Tomorrow at The Recovering Politician

Tomorrow at 8:30 AM, we debut our third recovering politician.  Since you are probably tired of guys by now, we will introduce our first woman: a vibrant, dynamic former leader of one of the country’s largest and fastest growing urban centers.

And since we’ve given you a Democrat and Republican already, our newest RP is a Founding Leader of No Labels — a new movement that is dedicated to the proposition that we all must put aside our labels on occasion to work for the common good.  Check out the No Labels web site today, and sign up if you support the group’s mission.

And yes, we’ll be launching another new feature: RPTV Friday Flashbacks — videos of our recovering politicians when they were young, naive, and very green. Tomorrow’s victim of embarrassment?  Why yours truly, of course.

Hope to see you tomorrow!

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Speed

The Politics of Speed

If you are the 5-time defending Sprint Cup Champion in NASCAR do you get to openly criticize your bosses? Apparently not. Jimmie Johnson had to apologize today for a few choice words he had for NASCAR. [ESPN]

More from ESPN as Ryan McGee gave us the NASCAR power rankings for Week 7. This week has Kevin Harvick in the top spot. [ESPN]

Dustin Long writes about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s quest to win his first race since 2008 and his frustration with continually falling short. Plus more from the NASCAR world. [Sports Illustrated]

Due to the recent natural disasters that hit Japan, new car sales from the country have hit the lowest point since 1968. [AutoBlog]

The big wigs over at Tesla have recently filed a lawsuit against one of my personal favorite T.V. shows, Top Gear, regarding a three-year-old review of their Roadster. [CNET]

Ronald J. Granieri: The (Un)kindness of Strangers

One of the paradoxes of modern life is that although we are trained to link success to our ability to reach people directly and personally, often success actually depends on the reactions of strangers whom we will never meet. Politicians live this paradox daily, as they combine the rituals of pressing the flesh with the realization of its limits. There are simply too many voters and, in our fragmented media landscape, too many potential bloggers and commentators to make a personal connection with all of them. More than one young political aspirant has begun a career with the promise that he or she will knock on every door in the district, or shake every possible hand. In the end, it is necessary, for the sake of both sanity and bodily health, to accept that universal personal contact is unattainable, and depend on the kindness of strangers, or at least the limitations of their unkindness.

Academics and politicians share this paradoxical dependence on both personal contact and anonymity. In my career I have done my share of personal networking with colleagues and superiors, as well as spending hours with students—in the classroom, in office hours, and in the spaces in between—developing contacts and a personal reputation to help carve out a place in the academic world. Letters of recommendation and student evaluations, the product of such personal contact, play a significant role on the road to success. But a great deal of decisive power still lies in the hands of strangers—be they anonymous peer reviewers at journals and publishing houses, selection committees from fellowship granting foundations, or university tenure and promotion committees. Indeed, in academic life, the anonymity of those bodies is one of the few things still considered sacred. Certainly, one may be able to guess which expert in one’s field is most likely to be asked to evaluate a manuscript, or to write the external letters universities request in their tenure processes, and one may hear unofficially which senior members of the faculty happen to sit on the crucial committees. Nevertheless, it is forbidden (by custom and in some cases by rule) either to ask specifically who is making the decisions or even to see the full record of their deliberations.

Thoughtful readers can think of many reasons why this makes sense. Anonymity encourages frankness, objectivity, and the critical distance necessary to make intellectual evaluations. Indeed, anonymity is in many ways preferable to the opposite, which would have decisions made by friends and connections, which would freeze out those who are not already members of the club.

But anonymity has its decidedly chilly side as well. Strangers can be objective, but they can also view the cases before them not just on their merits but based on pre-existing assumptions, pigeonholing candidates or their works in ways that make decisions easier, but which may also miss the nuances of individual personality.

I am not a completely neutral analyst on this point. My experience with academic life, and especially the tenure process, has shown me the good and bad sides of the system. I freely admit that what success I have enjoyed thus far in my career owes a significant debt to the kindness of strangers on both sides of the Atlantic. I have also experienced the cold sting of anonymous rejection, sometimes simultaneously. It is therefore possible, for example, that one group of highly educated individuals can look at a file and vote unanimously in favor of a candidate while another group of highly educated individuals at the same institution can read the same file and reach precisely the opposite conclusion. In my case, between 2009 and 2010 my department twice voted overwhelmingly in favor of my tenure case, the university personnel committee voted no both times, and the Provost rejected my application.

Read the rest of…
Ronald J. Granieri: The (Un)kindness of Strangers

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Immigration

The Politics of Immigration

What happens if you meet a beautiful Madagascan or a suave Uruguayan, on a student visa or H1B in the United States, fall in love and can’t live without them? You want to stay together—you get married, right? What happens if you and your immigrant partner happen to be gay? Life could become easier for you with the end of DOMA. [The Guardian]

Regardless of her guilt or innocence, Azra Basic’s story reminds us of the brutal insanity of war and the sometimes complicated task of resettlement and redemption in a country that has welcomed the tired, the poor, the huddled masses for generations. [The New York Times]

Are you smart enough to pass the United States Citizenship test? According to numerous surveys, probably not. Maybe we should just make it easier. Watch! [Bill Maher]

Oh, so you think you could take (and pass) a real US Citizenship test, Sparky? Go ahead, give it a try—and no cheating!! And by the way, once you’ve successfully completed the test, make sure you have your $700.00 per family member fee ready. [Take the Test!]

Want to emigrate to the U.S.? Probably best not to be a famous Liverpudlian anti-war activist in the Nixon / Hoover era. A fascinating interview with author Jon Wiener on INS efforts to deport John Lennon in the ‘70s. [Fresh Air]

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Fame

The Politics of Fame

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty compares Obama’s Presidency to a Lady Gaga song: [TalkingPointsMemo]

Winning!! Charlie Sheen offered higher speaking fees than former President Bill Clinton. Editor’s note: it must be the tiger-blood. [HuffingtonPost]

Even senior citizens should enjoy the right to get “Punk’d”: Betty White to host new prank show. [SouthBendTribune]

Like father like son? Prince William will not wear a wedding ring. [AsiaOneNews]

Katie Couric leaving CBS News Anchor chair. [NBC]

She’s back!!! Duke Lacrosse accuser arrested for stabbing her boyfriend! [ABC]

Lindsey Lohan goes for a new look by channeling…Courtney Love? [TMZ]

The RP: My Top Five Breakup Songs – What Say You?

As Charlie Sheen might have said, “music is the gin and tonic of the soul.”

Of course, there’s no denying the redemptive impact of song.  Whether to soothe, pacify, or even offer catharsis, we’ve all turned to music during times of recovery — from an illness, a professional setback, or, quite often, a breakup.

Last week, I ended an 11 1/2 year relationship…with state government.  Neil Sedaka was accurate when he crooned that “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” but the dissolution of any relationship is much too complex to be captured by 60s-era bubblegum pop.

For my own personal recovery process, I have loaded my trusty iPad with some of my favorite healing music.  And in the spirit of Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” (read the book; it’s much better than the movie), I share below My Top Five Breakup Songs: (Click on the album covers to sample and/or download to your MP3 player)

#5: "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele

5.  Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” My daughters introduced me to the sulky smooth, blues-laden stylings of the unbelievably young (she just turned 22?!?) Adele.  Her newest masterpiece drew my attention to an early stage of my recovery from politics: denial, tinged with exasperated anger:  “We could have had it all/Rolling in the deep/You had my heart inside of your hands/And you played it to the beat.”  Dreams of higher office squelched by the vagaries of politics — it certainly bears some resemblance to the unexpected implosion of a relationship with that “perfect” soulmate.  “We could have had it all,” voters!  But alas…

#4: "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt

4. Bonnie Raitt, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
While Raitt had already secured her place in rock history by helping to discover Bruce Springsteen, this classic resolutely establishes her as the bard of melancholy self-pity.   With a haunting melody and a voice that aches with trenchant agony, Raitt sets the perfect mood for an evening of painful introspection: “Turn down the lights/Turn down the bed/Turn down these voices inside my head.”  Instead of those blaring, patriotic anthems that accompany a losing candidate’s walk to the concession podium, this ballad should be required listening for Election Night audiences:  I worked my heart out to win your support, then you broke it into pieces. Dear voters, why can’t I make you love me?

#3: "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette

3. Alanis Morissette, “You Oughta Know”
Of course, self-pity soon can metastasize into vengeful anger, and there’s no better theme song for the dumped than Morissette’s breakout hit, the song that established a whole new genre of “tough chick rock” (See Pink, Avil Lavigne, etc.) Alanis’ scorned lover caustically captures the false promises of lust disguised as love–or in the case of a recovering politician, the fickleness of the body politic:  “And every time you speak her name/Does she know how you told me you’d hold me/Until you died, till you died?/But you’re still alive.” (And isn’t it ironic that in each primary that I’ve lost, the voters chose “an older version of me”?  Hmmmmm…)

#2: "Romeo and Juliet" by Dire Straits

2. “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits: A truly transcendent song, on one of rock’s most underappreciated albums.  With a nod to both Shakespeare and Leonard Bernstein’s stage and screen adaptation, Mark Knopfler sets the romantic legend in the late 70s and reveals the core of its message; one that can reassure a jilted lover (or politician) that the failure wasn’t your fault — as fate or the Good Lord would have it, it just wasn’t your time: “There’s a place for us/You know the movie song/When you gonna realize, it was just that the time was wrong?” Hey, there’s more fish in the sea/elections to win! (Oh, and Taylor Swift:  I love your music, but when you were on the road with your English tutor, did y’all skip the last act of Shakespeare’s play? Romeo and Juliet didn’t exactly have a happy ending.)

#1: "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor

1. Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive” OK, disco haters; go ahead and scoff.  But Gaynor’s anthem for the final stage of breakup recovery — acceptance and transcendence — is the ideal background music for a recovering politician who’s realized that there’s more to life than temporal adulation and ephemeral power.  And when that political fever threatens to re-infect you, Miss Gloria reminds you to reject the sweet succor of narcissism, empowering you with her personal mantra: “And you see me/somebody new/I’m not that chained up little person still in love with you/And so you felt like dropping in and just expect me to be free/Now I’m saving all my loving for someone who’se loving me…”

OK, that’s five for fighting about.

What am I missing? What have I misunderstood? How will my life go on?

(Speaking of…For goodness’ sake, NO CELINE DION!!)

Please leave below your comments, critiques, and most importantly, lists of your top five breakup songs:

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