Primary Colors is still one of the more poignant political movies of our generation. The movie was based on a novel that was an awfully thin veiled scribe on the Bill Clinton campaign. It featured John Travolta as Jack Stanton, a southern governor making a run for the White House. Of course, Travolta looked the part and sounded the part.
At the end of the mind he uttered one of those soliloquies that tends to stick with you. He talked about how every politician has to wear the grin and tell those back stories in order to win the office. Then, they can appeal to the better angels of our nature. The speech was longer and more eloquent, but the moment has been sufficiently captured. Politics has always been dirty. Time tends to sanitize our memories and we long for those far gone days when everyone fought honorably. What a bunch of……..
In the famous 1800 election, the John Adams campaign came up with a sordid diddy about Thomas Jefferson’s exploits with his slave to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy. The two hated each other immensely and supposedly were thinking of each other when they both died (on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence).
Ronald Reagan once postulated that the 11th commandment is that no Republican shall speak ill of another Republican. That commandment is down the drain. Dan Patrick has been playing that game for years, but he found himself on the business end of dirty politics a couple of weeks ago. Depending on who you believe, either someone from Dewhurst’s campaign (or someone independent of them) released records that revealed that Patrick had sought mental health services over a decade ago.
The tactic can’t be that shocking considering that the Republicans have raised the same concerns about Wendy Davis. In a world where black can be white and right can be wrong, Patrick handled the situation with maturity and dignity. He simply acknowledged that he had sought relief during a time when he felt depressed and exhausted. It happens to the best of us. Meanwhile, Dewhurst was backpedaling faster than a cornerback covering Andre Johnson. It was odd role reversal that almost makes you consider both men in a different light.
When I took psychopathology, we were taught that roughly half of the population would suffer from an episode of major depression at some point in their lives. Of course, that was a decade ago. I don’t know what the current numbers, but I do know is that I have been one of them. In some respects, I understand the fear. Mental illness doesn’t have symptoms like the common cold or flu. Without those easy to recognize symptoms, who is to say that the disease is ever cured?
As of this writing, I don’t know how the primary will turn out, but I do know I have some additional hope in a Patrick led Texas Senate. Mind you, it isn’t a lot of hope, but maybe he can be positive force for increased mental health services. After all, if a successful businessman and politician can suffer from major depression at some point in his life then maybe the rest of us have a chance to kick it too. As for Dewhurst, the desperation is showing. If a tough campaigns reveals character I can’t be all that impressed with the character that Dewhurst has shown.