On vacation, Clark Griswold-style

July 29, 2009

Welcome back!

I'm down here in beautiful Cape Breton enjoying a week of "not doin' a helluva lot". I'm just waiting for my invitation to the White House to have a beer with the Prez, but I guess I haven't done anything to merit it. Oh well, I'm trying to keep busy anyway. Speaking of that now-famous tussle between Professor 'Skip' Gates of Harvard and the Cambridge Police Department, most people feel that there was over-reaction on both parts. However, I haven't seen any mention in the media coverage of a little nugget in all the initial media reports of the event. The woman who called 911 was reported as 'white'.

This was guaranteed to launch the news story into the stratospheric 'outrage' factor. What did her race have to do with it? Nothing. But when you have a prominent black leader being the center of the story, you need to complete the equation, not just with the fact that Sgt. Crowley was white, but that....get ready....the 911 caller was....gasp...vapors....white!

So how did the Prez do in his reaction to the event? The answer: really bad at first, but as Obama demonstrates regularly, he moves quickly and turns it into a winner. Within two days of labelling the Cambridge police actions as 'stupidity', he calls the two principals in the story and invites them to the White House for a 'beer'. Not a coffee! Not tea! But 'beer'! [Of course he learned during the primaries that a glass of white wine isn't what blue-collar regular guys do - you know what Hillary Clinton had already figured out?] So the photo-op, kiss-and-make-up session is about to get underway. Brian Williams is squirming with anticipation...

His follow-up news conference to 'calibrate' his remarks (note the word 'apology' is never used). It was a masterful effort to remove his foot from his mouth and lower the temperature on the issue. Note that it's hard to 'calibrate' the word 'stupidly'... Judge for yourself:


Confirming Sonia

So Sonia Sotomayor has now been confirmed by the Senate Committee and awaits full Senate confirmation.* Surprise surprise! She succeeded in not getting drawn too far into specific issues and was able to deal with her "wise Latina" comments. So the only question remained was 'how much damage did the Republicans do to themselves on the issue?' The answer - a little, but not terminally damaging. The Senators knew that they were in a "only one way to go and that's downhill" situation. So they did their obligatory questioning but the deal was done before she sat down to her prescribed punishment.

Walter Cronkite, R.I.P.
The world has lost a great broadcaster with the death last week of Walter Cronkite, who was CBS anchor for nearly two decades (1962-1981). He was head-and-shoulders above what's on offer today. I can't imagine Mr. Cronkite doing that Brian Williams Obama love-in. Speaking of the late, enormously respected CBS broadcaster, I remember meeting him at the Harvard 350th birthday back in 1986,(he had a grip and a pair of calloused mitts which I take it came from his sailing and not his copy-editing!) and we used to see him in later years on Martha's Vineyard, on his sailboat or in Edgartown. He had already become a legend, and his stature has grown even more as the years go by. He will be sorely missed.

Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed
The 'KISS" front man rolled into Ottawa with his wife Shannon Tweed (well actually they aren't married, but they've been together about a quarter of a century). There had been a huge public relations embarrassment running up to their arrival, when Shannon Tweed Day was announced and then withdrawn. The PR debacle was possibly avoided when her friend, former City Councillor Linda Davis put together a dinner for Ms. Tweed. So, we were invited and it turned out to be a fun evening.

Gene Simmons says I'm Too Friendly for Effective Parenting!

I was never a KISS fan, but in recent years have begun watching their TV reality series, 'Family Jewels' along with our two teenaged boys. We were interested in how their kids turned out to be so well-balanced considering the family's wealthy rock-star lifestyle. Well.....when we asked him, he looked right at me and said, "fear". I said, "what do you mean?" He replied, " I only have to say it once and they do what I say." I said, "I've tried that, but it doesn't work." He looks me up and down and says, "you're too friendly. I can tell by looking at you. Remember, it's fear!" Hey, here's me thinking that it was role modeling and stuff like that.

What do I know, I'm just Clark Griswold, right? So take it easy and we will see you back before the end of summer. Be safe!

* correction to original post

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