Posted by lex, on May 20, 2006
Seems very fashionable these days. It’s “brave,” you know. So long as, when you say the word “brave,” your definition is expansive enough to include conventional definitions as well as the emergently popular standard of self-referential acts of guerrilla performance art taken without the least whiff of attendant consequence.
A couple of weekends ago nothing else very interesting was happening, apart from a White House correspondent’s dinner, wherein comedian Steven Colbert, offered the opportunity to do that comedian thing and say something – anything – funny, turned it down in favor of pretty much being a prick. It being a slow week for news, the entire political blogosphere exploded, one side into paroxysms of sniggering, orgasmic approbation on the one hand because, you know: SOMEONE FINALLY SAID IT, MAN! while the other side wondered, not for the first time, whether anyone actually thought this sort of thing was funny, whether this was truly the last nail in the coffin of civil public discourse, or if it really could be possible that there were further indignities yet to face.
This week Senator John McCain, a man whose bravery in the face of past hardship I admire greatly, while maintaining private reservations about his positions present and potential, gave a commencement speech at a leftish, liberal arts university in Greenwich Village, NY. He was invited there by the school’s president, fellow Vietnam veteran, former fellow senator and Medal of Honor winner Bob Kerrey.
But McCain, you know, is a wicked rethuglican, holding unrepentantly unpopular opinions, which combination makes him teh suck, and so in consequence the kids – along with some of their professors – behaved rather boorishly. Not least among those so disposed was an elected commencement speaker, one Jean Rohe, who apparently departed from her prepared script to beard the senator in front all those assembled. Speaking truth to power, like.
It really wasn’t his fault that he got invited into a pit of very well-educated vipers, and it really wasn’t my fault that I did what I had to do in the situation. Had he been speaking at something other than our graduation, or had he spoken about almost anything other than his life and his position on the Iraq War and Darfur it might have been OK. But what did he expect?
So: Nobody’s fault, really. What did he expect?
Oh, I don’t know. Manners to go along with all of that education, perhaps. Common courtesy would have been nice, the kind you’d give a dignified stranger of a certain age on the subway. Themselves being so very new to the wide world, on the very cusp of exiting the shelter of the academy’s ivied parapets, and stepping out into the the light for what’s very probably the first time. And himself being a veteran of a different but equally unpopular war, a former POW, and well: A US senator. And all.
The best news is that she’s now been offered a chance by the Huffington Post People to explain how she came to strike yet another brave blow against everything that’s not what she, personally, believes in. Get through it, if you can, but be forewarned – running at a trifle more than 1,800 words, a mind-numbing 127 of them are either “I,” “me,” “my” or derivative contractions and possessives. Which, the body of work being exceptionally rich, is probably not a record for the English language, but seems telling nonetheless. Especially for such a very well-educated pit viper.
Your humble scribe didn’t have the opportunity to attend classes at the “New School” in Greenwich Village – a university, truth be told, whose existence he had not heretofore intuited. But somewhere in sophomore lit – sophomore in high school, that is – he was taught that the surest way to cause a reader to skip ahead to the end was by the overuse of the first person pronoun and personal possessives. Because, odds are, and in spite of what momma told you? You’re probably not that interesting.
So, as I said, telling. As is the fact that neither Mr. Colbert, nor Ms. Rohe were dragged off their respective stages by jackbooted thugs from the Rovian Ministry of Information. Which, if the world actually worked as they appear to think it does, is downright strange, when you think about it.
Maybe it’s BECAUSE OF THE BRAVERY!