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The Winds of Spin

Posted by Bob · June 14th, 2004 · 3 Comments

It was 12 noon, Pacific Daylight Savings Time. I was riding my motorcycle through the Mojave Desert. The gods of weather had smiled down upon me: it was in the mid 80’s as opposed to the seasonal 100 plus degrees. I had a 360 degree view of the stark beauty that is the desert in summer. I was in awe of the mountains in the distance gradually sloping down to the flat desert I was riding in. The best part was that I was alone. Not a car in sight in either direction. This is the reason I ride. This is Freedom with a capital “F”.

As I approached the mountain pass that would take me home a silent enemy waited in ambush: wind. Cross winds to be specific. The power of these winds could push me into an unintended lane change or off the road entirely if I lost concentration.

But I did lose concentration. My mind was wandering and I found myself getting angry.

I was thinking how beautiful this country is. I was thinking about how no power on earth could take it from us. I was thinking about how incredible it was to have this much land be apart of the same government and how that government had worked for so long. Imperfect as it was, it worked.

As hard winds came in from my left I had to counter-balance the bike, forcing it to lean into the wind while still traveling forward. The harder the winds blew through the pass the more physical effort it took to hold the bike on course. This was what angered me: just like the cross winds that could knock me into a canyon, the cross winds created by the image makers in politics were threatening to knock America off her course.

You see, when I was pushed by the wind, I had to push back. When a candidate or a politically-active group pushes, we find ourselves pushing back.

So just where is the center now? Where is the thinking of the majority in this country today?

The political spin doctors long to create separation, some defining moment or topic to make their candidate memorable. Often, these topics of separation are chosen just because they create dialog, they push the center of the voters either toward them or away from them. This separation topic can be so defining that the entire race is decided on one topic alone like abortion, religious preference, or military service.

Sometimes the spin doctors pick a topic that appears to shame the opponent. Kerry, a battle-tested candidate, is being presented as the anti-patriot. The same happened to John McCain. How can such courageous service to our country ever be perceived as a disservice?

As the winds increased I found myself pushing the left grip of my handlebar. For all you non-motorcyclists, you may be surprised to learn that you push the left handlebar to lean left. Once my bike is leaning it makes a natural turn in that direction. It’s called counter-steering and it works incredibly well. The wind was so strong that my bike leaned but did not turn.

When the spin doctors blow thoughts at us like Kerry and McCain being cowards, don’t we consider what they say? Even if we end up disagreeing, have we redefined what we once believed? Do the words patriotism and heroism still have the same meaning as before the spin doctors got their hands on them? Look: these two men fought an enemy, were wounded and survived what many of us could not because their country asked them to. After the spin doctors were done McCain could not be nominated by his own party and Kerry is being portrayed as a selfish coward. Forget about throwing medals over wall, he still was there and still fought because his country asked it of him.

In my opinion, we have damaged our future. What hero can stand before us and endure the attacks of spin doctors? We have lessened our heros. We have made it that much less likely that a hero will come forward. Specifically, I think Colin Powell sees what happens to genuine heros and thinks long and hard before running for office.

Another serious gust from my left and front try to twist me around. I notice that the wind is trying to remove my head as if it were a bottle cap. I fight to keep my head straight and I continue to lean against the wind. The canyon to my right looks about 500 feet deep. It’s at that point I decide not to look at canyons until I’m off the bike.

Same Sex Marriage. (Sorry, I was overtaken by a gust of frustration). Another topic the spin doctors are using but, ironically, it’s a uniting issue. So far, no national politician that I know of is supporting same sex marriage.

How bitterly ironic that the same spin doctor that chews up heros can defend the sanctity of anything. So many political action groups in this country are only active because of their sexuality and those groups were courted left and right by these same candidates early in their campaigns. Now these groups are finding themselves shut out of the process because their position is “immoral”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a position either way on this topic. The point here is that the winds of spin can shift and you can find yourself in a deep, lonely canyon. Your support, once valued, is now not welcome.

What was your opinion of homosexuals living together before they asked for the legal right to marry? If you’re like me it was pretty much a “live and let live” attitude. Honestly, I had more important things to think about. If that’s what some people want to do and it doesn’t hurt anybody then great; have a nice day.

Of course we expected an outcry from the Religious Right but in an election year, this outcry has been spun into a constitutional amendment to define marriage. Could this have happened in a non-election year? What they’re asking for are legal rights, not religious acceptance, how do the two fit together?

Oh yes, the money! If the Religious Right is sending you Fanatical Funds then you must spin this into a Issue for the Ages.

Blessed are the fund raisers for they shall determine how the winds blow.

So to finish my story, I managed to get home in one, tired piece. I had driven 300 of the most beautiful miles I could imagine. The only place I didn’t see in the windy mountain passes was the center of my lane.

At the end of all this, when elections are decided and the spin doctors cease blowing (at least for a little while), where will America stand? Will she have been affected by these winds? Will she have been blown perceptively to the right? To the left? Will the center have been pushed for good?

As always I look forward to your comments and for the record, it’s great to be back!

Categories: Politics-In-General


3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 nick meyer // Jun 15, 2004 at 8:55 am

    Bob, Your style of and flair for writing and expressing your thoughts is awesome. You have a way of putting the reader in your shoes, or seat as is the case and really think about the subject at hand. i am glad you had a safe ride and look forward to this weekend.

  • 2 Bob // Jun 15, 2004 at 10:25 am

    Hey everyone, just a word of explanation here.

    I tried to insert the same sex marriage topic into the article like a “gust” of wind, forcing a sudden turn of ideas. I’m not that good a writer so it may not have had the profound effect I was looking for.

    I guess if you have to leave a roadmap for your readers you’re either a genius or something else. I admit to being something else.

    My point was that the spin docs can blow you OFF the road if they wish. Your support once welcome can be used and tossed aside if it threatens the candidate.

    Thanks for reading!

  • 3 Groundpounder // Jun 15, 2004 at 11:58 am

    It’s nice to have you back Bob.

    Where is center indeed? Over the years there has been a steady, almost imperceptible breeze blowing from the right quarter, causing a perceptible shift to the left in US policy and politics. The only time that there is any resistance to the shift is when there is an abrupt gust which in turn requires that either side push hard to attempt to regain it’s original course.

    Let’s take a quick look at the Presidency of this country over the course of the past few years.

    DDE was by all accounts a conservative. Pretty much a live and let live individual. His claim to liberal fame would be the warning about allowing the industrial war machine to determine US policy. Conservative or liberal, that’s just good advice.

    JFK, young, idealistic, and by today’s standards, an arch-conservative. What can you do for your country, not the other away around.

    LBJ,that poor boy was up to his elbows in alligtors. Between Viet Nam, integration, and the war on poverty, he didn’t stand a chance. The war on poverty pretty much flys in the face of what you can to for your country, and was one of those major gusts that required some correction back to center.

    Tricky Dick, he was the hard correction of course. He got the US out of Nam, and then set to correct the social direction back to a more genteel time where everyone knew their place(tongue very much in cheek). It became the standard practice of the government to use force against those who would use civil disobedience as a form of protest. A man who betrayed the public trust, and paid a heavy price for his sin.

    Gerald Ford, he had no choice but to try hard just to hang on. The country had been torn asunder, and he was the man for the job. Given the opportunity, he probably would have made a great President. By today’s standards, he could have been a moderate’s moderate.

    Jimmy Carter: Great man, lousy President. Was there any vision for this country during his tenure as President?

    Ronald Reagan: By his own admission, a compromiser. Cut taxes and increase government spending. By the liberal standard, JFK, Ron was a liberal. His form of conservatism was not a form that would have been recognized by the consevatives of old. To Dutch’s credit, he did provide a vision for this nation that had been abandoned for a number of years.

    George H.: “No new taxes.” A conservative theme song to be sure. It’s amazing that a sound bite can be the undoing of an administration that was actually doing a fairly good job. Like it or not, number 41 was pretty moderate.

    Bill Clinton: His initial attempt at social reform almost cost him his second term. Remember health care reform? It was a full two years before the Dems in Washington got him under control. JFK must have been spinning in his grave. What I find so ironic is that the economic growth that this country enjoyed under Reagan was called greed, and the same unchecked growth under Bill was called prosperity.

    George W.: Dubya, what can you say. He’s a correction of course, again. Untax and spend more. It worked for Dutch, there’s not reason that it can’t work again. Right? Right? Truthfully folks, he’s a liberal’s conservative. If there is a problem, throw money at it. Create new levels of beauracracy. It’s good for the country. Amend the constitution. People really don’t know what’s good for them. Cradle to grave, we’ll take care of you.

    The unprecidented sixty plus years of prosperity that this county has enjoyed has allowed for a steady drift to the left. There have been corrections of course, that’s normal. The drift has been too far for some and not far enough for others. It has come too fast or not fast enough. It is inevitable. What is also inevitable is that eventually this country will cease to be a major player in world politics. All empires fall. However, the question will remain how future generations view our role in history.

    Semper Fi,


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