Gore-Shaheen 2000 Kick-off
(Editor's Note: OK, so we predicted this one wrong back in 1997, but on August 14, 2000 NH Gov. Jean Shaheen gave the rousing keynote address for Al Gore at the Democratic National Convention in LA. Meanwhile a new novel Legacy & Destiny" tells the story of fictional female former NH governor who becomes President of the USA. Close, but no cigar.)
My Mellow Americans:
Just think about it for a minute. Here we are hurtling toward the most apocalyptic date since, well, since the year 1000 AD. Crime, drugs and sex dominate the news. Brinkley has been replaced by Hard Copy. Imus, Stern, Liddy and Limbaugh rule the hateful airwaves. Schools can't teach. Preachers can't preach. Fields don't leach, and there's a nasty cloud of locusts heading our way. The prisons are full, the Treasury's empty. We're a nation of video junkies, pumped up on designer java and trying to buy happiness at the multiplex. Technology is moving so fast that products are outmoded before they can be designed. Kids are skipping puberty while their parents are ducking menopause. In an era when change is the only constant -- what kind of leaders do you want? David Bowie? I don't think so. When I rocket through that crazy millennium barrier, give me a simple guy like Alan Shephard at the controls, not Ziggy Stardust.
Give us consistency. Give us risk management. Okay, give us dull, which certainly describes Al Gore. The vice president has managed to turn his lack of charisma into a valuable PR tool. He even tells Al Gore stories on TV ("Al Gore is so dull, his FBI code-name is 'Al Gore',") While poor ol' former VP Dan Quayle was destroyed by his media stereotype (dumb), Gore is about to spin his stereotype (dull) into White House gold. Not bad, consider "dull" and "dumb" are synonyms to Webster.
Every once in a while we get a dynamo in the Oval Office, but for the most part, America likes its presidents dull. That's why we make them vice-president first, to burn off any rough edges -- take Bush, Ford, Van Buren, Tyler, Coolidge -- it's a proud tradition that stretches back to Adams and the Revolution. But Al Gore has the boring schtick down. The man even looks like Clark Kent in contact lenses. This guy is so dull, he passes for a Republican.
So what can he offer Democrats to spice up the deal in the year 2000? Jean Shaheen, that's what. Mother of three, carefully political, New Hampshire's first female governor has made making history look easy. Of course she comes from Seacoast, NH. There was a time when all NH governors came from around here. Why do you think the state seal shows a picture of Portsmouth? Those were the glory days of Langdon and Sullivan, admitted revolutionaries. But these are days of revolution too, only this time its cultural.
There are pundits who might label Shaheen an unknown just because she has been in her first major political office just a few short weeks. Grooming her for national office so soon might be premature. Wait a month, they say: let her veto some bills, learn to operate the automatic signature machine, get to know the limo drivers. Normally, I would agree, but these are pre-desperate times. The millennium is bearing down on us. The crazies are getting crazier. The full moon of human culture is rising and we have no time for caution. We need to get mellow fast.
Let's get clear about this "mellow" revolution. This is no retooled Silent Majority gambit. When I say Gore is dull, it's no reflection on his intelligence. The man could be a genius for all we know. When Spiro Agnew (Editor's Note: For readers under 40, Agnew was Richard Nixon's first vice president. For those under 20, Nixon is the guy played by Anthony Hopkins in the Oliver Stone movie. Nixon's second vice president was the guy played by Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live. No, no, not Dana Carvey! He played Bush.) was tapping into a whole different slice of Americana back in the 70s. The Mellow Majority is a brand new phenomenon.
"Mellow" is not middle of the road by default, but by choice. Mellow describes a gentle experienced wine, a melodious combination of musical instruments, a good-natured good-humored soul. Mellow is a maturity that comes of experience. The mellow person has a viewpoint, but it is crafted from a wide range of accepted ideas. It shifts and flows, forms and evolves. What a conservative would call flip-flopping, a mellow person would call "making a decision." The Mellow Majority are just Baby Boomers, grown up at last.
The first half of the 21st century is going to be one hell of ride. Since the 1950s our society has let so many cats out of so many bags, that we're all still a little dazed. It was a glorious series of explosions, but the shock waves are still coming Without a major war to distract us since the 70s, we've been focusing inward, thinking too hard about what it all means, trying to glue the shrapnel back together. Now faced with the head-on crash of diversity and technology, will this culture bend, snap or shatter? We'll know very soon.
Well, I'm not taking any chances. Back in the 60s we were all building bomb shelters to avoid the shock waves. We thought we'd sit down in the basement eating canned peaches until the nuclear fallout blew by. Today, the Mellow Majority has a new formula for surviving culture shock: buy a car with airbags, eat smart, keep tabs on your soul, get plenty of sleep and exercise, elect people who don't draw enemy fire.
This may be where the Clinton's hit their snag. They were just too visible, too opinionated to follow 12 years of Republican rule. Perhaps old Spiro was right about the media, which can focus light on an issue until it burns it like a laser beam. We've legislated the public's right to know without teaching it how to understand. Perhaps, just perhaps, the Clintons were only the seedpod for the Gore-Shaheen campaign?. Gore-Shaheen may be the Alka-Seltzer tablet for the year 2000.
Remember how novice President Clinton first tackled gays in the military and President Ford opened by pardoning Nixon? Well Jean's first push as governor was to advocate an increased cigarette tax to fund statewide kindergartens. Next, in a clever political maneuver she offered to pardon Prince the now world famous Portsmouth dog that was on death row for killing a rooster. See what I mean? Lots of headlines, but no fallout. "Mother Saves Toddlers, Cures Cancer, Saves Puppy." Who can attack those headlines?
I can see them together now on the White House lawn early in 2001 AD -- there's Al, Jean and Prince. Al is telling Al Gore jokes, Jean is kissing babies. I can't quite see from here which one is president, but does it matter? The reformed pooch is riding a few fluffy yellow chicks around on his back during a springtime photo op. Little kids are hunting for Easter eggs among the hidden microphones and cameras in the garden. The cherry blossoms are in bloom. It's sweet. It's dull. The millennium has been neutralized by the Mellow Majority. The Constitution is finally in play. Diversity has taken root in America at last. All's right -- and left -- with the world.
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