There's a classic Jerry Seinfeld routine where he riffs on Bozo the Clown. "What's with Bozo the Clown?" he asks. "I mean, is 'the clown' really necessary? It's not like there's going to be a Bozo the Optometrist. If your name is Bozo, your career path is pretty well set. You're a clown."
Or a Republican presidential candidate?
I jest. Sort of. But there's a reason folks are joking about the GOP candidates' "clown car." There are a lot of Bozos on that bus.
So how do the Republicans fix their image problem? Pretty simple, actually. All it's going to take is one GOP presidential candidate with the courage to take off the clown suit and say, "Enough." One Republican who will state the obvious, hopefully on a debate stage filled with all the other candidates.
"My fellow Republicans," he will begin, "I'm going to say something that will be painful for you to hear: Our Grand Old Party is in trouble. We are too old, too white, too rich, too angry, and too out of touch. We're chasing giant portions of the electorate off our lawn. We've lost African Americans, Hispanics, gays, and open-minded moderates and independents. We're chasing off young people, people who believe in science, people who want accessible health care, and people who live in cities. And why? Because we have allowed ourselves to become trapped into pandering to know-nothings, gun fetishists, racists, religious fundamentalists, and the wealthy.
"As a major political party, we're killing ourselves, gerrymandering ourselves into national irrelevancy. We have almost literally become Clint Eastwood talking to a chair. My friends, let's face it, if our party doesn't change soon, we're going the way of the Whigs.
"We need to recognize that the country is becoming increasingly multicultural, more tolerant of sexual and gender differences, less traditional. We have a majority on the Supreme Court, and even they won't support our agenda. The Democrats don't have all the answers. Hillary Clinton's not even that likable, but she's going to win in a landslide if our candidate backs himself into a corner by pandering to our nutjob 'base' in the primaries.
"So, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to acknowledge that global climate change is happening, and I'm going to listen to our scientists at NASA, the Pentagon, and NOAA and take their counsel. I'm going to embrace the fact that gay Americans are now free to marry, just like the rest of us. That means you, too, Lindsay. Oh, did I say that out loud? Sorry. Where was I?
"Oh, yeah. I'm going to accept that some form of universal health care, as flawed as the ACA is, is inevitable, and I'm going to strive to make it work as efficiently as possible. And I want every American to be able to earn a living wage, because the real strength of this country lies in our having a robust middle class. I will fight to make that happen.
"In closing, I'd like to reiterate: It's 2015. I'm a Republican. My name isn't Bozo. And I'd appreciate your vote."
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.
Time moves in one direction, memory in another. — William Gibson
This week, an old friend sent me a photo of myself, circa 1978. In the picture, I was thin, long-haired, and standing barefoot on the porch of an old farmhouse where we lived, just outside of Columbia, Missouri. It was a shock to see it. I don't remember my friends and I taking many photographs, and I didn't remember this moment ...
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."