I Publius: Gathering a few stray thoughts

We are hearing that Gov. David Paterson called Caroline Kennedy to tell her that she was his choice to be Senator and she said something like, “Oh well, thanks, but nevermind.”

Apparently, there was reference to personal problems. We do know that one of these was the illness of our Senator Ted Kennedy but certainly she knew all about his problems when she got into it in the first place.

Closer to home, Elizabeth Aspenlieder’s performance in “Bad Dates” is superb. While some might describe this as a “woman’s play,” I loved it. You know, there really are differences in the ways in which men and women think and I was fascinated by what women go through as they make their romantic way in the world.

As a kid I always thought that women had the upper hand. True, in the old days they had to be asked out by the guy, but today it’s all different. I won’t give the plot away other than to say that we watch our heroine going through what we might describe as “bad dates” and she find out that all that glitters is not gold. That is the message of the play.

Perhaps the author of the play, Theresa Rebeck, is now hard at work at her keyboard creating a parallel work on online matches and relationships, with all their rules and conventions.

Much of this stuff is nothing more than what we had to go through back in the day but with a technological bent and what the social scientists might call a much higher “n” (number) available.

Aspenlieder is a wonderful actress and the director, Adrianne Krstansky, was a great collaborator. I love that Shakespeare and Company can do some of these more modern works.

When you think about it, it’s not all that different from Shakespeare — love and jealousy and betrayal and like that.

The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre is a great venue and I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house unless a giant is sitting in front of you.

As you may know, I have long advanced the idea that seating in movies and plays should be arranged like it is in elementary school, by height. Big people should have to sit in the last rows.

The picture of Dick Cheney attending the inauguration in a wheelchair was pretty frightening. It called to mind up images ranging from Dickens characters to Dr. Strangelove.

Many of us have now figured out that poor Bush was in so far over his head that he didn’t know whether to look up or down.

Cheney, on the other hand, is pretty much regarded by the people I hang with to be the personification of evil. Some of you who have actually gotten this far will disagree. You will argue that Bush is a really bad guy and that he was at the head of the line.

No question that some terrible things happened to this country on his watch. No question that his philosophy and his misguided “compassionate conservatism” led us to where we are.

On the other hand, and of course he gets no credit for this, had he not been as bad a President as he was it is doubtful that we would have rejected him and his ideas so forcefully and ended up with a President named Barack Obama.

When you pick up this newspaper, do you ever think about the poor wretches who get arrested for killing, robbing, maiming, or selling drugs? I mean, who are they? How did they get that way? What forces made them what they are and led us to a situation where the only way we can deal with them is to lock them in a jail cell?

Believe me, when they crack someone’s head open, they should be in jail. However, every time we put someone away, the society, its schools and its institutions have failed.

Just who are they?

Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 1/24/09

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