Regular Flyer readers are well aware that we have not exactly lavished praise upon the administration of President George W. Bush. Although we intend our various criticisms as constructive, we have admittedly expended our share of them -- mainly because we have been dubious about the president's policy goals (his Social Security privatization plans being a case in point) or his competence (the administration's handling of Katrina being the best example) or both at once (Iraq: Need we say more?).
And, to be sure, we were initially nettled at some of the circumstances of the president's visit to Memphis last week -- notably, the severely restricted access extended to the media, both local and national, and to Memphians at large, who were walled off from the several events to the point that they had no more proximity, and maybe less, than people in Denver, Albuquerque, or Rangoon.
But, yes, we know there were additional security concerns, what with the presence, along with Bush, of Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, whose personal Elvis worship was the stated reason for the trip here. And, photo-op or not, the visit to Memphis by the two leaders surely helped further the economic bond linking our countries in general and that between Memphis and Japanese business in particular. The prime minister's favorite song by the King, "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," is not without relevance here. (Though we must note that Koizumi also sang the following lines with Bush standing nearby: "Wise men say, only fools rush in ... ." But surely the irony was unintended.)
All in all, it was a plus for us to have hosted the presidential company -- at Graceland, at the Rendezvous restaurant, and, as an impromptu add-on that may have crowned the occasion, at the National Civil Rights Museum. We have no doubt that the visit was good PR for Bush. We also do not doubt that it was wonderful publicity for Memphis, as well. Sometimes there actually is a convergence of interests.
What Goes Around ...
The current political campaign, both locally and statewide, has not been without its unsavory aspects. To start with, the current campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat has been the very model of an unedifying race, with all four contestants -- three Republicans and one Democrat -- staying as far away from legitimate issues or reasoned dialogue as possible. Both Lincoln and Douglas have to be spinning in their graves.
But even more troubling are some of the tactics being pursued in local races, where, in several contests (including, most dismayingly, some judicial ones), innuendoes and worse are being circulated concerning various candidates' religious or racial or sexual identities. In every case, the allegations -- whether true or false -- have no relevance whatsoever to the nature of the office being sought.
Of course, such campaign practices have a way of boomeranging back on those who employ them. The perpetrators would be well advised to remember that.
This week it starts in earnest — the questioning. You can't escape it. It comes from your spouse, your kids, your parents — at the breakfast table, in the car, on the phone, via email: "What do you want for Christmas?" ...