July 9th, 2007 by Rightsideup

An article in the Wall Street Journal today captures nicely the disconnect between those who ought to be the natural supporters of the Democratic Party (and its equivalents in other countries) and those who actually hold most of the leadership positions in those parties. The article is about the way the Democratic party has lost its way since the days of JFK precisely by misunderstanding and inflating the achievements and appeal of JFK himself. Towards the end we get the following astute observations (emphasis mine):

“John F. Kennedy & Co. took the party up-market, making it an Ivy League and, later, a Hollywood operation. After the Kennedy administration, the Democrats were no longer the party of the little man (Harry Truman’s party), or the party of the underdog (Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s party), but that of the intellectual and cultural sahibs pretending to speak for the little man and the underdogs because it makes them feel virtuous to do so; they turn politics into an affair of snobbery, where politicians are judged on elegance not substance. One recalls how much of an outsider the Kennedy people made Lyndon Baines Johnson feel — LBJ, that vulgar Texan who attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College.

Because of the regularity with which John F. Kennedy’s name is invoked by his skillful PR flacks, the Democrats keep turning up rather anemic Kennedy imitators — Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, John Kerry (with only an occasional genuine hustler like Bill Clinton popping up almost by accident) — to head their presidential tickets. But the criteria for president of the United States aren’t the same as those set by the deans of admission at Harvard or Yale, Brown or Duke. The happy snobbery of feeling culturally superior and morally virtuous that is at the heart of the Kennedy myth shouldn’t be what politics is about.”

February 28th, 2005 by Rightsideup

It seems Hollywood just can’t help itself. Once again, the major Oscars go to a picture which ruffled feathers everywhere from Disabled Rights Groups to conservative and pro-life groups. This was, in a sense, predicted, by Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger, when he said a couple of weeks ago:

“All the conservative outcry [about the shocking twist at the end of Clint Eastwood’s best-picture nominee Million Dollar Baby] is going to steel Oscar voters in favor of this movie. It already has the most emotional power of any of the [best-picture] nominees, and this is going to intensify that sentiment. … You’re never a true Oscar contender until you’ve angered a group.”

The interesting thing about Kruger’s comment, of course, is that it’s not just any old group the Oscar voters want to anger – it’s only ever conservative groups. This behaviour is usually justified on the basis of breaking down stereotypes, or breaking new ground, or “asking difficult questions”, but we all know that the Oscars will only ever do this with liberal causes celebres. Imagine the Oscar for best-picture going to a show which tacitly endorsed gay-bashing (as Million Dollar Baby endorses assisted suicide), or even taking a pro-life stance on abortion. You can’t – it’s simply unimaginable. And so, once again, the Oscars are true to form, going to pictures which endorse or glorify euthanasia, drug abuse and sexual immorality. But if we’re still surprised at this, we’re just not paying attention. It’s been this way for years.