Monday, October 02, 2006

Selective admiration of self-improvement...

Eve Fairbanks has hit a home run with her latest column in the Examiner discussing the attacks on George Allen.

In a very real sense, she has hit on something. I suspect that part of the heavy fire on Allen and President Bush may be because they did not play the victim, but instead confronted their demons head-on. If they could do it, then perhaps others could do so as well - by accepting responsbility for their lives. And for some in politics, having people feeling like victims is vital. It means that they can push their agenda by blaming the problems the victims have on big business/immigrants/neo-cons/racists/Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld/Wal-Mart. They'd probably find a way to blame Santa and the Easter Bunny if it would help them get votes.

But a self-help/self-improvement story turns all that on its head. It tells people that they might have it rough, but they can get out of it. The victimhood pimps on the left and the right can't have that. If people began to think that they were responsible, the scapegoating of immigrants and big business carried out by Pat Buchanan - as well as the race-baiting of Al Sharpton - would lose a lot of its appeal. Buchanan and Sharpton might actually have to do some real work for once.

Perhaps we need more self-improvement stories from politicians, not fewer.