Here at the outset of the summer movie season, I am aware that many of you out there get annoyed when I choose to talk politics instead of promoting the latest hot flick (like Iron Man which I will be seeing this weekend) and I'm sorry you feel that way. I write what I feel any given week, and many times it is about the latest hot flick.
MAY BIRTHDAYS Jason Liquori, May 4. 37 yrs. Steve Beasley, May 5. 51 yrs. Chris Woods, May 11. 35 yrs. Terence Nuzum, May 19. 29 yrs.
I do feel politics is part of pop culture (if in a qualified sense), and its discussion is important in times like these. In an election year with a Recession, an ongoing War, and gas prices off the map, I feel compelled to use this space to express my feelings.
This should not be interpreted as "soapboxing" because it is not my desire to proselytize, but to initiate discussion and feedback. If that makes you uncomfortable, there is no requirement to participate. But do know that the other PCR writers are more than capable of taking up any pop culture "slack" with their terrific columns and I hope you find something of interest there.
For the record, Mike Smith and I will likely have something to more formally say about Iron Man next week, although I'll likely hint something in Readers' Comments well before that.
Now then, on with the show...
Bush Press Conference
Is it just me or did George Dubya seem extremely confused and disoriented during his mid-morning press conference Tuesday, April 29th?
He gave a stuttering, rambling opening statement then, with some obvious trepidation, took questions from reporters. With each "answer" he only seemed to care about delivering very few simple thoughts and kept returning to their scripted versions, no matter what.
The number one question was about rising gas prices and related oil barrel prices. He shot back that he wanted to drill in Anwar, but Congress wouldn't let him (or words to that effect). When asked about alternative fuels, he got hung up on "ethanol", repeating the word over and over when he got stuck (apparently, phrases like "solar panels" and "hydrogen fuel cells" couldn't be rehearsed enough to feel comfortable with). I was a little taken aback because I thought the one-to-one replacement of gas with ethanol has already been discredited, citing its limited application due to skyrocketing food production prices.
"Congress and I are looking at everything on the table."
Of course the Recession was brought up and, rather predictably, he couldn't bring himself to utter the dreaded word, choosing to dodge it with, "doesn't matter what you call it," and "Congress can argue over the terminology," continuing with the legitimate observation that "the people mainly want to know if Congress can feel their pain" (or words to that effect). Well, true enough. But when Dubya, looking down at the podium obviously uncomfortable with the subject, resorts to this dodge tactic, it makes you wonder what he really knows and is afraid to tell us.
"Congress and I are looking at everything on the table."
The strangest reaction by far was to a reporter who dared to bring up Hillary and Obama on a topic to compare to Dubya (I want to say the topic was the gas-tax holiday, but I can't swear to that at the moment). Seemingly infuriated, Bush shot back with, "I resent your trying to drag me into the '08 elections"(!!). The question wasn't related to the Oh-Eight elections, but in a super-defensive flash, Dubya caved to pressure and scolded the reporter (I imagine he's so apprehensive of anticipated "gotcha" moments at press conferences, when he thinks he sees one, calls it out. Which would be funny, if it weren't so pathetically inaccurate). We never did get an answer.
I watched about 25 minutes or so of this and lost the stomach to continue. If there was much more to the press conference, I can't comment on it. I figure the Iraq War came up, but it's not hard to imagine where that went. But from what I did watch, it's obvious all he cared for these reporter to know was he wants to drill in Anwar, he won't admit we're in a Recession (despite body language indicating the opposite), he's hip to ethanol, and "Congress and I are looking at everything on the table" (regarding the economy, oil, etc. Nice, but it doesn't answer much).
Retracting My Retraction: Reverend Wright Continuing to Haunt Obama Campaign
Several weeks ago I wrote in these pages that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright would be the downfall of Barack Obama. When after about a week his pastor's firey racist rant failed to do so -- in fact, just the opposite -- I retracted my statement in the next issue of PCR. Now, weirdly, my original prediction has gained more traction because, well, the good Reverend just can't keep his trap shut. Worse, he's starting to spar with Obama publicly.
Should've seen this coming, really. Obama's instant distancing tactics must've proven a little hurtful to Wright. Obama's referring to him as "my former pastor" was so obviously political damage control that I can't help but wonder if it was somebody in Obama's camp who encouraged Wright to retire immediately to legitimize the term "former" to indicate "retired", rather than "rejected".
What's become apparent in the meantime is that despite Obama's original position that he could "no more disown" his former pastor than he could "disown the entire black community," well, it looks like the disowning thing has very much returned to the front burner.
Wright has subtly begun to pick fights with Obama in the public arena and that isn't good for the presidential hopeful. It's as if Wright, now suddenly acutely aware he's been made the bad guy, and to what degree, is in a "f*ck you" state of mind where he'll tell it like it is whether you or me or Obama likes it or not. His ongoing "clarifications", which are supposed to take the sting out of whatever screwy tirade he made previous to his latest TV appearance, seem to get him into even more trouble than before. (Besides the original inflammatory "God Damn America" speech, his main thing currently is referring to the US as a terrorist nation, thereby somehow implying we deserved 9/11.)
Add onto this the high profile purchase of a $30 million mansion for the good Reverend (I think his church secured the funds for this), and we're right back to wondering what kind of spiritual counselor Barack Obama had sworn his allegiance to all those years.
Weeks ago, I said the original sermon had rendered Obama's campaign "irrecoverable". I retracted that statement the following week. I'd like to retract the retraction now with the qualification that while his campaign isn't exactly dead, Hillary Clinton's numbers have started to climb once again.