Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 8, 2008 / 5 Sivan 5768

Wise or grumpy?

By Jonathan Gurwitz


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | An axiom of American presidential politics is that an issue passes from the state of possibly pertinent to being gravely serious when it becomes the subject of parody on Saturday Night Live. In fact, the more irreverently SNL writers and performers treat the subject, the more politically significant it is.


Fair or not, Saturday Night Live has spoofed public perceptions of Gerald Ford's clumsiness, Jimmy Carter's paltriness, Ronald Reagan's forgetfulness, George H.W. Bush's whininess, Bill Clinton's tawdriness and George W. Bush's vacuousness.


Presidential elections offer a bounty for the comedy minded, with this year's harvest yielding as much parody of the media's coverage of the candidates as the candidates themselves. As in the past, the leading presidential contenders have made cameo appearances to demonstrate that they are adept at parodying themselves.


John McCain made the most recent and most consequential of these appearances last month. In it, he asked the American people: "What should we be looking for in our next president?"


The answer: "Certainly someone who is very, very, very old."


"I have the courage, the wisdom, the experience and most importantly the oldness necessary — the oldness it takes to protect America, to honor her, love her and tell her about what cute things the cat did."


Race and sex have been the contentious issues of the extended Democratic primary fight. As the focus begins to shift to November, age will join the mix.


If, as expected, Barack Obama and John McCain become the nominees, they will have the largest age differential of presidential candidates from major political parties in American history — 25 years, an entire generation. If sworn in at age 47, Obama would become the sixth youngest American to reach the Oval Office. McCain at 72 would be the oldest.


So it's wise for McCain to try to defuse the age issue by mocking himself before a young, hip audience that naturally gravitates toward Obama. That generational difference separates men and women who lived through the Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the civil rights struggles and the upheaval of Vietnam from those for whom these are merely historical references.


At best, the most recent of these events are but distant memories for Obama and his contemporaries. To bridge the generational gap, McCain portrays himself as a wise, old patriarch who tells kitty-cat stories to the grandkids.


There's more than just satire at work in this portrait. After eight tumultuous years of the Bush administration, McCain will use the wisdom and experience that come with age to campaign against the prospect of another leader untested on the national stage. McCain can't turn back the hands of time. But he can manipulate them to his advantage.


When Hillary Clinton tried to earmark $1 million in federal funds for a museum to commemorate the Woodstock music festival of 1969, McCain highlighted their differing ages and different political worldviews. "I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event," the former POW deadpanned at a GOP presidential debate in Florida. "I was tied up at the time."


You can be certain that McCain strategists are formulating how best to juxtapose McCain catapulting off aircraft carriers with Obama in diapers, or McCain enduring torture in Hanoi while Obama was enrolled at Honolulu's exclusive Punahou School.


The challenge for McCain is that his newly cultivated, avuncular and jovial character is at odds with his better-known, short-fused and ill-tempered character — one reminiscent of the Grumpy Old Man once played with great hilarity on Saturday Night Live by Dana Carvey:


"I'm old and I'm not happy. Everything today is improved and I don't like it. I hate it! In my day we didn't have hair dryers. If you wanted to blow dry your hair you stood outside during a hurricane. Your hair was dry but you had a sharp piece of wood driven clear through your skull. And that's the way it was, and you liked it!"


Wise old man or grumpy old man? For McCain, that's the Saturday Night Live dilemma.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

JWR contributor Jonathan Gurwitz, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, is a co-founder and twice served as Director General of the Future Leaders of the Alliance program at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. In 1986 he was placed on the Foreign Service Register of the U.S. State Department.

Jonathan Gurwitz Archives


© 2007, Jonathan Gurwitz

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles