Friday, September 11, 2009

Biden's Everyman

It's difficult to write anything different on a news day when the attacks of September 11, 2001 are the top subject of every news page and blog. Joe Biden, though, did speak during a memorial for the victims of the attacks, saying:

"There's a special fraternity for those of us who've lost spouses and children."
Which is a reminder, during Obama's well-written rhetoric (poignant though it may be), that a politician can be human without being so flawed as to lose complete respect for him. Biden lost a daughter and his first wife in a car accident in 1972, long before he was anybody, and, as is the case with people who lose loved ones, it seems positive to find some kind of solace in the fact that you aren't the only one who has lost what's important to you. Today's title refers to Joe as an Everyman not for purely cynical reasons, even if I am constantly suspicious of any upper-class American making any attempt to relate to me or people less fortunate. The title comes from some respect, because the Everyman image the White House gets from Biden seems rooted in truth. On a day like today, Biden could step back and remain quiet (not likely, in any case), he could photo-op the hell out of the day, or he could state the truth, which, in his case, would inevitably end up on camera. If you're going to say something that will be broadcast to the nation on a day like today, it should be something positive, and that shouldn't be viewed with cynicism.

That said, there's a little cynicism in me today, but mostly for the media and their approach.

Again, Biden is indeed an Everyman to some degree, and one who has lost family members. Also, today is the 8th anniversay of 9/11 (it still seems odd to me that we need a truncated title for a mass murder). In a way, September 11th is like Christmas for the media. They have to report on it, for sure, but they not only are guaranteed views, but they tend to (mostly) take the day off of bashing people who they might traditionally bash.

Here is where I make a plea to the media as Tiny Tim might do on Christmas. -- Lay off. Report on what counts, because, sadly, there will always be death, we just hope not to see it on the scale of the killings we are memorializing today. I don't want to use September 11th as my day to say "leave the poor Vice President alone." I just ask that the media use a day like this for some perspective, despite the fact that they seem to have learned so little in eight years. Perhaps, if you report on what is happening - and something always is - rather than what could happen or what doesn't matter, the people watching what you have to offer might find their own solace in the unavoidable truth. Today is an example - for the media, anyway - of how people want to know what is going on, and how they appreciate one another when they are faced with one another's humanity.

Now I burn my soapbox.

Jason C. Klamm

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