Anyone out there ever see Being There (1979)?
The film starred the late great Peter Sellers as a mentally challenged gardener named Chance. Born and raised on the estate of a reclusive rich man, he spent his entire time working with plants and watching TV. When his patron dies, he is cast out into a world that he has only observed through the far remove of television. One would expect that this babe in the woods would soon come to a untimely end.
But the plot is a comedy instead of a tragedy. The main character’s bovine placidity is mistaken for gravitas, his confusion is seen as deep thought, and the occasional cryptic non sequiturs that he utters are heralded as the most precious of wisdom. Chance, the extremely simple gardener, is mistaken as Chauncey Gardener, a successful entrepreneur and man of the world who was brought low by a hostile business environment. It doesn’t take long before the movers and shakers in the world take notice, and congregate to pay homage.
The movie ends with a cabal of political heavyweights deciding that they need to nominate this barely functional idiot for President. The fact that there is no public record of his past life is seen as a boon, since there would be no skeletons in his closet or past scandals to unexpectedly torpedo the campaign.
Isn’t this pretty much the problem that the Democrats have been struggling with for the past few elections?
The Dems nominated John Kerry back in 2004, thinking that his past military service would endear him to patriotic voters. But they weren’t able to erase the memory and recordings of extremely hateful remarks he made in the past, remarks where he accused every single one of the soldiers he served with as being war criminals. Instead of showing Kerry as being a patriotic fellow American, his service was then perceived as a shameless ploy to gain legitimacy before embarking on a political career based on scorn for the very values he was supposed to hold so dear. Incidents during his Presidential campaign also went a long way towards convincing the swing voters that he was actually something of a son of a bitch.
It was obvious that having Kerry wrap himself in the flag during the campaign didn’t work because he showed such contempt for his country at the beginning of his political career, and his own prickly and elitist personality put off a lot of people who were willing to give that a pass. What the Dems needed was a leader who had no skeletons in his closet. They needed someone with enough charisma so everyone could mistake empty platitudes as being profound, confusion at the outside world would be seen as deep thought, and calm placidity would be mistaken for being approachable and friendly.
Just as obviously, Hillary didn’t fit this description in any way.
The first time I heard of Barack Obama was when he threw his hat in the ring to become President, and the first thing that struck me when I started to look in to his qualifications was just how unqualified he was for the job. Seven years in the Illinois state Senate, four years in Washington, and someone actually thinks this guy can be trusted with the crushing responsibility of helming our ship of state for four years? It became clear to me what the Dems were trying to pull when I came across an old VHS copy of Being There while cleaning out one of my closets.
The analogy isn’t exact, of course. The main character in the film was a moron, while Obama is a highly educated and intelligent man. Chance the gardener fell into his enviable position through sheer luck, while Obama has worked tirelessly for decades to achieve his success.
Does this spell the end of Obama’s chances to be elected President? Dunno. It is a long time before the election, or even the end of the Democratic primaries. Just about anything can happen. But I bet that right about now the Dems are wishing that they went with moron who sounded like an educated man, instead of the reverse.