#5 on the aworks Top 10 Tracks of 2004, Why Does Someone Have to Die? is my chance to recap some political memories, even if I have not yet made sense of the election. The track is from the Philip Glass soundtrack of The Hours and was played during the Democratic National Convention this year.
I remember watching a John Kerry community meeting on CSPAN several weeks before the Iowa caucuses in February. My thought at the time was "what a loser." He was low energy, didn't have a strong, clear message, and looked like he had no chance. Two weeks later, he won the primary and eventually the nomination. Fast forward to a Kerry rally in Ohio the night before the election. Bruce Springsteen was there and played "No Surrender", which was apparently Kerry campaign's theme song. In a bit of an aesthetic faux pas, at least by rock concert standards, Springsteen finished playing "No Surrender" and they segued directly to the recorded version of the same song. And then, 36 hours later, Kerry had in fact surrendered.
Over the holidays, I read William Manchester's The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone 1932-1940, where he explains why the British public was slow to hold Neville Chamberlain responsible for his futile attempts to negotiate with Hitler:
In politics the squeaky wheel gets little grease. This is partcularly true when a public figure challenging the leader [Churchill] carries a controversial reputation in train. The mass distrusts controversy. Reluctant to reconsider its convictions, superstitions, and prejudices, it rarely withdraws support from those who are guiding its destinies. Thus inertia becomes an incumbent's accomplice. So does human relevance to admit error. Those who backed the top man insist, against all evidence that they made the right choice.
And describing a key to Churchill's ultimate success:
"Politicans rise by toil and troubles. They expect to fail; they hope to rise." Perserverance is the worthiest of political traits, and certainly the most difficult; a British historian who takes a jaundiced view of Winston acknowledges that "To persist in a political career that appeared to others, and even on occasion to the politician himself, as finished, demands exceptional strength of character in a sensitive and proud man."
Pandagon's Jessie Taylor posts about an editorial bemoaning the Democratic Party's star worship including Warren Beatty, Bon Jovi, Michael Moore, and Bruce Springsteen. I don't know about that but buried in that post is a good comment by Avedon Carol:
The debate was Kerry's chance to tell the American people what he was about, and he didn't do it. Or rather, he gave the impression he was only about getting elected, and that ain't good enough.
By the way, The Hours soundtrack is #3626 in Amazon sales rank. Pandagon's Ezra Klein blogs about how with Amazon "61% of the political contributions go to Republicans" and is ambivalent about what to do about it.