Today’s New York Times Quotation of the Day got a reaction out of me:
“I’m like a fish out of water. They’ve never run across anything like me. I mean, a guy like me running for the presidency? I’ve never run for anything.”
– GEN. WESLEY K. CLARK, on campaigning, so far.
Hmm. So, how are we supposed to interpret a guy admitting that he never ran for anything before? There are good and bad things about it. For instance, he has no experience in public office; that’s bad – how can he deal with things? But, by not having prior experience in public office, maybe he has fresh eyes and views toward old problems – that’s good. And, the “guy like me” is also an interesting line. A general/Rhodes scholar/West Point valedictorian isn’t devoid of a good resume; in the 19th century, he’d be a shoe-in for presidency (putting aside that there was no such thing as Rhodes scholar in the 19th century). Indeed, in modern era of the last 50 years, we had Eisenhower; so sure, if Joe Schmoe or MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman said, “a guy like me running for the presidency?”, then I’d agree and say, “Yeah, you’re kidding, right?” But, the turn of the 21st century’s environment is where we would give pause and say to a general, “Yeah, you’re kidding, right?” Just my thought to reflect on the nuance of language and society; no conclusions can be made at this time.
Slate.com had an interesting assessment of Teresa Heinz (aka Teresa Heinz Kerry), wife of the other Democratic candidate John Kerry. Like Clark, Heinz is known for saying off-the-cuff remarks. As a modern woman, what she does and says also becomes nuanced by the turn of the 21st century’s environment. The media would go into a feeding frenzy about what controversial thing she says or gossip how she’s one politician’s widow/another politician’s 2nd wife and an heiress. But, Heinz isn’t a rookie at political campaigning and appears to be able to do public outreach, since she can speak the languages of various communities. Heinz’s outspokenness can be an negative (there’s the stereotype of the scary politician’s wife, re: Lady Macbeth), but can be an asset – why not go out there and show what one individual can do and say, quite honestly? (this is the post-feminist age, isn’t it?).
Such a confusing and an interesting time that we live in.