Monday, July 3, 2017

“Time Passages”

Happy 4th of July Eve.  Before I launch into the main course, some quick notes on the calendar to infuriate some and delight others…mostly the former.

1)    We are less than one month away from Back-to-School Sales.
2)    In two months and change, the Detroit Lions will begin their march to their inevitable Super Bowl victory.
3)    We are approximately 10 weeks away from the first Christmas displays being assembled at Macy’s.
4)    In roughly 100 days, we will be reminding ourselves to pick up extra candy, for the Trick-or-Treat crowd, bien sur.
5)    In about 51 weeks, Marylanders will be watching primary election returns.  Which reminds me: gubernatorial campaign X, don’t forget to email me back on that question.  Thanks in advance.   

Back to the subject of time.  Of late, I have been watching a number of documentaries featuring British politicians who had their heydays in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  Tony Benn, Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Dennis Healey, Michael Foot, and others.  Most of the documentaries were filmed in the 1990s and 2000s.  One fascinating recurring theme has been to extent to which score-settling has been prominent in these programs.  First, kudos to the BBC for the exceptional interviewing and editing work.  Second, it is evident that these men, and it has been monochromatic in terms of gender and ethnicity, were not content to be Lions in the Winter.  Each of them were still actively extolling the virtues of their policy positions while chastising their opponents for any number of failings (political, personal, etc…). 

Perhaps it was because none of these individuals ever made it to the highest rung of their chosen profession (Prime Minister), that they were each still striving to secure their legacy and ensure the best possible entry in the Great Book.  Of course, being freed from the obligation to be diplomatic helped.  To that end, the candor level was mile-high and rising, which makes for engaging viewing.  Beyond that, the erudition of those interviewed - in general – was impressive.  Jenkins and Foot were accomplished authors.  Healey was bright with a razor sharp sense of humor.  Benn was a gifted orator. Dr. Owen is a genius, just ask him.

Regardless of the ideological differences between these figures, and the personal animus that would occasionally make itself felt when one politico was asked to comment on the motivations, actions, or foibles of another, the viewer cannot get past the intense feeling that these were Serious People who could be entrusted to contend with Serious Problems.  Yes, they were all ambitious and no, none of them were close to perfect.  That said, a media and policy-attentive American in 2017 would look at these individuals and wonder, where are our titans? 

And time continues to pass.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.