So I'm watching Larry King (don't ask) interview Miss USA, Tara Conner. Conner, in true reality-show fashion, is confessing that she used cocaine and marijuana and generally misbehaved after her ascension to the Miss USA crown. And she, like so many others who've been caught misbehaving in recent months, used the "get out of trouble free" card and went to rehab.
As I was watching (shallow fellow that I am), I kept thinking, Why is this person Miss USA? I see prettier, smarter women than Tara Conner every day. The reason, of course, is that Conner entered the contest and beat out a few dozen other women who thought being Miss USA was a good idea. The women I know wouldn't think of doing such a thing.
It's similar to what happens in government. I know lots of smart, honest, charismatic people who would make great mayors, city councilmembers, senators, even presidents. But they don't "enter the contest," so we're stuck with those who do, and, by and large, they tend to be mediocre. Or, even if they are outstanding folks going in, they become corrupted by the system and lose the common touch -- and, often, common sense.
It's how we get a George W. Bush. He's inarticulate, inflexible, and apparently listens only to the sycophants and sociopaths he's surrounded himself with, but he entered the contest, so for better and mostly worse, he's our president. Likewise, with our senators, who despite receiving a clear message from the electorate, refuse (with few exceptions) to deliver that message to the president.
We desperately need leaders, here and in Washington, to speak for us. We need a mayor who will call the Toyota company and personally invite them to tour Memphis rather than offering "no comment" about the proposed auto plant in Marion, Arkansas. We need senators to show the kind of courage being displayed by our soldiers in Iraq. We need leaders who will stand up for what's right. Otherwise, the whole country will be in rehab.
It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...
The hacktivist group Anonymous announced last week that they would be outing hundreds of Americans who were involved with the Ku Klux Klan. The group claimed that they'd hacked KKK servers and obtained emails and documents that would reveal that many prominent American politicians were associated with the white supremacist group ...