Yesterday’s blog ended with the following statement:
“President Obama’s first term has been a failure not because he has been one of us – which means being a Liberal. His presidency up to this point has been a crushing disappointment, because — the fact of the matter is — he has been one of them.”
So, what do I mean by – “one of them?”
President Obama has failed to break from the mainstream establishment on any major issue of importance. Never mind that he’s been falsely labeled a leftist, a liberal, a socialist, and (gasp!) even a Marxist — preposterous characterizations to anyone with an understanding of what those terms mean aside from all the demagoguery. Fact is, the current Administration has taken virtually no major risks in it’s first three-and-a-half years and has essentially governed from the political center.
LBJ’s Blueprint for “Change” Ignored Completely by Obama Administration
The American left, with the President entrusted to carry Liberalism’s mantel, have squandered a once in a generation opportunity.
We blew not only the chance to pass to desperately-needed legislation not seen since Great Society programs of the 1960s – but to actually alter the national consciousness when it comes to perceptions about government and public policy and ways to make society and our lives better.
Think about that for a moment — actually changing the way people think about their government and their leaders. Improving dialogue. Creating an honest platform for deliberation and debate. Solving actual problems without demagoguery and scare tactics.
On virtually every issue critical to the future of this nation, the Obama Administration has not only dropped the ball, it didn’t even take the field. Two words I’d use to describe President Obama’s management style and actions during his first-term would be – abdication and compromise. Abdication from becoming the champion of the working class, and compromise to the point of surrendering without a fight on virtually every important issue before it even enters the legislative assembly line in Congress.
Between January 2009 — when President Obama initially took office — and the midterm congressional elections held 21 months later — when the predictable backlash occurred and Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives, thus erecting the gauntlet of governance that would lead to current gridlock — the liberal agenda had a rare window of opportunity not open since LBJ won in the 1964 presidential election.
Note: This is the fifth and final installment of a trip report I wrote (unpublished) from February and March of 2012.
XV: MONDAY: FINAL DAY OF WSOP CIRCUIT AT CAESARS ATLANTIC CITY
I rarely discuss working at the World Series of Poker in any public forum, other than comments related to my official role. I do not believe it is appropriate for me to comment here or anywhere on what goes on behind the scenes nor infuse my personal biases into what I do. So, those of you looking for that in this blog — you will be disappointed. I consider it a great honor to work for the WSOP as long as I have and I simply do not betray confidences entrusted in me.
But I’ll break protocol somewhat in this report, with some activities that take place on the thirteenth and final day of the WSOP Circuit at Caesars Atlantic City. Today will be a brutal workload, with THREE final tables to cover, which means three full written reports, the most important of which is the Main Event Championship.
I must admit some of these reports are like industrial writing. It’s like grinding out a new chapter in a giant tech manual each day. Occasionally, there’s a good story here and there. But how in the fuck do you make a 22-year-old college dropout winning $26,183 compelling reading?
There’s also data entry for all results to do, which is what I’ve been reduced to at age 50. A fucking data entry clerk. That’s what I am. Only, instead of typing in social security numbers and addresses, it’s poker players and chip counts. Now, I know why insurance salesmen are the heaviest drinkers. Monotonous mind-numbing repetition must be doused with some extinguishing excitation.
Speaking to any audience in the poker community is a challenge. Think about it. Most poker groups are full of novice recreational players — unsophisticated star-struck newcomers who pretty much salt lick any speaker’s ass and chomp any poker tidbit like its a carrot dangling in front of a mule. But this group I’m with tonight has a considerably higher threshold of expectation, which is precisely why some of our past BARGE speakers were misfires (including yours truly). Bottom Line: It’s not easy to entertain as well as inform a group with some of the brightest and most experienced minds in the game.
In short — it’s hard to hit a triple crown with any speaker at a poker gathering, which in my view consists of: 1. A speaker who “gets us,” 2: A speaker who is informative, and 3. A speaker who is entertaining. If we hit on two of those cylinders, that’s a double. Three is a home run.
I was pleased when I initially heard that John Pappas would be this year’s speaker. For those who do not know him, John serves as the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). It’s an organization to which I give a mixed grade, which would probably be a “C” mixed with an “I” for INCOMPLETE. But I certainly respect the fine work John has done and I am eager to hear his latest from the political front.
I thought John hit a solid single on at the banquet with his speech. There was nothing earth-shattering nor newsworthy about it. But, he essentially covered all the bases with the latest with what’s happening in poker at the moment, especially with regards to online poker legalization. I do think John could have been a little more revealing about the work he does, and would very much have liked to hear some behind-the-scene stories about what he’s seen an experienced. I can only imagine the roadblocks of ignorance he’s up against with the clueless whores we elect as lawmakers. Some candid revelations about what happens in the trenches of lobbying could have been entertaining. But, you can’t fetch the winning hand from the muck and so this too shall pass.
Now, let’s move on to what you are waiting for — the ballbusting.
In obituaries which appeared over that last 24 hours, he’s been described as a writer and protagonist.
He ran for office (losing both times).
And, he provoked — and he certainly did that far better than most.
Like his more recent now deceased contemporaries Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and William F. Buckley and in the mold of great thinkers of yesteryear such as H.L. Mencken, Upton Sinclair, and even Mark Twain, he was a fixture on the intellectual circuit. He basked in the spotlight in a time when writers were afforded the same celebrity as rock stars. One colleague pined, “he was the man who knew everyone.”
Vidal was a wildly controversial figure, no doubt. Audiences — those who cared enough about society and culture to follow his ceaseless parade of provocation, now increasingly dissolved in what’s spawned into a grotesque 140-character Twitterized world — would describe his ideas as eccentric and hopelessly out of touch.
As if that’s a “bad thing.”
To the contrary. We need more eccentrics. We need more thinkers who are out of touch. And, we need more Gore Vidals. And sadly, we now have one less.
The intent of a great writer and meaningful prose should not be — to be right all the time. Writing, discussion, debate, inquiry, and ultimately provocation is not about prim and proper conformity to expectations and comfort zones. Indeed, great writers should shun such a horrifying prospect. You will forgive me for admitted bias, but whatever inside the box “is,” the thinker should be standing on the outside and perhaps as far away from the middle as possible. And few stood any further from the apex of old-fashioned traditions as Gore Vidal.
Indeed, great writer does not necessarily implant what one must think. But he (or she) should inspire one TO THINK.
There is a profound difference. And no one understood that different better than Vidal and his fellow lions of intellect.
Gore Vidal did plenty of thinking, urging others to contemplate their own existence, their own sense of right and wrong, during an 86-year adventure, ultimately a fruitful life filled with the handiwork of books, plays , articles, essays , debate appearances, speeches, and participation in all forums which encouraged the free exchange of ideas.
This has been a tough year for writers, no doubt. Eight months ago, we lost Christopher Hitchens, a thinker of extraordinary immensity. Now, we have lost another.
Although I never met Vidal, I think of myself as someone who knew him — through his words and ideas. Perhaps his greatest contribution and of those like him was to inspire others to carry on and push the envelope of ideas, to challenge conventionalism, and blaze new paths towards enlightenment.