Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Circus That Jack Built

Like you, I've been appalled by the dismal tone of current American political discourse. Egged on by an infotainment-driven media determined to push itself to the outer edges of squalid vacuity, U.S. aspirants to federal office have apparently been forced to embrace semantic inanition as an absolute pre-condition for their every rhetorical gesture. ABC's notorious Democratic "debate", which asked the candidates to dilate upon the patriotic necessity of wearing a flag pin on one's lapel (among many other crucial questions of public policy), provides but one instance of a society's hell-bent-for-election bungee-jump into a precocious civic senescence.

Wretched enough in itself, the decrepit present is doubly damned by the precious treasury of golden political moments from the past which the Internet (God bless its cyber heart) offers up to the bitter-sweet delectation of the nostalgic soul. To wit, the Youtube clip of John F. Kennedy which you'll find below.

Hearken to the oratorical splendour of a pre-sound-bite era. Listen as JFK provides a substantive, dignified engagement with key issues and an insightful, elegant deconstruction of his opposition. Enjoy.



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15 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

How dare you insult the common man by exposing him to rhetoric that suggests he has the willingness and the capability to be elevated, even with the crude tool of everyday language, by the rigours of challenge and substantive meaning?

It's the same insult I'm subjected to when I'm denied, because of my only average level of physical fitness and thorough disinterest in the tactical elegance and symbolic beauty of baseball, the opportunity to play on a major league team.

Ti-Guy said...

By the way, have you seen this?

Aeneas the Younger said...

I agree with you that an older age of politicians showed more creativity and gravitas, but let us not forget that JFK was no friend of Canada's ....

Sir Francis said...

Um, I suppose that didn't go so well...but in an interesting way.

My intention was anti-nostalgic. I used the clip to show that an earnest "intellectual" like JFK was fully as vacuous forty-eight years ago as careerist hacks such as McCain/Clinton/Obama are now. I mean, "Nixon is a circus elephant"? Please...Neither of the most recent primary contests, shabby as they were, managed to sink so low.

But should I take it that JFK's discourse seems higher to us, that--jaded by decades of rhetorical mediocrity--we are willing to take vacuities expressed with conviction and verve for the real thing...?

I will admit to being at least entertained by the clip, so perhaps I'm not entirely immune to that temptation...

Sir Francis said...

Ti-Guy:

...have you seen this?

Hilarious...and inept. Iggy points out that the program he's praising is a federal, hence CPC, initiative. He says, "incredible but true that it's funded by the federal government so as to give hope back to young people. That is the right way".

The ad is saying that a program the CPC is subsidizing is useless for the task it's intended for.

One of us should write to the party and ask whether that wasteful program has yet been cancelled, and, if not, why not...

Sir Francis said...

Ti-Guy:

...have you seen this?

Hilarious...and inept. Iggy points out that the program he's praising is a federal, hence CPC, initiative. He says, "incredible but true that it's funded by the federal government so as to give hope back to young people. That is the right way".

The ad is saying that a program the CPC is subsidizing is useless for the task it's intended for.

One of us should write to the party and ask whether that wasteful program has yet been cancelled, and, if not, why not...

Ti-Guy said...

My intention was anti-nostalgic. I used the clip to show that an earnest "intellectual" like JFK was fully as vacuous forty-eight years ago as careerist hacks such as McCain/Clinton/Obama are now.

I didn't realise anyone thought of JFK as an intellectual. I was just reacting to a style of rhetoric and imagery that is very much more elevated and challenging than what we're used to.

Come on. Referring to Nixon as an actual elephant is refined compared to what JFK should have been calling him.

I'm quite often more dismayed by the lack of candour in rhetoric than by its stylistic sophistication or lack thereof. For example, I'd prefer it if the rednecks dropped their phony mannerism and swore like I know they all do.

The ad is saying that a program the CPC is subsidizing is useless for the task it's intended for.

Oh, that's too rich (I hadn't even bothered to find out what it was about). The absence of the juvenile graphic couldn't make this embarrassing effort any less stupid.

I was going to call up CPC HQ and yell at them for insulting the intelligence of Canadians, but now I think I'll call them up and laugh at them.

Aeneas the Younger said...

SF:

At least JFK was using analogy and imagery to a certain effect. Compare and Contrast.

Politics has never been very wholesome; it's a dirty business, which is the reason I personally abandoned the endeavour.

However, I do not think that JFK comparing RMN to a Circus Elephant is akin to anything we see in the comtemporary age. JFK's analogy seems almost cerebral compared to today ....

Aeneas the Younger said...

Would JFK or even RMN have challenged each other's patriotism?

The answer is: NO.

Sir Francis said...

At least JFK was using analogy and imagery to a certain effect...Politics has never been very wholesome.

True. My favourite politically "unwholesome" use of imagery occurred when Sir John A., wasted as usual, vomited copiously in the middle of a speech and then excused himself by explaining that the very thought of Grits always made him ill. Now that's a honeyed tongue...

Aeneas the Younger said...

THAT'S what one calls "quick thinking." Especially when one is toasted enough to need to vomit ...

Patrick Ross said...

"I agree with you that an older age of politicians showed more creativity and gravitas, but let us not forget that JFK was no friend of Canada's ...."

Actually, Aeneus, I'd suggest that depends upon who you are.

I'd bet you dollars to dimes that Lester Pearson liked JFK quite a bit.

Sir Francis said...

I'd bet you dollars to dimes that Lester Pearson liked JFK quite a bit.

He sure did, and he was most grateful for the PR experts Kennedy sent up to help hapless Mike polish his dismal image and unseat Diefenbaker.

Kennedy was delighted to help out, being desperate to destroy Diefenbaker and install a pro-American stooge (or "conservative", in current nonsensical terms) in his place.

Peter Burnet said...

One of the myriad complaints of the Bush-haters is that he is playing out his unresolved father issues on the world stage. But he's a piker compared to this guy, who would have re-instituted slavery or blown up Poland to put a smile on Daddy's face.

Ti-Guy said...

Is there no battle the yuppies have ever gotten over?

I was sick of the 60's (I only remember Expo and the Centennial which coincided with the year I started kindergarten) by the time the 70's ended and embraced the 80's with the conviction that we'd seen the last of that period. I really thought "The Big Chill" was a swan song. Given how self-indulgent and self-referential the yuppies are, I imagine they're reflecting wistfully on that twilight of their influence that's going on 30 years now.

I blame the brine of Viagra, Lipitor, Prozac and Botox they're all currently marinading in, all of which are masking clear signs of advanced dotage.