Monday, January 11, 2010

Notes on Politics: 'Lost' State of Union, Political Book Takes on Rage, Egos, Race and Infidelity

Lost State of the Union Address

There was quite a bit of consternation in them there internets last week about the possibility that White House officials would schedule the State of the Union address on February 2, the date of the Lost season premiere. Appalled Lost fans started tweeting and including the hashtag #NoStateofUnionFeb2.

Once it was announced by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs that while they didn’t yet have a date picked for the annual address he could assure folks that it won’t be on February 2, one of the Lost co-creators, Damon Lindelof posted a tweet, “OBAMA BACKED DOWN!!! Groundhog Day is OURS!!!!!! (God Bless America).”

Lindelof’s colleague Carlton Cuse, joked about the hullaballoo by posting this tweet, “In exchange for moving his speech Damon [Lindelof] and I promise to answer ANY questions the President has about LOST.”

On a more serious note, the campaign finance think tank Center for Responsive Politics suggested that the contributions of “people and political action committees associated with Walt Disney” totaling in $430,000 helped Disney make their case to secure February 2 for Lost.

Political Book Portrays Elizabeth Edwards’ Temper, Hubby’s Ego

Political reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have dug into the political mud fairly deeply to unearth some damning, behind-the-scenes portraits of the major 2008 presidential candidates and those folks with whom they surrounded themselves with. The results are in Heilemann and Halperin’s new book, Game Change.

Among the revelations that’ve garnered mucho publicity in the past few days is the derogatory depiction of the Edwardses excerpted in this week’s New York Magazine entitled, “Saint Elizabeth and the Ego Monster.” (John Edwards’ mistress Rielle Hunter must be raising a champagne glass.) Characterized in the most extremely negative light possible, Elizabeth Edwards was portrayed as an exceptionally difficult person with whom to get along, with campaign aides referring to themselves as “battered spouses” for having to deal with her:

“With her husband, she could be intensely affectionate or brutally dismissive. At times subtly, at times blatantly, she was forever letting John know that she regarded him as her intellectual inferior. She called her spouse a ‘hick’ in front of other people and derided his parents as rednecks. One time, when a friend asked if John had read a certain book, Elizabeth burst out laughing. ‘Oh, he doesn’t read books,’ she said. ‘I’m the one who reads books.’”

John Edwards didn’t come off well either, as he was described as a deluded ego-maniac who thought he could just breeze through the campaign while screwing around and lying about it. The book excerpt said:

“Yet it was [John] Edwards who stepped so far across the line that his career and life were reduced to rubble . . . Edwards’s story is equally, lastingly resonant: an archetypal political tragedy in which the very same qualities that fuel any presidential bid—ego, hubris, vanity, neediness, a kind of delusion—became all-consuming and self-destructive. And in which the gap between public fa├žade and private reality simply grew too vast to bridge.”

Game Change Takes on the Politics of Race

In the same bombshell book, there’ve been revelations about Democratic pols, Former President Bill Clinton and current Senate Leader Harry Reid, quoting them as making disparaging/racially insensitive remarks about President Barack Obama.

According to Game Change, Clinton reportedly told the late Sen. Ted Kennedy that, “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” The book alleges that when Kennedy informed the former president that he was endorsing Obama and not Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Bill Clinton responded by saying, “The only reason you are endorsing him is because he’s black. Let’s just be clear.”

As for Reid, he allegedly called then-Senator Obama a “light-skinned” black man “with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.” Reid has apologized to President Obama and in statements to the media –even fielded some reporters’ questions -- as fellow Democrats have shown support for his leadership rebuffing Republican calls for Reid to resign his Senate leader post.

I ask you to imagine that, instead of a pair of Democrats, we were instead talking about a pair of Republicans, say, former President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain making these remarks instead of Clinton and Reid. Would the Democrats still be okay with letting the people who make these statements continue to serve as political leaders?

Game Change Takes on Political Affairs

It should be noted that as the authors are making the rounds promoting their book, they’re suggesting that during the campaign former President Clinton was engaged in an affair around the time of the 2008 campaign but have refused to provide details, though they’ve also said that aides for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign strongly believed that Cindy McCain had a "long-term boyfriend" and reported that she fought with Senator John McCain a lot.

Of former President Clinton, the book said: “The stories about one woman were more concrete, and after some discreet fact-finding, the group concluded that they were true: that Bill was indeed having an affair -- and not a frivolous one-night stand but a sustained romantic relationship.”


Image credit: New York Magazine.

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