Monday, June 23, 2008

It's time...

Politics is a dirty business.

Let's face it. It's difficult to remain idealistic even under the best of circumstances. If you live in Knox Vegas, moreover, you're no doubt about ready to lynch everybody connected to county government.

Yesterday afternoon I watched "The Candidate," Robert Redford's engaging, disturbing 1972 picture about an idealistic young lawyer who beats the odds -- and an arrogant, longtime incumbent -- to take a California U.S. Senate seat.

But, for those who've never seen it, this is no underdog film in the "Rocky" mold. No, it's a somewhat cynical look at the selling of an image, and how modern politics is all about the face on the tube.

"The Candidate" is dated but its message is remarkably relevant, especially during this election year. It's easy to draw comparisons between Redford's character and Obama and between Don Porter's crusty longtime senator and McCain. But that doesn't quite work, mainly because Obama isn't as idealistic as you think and McCain isn't quite so out of touch as Porter. (At least I hope he isn't.)

Still, it does make you wonder if we ever really do get to know our leaders -- and whether we'd like what we see if we did.

I don't know what's going to happen this fall. Frankly, I don't know which of these two would make the best president.

But I do know this. This country is hungry to believe again, eager to fly to the moon, ready -- I think -- to be challenged into facing the serious problems of our age. The old, empty, cynical partisanship of the past should once and for all be relegated to the ash heap of history. It's time to get to work.

I reject the notion that America's best days are gone. We've suffered through bad times and bad presidents before and we'll do so again.

It isn't happening in Knox County, it's barely happening in Nashville and is nowhere near happening in Washington. But it's time -- past time -- for somebody to step up and lead.

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