What Chris Did

Baby, baby, baby, talk hard.

(I may have a problem with this one. No, really. This is exactly what happened to me with Howard and with Big John, this is all it took, which is in and of itself a problem. You know that sort of “oh, no, no, no” feeling you get in your gut when you’re falling for somebody you just can’t fall for, somebody who’s a coke-addict poet who hates people and thinks punctuality is for losers and has two nipple rings and on top of that is, like, married and your boss? You know that feeling, of, “This is just going to be atotal disaster” but at the same time you can’t stop smiling and you kind of want to dance with everyone you see? I’ve got that feeling about Chris Dodd right now.Damn it. But there’s aDodd Squad. I mean, come on. What else am I supposed to do with that?)

At thiscollege talk I’m giving next week I’m going to be talking about leadership, about the moments we recognize in our own lives that force us to stand up. About how there’s no magic to it, about how it’s all just about listening to whatever gods you pray to when they start praying back, about how it’s just, as Jacob says, all your wrong turns wrenching straight. (Yes, I will probably cite fucking Battlestar Galactica in my college campus speech, and shut up, it tracks, really it does.) How great you are in that moment, how at home you are in your skin, how solid you are on the ground you stand on. How sure you are, and how glorious and scary that is.

We kid ourselves a lot, you know. We tell ourselves that what we know is our moment really isn’t, that somebody else should do it, that it’s somebody else’s job, but come on. You know. You know what you have to do and how you have to do it, and all you really have to do about it is listen to yourself, listen to yourself, and avoid the story in the future being about how you should have done something but didn’t.

Dodd could have sat back, waited for Hillary or Obama to speak up, or Joe “National Security Is My Penis” Biden, or Richardson, or Edwards. Waited for a lead to follow, waited for somebody else to take care of it. But man, sometimes the only answer to the sickness inside you is to open your damn mouth and get up out of your chair, and yell as loud as you can with whatever voice you possess, and the hell with who hears you because it’s not about being heard, it’s about speaking.

It’s about speaking. If there’s one lesson I hope the other presidential contenders take from all this, it’s that their jobs aren’t about other people hearing them. Hearing is somebody else’s responsibility.

Speaking is yours, so fucking speak.


5 thoughts on “What Chris Did

  1. I love that you might be pulling from BSG for your college talk. Use what works. It has some of the best writing and character development out there and it has a lot of good things to say on a lot of issues. Where we find brilliance isn’t the point.
    Fiction and science fiction can speak the truth that non-fiction today dances around because non-fiction journalmalism writers don’t want to “get into trouble” by explaining exactly what is going on.

  2. more constitution and rule of law and less georgie BS.
    9/11 only changed the world for the weakminded. buck up ya sissies. especially you rite wing fellators and WATB.

  3. “There is a time when the operation of the machine
    becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart,
    tht you can’t take part, not even tacitly take part;
    and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears
    and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all
    the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.”
    Mario Savio
    Dec. 2, 1964

  4. joel hanes – thanks for that quote
    I had to Google Mario Savio to find out who he was…
    – – –
    The [FBI] bureau used tactics against Savio that Congress in 1976 found were improper — including some similar to investigative methods that agents may now use against suspected terrorists under the Patriot Act and under loosened FBI guidelines, experts said.
    According to hundreds of pages of FBI files — and, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, as reported in today’s Chronicle Magazine — the bureau:
    — Collected, without court order, personal information about Savio from schools, telephone companies, utility firms and banks and compiled information about his marriage and divorce.
    — Monitored his day-to-day activities by using informants planted in political groups, covertly contacting his neighbors, landlords and employers, and having agents pose as professors, journalists and activists to interview him and his wife.
    — Obtained his tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service in violation of federal rules, mischaracterized him as a threat to the president and arranged for the CIA and foreign intelligence agencies to investigate him when he and his family traveled in Europe.
    — Put him on an unauthorized list of people to be detained without judicial warrant in event of a national emergency, and designated him as a “Key Activist” whose political activities should be “disrupted” and “neutralized” under the bureau’s extralegal counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO.
    –San Francisco Chronicle, 10/10/04

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