Friday, June 13, 2008

Another political post? You know it.

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has launched a new website:

I comment only to say that this race is not that nasty. Indeed, if the Obama campaign (or the McCain campaign for that matter) thinks that they are taking unwarranted heat and getting "smeared," then they should seek out some information on the elections of 1824 and 1828. The former ended up in the "Corrupt Bargain," and the latter ended with the death of Rachel Jackson, General Jackson's beloved wife.

I think most people forget how rough-and-tumble political life was in the early years of the Republic. Short of reading a stock academic history or one of the dreadful popularized histories (e.g., Team of Rivals), I recommend Gore Vidal's Burr. Having some experience with Vidal, I can say that his books - particularly the Narratives of Empire, though Julian is also a good example - are meticulously researched and readable. Now, it's fiction (spirited and feisty fiction), but Vidal does a wonderful job evoking the partisan, personal, and pointed competition that marked political life in the early Republic.

I mean, before the current incumbent, what sitting Vice President had ever shot anyone, much less a former Secretary of the Treasury?

"Fight the Smears"? Give me a break. This is polite teatime conversation compared to what it used to be.


At 12:53 PM, Blogger T. Ambrose Nazianzus said...

You are right on, on this one.

In fact, I would love to see this race get as nasty as possible...because then, at least, there would be more than just ambition and power driving the contest. There would be blood, honor, anger, vengeance.

I mean, Rome had all of these in spades, and it manage to influence the world until...well, our age. I can't see the Gore Vidal of the future attempting to write a "Burr"esque novel about the elections the past 30 years.

He's be forced to write about Disraeli...which I wouldn't mind.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger T. Ambrose Nazianzus said...

Note: He'd, and no He's.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger T. Ambrose Nazianzus said...

...and not, instead of no. My apologizes.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Even at the nastiest, what have the recent elections really flung in the mud department? That Dear Leader is an incompetent bungler who couldn't manage an ant farm? That John Kerry wasn't the war-hero-with-a-conscience that he said he was?

Give me a break. John Quincy Adams (or his partisans) was (were) so unrelenting in his abuse of Rachel Jackson that she died. The wife of a candidate was a casualty of a campaign, and people expect me to be super-interested in the Rev. Wright?

They must be kidding me.

Politics today is the refuge of dilettantes who couldn't make it in whatever line of work they tried before they decided they just had to be [insert office]. There's no honor to be offended and certainly no blood to be drawn.

The only novel you could write about the last 30 years of elections would be how the Republic's most brilliant and potentially greatest president was so insecure and paranoid he ordered dirty tricks and COINTELPRO-type operations and brought himself down.

There is no Gore Vidal of the future, which is a sobering thought.

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