Pinch-Hitter Arthur Waskow, 10/21/2004
For years, I have indulged the fantasy of living in a well-governed America by watching the TV "West Wing." Last year, it got increasingly frenzied with derring-do of war and violence — often misdirected, just as in "real life" these last few years.
But now TV has turned the corner. The new-season premiere of "West Wing" and the seventh game of the American League playoffs came on the same night. My conclusions about the coming elections are below.
Below are also the rules for A NEW READERS' CONTEST like our recent "Karl Rove Tactical Intervention" contest. Be sure to enter — There's a wonderful prize!!
(You are surprised that from such data I would draw electoral conclusions? Ha! Little do you know the soul of a Baltimorean who remembers when the Orioles won the MINOR league Little World Series, thus presaging the come-from-behind election victory of Harry Truman. That took a few years; this, but a few weeks. History moves faster nowadays.)
In the "West Wing" premiere, President Bartlett resisted enormous pressure from his staff, Congress, and the public to respond to a Palestinian terrorist attack on Americans in Gaza by bombing the Palestinians. — As he said, "Is killing more kids going to end terrorism? WHY did they strike at Americans?"
Instead, he insisted the Palestinian Authority turn over the terrorist leader to the FBI for trial in the US — thus preempting both any Israeli assassination attempt and any PA coverup. While rejecting staff recommendations to bomb an Iranian base on unsubstantiated allegations they might have had something vague to do with the terror attack, he authorized a bomber strike against a camp in Syria, on the basis of verified information that they had trained the terrorist band.
Then — most important — he pressured and cajoled the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to come to a last-ditch Summit at Camp David. They did, as the program closed on images of beflagged limousines.
So then I tuned in the baseball playoffs. The Red Sox won, coming back from the worst conceivable deficit: three games down.
The key play had really come in the sixth game. Before my very own (TV-extended) eyes, a Yankee tried to bully his way into a safe single — knocking the ball out of the first-baseman's hand. (I was both stunned, and utterly unsurprised: "Vuh den? What else would you expect from these pinstripe Yankees?")
His body hid the foul from the first-base umpire, but the Collective Multilateral Body of Umperial Justice convened on the field and said "Az pasht nisht!! No go!"
And even more — Just as in the first Presidential debate, the Televisual Public Witness for the American Citizenry made apparent by split screens from half a dozen angles what the Yankee arrogance had tried to hide.
That knocked the wind out of the Yankees' bossiness, exposing Steinbrennerism as a fake version of the American Dream.
As a devoted Shalom Report reader, Stephen Jascourt, wrote us to point out, the bullying base-runner was not just any old Yankee but "A-Rod" (Alex Rodriguez), the highest-paid player in all of Major League Baseball. ("MLB" should really stand for "Major League Business.")
A-Rod had been sold to the Yankees by the Texas Rangers, the team once owned by George W. Bush, because his contract had become too expensive. His advent in New York was greeted with news stories about how his "endorsement contracts" would soon enormously increase, making him still richer. About to be denied what he felt he "owned" — first base — he used violence to grab it. Could there be any better metaphor for the Bush Oil War?
But Truth, Justice, and the American Way (in the form of the collective wisdom of the Umpires) brought him to account.
From both events, my conclusion is obvious: Kerry will win the election.
I say this not out of favoritism or support for any candidate — God, or rather the IRS, forbid!! — I do not urge you to vote for or against any candidate except Kenesaw Mountain Landis or Shoeless Joe Jackson. I say this, rather, like all those scientific pollsters. I say it as a scientific analysis of "The Media as Advance Indicators of American Culture." (See my monograph on this subject in the Journal of Unverifiable Results.)
It won't be simple, of course, any more than Bartlett's Detente or the Red Sox turn-around was. The very warp and woof of Time and Space will be twisted in the counting of the votes.
So we welcome all readers into a Cultural Indicators pool on the following basis:
Choose the date, between November 2, 2004, and January 20, 2005 (or even, God forbid, later), on which you estimate the Presidential election will be decided. And choose the state with the closest division of Kerry-Bush votes.
Anyone who gets both facts right will win a free inscribed copy of Seymour Hersh's new book **Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.** Plus a free ticket to our NEXT Hanukkah "Menorah Award" event in December 2005.
(Just in case the election is not decided by December 12, 2004, when our Hanukkah event honoring Seymour Hersh & Ruth Messinger comes THIS year.)
If more than one person gets both facts right, we will spin the dreidl to see who wins.
Please enter by writing —
You MUST include your USPS address in your entry.
Feel free to forward this message to any and all others.
Meanwhile, our ruminations on the Meaning of Sport have been enriched by the dynamics in Sitra Achra (the "Other Side," the National League). —
If Houston instead of St. Louis had won the National League pennant, the World Series — TX vs. MA — would have been the election in miniature. Or maxiature.
But God, or History, or Abner Doubleday, has spared us, or denied us, this Ultimate Metaphor, this Archetype, this Mythos. Perhaps such a naked, burning vision of the unity of Micro/MacroCosm would have palsied every American batter, blinded us before the 180-mile-an-hour fast balls of the Great Relief Pitcher in the Sky.
Or perhaps we were given a glimpse of the esoteric truth: it is John Ashcroft's Missouri, not Bush's Texas, that is the true antagonist of KerrySox.
Is this a great country, or what?
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director
The Shalom Center
A prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, & American life.
December 12 in NYC (Sunday of Hanukkah), presenting Menorah Award for bringing new light into dark places to Seymour Hersh and Ruth Messenger.
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