Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Joe Miller: America comes into the country

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 9/1/10

As one more interested in beginnings than endings, this morning I Googled “Joe Miller” before I went to Obama’s Iraq speech and was delighted to see this headline on the LA Times: “In Alaska, Sen. Murkowski concedes to ‘tea party’ candidate Miller.” Because history has a tendency to begin again where it ends. As it did in the mid 1970s when Howard Cosell interviewed John Lennon at half time at a football game. At the end he said, “I’ve got to go John. I’ve got to interview The Gipper.” John Lennon said, “Who’s The Gipper?” Soon all would know. And soon all will know Joe Miller, who, with backing from Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, just won the GOP primary in Alaska.

If “Mad Men” ever gets to the mid-1970s, one of the mini-cultural awakenings which they love to uncover will be the publication of John McPhee’s “Coming into the Country” about Alaska. As Wiki says, “McPhee's travels through much of the state with bush pilots, prospectors, and settlers, as well as politicians and businesspeople who each interpret the state in different ways.” It was then a very Emersonian phenomenon and the best among us had already travelled to Alaska. Some, like my more adventurous and industrious friends, to work on the pipeline at Prudhoe Bay. Congress and punditry might pick up a copy. Like so many things in the mid-Seventies it echoes today. McPhee’s great book presented Alaska as a door in the American psyche that was about to open. Today it opens.

As President Obama said last night, “It is time to turn the page.”

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