Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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A John Wayne note

Peggy Noonan's discourse on the presidential bubble, and the need for a Special Assistant for Reality aside, is worth a mention if for no other reason than her mention of John Wayne.  In other words, there is an important note about the American character in her essay.  It doesn't matter how many special assistants, advisers, spinners, and philosophers in residence you may have, if you don't understand a fundamental fact--a grounding if you like--about the American character (and then the cause of it) then you are in a bubble, and you will never understand the manly eloquence of an American at an airport talking about his junk.  Noonan:


"President: I've wondered if this general feeling of discomfort might be related to a certain Puritan strain within American thinking--a kind of horror at the body that, melded with, say, old Catholic teaching, not to be pejorative, might make for a pretty combustible cultural cocktail. This heightened consciousness of the body might suggest an element of physical shame we hadn't taken into account.

SAR: Mr. President, the rebellion isn't shame-based, it's John Wayne-based.

President: I don't follow.

SAR: John Wayne removes his boots and hat and puts his six-shooter on the belt, he gets through the scanner, and now he's standing there and sees what's being done to other people. A TSA guy is walking toward him, snapping his rubber gloves. Guy gets up close to Wayne, starts feeling his waist and hips. Wayne says, "Touch the jewels, Pilgrim, and I'll knock you into tomorrow."

President: John Wayne is dead.

SAR: No, he's not. You've got to understand that. Everyone's got an Inner Duke, even grandma."


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Discussions - 8 Comments

I laughed at that, being grandmother and knowing my Inner Duke. I don't know about you, but my "I.D." can't stand watching all of that being done to my fellow Americans and known innocents of all sorts.

I am reading Decision Points this weekend, which reads as a very personal apologetic by Bush. Sometimes his explanations elicit sympathy, but often not. Writing about Richard Reid, the "shoe-bomber", he says, "Fortunately, an alert flight attendant noticed his suspicious behavior, and passengers overwhelmed him before he could light the fuse." They all responded to their Inner Duke.

However, then he follows with applauding his policy of requiring everyone to remove their shoes for inspection, as if that would prevent any further attacks. I recall someone saying, after the "Underwear Bomber" was similarly thwarted, that we could only hope we all did not have to remove those garments for inspection before boarding. Well, here we are. I suppose we were supposed to be mollified that the scanners only "virtually" remove our clothes, so that only the suspect are groped, but yes, especially given the stories by the many who are suspect, the Inner Duke rebels.

The book says of Reid that his intent was to cripple the US economy in that holiday season. I read that airline travel is down 12% since the inspections began.

I would not discount the spectacle of the lines themselves and the mind-numbing, soul-less obedience that they seem to require. These queues are already a thing to try the patience of any self-respecting American--particularly one who knows that he has done and will do nothing wrong. This new addition to the indignity just seems to be one that suggests there is no end to the possible indignities that may be required of us.

It's not a matter of the "junk" they may touch (or see) so much as it is indignity of the whole procedure and--what's always worse in these things--the watching of the whole procedure on others. It's not some kind embarrassment or modesty that is shaming us. If there is shame to felt, it is more the shame of watching one's fellow Americans acting like sheep. One does not like to find himself standing there like a dufus with his shoes off--but when he's watching some 500 others being forced into the drill, one begins to feel . . . well, less than human. It is bad enough that you feel the indignity of your vulnerabilities exposed (not only to the TSA but also to your fellow travelers) as you are loaded down with burdens and baggage (and in my case, always a couple of whining kids) and then, some bureaucrat flunkie approaches you and wants to feel you up? Pardon me if I say that at this point I am just not in the mood.

I would not discount the spectacle of the lines themselves and the mind-numbing, soul-less obedience that they seem to require. These queues are already a thing to try the patience of any self-respecting American--particularly one who knows that he has done and will do nothing wrong. This new addition to the indignity just seems to be one that suggests there is no end to the possible indignities that may be required of us.

It's not a matter of the "junk" they may touch (or see) so much as it is indignity of the whole procedure and--what's always worse in these things--the watching of the whole procedure on others. It's not some kind embarrassment or modesty that is shaming us. If there is shame to felt, it is more the shame of watching one's fellow Americans acting like sheep. One does not like to find himself standing there like a dufus with his shoes off--but when he's watching some 500 others being forced into the drill, one begins to feel . . . well, less than human. It is bad enough that you feel the indignity of your vulnerabilities exposed (not only to the TSA but also to your fellow travelers) as you are loaded down with burdens and baggage (and in my case, always a couple of whining kids) and then, some bureaucrat flunkie approaches you and wants to feel you up? Pardon me if I say that at this point I am just not in the mood.

Julie, did you know that much of the "whole procedure": "the lines themselves and the mind-numbing, soul-less obedience that they seem to require," and the "standing there like a dufus with [one's] shoes off" and the "the shame of watching one's fellow Americans acting like sheep" and "the indignity of your vulnerabilities exposed" all began years ago, when Pres. George W. Bush signed it into law in Nov. 2001? Even the pat-downs are not entirely new. It's interesting to see NLT bloggers speak up on this... just now.

Reminds me of this:
http://www.truth-out.org/the-tsa-right-and-my-busted-watch65422

With this gem:
"Bank on this: if the year was 2002, and President Bush declared these TSA measures to be absolutely necessary to the security of the nation, the same right-bent people currently screaming about the heavy-handed Obama TSA policy would be defending those exact same policies to the teeth, with the "mainstream" media right with them all the way down the party line. For the right, this is opposition simply for the sake of opposition itself, and thanks to the media, they have once again managed to shoehorn another "Government sucks" screaming match to the forefront of the national conversation."

Also, John Wayne was a rather pathetic figure in more than a few ways. The roles he played in many fictional films were often of brave, valiant, and uber-manly men, but that was just him acting.

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them." (The Shootist)

Yes, these are the words spoken by a character Wayne played, but that is part of the culture that John Wayne helped develop, and speaks to the heart of every man woman or child who bristles at the intrusive TSA inspections.

When I was active duty Air Force, I knew a lot of aircrew members who had a framed picture of the Duke either on their desks, or in their lockers in Life Support. I was one of them.

To the Duke!


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