Thursday, December 29, 2011

Of Pancakes and Candidates - and Feathers

Ben is up from Houston, and is re-experiencing what it was like to grow up here in NH presidential primary season.  We get frequent phone calls, ignoring many because of caller ID.  We didn't have that in earlier years.

We were trying to recall who the candidate was who fell off the back of the stage while flipping pancakes.  Tracy and Ben had been present for the event.  A school snow day, perhaps.  Was that '96 or 2000? Or perhaps even '92?  No, it was all Bush 41 and Buchanan for that one - we would have remembered that.  Was it Gary Bauer?  It wasn't Dole... It wasn't Alexander...Forbes?...Dornan?

It was Bauer, 1996, for those tormenting themselves over it.

We discussed how such foolishness is in many ways a good thing.  Even our stuffiest, most self-important candidates have to venture such things.  They have to risk looking foolish, having to quickly cover, looking a little sheepish.  You can't imagine Vlad Putin putting himself in that position, nor Bashar Assad.  Dictators try to look like a Man of the People by wearing military garb, as Saddam Hussein or a thousand Latin American leaders did.  In the West, and I think particularly in the Anglosphere, we require more.  We make you throw baseballs, and eat kielbasa.

I think Obama is pretty imperious, yet I can easily imagine him covering a pancake-flipping fall with charm and grace. Mao, not at all, and Hu Jintao, just barely starting to make his way into that territory. That tells us something about a country, doesn't it?

It has it's bad side, of course, and isn't exactly a qualification for the presidency.  Plenty of corrupt, glad-handing, back-slapping politicians also have that common touch we like.  But it provides a check on one type of bad presidency, and for that we should be grateful.

It's been that way a long while, too.

1 comment:

Texan99 said...

I'm thinking that if Mao had fallen backwards off of a stage, more than one nearby flunky would have died. I'm not sure I agree that Mr. Obama could endure such a televised pratfall with good grace, but he probably at least would stop with killing the career of some personal assistant or another. Our system does have the advantage that our leaders needn't make it a life-or-death matter to preserve their image of majesty. It's one of the great advantages of a succession system in reasonably good repair: most U.S. leaders expect to be able to move in and out of public roles without being murdered by their successors, so they don't have to hang on quite so desperately to the trapeze.