I know that our leaders are human beings -- flawed and imperfect. Barack Obama is trying to quit smoking. President Clinton had a thing for the ladies (which explains why one wing of his presidential library is filled with little black books). Ronald Reagan scheduled appointments based on his wife's astrologer's advice. Senator Biden had that little plagiarism incident a few years back. I could go on and on.
In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to name any leader of significance who didn't have a few skeletons in his closet of one kind or another. That's why it's so difficult to accept when one of our leaders becomes so full of himself that he forgets his feet are made of clay, just like yours and mine. You can call it arrogance or hubris, but it's been the downfall of many in power.
George W. Bush spent President's Day comparing himself to "the first George W." He drew parallels between George Washington's leadership in the American Revolution and his own struggles to lead America's war in Iraq. It was the kind of absurdly tone-deaf performance we've learned to expect from our current president, a clumsy attempt to link himself to one of America's true military heroes.
But Washington didn't have to convince his countrymen to fight for their freedom with trumped-up "evidence" of danger. Iraq is not America, and propping up a government there and refereeing a civil war has nothing to do with fighting for America's freedom. The American people understand that at last, but Bush is still trying to sell the soap. Simply put, he's not listening to the American people and they're no longer listening to him. He's the very definition of a lame duck.
And as I write this, we in Memphis are awaiting an announcement from Mayor Willie Herenton about his proposed football stadium deal for the Fairgrounds. Herenton has already announced to a local television station that he will "take no questions" on the proposal for a couple of weeks. In other words, he's not interested in listening to us. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Anybody need some soap?
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.
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 ...