THE MOVIE ‘QUEEN’ IS REMARKABLE, one of the best depictions of the insides of power and politics I’ve ever seen. I expected as much from Helen Mirren, but was amazed at Michael Sheen’s ability to blend the pragmatism, idealism and sliminess of Tony Blair.
When Blair was elected, I told a British friend that I was pretty sure I had once bought a used car from him out on Arlington Boulevard. But that was either a little unfair or, if you prefer, a little too complimentary. What halfway decent con man would let his life be ruined by the likes of George Bush? Only ideological excess or misguided idealism could have let a bright hustler like Blair get taken by a such a fifth-rate carnie peformer.
I will miss Blair, though, especially as I have learned how to use my Tivo zapper to speed through question time at Parliament. I set it at two-thirds fast forward, stopping only when I see someone laughing or when the Speaker arises to settle things down. Once, long ago, I caught a speaker pleading to his minions, “Order, order, I say order. Your deportment disfigures these proceedings.”
AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING LIKE Simon Cowell, before we make Barak Obama the next American Idol, couldn’t we at least check out some of the other thousands of recent or present state legislators with similar qualifications?
SOME IN THE MEDIA are getting a little overexcited about prospects for the Democrats in the Senate. The LA Times headlines “Three states could swing Senate control,” which is a pretty good trick since the Democrats actually need six new seats. The Washington Post admitted this somewhat grudgingly in its second graf – “a trend that leaves the party looking for just two more seats to reclaim the majority” after throwing in Casey’s sure bet in Pennsylvania. The Post, however, cited one of those imaginary trends that pops up near the end of campaigns: “Democrats in the past two weeks have significantly improved their chances of taking control of the Senate, according to polls and independent analysts.” In fact, the states mentioned have had close races for some time. The one exception is a New Jersey poll released the same day as the Post article that finds Menendez with a comfortable lead for the first time. It is in the House that the trend has been noticeably towards the Democrats while the Senate races have so far failed to follow suit.
AS NOTED HERE BEFORE, the key unknowns are whether discouraged conservatives stay home, whether some usual non-participants get excited enough to vote, and how many votes the Republicans steal.
THE WASHINGTON POST is working overtime to try to keep Jane Fernandes’ job as the new head of Gallaudet University including the gooey headline, “Fernandes Expresses Resolve to Lead” and a disparaging quote from a lawyer whose expertise is in higher education: ‘It’s very hard to have an orderly dialogue with a mob.’ Sounds like he must do great for the administrators who hire him. . . THE PROBLEM is that the premier campus for the deaf doesn’t need any more resolve on Fernandes’ part, it needs her out of there. But to Fernandes this is a personal issue. Says the Post: “She went home Wednesday night for the first time in 10 days, she said. ‘That’s partly why I have this resolve,’ she said. ‘I talked to my parents, husband, family, and they are outraged at what’s been done to me, and they will not let me take that.”. . . And she added this touch with the sound of Bush speaking of Iraq: “I would really like to see this come to an end, for the good of Gallaudet. I’d do anything to make that happen.”
WHAT ISN’T GENERALLY known is how close the relationship between Washington’s universities and its daily paper is. When something like this happens, the Post pulls out all the stops to keep the students in line and the powers that be still being instead of having been. This has included, on the Post’s part, spreading the story that the protest is about deep seated conflicts in deaf culture and particularly over the issue of signing. But the Post’s ombudsman pointed out what the news stories hadn’t: “Many protesters reject the idea that deaf culture has anything to do with their call for Fernandes to resign. David Rosenbaum, editor in chief of Signews, a national monthly publication for users of ASL, wrote in an e-mail: ‘Deaf identity is not an issue. The President’s Office and its Office of Public Relations at Gallaudet University have been playing the ‘deaf card’ but it has no bearing to the root of the matter. There are other deaf leaders who learned sign language later in life and who possess the leadership qualifications needed.'”