Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Graham Hill, b. 1929, died in a plane crash in 1975. If you're older, more interested in motor sports, or perhaps more British than I am, you might remember him as an apparently outstanding race car driver from the 1960s. For the rest of us, Graham Hill is in an odd category with, oh, Peter Brown from the Ballad of John and Yoko: real people who will be remembered long after they're gone because they were mentioned in something lasting -- in this case, the historical impersonation sketch, with John the Baptist doing Graham Hill. I suppose the all-time champs are people who get mentioned in Shakespeare or the bible. Is there a name for that? Ah well; I'd like to meet someone of superior intelligence, too.

On to the good stuff.

1. It's the national economy, not the various local economies, that appears to drive vote choice; John Sides supplies the evidence. You know my advice: ignore state polls until at least Labor Day.

2. Samuel Arbesman on "Keynesian Beauty Contests and Presidential Primaries." I'd be careful about putting too much weight on this (there's more to primaries than just bandwagon effects), but it's a good point.

3. Andrew Sprung, Obama-watcher, makes a good point about credit, blame, and the presidency.

4. The budget and health care exchanges, from Sarah Kliff.

5. A newly published party networks paper by Seth Masket, David Dulio, and Richard Skinner. Great stuff; Seth describes it.

6. Was Josiah Bartlett a lousy president? Ian Milhiser makes the case.


  1. I've always viewed Bartlet not as much an antidote for Bush -- watching West Wing was an antidote, but his character came from what we really wanted out of Clinton. A guy who stand up for liberal causes, but without the personal embarrassment and southern accent.

    But a great take down.

  2. When Eric Idle hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 1979 (the one with Bob Dylan as the musical guest!), he came out to do the monologue strapped to a stretcher, allegedly suffering from severe flu. He did several impersonations from the stretcher, one of which was Graham Hill. That's the only reason I know who Graham Hill was; I didn't realize he was dead by that point.

    1. First-cast SNL, though, doesn't appear to be something that's going to last, does it? I was trying to decide whether to include Tom Snyder as an example, but at this point I think he's probably more likely to be remembered in the future as an oddball talk show guy who hosted some great musical performances as he is the guy who Dan Aykroyd did so well.

      High school kids today appear to be more or less as likely to memorize Python skits as kids were thirty years ago, but I don't think many of them know about the Coneheads or Lisa Loopner.

    2. I didn't mean to imply that that's how Graham Hill will be remembered, merely that in my own idiosyncratic worldview, that's how I remember him. That episode was from the misbegotten fifth season of SNL, after Aykroyd and Belushi had left, so I wouldn't expect anyone else to take their cultural clues from it. Dylan was excellent, though.

      I suspect there was a point when Belushi's Joe Cocker imitation was more well-known than Joe Cocker himself. But that's probably no longer true.

    3. Sorry, yup, I understood what you were saying.

      I certainly knew Belushi's Joe Cocker better than the real Joe Cocker back then.

      I suspect that the 20th century champ for most mentioned/impersonated vs. actually seen is Jimmy Durante. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the words to "You're the Top" change over time to exclude him (if that hasn't happened already).

  3. Great line from the Rowe Memo: edited

    ROWE: Well, I've never got either of those down to any pat definition. I've always been willing to accept the fact that your statesman is the dead politician. I suppose the good politician is a man who's learned how to make the machinery work. People used to ask me about it; this was when everything was a little more black and white than it is today. Then Lyndon Johnson was the southern conservative, and Hubert Humphrey was a flaming radical liberal, you know. How can you support both of those folks? I was always asked. That is what I did in '60, one right after the other.

    "Well," I said, "this is a tough country. I was with Roosevelt in the White House for four years and I learned several things. I don't think a man's point of view matters too much when he goes in there. I think this is true about Truman when you look at him." I said, "I think your President has to have several things: 1) He has to be a politician. (This is Rule One.) I learned Mr. Herbert Hoover, with whom I later worked on the Hoover Commission and whom I watched try to govern, wasn't a politician. I think Rule One is you have to be a politician. 2) You ought to be intelligent. 3) You ought to know something about the world. I think maybe I only have these three requirements," but I said, "both Humphrey and Johnson have them."


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?