Diary

All shine, no substance

I have been cruising through the news videos over the past week, since Barack on vacation and we are free of liberal bombast. I cannot believe how bamboozled some people have become over “celebrity vs. substance.” Senator McCain has taken an unconscionable amount of heat for the ads that depict Obama’s rock star appearances. He says it is all in clean fun. And they are funny. But not for the reason the Senator believes. They are funny for showing how shallow Obama’s supporters are. Half of them can’t know what the issues are if they did they would be able to recognize that “change” is not an issue. And that “change” without a presented plan is wishful thinking.

One of my favorite plays/movies of the 20th century is Inherit the Wind. It is the dramatized version of the famous “Scope’s Monkey Trial” from 1925. The real trial pitted probably the best criminal defense attorney in history, Clarence Darrow, against three-time presidential candidate and Chautauqua circuit speaker, William Jennings Bryan. These two titans of their era squared off in a little town, Dayton, Tennessee to argue the merits of teaching Darwin and evolution in the Dayton High School in violation of Tennessee law.

The two protagonists were magnificently portrayed by two of the titans of their era in the acting world, Spencer Tracey as the Darrow character and Fredrick March as Bryan’s alter ego. By now I am sure you are wondering just where the hell I am going with this. Trust me there is a point here. In the final acts as they are waiting for the jury to return the verdict, Spencer Tracey speaks to his client about appearances.
He relates the story of “Golden Dancer,” a rocking horse in the store window of the dry goods emporium when he was a boy. The horse was all shiny with sparkling purple paint and a long golden tail and mane. It was the lawyer’s heart’s desire. He wanted that rocker with every fiber of his being.

On Christmas morning next to the family tree, stood “Golden Dancer” in all his sparkling and shiny glory. His father had worked extra hours and his mother had taken in neighbor’s sewing and laundry to get the purchase price. They knew how much that rocking horse meant to their son and like all good parents they wanted their son to have it. He related to the defendant how he ran down the rest of the stairs and leaped on the back of the rocking horse, ready to ride the range. It collapsed in a heap of sawdust and glue and phony horse hair. On the outside it was bright and shiny and new. On the inside where it counted, it had no strength, no backbone, no substance.

The lesson the lawyer in that long ago movie was trying to convey to his client, “All shine, and no substance! Bert, whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold, with purple spots—look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie—show it up for what it really is!”* (Play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, first performed on Broadway in January, 1955)

And now to the point, so far in this campaign, there has been one candidate of substance and one of “All shine and no substance.” The news media seems to have embraced the, “…bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold with purple spots…” and not looked behind the paint. Barack Obama is a very intelligent, erudite, articulate individual. So far he has preached the message of change. But he has not specified what exactly he is going to change beyond the occupant of the White House. What do you think? Is Barack Obama “all shine and no substance”?