Scattered gunshot: Six bullets. Why Elizabeth Edwards went public, why I care about Lindsay Lohan, what sport Obama should play, and other existential questions you want answered by a grouchy old man.
1) It seems perfectly clear to me why Elizabeth Edwards went through the Oprah ordeal of baring her soul with John Edwards drooping his sheepish head behind her. It isn't all about promoting her book, Resilience. Mrs. Edwards has a terminal illness. She does not want the woman who abetted her husband in wrecking her final days of tranquility as well as the lives of her children to profit from her death by becoming the next Mrs. John Edwards. He may have lost his reputation but his money still holds -- and that might make him an attractive target to "the other woman." The un-nameable Madam X is a woman who has presumably borne a child by Edwards, a woman who might conceivably become the step-mother of her children after Elizabeth is gone. Elizabeth has taken the measure of her rival, despite her protests that she doesn't think about her, and will not tolerate the idea of that woman taking her place in her family.
Elizabeth has launched a pre-emptive attack via Oprah and Larry King so that John Edwards -- who could be water-boarded by a Niagara of humiliation and emerge with every hair dry and in place -- even he will be unable to marry that woman, should he wish to do so after Elizabeth dies. Elizabeth is protecting her young, and in her own fashion believes she is protecting the man who has been the father of her children. During the campaign she was his conscience. Now, sadly, she is his zipper. Had Princess Diana been half as smart as Elizabeth Edwards there would no Lady Camilla accepting curtsies and wearing those big funny hats at royal garden parties after Diana died. Incidentally, doesn't Edwards's femme fatal bear an uncanny resemblance to a young Camilla Parker Bowles? Maybe it's that horse face that gets such women to enter the sexual derby, and gets so many eager male riders. Now if Elizabeth chooses to revise the story of their marriage -- change the timeline of her husband's affair -- and protect her children from this woman from beyond the grave -- who is to blame her? Not me. Mother love conquers all -- it is its own truth.
2) Are you worried about Barack Obama holding fast to his principles? Or are you confused as I am as to what his principles are these days? If Obama gives in to the health insurance industry and fails to deliver on his promise as Senator of a single payer health care system we can all sit back for the next four years and admire his smiles and Michelle's arms as we fall into more health care hell. As one who holds such high hopes for Obama I am disposed to cut him some slack, but not the kind of slack that allows the regressive Republicans to have the final word on health care for my children and grand-children. And while he's making crucial decisions, Obama must appoint a Supreme Court Justice every bit as progressive as Roberts and Alito are reactionary. If Obama reaches across the aisle for a compromise -- a "sometimes I am, sometimes I'm not so liberal" nominee acceptable to the Republicans -- his supporters will feel betrayed. Feel? They will be betrayed. Pragmatism is not always good politics. Sometimes it is simply bad faith with consequences. And the good will that Obama has accumulated will tank like the stock market he inherited. He will need that goodwill as he pursues the war in Afghanistan -- a war that has never been won by an outside power, one that spells trouble ahead for this country and his presidency.
3) I don't watch American Idol. I don't watch Lost. I take no pride and feel no shame in this. It doesn't make me a superior being so this is neither bragging nor confessing. Since I don't know how these immensely popular television shows began I don't care how they end. I have attempted to watch both once and they failed to grab me in the six minutes or I'm gone test. It puts me in a lonely place. I have nothing to talk about by the water cooler -- but then I work at home and I have no water cooler; however, there are worse things than loneliness, such as self-loving people named Simon and Paula preening while judging a lot of warblers who will never get the worm out of their throats. And in Lost there appears to be a lot of odd looking people with peculiar problems wandering around a mysterious island looking...uh...lost. Who needs TV for that? I can get all that and a cup of coffee every morning when I go out for a walk in Manhattan.
4) What is it about David Gregory that makes me feel that I would rather not meet the press with him every Sunday? He is a reasonably intelligent fellow with good teeth, thick hair, and a clear voice, living in that sweet spot for television anchors -- early middle age -- the silver-haired boy-man. Might it be that he rarely asked a probing question in a Bush press conference when such questions mattered -- and if he couldn't do that then, why bother with him now? This time NBC picked a chicken rather than a peacock for its flagship news show.
5) Why do I care about Lindsay Lohan? And I do. Having young grand-daughters I fear for girls in this trivialized-sexualized world; all those hookups which are really drag downs for the young. It is hard to avoid watching the self-destruction of this Lohan girl with real acing talent who comes from a family that holds a patent on dysfunction, giving her both a genetic and an environmental double whammy. It has never been easy being a child star, as witness Judy Garland, but in this age of TMZ jerk-smirks and paparazzi pursuits -- unprotected by studio moguls -- these children grow into young adults in the company of parasites.
Many child stars, from Mary Pickford to Shirley Temple to Jody Foster, made a healthy transition into the adult world. But there are a greater number of failures, ending up in endless rehab or early drug related deaths. I recognized the core of Lindsay's problem when she broke up with her gal pal saying, "Now I want to concentrate upon myself." No you don't Lindsey. It's your concentration on self that has gotten you into that mess you call your life. Concentrate on your work -- fight for better parts -- or help do the world's work -- volunteer in a soup kitchen -- but stay clear of self. You've tried that. Didn't work. The paparazzi have made a meal of your life. Stop feeding them. I hope you gain some equilibrium and make some fine films in the future. Think of the fun that could be yours in proving everyone wrong.
6) As the billion-dollar bonuses for the desperate economy-breakers from Hedge Fund Lane (i.e. Goldman Sachs) roll in, there should be such an uproar that even President Obama -- who lately seems to hear only the sound of his own iPod -- may be obliged to listen to. He will find that it is not only Hillary who is "sort of likeable" if he fails to see to it that the people who lost jobs and lost hope this past year get some of the rewards of a rebounding economy. Don't get me wrong. I still admire Obama and I'm rooting for him every day. But he will never be my "Dear Leader." That kind of blind obedience to the top is not in America's DNA. So many admire Obama for his cool -- which they confuse with wisdom -- but give me the hot times of an angry FDR taking on the conservative-obstructionists of his New Deal, or the Grizzly bear roar of a Teddy Roosevelt faced by greedy men opposing his anti-trust policies. We need a warmer Barack, not a cooler one, for these hard times. Forget basketball. We require mud wrestling skills from our President - because the opposition is covered in slime.