Bill Clinton’s overriding concern was his legacy when he wrote ‘My Life’. I was working in DC at the time he released it and he was all over the news. All said and done, he wanted to be remembered for his political successes, not his bedroom shenanigans. I suppose it was a smart move; take the initiative in writing your own story for the ages.
Can you be a player and referee too? It’s an interesting question. It seems that everyone does it- they start redefining their story the way they’d like it to be told. And not that’s this is a new phenomenon… we always see movie scenes where the dying mother/father’s last wishes are to tell the child ‘he was the one good thing I did’ [sobcakes] .. This is pretty much the reason people write autobiographies. And why do I bring this up?
Joe Scarborough of MSNBC had a panel of guests on his show who debated this new ABC documentary coming out that is rumored to blame Clinton’s term for the no show on the Osama front. Now one of the panelists said that it wasn’t so much that Clinton was going to be blamed for not attacking Osama when he had the chance, but its going to highlight the complications. How lawyers end up making military decisions because it has to be checked if there are going to be legal implications. Well Bill must be freaking out now because I’m sure, after his very long book, he must be livid his entire legacy could be redefined as caught up in red-tape and inaction over what he must have figured would ultimately become a big failure for the Bush presidency.
I have a friend studying for her GRE and one of the topics for essay writing was that there are no heroes; we just seem to define them that way. I said, well even if you seem to find yourself in the right place at the right time, that does not mean that you will make the right choice now does it?
Well some stories tell themselves. Listen up: Having finished my dissertation, flipping through channels of mind-numbing TV, I came across the most horrifying news bulletin I had seen in a long time. As if simply re-capping an episode, NDTV was showing footage of a two ABVP leaders, Shashiranjan Akela and Vimal Tomar threatening Madhav College Professor, ML Nath. The threats were in total hindi-movie style, and one has to wonder how arrogant and above the law the ABVP leaders must have felt if they could make death threats with news cameras rolling in the sidelines. Immediately after, violence erupted, and later, the camera caught the ABVP supporters beating up another Professor. Then the most chilling part of the entire story came: Prof Sabharwal who died as a result of his injuries, was out of the crowd but badly hurt and people were scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. He was clutching his chest in pain and looked very short of breath. I had a chill go through me, the likes that you don’t really feel; because I realized that I was watching a man die on camera. No, really. NDTV caught the entire thing on camera, starting from the threats and ending in death.
The thing is, despite the Chief Minister of MP trying to brush it off as an accident, ultimately charges had to be made against them and there was a backlash to the incident. It’s very difficult to convince people that what they see before their eyes didn’t really happen.
Like Bangaru Laxman and his ‘next time in dollars’!!
Personal PR and strategic communications for companies/ political parties basically have this challenge- there is a scandal, how do you spin it so that you don’t look too bad? This year around all the one hour shows on the life of Princess Diana were decidedly negative about her in my opinion- and granted I didn’t really know too much about her personal life, it seemed ironic that before I had always seen images that fit in with ‘the people’s princess’ and now they were replaced by talk of paranoid and un-princess-y behavior.
The funny thing is that after a re-watch of Reality Bites where they talk about not having any role models for their generation, I had actually started asking people who their role model was. You know what I found: for most people, it was their mom/dad. And the ones who had a famous name… they were quite specific about what they admired. And moral fibre wasn’t one of them; it was business sense mostly.
The media has made it much easier for us to ‘SEE’ public figures in a more personal way. While voyeuristic at times, at other times it is so brutally honest, perhaps this generation will never be able to have a ‘hero’ who’s legacy won’t be tarnished over time. Do we really just live in one big television show that is constantly re-capping our lives and adding more storylines? I wonder. See you on the next installment…