Jewish World Review Jan 22, 2004 / 29 Teves, 5764

Abe Novick

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What the Dems can learn from Yertle The Turtle


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one's back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.

For those of you whose Seussian familiarity of literature has recently been revived, even littered via countless movie tie-ins (there's not a cereal box sans his smirk due to Mike Myers as The Cat In The Hat), I urge a read of his reptilian counterpart, Yertle The Turtle.

I'm not sure if Hollywood is planning a movie version, but you can tune into the now off and running, presidential election to get a Cliff-Notic synopsis.

While reading the story of Yertle to my 3-1/2 yr. old son the other night, it dawned on me how it's a tale the Democrats should hear.

In the story, the turtles stack on one another, so Yertle can sit on high. It's not till an upstart named Mack, at the bottom of the pile causes a shake-up that Yertle and all the rest are toppled.

Already the pile made up of Dems (it started with nine) is wobbling and starting to crumble.

Let's say President Bush is Yertle. And that pesky Dean is Mack. With all of Mack's bellicose ranting and yelling, he's already squashed his own support and now doesn't have the same leg to stand on going into New Hampshire.

The problem gets worse because in the process of trying to topple Yertle, all of the nine Dems fall flat too. They all land in the mud. Carol Mosely Braun came down first followed by Gephardt to be followed by others soon enough.

Ultimately, and in a way that only Joseph Campbell could describe to Bill Moyers, this little tale is what will have to happen to The Democrats. They will have to fall and land hard, in order to start over. Umm ... die in order to be reborn. Because only from out of that fall will they find their way, their calling, their new leader.

Here's how the scenario may proceed.

With John Kerry winning Iowa the spotlight is on him to win in New Hampshire. If he doesn't win or even take second, the air will quickly be gone from his sails and a void will open up.

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Suddenly, there will be the beginnings of a sucking sound and factionalization within the Party. Follow this up with Ralph Nader entering the race as an Independent.

Offshoots of the far left wing of the Party and Rep. Dennis Kucinich's posse will join Nader's team. It will doubtless cause a big kerfuffle since Nader of course is the pariah who cost them the election in 2000.

But, wait, it ain't over. That will be followed by Rev. Al Sharpton taking his base of support and splintering off in order to bargain with his chips at a later, more opportunistic date. Others may do the same.

The Democrats, realizing they have no clear front-runner will resort to infighting, blame and hand-wringing. They will storm off and like children and claim their little area of the sandbox.

It won't be until a unifier comes along (and probably not for a while), a hero if you will, from out of the mud, rubble and sand, that the Democrats will be able to mount a strong offensive against a tide of Republican popularity.

How can I be so certain of such a scenario? It's not so much a case of prognosticating, as just good script writing. It's what the playwright, Eugene Ionesco, mythically portrayed in his own bestial play Rhinoceros. His character, Berenger is/was time-resistant not as a stereotype but as an archetype. Ionesco said, "There is nothing truer than myth." Same holds true today.

The truth in Theodor Suess Geisel's story comes through too because it's timeless and because some things, like good plot lines, never die.

Skipping ahead in the script, the Democrats are headed for their own self-fulfilling demise, out of which will come their self-awareness and possibly their re-awakening.

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JWR contributor Abe Novick is senior vice president of Eisner Communications in Baltimore. Comment by clicking here.



11/09/03: Dump Cheney. Bring on Giuliani.
10/17/03: The American crabwalk tempo
08/13/03: Auh-nold and Our Comic Book Nation
07/25/03: "Failing celebrityhood
06/19/03: "Everything that deceives may be said to enchant" is as true as ever
04/09/03: American media becoming embedded with the enemy?


© 2003, Abe Novick