Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Time Present, Time Past. Bill Bradley.

New York: Alfred a. Knopf. 1996.

Why read it? Bradley, a Democrat, made a run at the 2000 presidential election. Of course, he never made it into the final two. George W. Bush and Al Gore did. But Bradley’s comments on the state of America are still interesting. What he failed to realize, however, is that his attempt to get his message out through books was doomed. Americans do not read books anymore. And, as a speaker, Bradley was a complete dud, boring, lifeless, monotoned and lacking in any charisma with his audiences. Still, he was a bright young man with interesting things to say, and I enjoyed this book, one of several that he published to get his message across to the American public.

Sample quotes:

“Though there are still extraordinary individuals in communities across America, too many of us are losing a conception of the whole, and of our connectedness to one another. p. xiii. ………. “What is life worth if we don’t strive to build something that is bigger than we are and lasts longer than we do?” ………. “Achieving personal excellence and extending a helping hand are indispensable elements of an American future that works….” p. 23. ………. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of bad people, but for the silence of good people.” p. 24.

“For over seventeen years, my most memorable moments have come from the people I have met.” p. 37. ………. “It’s through the stories of people’s lives that I am moved and that I gain a hesitancy about universal solutions.” p. 37. ………. “Above all, Democrats must give a ringing endorsement to the conviction that America’s best days lie ahead of it.” p. 58. ………. “I chose to become a workhorse, a senator who worked hard every day in his assigned committees and sought the respect of his colleagues rather than a show horse, a senator who defined success by the number of times his name appeared in print.” p. 60.

“When I hear from individual Americans, I ask myself what is the big-picture issue behind their stories.” p. 100. ………. “A key to our world leadership as a pluralistic democracy with a growing economy is our knowledge of other cultures.” p. 144. ………. “Different languages challenge; different customs enrich; different political ideas broaden; different attitudes about the world surprise; different perceptions of American reality enlighten.” p. 144. ………. “If we can absorb these new influences that make us a world society, even as we take note of the perspectives they offer about who we are as Americans, we can truly show the world the future.” p. 144.

“To make an enemy of the media is fatal for a public figure. Not because the press will print lies, but because so much depends on where reporters want to put the emphasis, or on how they want to see events that are often subject to several interpretations.” p. 153. ………. “Write a thoughtful analysis of the American predicament and it will be reduced to thirty seconds, if it makes the TV news at all. p. 159. ………. “…television’s attitude toward violence yields panel discussions and public-service ads decryig it followed by programs full of violent acts.” p. 160. ………. “America isn’t as bad as it looks on the television news.” p. 161.

“Unlike senators or Supreme Court Justices, presidents rarely change while they are in office. A president doesn’t have the time.” p. 204. ……….. On being a president: “No more smells and sights and sounds that come from being physically in a new place, with time to absorb it…almost no opportunity for relaxed reflection.” p. 204. ……… “Though political defeat can be overcome by another victory or by developing a new perspective or by going on to another profession, the character assaults and personal injuries of politics too often leave permanent scars.” p. 207.

I’ll conclude with Bradley’s comment on the effects of a failed presidential bid before he knew that he would fail: “Those who have failed in their presidential runs may have lost a chance to lead their country, but what they have retained is the possibility to define themselves apart from others, to continue to grow intellectually and spiritually and to have time for their families. What they have gained is a chance for a normal life.” p. 204.

Comment: Someone should write a book about the ideas of failed presidential candidates. RayS.

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