Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Massachussian Candidate

I am happy that Senator Edward Kennedy's brain surgery apparently went well, and I have been keeping my fingers crossed for his family since he went public with his cancer diagnosis.

That said- small quibble. Why has the Kennedy family approached public news releases on the subject of the Senator's health crisis in the manner of Kim Jong Il and the North Korean government?

I'm not suggesting that they haven't been speaking to the press: its the little embelished flourishes that the Kennedy spokespeople add that put one in mind of the Dear Leader announcing another round of 18 holes-in-one.

Upon his first siezure, we were told that Ted Kennedy had been diagnosed with brain cancer (straightforward, candid announcement) and then that he was so resilient he had bounced back to watch both the Celtics playoff and the Red Sox game. I suppose telling us that he'd be riding the bench for Doc Rivers or pitching in relief of Tim Wakefield was a step too far even for this sort of naked pandering, but still.

Now post surgery, appraently everything went well with this dangerous procedure (again, straightforward) but also the Senator "Feels like a million dollars". He's a 76 year old man with a punishing workload who has just had a surgeon prodding inside his head, not Valerie Bertinelli pitching Jennie Craig, for christ's sake. In reality he probably feels like someone smacked him on the dome a few thousand times then strapped a wrestler's jockstrap over his mouth and nose.

My two main complaints with this sort of thing is that a) it infantalizes the public, suggesting that if we were given the unvarnished truth about this elderly man we'd panic and flee the nation in leaky boats; and b) it undermines the veracity of the central message. When I start hearing how Mr. X or Mrs. Y is not only recovering from their ailment but taking some time to serve as a rodeo clown I make a mental note to start checking the obituary column a few weeks hence.

I suggest that rather than continue the Kennedy tradition of making outrageous claims of manly heartiness regardless of the actual medical condition as first pioneered by brother John's presidential advisors (wheezing, pill popping, sex addict sold to America as thrusting semi-pro football star), the Liberal Lion of the Senate take a page out of his colleague Robert Byrd's book. The senior member of the Senate announced today that he was being hospitalized for "lethargy and sluggishness". No word though from the Byrd camp as to the presence of "the vapors", or whether the sawbones would be a-doctoring the Senator.

Senator Kennedy- sometimes its ok to sound like Scarlett O'Hara.

1 comment:

the blue state blogger said...

"suggesting that if we were given the unvarnished truth about this elderly man we'd panic and flee the nation in leaky boats"

Why do you think we were fed so much crap about George Bush?