Cobain guy, and tells him, “I will not look the other way, Jax . . . a friendly warning.” Jax replies, “We’re all free men, protected by the Constitution. You look any way you want, Chief.”

Guns, Harleys, the Constitution. Oh my! That’s the rising theme here. This is the new generation and it is soon upon us. And David Letterman is afraid of Sarah Palin?