Misty, Watercolored Memories

Gerard Baker compares the relative merits of the celebrity endorsements that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton just scored, Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Streisand respectively, and judges the probable impact of each. Decision: Obama got the better deal by far.

Streisand long ago crossed the blurry boundary between celebrity and politics. She is yesterday's news, proudly waving the banner of liberal preposterousness since 1965. Her only memorable recent cinematic performance, for all the wrong reasons, was as the oversexed sexuagenarian alongside Dustin Hoffman in the utterly tasteless Meet The Fockers sequel.

Her intervention this week is fitting, though, precisely because it captures what looms as the largest impediment to the increasingly troubled ambitions of Mrs Clinton ? that what the former First Lady is offering is a better yesterday. Mrs Clinton's campaign might in fact be summed up in the lyrics of Streisand's most famous locution, back when she was still a bona fide celebrity:

Memories, like the corners of my mind,

Misty, water-coloured memories

Of the way we were

Despite her efforts to portray herself as something new, voters know well enough that Mrs Clinton represents a restoration rather than a revolution. For many Democrats, angry and bitter about the direction of US politics these past eight years, this is just fine ? the dewy memories of The Way They Were in those aquarelle days of the 1990s is good enough.

But there's clear evidence now that this won't do: 2008 is shaping up to be what political strategists call a change election. It is not just eight years of George Bush that voters want to consign to the past but the whole political culture of the past 20 years or so.

Even the press release that Streisand put out announcing her support for Clinton made sure that Streisand got top – and bottom billing:

Legendary filmmaker, artist, and Democratic activist, Barbra Streisand, today endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Streisand cited Clinton's ability to bring about change and the historic nature of her campaign as reasons why she is supporting Hillary's candidacy.

[Insert obligatory mention of someone else]

Barbra Streisand is a singer, theatre and film actress, composer, film producer and director. She has won Oscars for Best Actress and Best Original Song as well as multiple Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Golden Globe Awards. She is considered one of the most commercially and critically successful female entertainers in modern history.

As Baker points out, Streisand is so very yesterday. Will celebrity endorsements be enough to tip things? Who knows. But what obscure book last became a best seller because Streisand endorsed it? Think about that for a moment.

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3 Responses to Misty, Watercolored Memories

  1. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    On a minor point:

    2008 is shaping up to be what political strategists call a change election. It is not just eight years of George Bush that voters want to consign to the past but the whole political culture of the past 20 years or so.

    I am not sure that Baker is accurate when he writes this. Every election is in some sense a “change” election – Reagan, Clinton and Bush II were/are term-limited, so there was going to be a new president after the next election anyway.

    And what exactly do political strategists mean by “change”? While I support President Bush’s policies in Iraq and on terrorism, and applaud most of his court nominations, I am appalled by his non-existent leadership and his willingness to be stomped by Democrats and the MSM without a peep of protest. Bush would be my only choice in a hypothetical general election in 2008 pitting him against any of the current Democrat crop. But Bush would be just about my last choice for the 2008 Republican nomination – and that is saying a lot, considering the current weak slate of GOP candidates.

    I am ready for a strong leader in Iraq and the War on Terror – not to mention a more fiscally-conservative president. I doubt that my ideas about “change” jibe with liberal readers.

    All of the candidates (both Democrat and Republican) are proposing nothing major in the way of “changes”. So what “change” will happen in 2008? I predict that a Democrat (most likely Hillary) will win the White House, and Democrats will narrowly keep Congress. The MSM will proclaim a faux “Era of Good Feeling” – partially to cash in on the public’s distaste for current political discourse, but mostly as a way of squashing dissent now that Democrats now call the shots. This “era” will last until there is a terrorist attack on US soil, an economic recession, a major foreign crisis (Iran with nukes is a good bet), an oil shortage, or any other big problem comes along.

  2. TimF says:

    I just completed reading an interesting book ( http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-21711-7 ) analyzing 2-generational cycles (i.e. Kondratiev, Schumpter-Dent, and others), particularly in regards to the US. The author states that the ‘political cycle’ in the US predicted that a ‘critical’ election was due anytime (the book was published in 2002, so he was suggesting 2004 but it’s certainly possible that it was too close to 9/11 for the dust to settle in 2004). So Baker’s point about 2008 shaping up as a change election has some theoretical support as well.

    The author points out that there are multiple possible alternative outcomes for such elections:

    “Political scientists advance the idea that periodic “critical elections” bring in sweeping change, eliminating the need for revolutions or coups in the United States. Dates for previous critical elections are often given as 1800, 1828, 1860, 1896, 1932 and 1968. The last four have been spaced 36 years apart, suggesting that the next one is “due” in 2004. One interpretation of the predicted political shift from conservative to liberal is that the 2004 election ill usher in a long-term electoral dominance by liberal Democrats, just like the 1932 election.

    But that is not the only interpretation. In the 1896 critical election, conservative Republican William McKinley decisively defeated populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan and a period of Republican domination of the government began that lasted until 1930. But following McKinley’s death in 1901, his colorful vice-president (who had been nominated to placate the progressive wing of the party) launched the Progressive era, a liberal era largely overseen by Republicans. The predicted shift to liberalism could arise from either major party, or both, perhaps being goaded on by a popular third party.”

    I suppose Obama would qualify as a change candidate, but so might Giuliani (especially with a younger generation VP choice). Either way, I think this is additional bad news for Hillary.

  3. FedUp says:

    Change is not a reason in itself. We seriously need to get back to the days of ethics (wonder how far back that would be), honesty and leadership for our country. I’m not impressed with the majority of the candidates – all of the Dems and most of the Pubs… Scary!

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