Ancient history will tell you that this here site started in 2008 and its impetus, generally, arising from the politics of working on the Obama campaign, certainly delineates the arc of its existence through that era. Other circumstances intervened as well, yes, but, bluntly, it was as much a case of having something to say, yes, but having that run smack dab into the eternal question: “Why Bother?”
Indeed. Well, something has changed, significantly, when this “Why Bother?” evolves into “Why not?” Or something even more dramatic.
The last year, having spent nine months working on the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, is how the circle has come full turn. After watching the thing ramp up into what would remind aged Boomers of nothing so much as the vaunted and daunted Children’s Crusade (both the original one during the Holy Roman Empire and Hippie Generation’s veneration of same via its inclusion in one of the iconic books of that era, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cats Cradle). Nine months of opening one’s mouth, at phone banks, at rallies, on door-to-door canvasses, in meetings, but also offering opinions and sharing experiences on the phone, in emails and IMs; it all adds up to a commitment. This particular length of time is better known for gestation, true, but it also represents a chunk of change wherein real dialogue and interpersonal interactions are so constant and intimate as to form umbilical bonds not as easily severed...except when the midwife is from the New York Board of Elections that pre-emptively cuts off something like 150,000 registered voters from ‘Feeling the Bern’ during the primary this spring.
Buuut…no use crying over spilled ballots.
To the point then. You can’t be both a player (even minor) in the Presidential contest and a dyed-in-the-wool cynic as well. If you open up enough to get hurt you also are going to feel. (Or vice-versa. Not really where I’m going.) After a certain age, tho’, it does take longer to heal.
Meanwhile…back at the title…
I’m serious. A figure on many a national media pundit panel has been the filmmaker Michael Moore. A staunch Bern-er from the giddy-up, he is too much of a realist to have turned to Gary or Jill as a futile protest and became as avid a promoter of Hills, with his final sally being a performance-piece/one-man-show done in deep red Ohio before a live audience (of, at best, skeptics) mere weeks before the close and delivered to the public for perusal as “Trumpland”. Within the narrative, he makes the confession of a secret letch he’s had on for her for years, dating back to the White House receiving line he met her in. He makes a persuasive case for her candidacy. (Strange to think that this is now just a footnote to history. Though, as a documentarian, his body of work is all milestones in time, anyways.)
At any rate, in the aftermath, he has been speaking about the future of the Democrats and saying things like “The democrats should get their own bastard to run.” The intriguing idea here is that, if nothing else, this has established that you can run and beat a party standard by channeling rage, tweeting and being a celebrity. Some may point to Reagan as a precursor, but that dismisses the fact that he was Governor of California too. Outside of Bollywood stars becoming leaders in the Indian legislature, we haven’t seen someone who’s only claim to fame is fame itself rising to such awesome power with so little substance.
Which brings me to Alec Baldwin. I am not particularly a fan of his (liked his one Jack Ryan movie; never saw “30 Rock”) but peripherally aware of him as a figure in gossip columns and tabloid fodder. He seems to be pretty quick on the tweet too. And, yes, he has a rep for mouthing off as well. (Can’t remember exactly what it was that got him fired from his MSNBC Friday night talk show, but it must’ve been foul: only had three airings before it was dropped.) This is someone who is seemingly impervious to angst. Whatever internal struggles he has or may have had are never evidenced in any personality disorder, outside of a huge ego.
And it is precisely this quality that makes me think he’d be a huge improvement on the present occupant-elect. He says what he likes and damn the torpedoes. He also can acknowledge he’d lead by hiring the best people for the jobs, as opposed to the occupant-elect’s idea of ‘best’ people as the ones he likes, and who like him, best. But mostly he will be a figurehead, and that’s the good part. Nobody trusts politicians anymore; they all lie, cheat, steal and are beholden to special interests because that’s who pays for their campaigns, etc. The attraction of the occupant-elect is that he doesn’t need anybody’s money (more or less, at least as the fable goes) so he can tell big pharma and the media and unions and Wall Street all to take a hike/walk/flying-something-at-a-rolling-donut and such. And he can do so without applying any of the loathsome social filters which annoy everyone who isn’t 100% PC. So this would then be straight talk…from an actor…who is used to scripts…written by someone else. It is the transparency of the artifice which actually redeems it. When he gets angry with congress, it is certain to be a front for an aggrieved sector of the cabinet or populace. When he offers sympathy to victims of another mass shooting, it will be real as far as Stella Adler has made him. When he glad-hands a foreign leader with intimacy, you can bet cash money is was all whispered in his ear 5 minutes ago. And all that is alright. You can believe him because he’s a phony.
Then, it this very same quality that allows him 100% candor as well. This is probably what makes the majority of the present occupant-elect so rabidly followed in digital emissions the idea that you are getting the raw personality straight off the top of the head is highly intoxicating…like that first whiff of a batch of Everclear that is still smoking from oxidization of the alcohol content. In this Baldwin would exceed all expectations as well, if only in that he would say thing liberals and some progressives might think, sure, but would never have the guts to say aloud.
Finally, there is the audition factor.
It is widely acknowledged that what got the occupant-elect his job was the position of being a reality-TV star on “The Apprentice”. His portrayal of what was (ostensibly) himself in a ‘real’ situtation—this imperious mogul who was “testing” candidates to join his empire—may have been described as a contest (again, ostensibly) to find the best of the best…but the only ‘reality’ there was that viewers tuned in every week to see the humiliation of wanna-bes and has-beens, individuals of little or no merit outside the Warholian 15-min. spotlight, in various superfluous and meaningless ‘challenges’ so one of them could come under withering assessment of the great patriarch and his ultimate judgment of “You’re Fired!”
Now contrast this with the Baldwin character on “30 Rock”. As Jack Donaghy, the network exec who exists in a bubble of cluelessness, he could move from lovable to lecher in the pace of a smash cut; a king-hell meddler and a goof, albeit one who will let cooler heads prevail, (at least in the few clips I’ve seen) and could easily pass for a less fear-inspiring Trump, even while showing bits of his SNL Trump-parody. The object here is that you get not even a benign dictator but more of a spontaneous dervish, an idiot-savant, a bozo with just plain dumb luck. If I can’t have another Obama, or Bernie, I’ll take a low-information, well-meaning goofball who knows how to let the competent control…and how to lead from the tweet and the photo-op.
The script starts HERE—