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year, bad year
By Brad Keena
Seems like only yesterday we were reading about Senator John McCain's odd remarks against Chelsea Clinton's appearance. "Too vicious to print," said the Washington Post of McCain's May 1998 joke calling Chelsea "ugly."
I remember thinking at the time, "Why pick on Chelsea Clinton?" She was, after all, a teenager - and the only child to America's most agonizingly "colorful" parents. As some famous person once said, you can't pick your parents.
McCain, who later apologized for the remarks, certainly wouldn't joke that way today. With a makeover, new coif, stylish threads, and a boyfriend, the Chelsea of 2002 wears glass slippers. Last week, Vanity Fair magazine showed its excitement by dubbing the former first daughter "a sex symbol" and "the new JFK, Jr." Yes sir, it's a good year to be Chelsea Clinton.
This is also a good year to be a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). After September 11, there may be five people in the entire country willing to publicly admit they support gun control. Polls now show the public overwhelmingly supports arming pilots aboard commercial jetliners.
At the NRA's annual meeting a couple of weeks ago, members reelected popular actor Charlton Heston at a convention that featured a Democrat keynote speaker for the first time in years. Meanwhile, this week the Bush Administration filed separate briefs before the Supreme Court arguing in favor of an individual's Second Amendment right to possess a firearm - a complete shift in government policy. Rumor has it, even Sarah Brady is now thinking about joining the NRA.
On the other hand, this is not a good year to be an Oklahoma Republican. With their state losing a congressional seat and the legislature controlled by Democrats, redistricting has become a nightmare for Oklahoma's GOP.
Democrats in the state Senate have devised a plan to combine Congressman Ernest Istook's district with that of popular Congressman J.C. Watts. Add to that a recent flap in the local press against freshman Republican Congressman John Sullivan, plus a new poll showing Steve Largent's gubernatorial race closer than originally thought, and you see their dilemma. If Largent is successful in his bid to become Oklahoma's next governor, he'll likely inherit a hostile state legislature whose majority will be supported by the special interests that are still steamed over Largent's strong support of Oklahoma's new right-to-work law. This, and the very real possibility that Democrats could pick up one (and possibly even two) seats in a state that two years ago sported an all-Republican congressional delegation, has Oklahoma Republicans losing a lot of sleep these days.
It's also a bad year to be Jean Carnahan. Appointed to the Senate after her late husband's death and sympathetic posthumous 2000 victory over then-Senator John Ashcroft (R-Missouri) - Mrs. Carnahan had the audacity to vote against Ashcroft's Senate confirmation to head the Justice Department.
Despite Carnahan's "no" vote, Ashcroft became Bush's Attorney General - and a fairly popular one at that, especially in Missouri, where he is remembered for being so gracious to the widow Carnahan on the eve of his Senate defeat to her late husband. Now, she looks petty for casting a partisan and unnecessary vote against a fellow Missourian. On top of that, she faces a tough reelection challenge from former Republican Congressman Jim Talent, who recently added $1.5 million to his war chest after the President paid a visit to the state. Do you think it's too late for Mrs. Carnahan to change her vote on Ashcroft's confirmation?
In the end, publicity comes and publicity goes. As the song says, "you're riding high in April, shot down in May." One year it's good to be alive, the next year you want to crawl into a hole somewhere and never be seen again. Why is life that way?
It certainly wasn't a good week for Senator John Edwards (D-NC). For a while there, everyone in Washington seemed to be talking about Edward's presidential stock. "He fits the profile of a Bush-beater: a Southerner who votes liberal and talks moderate, handsome, youthful, articulate and a fresh voice without political baggage," writes columnist Bob Novak. Then came a recent Sunday and NBC's "Meet the Press." "Unprepared for the big time," assessed Novak, Edwards' withering under Tim Russert's grilling left "Democrats who had been enchanted by Edwards" appalled.
In the end, none of this really matters when you measure these political "ups" and "downs" with a spiritual yardstick. "Bad year" survivors often recover to see another day by coming to recognize their humble insignificance before God and His priorities. Does God really care about Senator Edwards' deer-in-the-headlights performance on national television or Chelsea's new hairstyle and "sex symbol" status? With all do respect to the editors of Vanity Fair, I doubt it.
Brad Keena can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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