Monday, April 28, 2008

Please Help Me Here

Although I have lived in Virginia more than two-thirds of my life, and when people ask me where I’m from I’m proud to say I’m from Virginia, I am still disabled by the early years I spent in Yankee-land. So, there are times when I just can’t understand what I read in my morning Times-Dispatch. You who are regular readers of the Maven know that I have had this difficulty before. So, you’re probably not surprised when I say that I have no idea what the TD editorial “Dinner Guests” means. In case you missed it—

Del. Dwight Jones has announced his candidacy for election as Richmond's mayor. Doug Wilder responded to the news with a statement:
"I have seen nothing as of yet that would influence my plans, nor do I see an earnest commitment to continue the positive change we have already begun."
When Deborah Jewell-Sherman announced she will retire as superintendent of Richmond's schools, Wilder said:
"Suffice it to say that Dr. Jewell-Sherman has brought improvement to the academics of the school system since taking the job and she has received ample credit for that."
A dream dinner would be to sit between Wilder and . . . Winston Churchill -- and across from Alice Roosevelt.

Really, trusted reader, that’s all there is to it. Now, the version in the print edition differs from the cyber version in being prefixed by “Two Masters,” so that could be a clue to the ethereal thinking of our TD editors.

I often think that the editors of the TD are mired in the Twentieth Century in their philosophy. But to talk about Winston Churchill and Alice Roosevelt convinces me that they haven’t even made it to the 1960s. Most of us know about Mr. Churchill. I think I even remember him. Alice Roosevelt, however, is not a name that rolls off the tongue very frequently these days. As a great admirer of our twenty sixth president, I know that Alice was the daughter of Teddy Roosevelt’s short and tragic marriage to Alice Lee. I know that she was an outspoken teenager when her father was president and, after she married Congressman Nicholas Longworth, she became a fixture on the Washington, DC, social circuit.

So, let’s go back to “Dinner Guests.” The two quotes from His Mayorship are typical Doug. They certainly don’t compare with anything that ever came out of the mouth or pen of Winston Churchill, who was one of the finest speakers, writers and statesman of the last century. In using the preliminary “Two Masters,” can the editors possibly be comparing the mayor with Mr. Churchill? Can they be so deluded as to think that they can even use the names Douglas Wilder and Winston Churchill in the same breath? Nothing has ever crossed the mind of Doug Wilder that can compare with Mr. Churchill’s “We shall never surrender,” or “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” or “This was their finest hour.” I think that if Doug and Winston had ever been at the same dinner table it is highly unlikely that the mayor would ever get to speak and if he did I’m sure Mr. Churchill would slash him mercilessly with his repartee. After a few minutes it would be a really dull dinner.

So, maybe the two masters are the Doug and Alice. I have done a bit of research on things that Alice Roosevelt said. Here are her best quotes:
“I have a simple philosophy. Empty what’s full. Fill what’s empty. Scratch where it itches;” “Harding was not a bad man, he was just a slob;” [Coolidge] looks as though he was weaned on a pickle;” and “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, sit right here by me.” So maybe Doug is a little closer to Alice than to Winston. But, at least Alice was funny. Doug is just a grumpy old man.

I don’t understand the TD. During Mr. Wilder’s tenure as mayor, no matter how outrageous have been his actions or his words, the TD editors can see no evil. They always explain Doug by saying that there is plenty of blame to go around, or that “the people wanted a strong mayor.” The TD editors are always looking at Doug through the rosiest of glasses. As a man much wiser than this maven once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. But the Times Dispatch . . .”


Anonymous said...

The TD serves as the main mouthpiece for the corporate "Main Street" business community.

Wilder has successfully distracted from their embarrassing mess at 6th and Broad St with all of his antics.

Wilder has mostly successfully put the blame for inadequate schools on the School Board while allowing City Council to continue to short RPS budget and yet continue to fund their downtown white elephant parade.

I believe today's editorial was a subtle message to that effect.

Also, keep in mind that Trani named one of his schools after Wilder. The TD is not going to embarrass Trani by being critical of Wilder.

I relate all of this with much disappointment. His reforms are not measuring up to his promises. Wilder has sold out the populace of Richmond, just as other Mayors did before him. However, at least he somewhat stirred things up in the beginning of his term.

gray said...

I think many Richmond Public schools are inadequate without the help or antics of Wilder.