Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Ghost of William Jennings Bryan

Large stories in both local daily newspapers here in New London County, CT this morning is the local Double A (Eastern League) baseball team has reinstituted the practice of collecting a parking fee for each vehicle that heads to Dodd Stadium to catch the CT Defenders in action. Back in the day, when the stadium first opened a dozen years ago, and the team was called the Norwich Navigators, the same policy led to lines of slow-moving traffic up and down the road through what we then called the Industrial Park.

An end result of this policy may well have been the delay caused by all the traffic forced 'The Voice of the Yankees', Bob Sheppard, who'd been brought in (to enunciate the first vowel?) especially for the inaugural game (the Navigators were a Yankee affiliate) to cool his heels in the back of the limo that was part of the arrangement to get him to Norwich in the first place and he didn't arrive at Dodd Stadium until the third inning. (For my part, I don't recall a limo driver holding a sign waiting for me when I arrived at JFK back in 1991. Obviously, I am the voice of cynical despair and not of human growth hormones, so no limo for lamos.)

That this kind of stuff makes the front page of one of the papers (above the fold) and the front page of the other's regional section is a testimonial to how slow a news day Wednesdays usually are. Bear that in mind if you're planning on invading another country, finding a cure for an infectious disease or announcing you're running for President (just don't do the latter at Dodd Stadium because they'll charge the TV guys double for the Ku-band uplink truck and engineers hate to pay for parking at an event they're covering and will bitch about it to the reporter all the way back to the station.) You could try doing all three at the same time, but I don't think you'll get any more column inches as a result though perhaps Geraldo will become your BFF or at least for the remainder of the news cycle.

Of course, you might want to consider that invasion thing carefully as it's not as popularly supported now as it once was, though from what I've been reading, it wasn't all that popularly supported then either. What do you make of this? "A republic cannot be an empire, for government derives their just powers from the consent of the governed, and colonialism violates this theory." Sounds a little bit like someone testing the limits of The Patriot Act, doesn't it?
Well, not really. Those are the words of William Jennings Bryan, he of Scopes Monkey trial fame, of the Cross of Gold speech, a three time candidate for the Presidency of the US, and former Secretary of State. He offered that observation as another President, William McKinley, led the nation into another faraway war, the Spanish American War.

He was quite the orator and you can check that for yourself, here, but if he didn't offer original and important ideas cogently and coherently argued and presented, we'd have no knowledge of him today (case in point: we all know or used to know Lincoln's Gettysburg Address but who remembers the name of the man who spoke BEFORE Lincoln at the battlefield cemetery dedication.....Edward Everett). So deeds are important and always will be, but so, too, are ideas and the ability to advocate for them, express and defend them.

And maybe it's just me, but stuck in traffic, waiting to pay for parking for a minor league baseball game, whether it's Limbaugh or Hightower on the radio, we seem to be suffering a dearth of original thinking and eloquent expression. And as we continue Slouching Towards Bethlehem (sorry Joan, WB Yeats had it first and best) and wonder why The Fates have chosen the destiny for us they have, Bryan's ghost suggests that "Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."
-bill kenny

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