Today I'm talking about an obscure Disney musical from 1968 that I'm sure none of you saw. It's The One And Only Genuine Original Family Band, based on that terribly exciting historical event, the 1888 presidential election.
Makes you wonder how it ever got made. I imagine the pitch meeting going something like this:
---It's a fun filled musical about the 1888 presidential election between Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. It's really quite a fascinating time in our country's history, as you no doubt recall, Cleveland won the popular vote but Harrison was elected by the Electoral...
---Sound of Snores
---Uh, we got John Davidson and Buddy Ebson
Anyway, the film begins with a politically divided family. Buddy Ebson, the father of the family is a Republican who supports Harrison. Grandfather Walter Brennan is a Democrat who wants to get the kids together to sing their campaign song for Cleveland at the Democratic Convention. It's a catchy tune "Let's put it over with Grover/Don't rock the boat/give him your vote." The kids have no opinions on the election, they just want to sing and dance their way into your heart.
But the family ends up moving to the Dakota territory instead.
Somewhere along the way, the Dakota pioneers start singing about the virtues of their candidates in a song called "Oh, Benjamin Harrison." (Now there's a hit tune if I ever heard one). As the Republicans sing the praises of Harrison, the Democrats retort "That's politics!" to which the Republicans answer "That's STATESMANSHIP!" Then the Cleveland supporters get their turn, with the same "That's politics!/That's STATESMANSHIP" refrain.
I've been thinking about that song a lot lately, especially with the fight over the senate exercising "the nuclear option," getting rid of the filibuster for federal and supreme court judges.
The Democrats are shocked and outraged, filled with righteous indignation at the very thought of dismantling the time honored Senate rules. The Republicans are equally shocked and outraged and naturally, filled with an equal amount of righteous indignation at the petty obstructionist tactics of the minority.
Politics or Statesmanship?
I've come to the conclusion that there is no more statesmanship. It died with the 24 hour news network and the 30 second sound bite. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid spin just as deftly and dizzily as Bill Frist and Tom Delay.
But I still haven't given up hope. Somewhere out there, a candidate will emerge (maybe Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico?) who really speaks honestly and eloquently and stands up for what he or she believes.
Benjamin Harrison where are you?