Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jack was Right, We CAN'T Handle the Truth!


Anyone who saw the outstanding 1992 motion picture, A Few Good Men, will never forget the classic exchange near the end of the film between the Jack Nicholson character, Colonel Nathan Jessup, and the Tom Cruise character, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee. From the witness stand the Colonel came under intense cross examination from Lt. Kaffee demanding to know the truth. Jessup became enraged and finally erupted when he loudly and defiantly spewed forth the immortal line "You can't handle the truth". That very line has come to mean so much more than just a much quoted tag line from a movie. It also has come to symbolize the philosophy of a majority of Americans in the midst of selecting a candidate to become their president as well.

A perfect illustration of what I speak, was the recent Michigan Presidential Primary. Michigan is a state suffering unemployment significantly higher than most other states due to the tremendous downsizing of the once dominant United States automobile industry. Michigan also saw a dramatic loss of manufacturing jobs through outsourcing. In the past four years alone, Michigan has seen nearly 200,000 manufacturing jobs leave the state due to, amongst other things, high taxes and crumbling infrastructure. But the main objective of this post is not to discuss the specifics of Michigan's current economic problems or the possibility of future resurgence, but how two of the crop of current presidential candidates are addressing them.

As I'm sure you have heard to a point of suicide contemplation, candidate Waffling Willard "Mitt" Romney's father George, was governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969. George also tried to secure the republican party nomination for president in 1968, but eventually would lose out to the very personable and dynamic Richard M. Nixon. George was able to run for president despite the fact he was born in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The explanation for this was that his parents never relinquished their citizenship after fleeing the United States. Why did they flee you ask? It seems the Federal Government of the U.S. did not share Grandpa Gaskell Romney's polygamous philosophy of marriage to three (3) wives all at the same time. I don't know which of the big three was Mitt's grandma, but that can easily be explained by my total lack of interest. I am fascinated, however, by how one man can happily cohabit with three different women under the same roof. But clearly a great many of my theories and suppositions may not be deemed appropriate content in this specific forum.

But after this brief diversion, let's go back to the title of this post. Straight talker John McCain made a policy blunder by not only speaking his mind, but worse, by speaking the truth. At campaign stops, Senator Johnny Mac would exhort his cheering throngs of hopeful and desperate supporters by telling them these major job losses were not so much a temporary setback, but a permanent condition. You've seen those movies where the hero implores the doctor to give it to him straight and when the doctor acquiesces and tells the hero his condition is fatal and he will soon die. The hero mocks the doctor and seeks out a cheerier doctor to tell him everything will be fine. So fine in fact, the hero will be doing cartwheels and handstands before your popcorn expires. Everyone leaves the theater and lives happily ever after. So uniquely American is our quest to seek out whatever truth we most want to hear.

That's where Mitt, the Mellifluous Mormon Messiah emanates forth. Why allow reality to dictate the realm of Mitt's fantasy world. The world where all Americans have high paying jobs, perfectly coiffed and dyed hair, a stepford wife in every pot, cloned sons produced to best serve their country in a time of war by driving your luxurious bus around and of course, the ability to champion all sides of all issues and still find time to hunt a varmint for a photo op. After McCain sucker punched the despondent souls of Michigan with a refreshing dose of reality, Mitt quickly rode into town on his white horse to tell the people not to pay attention to the elderly man behind the curtain. Instead heed the "Mizzard of Wiz." Mitt never tells the truth and clearly this was not the place to start. So he did what any hypocritically accomplished liar would do. He lied. He promised the masses that if he's elected president, he will get all those lost jobs back and restore Michigan to prominence. Mitt may be able to tap dance on water, but he's not yet proved he can refill empty toothpaste tubes or restore the automotive and manufacturing industries back to greatness as he promised. But at least the terminal patients heard what they wanted and needed to hear. Hope so often supersedes reality.

Desperate people will believe any (rhymes with Mitt) a snake oil salesman will offer them if they become desperate enough. The truth hurts, but fantasy feels great. Colonel Jessup was right when he warned "we can't handle the truth". I think we could learn to, however, if we didn't allow ourselves to get so taken in by the Mitt Romneys of the world, who only handle themselves.....

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