Sunday, July 26, 2009
© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
We’ll tell you up front. This is about the Supreme Court Sotomayer confirmation hearings, after some thought.
But first, a story.
Everyday we order lunch from our neighborhood Burger King. We get a kick out of having the guy in the King costume make the delivery, and spike a football as he departs. Plus, we can have our burgers “our way.”
BK has had an ad campaign for years with the theme, “Have It Your Way.” We recently questioned whether BK may have done a disservice to the nation, or the world for that matter, by suggesting everyone can have it their way.
“That’s ridiculous,” you say, “they’re only referring to how you want your burger.”
However, that ignores the sheer power of repetitive, subliminal messages. (Imagine what young kids think.)
Jim Jordan, legendary ad man and author of the original Burger King campaign, also believed that if you hit a tree in the same place enough times, it’ll fall.
We reached out to several people to help us recall songs, other than the Rolling Stones classic in our title, which conveyed the far more pragmatic message.
Douglas, one of our loyal followers, replied that he could not think of any others which conveyed the message as well. In his view, “Most songs are not about a general feeling of desire and frustration, but tell of unrequited love.”
He added, “Life is all about expectations and a desire to overcome [obstacles in pursuit of our] dreams and goals.
The Laughingman counters out that most songs are just that – songs. If you play a country song backwards, your pick-up won’t get fixed, your wife won’t come back, and your dog won’t come home.
On the other hand, music intended to change behavior might be more like hymns than hits.
In retrospect, it’s hard to tell whether you’re talking about the chicken or the egg; but if Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and Bob Dylan didn’t change the public’s behavior, they certainly chronicled the changes with their music… much of which is still played today.
Which gets us back to Sotomayer.
We watched, with much distress, the hearings involving Clarence “Long Dong” Thomas, starring Anita “You Ain’t Going to Make It Up This” Hill, and watched the fun loving and engaging Robert Bork evolve into a pessimist following his rejection.
What has captured our attention over 30 years of justice nominee hearings has been the intensity of the effort by partisan forces, on both sides of the aisle, to achieve their particular goals. Even if it means smearing the nominee. Each side essentially claims that the nation, as we know it, will implode upon the ascension onto the Court by those who they oppose.
Both sides fear that the Devil may have all the best tunes (downloaded on his iPod).
In reality, it simply doesn’t work that way. First, the new justice is just 1 of 9. Then there is that very important issue of judicial precedent, and a host of other reasons the Court avoids unnecessarily making decisions.
And that’s not to mention it takes decades, if not longer, for any real meaningful shift in rulings to occur. (Take whether slaves were “men,” or something less, for example.)
Still, that folks expect that the cultural pendulum will not, or should not, swing back and forth, and that Newtonian physics are not applicable to life, is fascinating. Elected officials come with all points of view, and represent the full spectrum of values. Why shouldn’t the people who they appoint?
Interestingly, should any judge in any court answer any of the, “What are your views on…” questions posed, they would automatically be excused from sitting in judgment on that issue. And when the nominee properly refuses to answer (especially in response to a hypothetical set of facts), the ensuing inquisition produces less useful information by which to judge that person’s qualifications than one gets in a singles bar, or by participating in “speed dating” musical chairs.
To repeat a question we posed prior to the presidential election: Are we that concerned about the effect of the entry of just one person on our governmental institutions? Are they that unstable and subject to whim? Aren’t there checks and balances?
Our friends in college might well ask, "So what's all this got to do with me?" To avoid complications later, it might be good to appreciate certain concepts early in life:
Times Change, and You Can’t Stop That
Sentiments and Values Change, and You Can’t Stop Them Either
If You Can’t Achieve What You Want One Way, Try Another
Those Who Disagree with You are Not Necessarily Bad, Evil, Possessed People, with Bi-Polar Disorder
Disparaging People With Whom You Might Have to Work in the Future Can Have Long-Term Negative Ramifications
Not Every Battle Needs to be a Fight to the Death, Nor Does It Require Pulling Out All Stops
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
Life is not like ordering hamburgers.
Bob Dylan probably summed it up best, “The Times They Are A Changing.” We need to face it and deal with it.
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