Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mr. Ceely Goes to Sacramento

Sometimes I think that I should run for office. Some legislature, probably, I know how to read the law, I know what it means. I understand public policy. Writing the law is harder, I know, I have seen some of the ways that good intentions go wrong, but I feel qualified to know the difference. Executive positions are sexy, but I’ve always known that I am not the leading man. The best friend, that’s me, I never get the girl, I die in the third reel.

I think of Hillary Clinton, she’s a matter of months or a year older than me. She’s still working hard to become the president some day, a leading lady right there, she’s not ready to feed the pigeons, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s a little early for me to give up on accomplishment.

The law is my education, and I’ve been public-speaking for a living for sixteen years now: twelve years lawyering and four years teaching. So, maybe politics, ten or twelve years. Then maybe stand up comedy, it’s good to stay fresh, not do one thing for too long.

I have an unusual resume for a politician, but spin is my training, and spin is everything. I’ve always been an underachiever, but at least I’ve never been an obnoxious drunk or a public menace. Of course there’s the drugs, but that seems to be an issue of diminishing importance, unless you were caught smoking crack this morning, and that’s not my profile. I haven’t been successful in my business endeavors, but I’ve never claimed to be a great executive and at least I never lost a lot of other people’s money. Maybe I wasn’t the best husband in the world, but I never had a girlfriend, and I never dumped my family because it was selfishly convenient at the time. It could all be spun. Like, at first I took only simple jobs because my real priority was to get home early, with no homework, so that I could concentrate on being a dad; after that I found myself in a business where my ethical standards and sweet disposition were considered anathema. Those are plausible explanations. One good thing, I’ve never been arrested, so the paper trail is negligible.

I failed to thrive as a lawyer, I admit it. I finally got out when two things became only too clear: 1) I didn’t have the stomach for a game where, day in and day out, vicious battle and winning were everything, and many of my fellows lived to make other practitioners miserable in the process; and 2) in many situations, telling the truth, or simply being reasonable, was unethical, and indeed often rose to the level of malpractice for which one could be sued (with the cheerful assistance of the misery wing of the legal profession). If I enter the public arena, many of my brothers in the law, judges, lawyers, maybe even the odd clerk, will come forward to condemn me as a lily livered loser. Spin, though, pre-emptive spin, could be useful here as well. The way could be prepared for these self serving attacks. After all, they’re really just bullies who stoke the fires of their own egos by chewing on the flanks of others when they think that it is safe to do so, insecure mediocrities who need to prove, on a moment to moment basis, that they are smarter or more talented than others, even when that is far from obvious. The truth of the law game is that almost no one wins all the time. I won some, and I lost some, I did ok. I had strengths and weaknesses, “human,” I think they call it.

So, the legislature. Running as a Democrat, that much is cut in stone. I am a “Yellow Dog” Democrat, and I can prove it. I voted for Dukakis, Mondale, Al Gore, and John Kerry. I would have voted for Hubert Horatio Humphrey if I’d had the chance. No names, but there’re a couple of Yellow Dogs on that list. I will admit that my soul cried out to god for mercy when I pulled the lever for Kerry. I won’t take any credit for voting for Clinton or Carter, voting for them was a no-brainer. I’d vote for them again, given the chance.

No need to start in the United States Senate, even considering the lateness of the hour. I’m not getting any younger, but I’ve never been ambitious. Ditto the House of Representatives, I’ll leave the Fed’s to their own game. No, I’m thinking of the lower house of the legislature of the great State of California. That’s a netherworld of invisibility right there, but it needs manning. I could be helpful there.

Just thinking out loud, I suppose. Isn’t that what blogs are for?

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