Sitting in a college classroom the day after the Kent State massacre, I listened in on a conversation among four students. The point of the conversation was to determine which of them was the most offended by the killings of four people at a college in Ohio.
"I've been a radical since Viet Nam!" cried one.
"I've been a radical since BEFORE Viet Nam!" another put in.
"I've been a communist for many years," said a third, playing the trump card. All nodded in homage.
I remember thinking, just saying you are something doesn't really equate with doing something, right? But I was still but a youth at the time, a weejun-wearing boy with cheek of tan.
Today is August 14, the 75th anniversary of the day that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which has made a nice life possible for tens of millions of our seniors.
Social Security, or "Soshacurity" as we say in B'more, is a nice crouton to toss on the salad of your conversations. Soon as you do, someone will claim that by the time we get to claiming our slice, there won't be any pie left. I don't know about that. I have confidence the checks will come again! I have confidence in the future, and in the government, and in sunshine, and rain, and most of all in me! And just ask those who claim SS is "creepin' socialism" if they plan to file for it the day they become eligible. You betcha!
But, whenever you get someone talking about how the government has gone "socialist," be sure to ask him (it's always a guy) how their Aunt Thelma would like it had there been no Social Security and she had been obliged to live out her days in cousin Norman's back room, her meager belongings piled up near the daybed and the raucous laughter of Norman's daughter and her boyfriend causing the house to shake, rattle and droll.
I see an ad for some guy running for some office locally. I wouldn't mention his name, but I don't remember it anyway. But the thrust of his commercials is that he is:
b) not a career politician
OK. I'm not conservative on most issues, except on crime and education, where I am totally old skool, but I wouldn't be too impressed if someone ran for office and his whole platform was, "Hey! I am very liberal!" I need to flesh out that bare-boned resume a little bit. Tell me what you can do. Tell me what you have done. Tell me your plans. Tell me how you will work your plan. Tell me you love me.
Ooops. I did it again. Wrong pledge.
And the "I'm not a career politician" stance - the way to appeal to the "Throw them all out!" crowd...remember the movie Doc Hollywood where young doc Michael J Fox runs up against crusty old doc Barnard
Hughes and his folksy, Old-Farmer's-Almanac, rub-some-liniment-on-it brand of medicine? "We might have to use real medicine this time!" says the younger M.D.
I don't think that "career politician" is necessarily a pejorative term. If you want brain surgery done, you would want it performed by a career neurosurgeon, wouldn't you? Not someone who had been selling life insurance for ten years and then decided to try being a doctor.
If you were driving down some road in Montana and there were two bridges to use to cross the Potomac River, you would choose the one built by a career bridge builder, right? Not the one engineered by someone who had never built a bridge before...
...and you would want to consult with a career geographer and cartographer as well, to help you put them the Potomac River back where it belongs.
In summary, I'd just like to say that Barnard Hughes almost always played someone crusty.